33 lessons Hollywood can teach you about business

Arabian Business looks for business wisdom in Hollywood movies.
the dark knight.jpg
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The quote\n\n“If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”\n\nThe film\n\nThe Dark Knight (2008)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nThe Joker (Heath Ledger) neatly sums up the freelance business mentality. Whatever your greatest business strength is – be sure you are rewarded for it.
the social network.jpg
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The quote\n\n“A million dollars isn't cool, you know what's cool? A billion dollars”\n\nThe film\n\nThe Social Network (2010)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nSean Parker (Justin Timberlake) explains to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) the importance of thinking big. It was this ambition and vision that enabled the start-up Internet firm to grow into a multi-billion dollar empire.
the godfather.jpg
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The quote\n\n“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse”\n\nThe film\n\nThe Godfather (1972)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nIn just one line Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) inspired generations of negotiators. Whether you’re offering a job, discussing pricing, buying property or looking settle a contract remember the person on the other side of the table ALWAYS has a price. Just don’t go to the same extent as this Mafia boss.
wall street.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."\n\nThe film\n\nWall Street (1987)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nPhilanthropy is all well and good but the fundamental factor driving many a business is the pursuit of wealth. Nobody sums that up better than Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas).
secret of my success.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Everywhere I've been today there's always been something wrong. Too young, too old, too short, too tall. Whatever the exception is, I can fix it. I can be older, I can be taller, I can be anything."\n\nThe film\n\nThe Secret of My Success (1987)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nClimbing the corporate ladder is not easy. Getting a foot in the door is even harder. Brantley Foster (Michael J. Fox) encapsulated the struggles faced by recent graduates with this succinct offer.
russia with love.jpg
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The quote\n\n“Training is useful, but there is no substitute for experience.”\n\nThe film\n\nFrom Russia With Love (1963)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nRosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) may have been a Russian spy on a mission to destroy James Bond but if things turned out differently she would have had an excellent career in recruitment.\n
catch me if you can.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Two little mice fell into a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned, but the second mouse, he struggled so hard that he eventually churned that cream into butter and he walked out.”\n\nThe film\n\nCatch Me If You Can (2002)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nThe old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” has inspired many an entrepreneur. Anybody who has triumphed over adversity on the rocky road to success will, therefore, appreciate Frank Abangale’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) tale of determination.
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The quote\n\n“Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating.”\n\nThe film\n\nEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nFaced with incessant dialogue Joel Barish (Jim Carey) questions the value in what he is hearing. It is a lesson that should be considered before every meeting, email or tweet.
glengarry glen ross.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Only one thing counts in this world: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted."\n\nThe film\n\nGlengarry Glen Ross (1992)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nThis film, which also gave us the motivational line “Always Be Closing,” should be required viewing for sales people in all industries. Business is not always about strategizing, networking and management – at some stage you have to close a deal. Don’t forget Blake's (Alec Baldwin) advice.
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The quote\n\n"You got a dream you gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they wanna tell you can't do it." \n\nThe film\n\nPursuit of Happyness (2006)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nAnybody who has ever used the words determined or motivated on their resume needs to watch this film. Chris Gardner’s (Will Smith) power of will moves him from the street to stockbroker’s office in record time.
cloudy with a chance of meatballs.jpg
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The quote\n\n“You don’t keep throwing your net where there aren’t any fish.”\n\nThe film\n\nCloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nLocation, location, location is a key factor in business. Retail and hospitality entrepreneurs in particular take note
the bourne ultimatum.jpg
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The quote\n\n“My number one rule is, ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”\n\nThe film\n\nThe Bourne Ultimatum (2007)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nThere is a reason why Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) has risen to the position of deputy director of an intelligence agency. Follow the advice when working on projects big or small.
trading places.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Think big, think positive, never show any sign of weakness. Always go for the throat. Buy low, sell high. Fear? That's the other guy's problem."\n\nThe film\n\nTrading Places (1983)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nLouis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) has contempt for competition. The fearless approach to business – if combined with a little forethought – can give you the competitive edge you crave.
mr deeds.jpg
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The quote\n\n"It's hard to soar with the eagles when you're surrounded by turkeys."\n\nThe film\n\nMr. Deeds (2002)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nThere may be no “I” in team but sometimes you have to be honest about the capabilities of those around you. Surround yourself with excellence and you’re all the more likely to see excellence yourself. Maybe Longfellow Deeds (Adam Sandler) is wiser than he first appears.
boiler room.png
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The quote\n\n"A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can't. Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is gonna close?"\n\nThe film\n\nBoiler Room (2002)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nThere is an “us and them” mentality to business that can put businesses and their customers on opposite sides. This can seem all the more true in a sales position as brokerage hot shot Jim Young (Ben Affleck) outlines his commercial philosophy.
star wars.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Look, I ain't in this for your revolution, and I'm not in it for you, princess. I expect to be well paid. I'm in it for the money."\n\nThe film\n\nStar Wars Episode IV (1977)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nWe’re all a little mercenary when it comes to negotiating personal contracts. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) understands the importance of risk versus reward considerations.
born yesterday.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Never do nothing you wouldn't want printed on the front page of The New York Times."\n\nThe film\n\nBorn Yesterday (1950)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nEthics and business are unusual bedfellows. But follow Billie Dawn’s (Judy Holliday) advice and you will be able to balance profit with properness.
