Every once in a while, between mindless action and romcoms, Hollywood has made movies that are not only immensely entertaining but packed with valuable life lessons. For a student of business, there is no easier way to amp up their acumen than by learning through others’ experience.
Here are ten movies that do a great job at teaching a thing or two about business over popcorn and a giant cola:
1) Wall Street:
This has to be right at the top. A business student who hasn’t heard of Gordon Gekko is like a basketball player who hasn’t heard of Michael Jordon. It’s a thrilling journey into Gordon Gekko’s life, where, “Money is everything” and “Greed is good.” Watch it for the impeccable, Oscar winning performance by Michael Douglas, and to see what power and greed can do to the human soul. Remember your scruples when you set out to conquer the world!
2) The Insider:
When Al-Pacino and Russell Crowe share screen space, you don’t need more reasons to watch the movie. But if you are a student of business, watch it for what ethics and integrity in business really mean. It’s a story of a man who is doing lots of wrong inside a company and one fine day decides to blow the whistle. He is faced with an ugly choice of doing the right thing and risking his life, or keeping his mouth shut.
3) Glengarry Glen Ross:
Are you a business student looking to get into sales? This movie can be your unforgettable teacher. See the real world of sales and what it takes to make it there- “Lie, Cheat, Steal. All in a day’s work.” But you may pay for your transgressions.
4) Citizen Kane:
Widely touted as one of the greatest feature films in American history, Citizen Kane is the story of a businessman and newspaper magnate, through the eyes of his acquaintances, associates and the media that follow his every word, including his last one: Rosebud.
It shows you the bitter truth: Success can often come at a price and at the top, life is relatively empty.
5) It’s a Wonderful Life:
Frank Capra’s timeless black and white classic is an illustrative lesson of the moral, financial & the practical! When you get lost in the pursuit of money and put aside life itself in search for profits, it’s tough to look at the beautiful gift — life — and that it truly is a wonderful life!
6) Pursuit of Happiness:
What do you do when you have everything going against you? You probably never had it as bad as Chris, who sleeps in bathrooms, homeless shelters and shabby hotels. Based on true events, it’s the story of a struggling salesman and his constant determination, attitude and character. As Chris says, “You want something, go get it, period.”
7) Up in the Air:
Business movies generally revolve around Wall Street, hostile takeovers and money. This one delves into HR issues, personal problems and communication skills. It’s a story about Ryan Bingham, whose job is to fire people he doesn’t know, and how he lives a life out of suitcase, with a sense of false compassion.
8) The Godfather:
A classic! A must watch for all business students. A 70mm bible about why relationships and building networks are important, why helping people is good for business and why knowing about competition is non-negotiable.
9) Barbarians at the Gate:
A real story and a real lesson! A classic must-watch for business students as it will take you through the saga of battle for power, a hostile takeover and leveraged buyout.
10) The Fountainhead:
Perhaps the most acclaimed work blending individualism and capitalism. The movie taught a whole generation that it does not matter what everybody else thinks — it’s how you see yourself and what your own dreams are. Isn’t that what every businessman strives to achieve every day?
Aditya Singhal is the co-founder of transtutors.com, which is a leading online tutoring resource for college students. Adi and his team are currently creating a courseware platform for MBA students. They are also launching later this year an eBay style marketplace for assignments. Adi gives back to society by contributing a portion of the company’s revenue toward the education of poor students in India.