Movies offer us escapist entertainment, but they can also teach us important career lessons as you will see by reading about the following five films.
Office Space (1999): Be the change you wish to see in the workplace
In this comedy about Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a corporate cog who hates office politics, and how he inadvertently changes his whole approach to work and with it the culture of his workplace; however, as implausible as the plot may be, the serious lesson here is that if employers give employees more freedom and flexibility, especially regarding how to work, where to work and how many hours to work for per week, it promotes individual and collective creativity, employee engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, overall wellbeing, staff retention, attracting the best talent, reduced losses, and increased gains for everyone.
The Social Network (2010): Keep your friends close and your enemies to a minimum
This multiple award-winning biographical drama tells the story of the conception, development and rise of Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg shines from the very first scene as the young but sharp-as-a-tack student and budding businessman that is Mark Zuckerberg. The real-life Zuckerberg used the artfully vague term “interesting” to describe the film, an interesting judgement itself, but what’s more interesting is how the film subtly reveals the modern psychology behind business relationships. So, question: you may be clear about what you want to achieve professionally, but do you know the true worth of your colleagues, your supporters, your loved ones, and of the things that fulfil you the most in your personal life?
Moneyball (2011): The art of winning an unequal game
Whether you’re a sports / Brad Pitt fan or not, there’s takeaway lessons in this biopic based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same title. Pitt plays Oakland Athletics baseball team’s general manager Billy Beane, whose analytical, evidence-based and data-driven approach to forming a team that can contend with other teams, including those with much bigger budgets and much more expensive players. I won’t spoil the film for you, but what I will say is that it is fully possible for you to do well for yourself in business whether you’re a leader or not, whether you’re a small company or a major player, and whether your competition is playing by the rules or not.
Wall Street (1987): There’s enough in the world of work for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed
The tagline for this classic crime drama was “Every dream has a price”, which is fitting given what happens to Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), an ambitious stockbroker willing to do whatever it takes to climb the corporate ladder, and Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a shrewd and unrepentant businessman who agrees to take Fox under his wing. Themes include greed, corruption and divided loyalties, all of which are traps that any of us can fall prey to if we’re not careful, especially nowadays when there’s fifty shades of grey in-between each action that we know to be clearly either legal / moral or illegal / immoral.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010): Sometimes less really is more
Michael Douglas reprises his role as the seemingly reformed Gordon Gekko; however, second impressions can be deceptive as his daughter’s fiancé (Shia LaBeouf) discovers. The lesson here is that if you don’t want to end up becoming a shark, try your best to swim apart from them and avoid the steps that lead to becoming one yourself.
So, my dear readers, look out for fins and may you live long and prosper.