Sunday, February 12, 2012

...Watching Movies

For some, February is the month of love, for others the month of the biggest Football game of the year. Meanwhile in Hollywood, it’s the month where the movie industry recognizes its finest films, actors, actresses, and many more at the Oscars.

A recent book I read,
Death by Meeting, points out how meetings should follow the key elements of movies. So on that note, I went back to some classic films to find business inspiration in their most memorable quotes. 

The Ten Things I Learned Watching Movies

1. Set High Expectations
In the summer of 1975, the world quit swimming all because a large shark attacked the coast of New England in Jaws. As Chief Brody comes to his first encounter face-to-face with the beast, he points out to the ship’s captain “you’re gonna need a bigger boat”. At work, set high expectations and plan for bigger things. In general, think big if you’re going for the big fish. 

2. Elevate Issues
Apollo 13 is a movie about the 7th manned mission to the moon, starring Tom Hanks among other fine actors. When they identify an issue with their shuttle, they quickly reported home by saying “Houston, we have a problem” Don’t expect to be able to control everything at work. Something, sometimes, might go wrong. At that point, involve others - like your bosses or peers- to get their help.  

3. Anticipate and prepare for difficult times
The ending scene of The Terminator, has the main character, Sarah Connor, looking to the horizon as a young boy takes her picture and says “There’s a storm coming”. Have the foresight to recognize that tougher times will come and be ready for them. Like the movie character ready yourself and others for the uphill battles to come. Hopefully by course correcting your business won’t end as chaotic as the movie’s futuristic view  

4. Put your full effort into the work you do
One of my favorite quotes comes from the scene where Luke Skywalker is training with Yoda on Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back. As the Jedi apprentice doubts his ability to complete his trainers request, the old green master replies “Do or Do not, there is no try”. Don’t waste unnecessary efforts doubting yourself. Set your mind to do something and you will, but it will require effort and having the force.  

5. Manage your stress
Who would have guessed, you’d learn such valuable lessons on enjoying your job without worries from a Warthog and a Meercat in the Lion King. Their Swahili philosophy “Hakuna Matata” shows us that we shouldn’t worry. In stressful times, look to Timon and Pumbaa for their carefree spirit and reassure yourself that there is “no problem” singing the catchy tune in your head. 

6. Make a profit 
After a Disney lesson on living a worry free life, I thought it would be only fair to follow it with our true business purpose, to make profits. Like Cuba Gooding Junior’s speech in Jerry Maguire, your business priority should be to think “Show me the money.” Businesses, as taught in any business school, are made to make profits. Without them, they won’t sustain very long. Make sure you’re doing the right financial things at work, to keep your business profitable: from cost savings to profitable new items and more. 

7. Focus on consumer needs
In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner hears a voice that says “If you build it, he will come” which sets the stage for building a baseball field over his cornfield. If you have the right understanding of your consumers, you can build what they want. If you do that, they will come. 

8. Influence others (without them knowing) 
In The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey explains the particular skills that Keizer Soze, an underground mobster, has in remaining invisible by saying “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Putting the demonic reference aside, having others work with you and buy into your ideas is mostly referred to in your office as “influencing others”. Read up on the subject and learn the trick in many books about it.

9. Follow your career dream
In the life story of Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness, the actor gives advice to his son by saying if “you want something, go get it, period.” It’s that same thinking that got him from homeless to run a multimillion dollar brokerage firm in real life. Like the young man in the movie, don’t let people tell you what you can or cannot be at work. You decide and work hard to get it. 

10. Don’t give importance to smaller things
I had to end with one of America’s most classic movies, particularly the ending quote of the entire film. As you progress in your career, you need to let go of the smaller things. Delegating becomes easier with the right attitude. The best way I’ve found to do it is to say to myself, like Rhett Butler did in Gone with the Wind, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” 

For years, Hollywood has made us cry and laugh. It’s made us think and not. They’ve entertained us by distracting us with other people’s stories. This time, you write your own with a little creative inspiration from some of the most memorable quotes.

To start your professional journey, take (Light, Cameras) Action 

*All quotes, characters, and stories are property of their respective studios, writers, and producers.

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