The iconic Wall Street centers on an ambitious young stockbroker, Bud Fox, and a charismatic and ruthless investor, Gordon Gekko. Fox, who is desperate to succeed, idolizes Gekko, who operates under the mantra “Greed is good.”
Fox becomes absorbed in the financier’s glamorous lifestyle, only to get entangled in a vicious web of insider trading. The film is a cautionary tale of how the pursuit of power can lead us down an unethical path. While it’s easy to be lured by greed, it’s never worth it to sell one’s integrity for the sake of money and ambition.
Widely accepted as one of the best films ever made, The Godfather, at its core, is a story about a small family business growing into a large and powerful organization in New York, while fighting off the opposition.
The movie offers insight into what it takes to become one of the most influential and dynamic family businesses in the country. In the movie, Vito Corleone grants favors and helps people with their problems, highlighting the importance of relationships and building networks in any business. The Godfather will make you think about competitive strategies, alliances, mergers and business diversification.
This movie showcases pivotal moments in the rise of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., and takes a hard look at the entrepreneur’s personal and professional struggles. There have been a handful of movies and documentaries detailing the life of Jobs, but this 2015 version is perhaps the best. It takes a behind-the-scenes look at Jobs during three key product launches.
Jobs could be coldly dismissive of the people closest to him and often micromanaged even the smallest details of his presentations. He experienced tremendous failure and made ugly mistakes before finding success. Yet entrepreneurs watching this film will undoubtedly be motivated to stay true to their vision when facing tough challenges and weighing competing opinions.
The Social Network
The Social Network offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook and the cutthroat world of the startup. As the trailer for the movie says, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies,” and this point is underscored throughout the film as Zuckerberg navigates lawsuits and hurdles in funding.
Through it all, Zuckerberg must be flexible and evolve his product to suit the needs and desires of users. He also learns a painful lesson on the importance of having a binding contract in place. This movie offers several important insights for aspiring entrepreneurs, including that it’s not about who has an idea but who can execute it. But perhaps the big takeaway should be that you’re going to have to ruffle some feathers if you want to fly.
Catch Me If You Can
Based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can exemplifies the entrepreneurial journey. The main character, Frank Abagnale, is a con man who earned millions before he was 19 years old and successfully impersonated an airline pilot, doctor, lawyer and history professor. While Abagnale’s swindling tendencies shouldn’t be replicated, there are some wonderful insights here for the aspiring entrepreneur.
Abagnale knew how to create new opportunities out of bad situations. He achieved tremendous success in tough environments and under a great deal of stress. The movie also touches on entrepreneurial themes like creative problem solving, perseverance, personal sales techniques and finding funding sources.
The Big Short
The U.S. housing crash and global financial crisis play a starring role in The Big Short, which tells the story of a group of Wall Street fund managers and investors who predicted and were able to profit from the collapse of the country’s overheated housing market.
The movie is full of important lessons for entrepreneurs and anyone who has invested money in the stock market: understand what you’re investing in, follow your gut and never take another person’s advice without fully understanding what you’re getting yourself into.
The Pursuit of Happyness
This inspirational film is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, who faced homelessness as a single father while working a grueling unpaid internship as a stockbroker. Through sheer force of will, Gardner persists through impossible circumstances after his wife leaves him and the IRS garnishes his wages, leaving him in poverty. Gardner struggles to sell medical scanners and is living in homeless shelters while pursuing a full-time, 6-month internship, hopeful that it will pay off with a permanent position.
The Pursuit of Happyness shows how a diehard work ethic coupled with an unflappable belief in yourself and a willingness to do whatever it takes to reach beyond your circumstances can pay off when you achieve your dreams.