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The quote\n"Don’t underestimate the other guy’s greed."\n\nThe film\n\nScarface (1983)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nFrank Lopez (Robert loggia) and Tony Montana (Al Pacino) work in a criminally niche industry. But the human psychology that drives their business decisions is no different to what all business people witness on a daily basis.
field of dreams.jpg
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The quote\n“If you build it, he will come.”\n\nThe film\n\nField of Dreams (1989)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nConstruction industry workers and Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) have one thing in common. Their vision IS their business. Whether you’re singing bricks and mortar deals or high concept commerce it all starts with an idea and hard work.
coming to america.jpg
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The quote\n\n"I started out mopping the floor just like you guys. But now...now I'm washing lettuce. Soon I'll be on fries; then the grill. And pretty soon, I'll make assistant manager, and that's when the big bucks start rolling in."\n\nThe film\n\nComing to America (1988)\n\nThe inspiration\nWork hard and you will progress. This motivational line fed to generations of entry-level workers is neatly summed up by restaurant worker Maurice (Louie Anderson).
the hustler.jpg
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The quote\n\n"A 25 per cent slice of something big is better than 100 per cent slice of nothing."\n\nThe film\n\nThe Hustler (1961)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nThe words spoken by street hustler Fast Eddie (Paul Newman) should be a mantra for venture capitalists and investors the world over.
office space.jpg
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The quote\n\n"My only real motivation is not to be hassled - that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired."\n \nThe film\n\nOffice Space (1999)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nYou don’t need to be Jack Welch to realise that your entire workforce does not operate at uniform performance levels. Even in times of economic hardship the views of Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) will be shared by large parts of any workforce.
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The quote\n\n“Buy, buy, buy! Oh, everyone's buying? Then sell, sell, sell!"\n\nThe film\n\nCaddyshack (1980)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nAs far as we are aware this golf comedy is not part of the curriculum at Harvard Business School. Which is a shame, because if Al Czervik’s (Rodney Dangerfield) simple advice were followed more often then the world could probably have avoided at least one financial crisis.
finding nemo.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Just keep swimming."\n\nThe film\n\nFinding Nemo (2003)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nRegal blue tang Dory (Ellen Degeneres) wasn’t making an analogy when she advised her friend Marlin to just keep swimming. It was meant literally. But it is a quote that has been adopted by struggling office workers the world over to sum up the persistence and determination to get through a day in a normal office.
swimming with sharks.jpg
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The quote\n\n"If they can't start a meeting without you, well, that's a meeting worth going to, isn't it? And that's the only kind of meeting you should ever concern yourselves with.”\n\nThe film\n\nSwimming With Sharks (1994)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nHow important are you to the meetings you have on a daily basis? If you’re there just to make up the numbers then maybe you should take stock of your career so far. Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey) was talking about the movie business but the sentiment stretches to absolutely any other industry you care to name.
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The quote\n\n“Ninety percent of what you're saying isn't coming out of your mouth.”\n\nThe film\n\nHitch (2005)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nChoose your words carefully and be just as selective with your body language. Save yourself hours of NLP training and take on board personal relationship expert Alex Hitchins’ (Will Smith) advice.
the paper.jpg
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The quote\n\n“Well, you're in management now. If everybody loved you, you'd be doing something wrong.”\n\nThe film\n\nThe Paper (1994)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nIt doesn’t matter who, what or where you are managing – at some stage you are going to have to make tough decisions and ones that are not universally popular. That is why you are the manager. Heed Bernie White’s (Robert Duvall) advice and remember work is not a popularity contest.
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The quote\n\n“If you don’t start somewhere, you’re gonna get nowhere.”\n\nThe film\n\nMarley (2012)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nA Bob Marley documentary seems like a strange place to seek business wisdom but this line could have come from the mouth of any self-made millionaire. Ideas and talent can only drive an entrepreneur when they have actually taken the decision to act.
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The quote\n\n"I think the question we should be asking is, do you believe in this thing or not."\n\nThe film\n\nMoneyball (2011)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nAsking the right questions is important in business. Think and act differently and you can stand out in any market. But always have a clear vision in mind. Once the vision is formed have belief in what you do and stick to it. If you consider yourself to be a business innovator like Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) never let your strategy and vision stray far from your mind.
the apartment.jpg
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The quote\n\n"Normally, it takes years to work your way up to the twenty-seventh floor. But it only takes 30 seconds to be out on the street again. You dig?" \n\nThe film\n\nThe Apartment (1960)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nThe corporate ladder has many a slippery rung. JD Sheldrake’s (Fred MacMurray) cautionary tale is worth remembering for any worker looking to build a long-term career.
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The quote\n\n“The only thing to invest in is the future.”\n\nThe film\n\nMr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nA wonder emporium may genuinely be considered a recession-proof business but the young Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills) has a solid strategy that can build the foundations of the future of any business.
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The quote\n\n"There's nothing cheap about loyalty."\n\nThe film\n\nUp in the Air (2009)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nRyan Bingham (George Clooney) is referring to frequent flyer programmes when he offers his views on corporate loyalty. But the lesson of reliability, dependability and consistency can be learnt in all aspects of business.
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The quote\n\n“It’s no trick to make a lot of money, if what you want to do is make a lot of money.”\n\nThe film\n\nCitizen Kane (1941)\n\nThe inspiration\n\nWidely regarded as one of the all time great Hollywood films, Citizen Kane is also a morality tale worth remembering. Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) relentless pursuit of wealth and power comes at the expense of personal pride and happiness. This last word on Kane’s immense fortune falls to his business manager Mr. Bernstein.
Mon 30 Jul 2012 11:30 AM