Goodness knows we’ve all watched a lot of movies over the past year. But escapist entertainment though they may be, are their nuggets hidden that can shine a light on our careers?
Who knew Hollywood was so into office politics…
Office Space (1999): Be the change you wish to see in the workplace
This comedy is about a corporate cog who hates office politics and who inadvertently changes his whole approach to work and with it the culture of his workplace. Although the plot is rather implausible, the serious lesson here is that if employers give employees more freedom and flexibility, especially regarding how and where to work, it promotes creativity, employee engagement, productivity, job satisfaction and staff retention.
The Social Network (2010): Keep your friends close and your enemies to a minimum
This 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, Mark Zuckerberg.
The real-life Zuckerberg used the artfully vague term “interesting” to describe the film, but what’s interesting is how the film subtly reveals the modern psychology behind business relationships. You may be clear about what you want to achieve professionally, but do you know the true worth of your colleagues, supporters and loved ones, and 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 fan or Brad Pitt fan or not, there is a takeaway lesson in this biopic. Pitt plays the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. His analytical, evidence-based and data-driven approach to forming a team contends with other teams, including those with much bigger budgets and more expensive players.
I won’t spoil the film for you, but what I will say is that it is fully possible to do well in business 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 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.
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 readers, grab your popcorn and watch and learn from these great films.