14 Business Tips to Learn from the Movies, Part II

In part one of our series of business tips to learn from the movies, we covered a wide range of films, and an equally wide array of business topics. Now, here are seven more for your next weekend movie-thon.

Hey, if anyone asks, just tell them you’re doing research for work.

Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen these films, there are revealing plot details beyond this point. Here we go!

Movie-Made Business Tip #8: Ask for the kind of money you really want

Jerry Maguire

“Show me the money!” is the famous line from Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in Jerry McGuire. Since the movie came out, that phrase has been frequently repeated by business professionals in a variety of settings.

Nobody wants to work for free; not you, not me. Never be afraid to ask what you’re really after. You’d be surprised at the number of times you ask your “real” price and the customer accepts it, without hesitation.

Ask for the money you really want to receive, otherwise you’ll be settling for less. And once you go lower, you’re stuck there.

Movie-Made Business Tip #9: Statistics don’t lie

Moneyball

Moneyball is another sports-themed movie with carryovers in the world of business. The Brad Pitt flick tells a rather uplifting story–especially for business professionals. Based on the true story of manager Billy Beane (Pitt,) who assembles a winning baseball team with the help of a trusty geek and some computer number-crunching, Moneyball teaches you that numbers trump names.

Carefully examining your leads will help you achieve the same kind of thing in your business. Every lead has a price tag and a value. Carefully analyzing the analytics of your landing pages and — if you’re using Quote Roller – your business proposals, will help you uncover winning leads just like they were baseball players being recruited in the movie.

Movie-Made Business Tip #10: Stay the course, no matter what happens

Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s epic dramatization of Abraham Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) fight to ratify the 13th Amendment is not only a rousing tale of America’s 16th president, but is also a testament to staying the course.

It’s difficult to draw direct comparisons between Lincoln’s noble objective of abolishing slavery and pedestrian business interests, but the lesson is a valuable one nonetheless. In the film (as in life,) Lincoln handles everything that is thrown at him with class, humor, and above all, focus on the ultimate goal. Those personal traits are of obvious benefit to businesses, too.

Movie-Made Business Tip #11: Protect your intellectual property

The Social Network

It’s nearly impossible to discuss movies and business without spending some time discussing The Social Network, a movie about one of the biggest businesses of the digital age.

In many cases, intellectual property (IP) is the backbone of your business. In The Social Network, David Fincher’s dramatization of the founding of Facebook, IP is basically at the heart of the whole story. The Winklevoss brothers (both played by Arnie Hammer,) collectively known as “the Winklevii,” have a startup called ConnectU, which they are quick to charge Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jessie Eisenberg) with lifting outright.

The lesson here is to protect your IP. Zuckerberg was initially tapped by the Winklevie to create code for what they were calling HarvardConnect at the time. Zuckerberg infamously made Facebook (or, thefacebook.com as it was then known) instead of completing the work for the Winklevii project. Had the brothers had anything more than a “handshake” deal to back their IP, things might have been different – we might have all been clicking “like” on funny cat pictures on ConnectU instead. See also: non-disclosure agreement.

Movie-Made Business Top #12: Know what you’re up against.

The Dark Knight

There’s a lesser character with an interesting plot in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 blockbuster, The Dark Knight. A Wayne Enterprises accountant, meek in disposition, thorough in his auditing, uncovers that his boss Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is secretly the Batman. He first tries to use the information to blackmail Wayne by way of Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman,) but fails.

Sent back to the drawing board, wisely, by Fox, the accountant pops up again later in the film, offering to expose Batman on local television. In doing so, said accountant makes himself a target for the Joker’s madcap mayhem, and winds up with everyone in Gotham hunting him down. Not a good scenario.

What our errant accountant failed to do was recognize that the odds were against him on all sides. Fox tells the accountant, “Let me get this straight. You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands; and your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck.”

The accountant was armed with information, but he made all the wrong choices with what to do with it. When you get business intelligence in reference to a competitor or prospective customer, it’s up to you to make a good plan for what to do with that information. Here’s a business tip: knowledge is power, use it wisely, and make sure your use of it doesn’t blow up in your face.

Movie-Made Business Tip #13: Make full use of all the resources at hand.

Home Alone

In Home Alone, Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) improvises a variety of booby traps using toys, Christmas decorations, and pantry items in an effort to foil a couple of bumbling burglars. The kid uses everything at his disposal to accomplish his goal. He invests nothing, nada.

That’s a good lesson for you, too. With so many great tools out there, for free and little more, why not make the most out of them? You run a business now from your browser, thanks to the computing cloud. Are you using costly, legacy desktop applications that hurt your bottom line? Why not take a nod from Kevin McAllister and use what’s at hand to full effect?

Movie-Made Business Tip #14: “Don’t underestimate the other guy’s greed.”

Scarface

This quote from Scarface, spoken by Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) sounds purely gruff, at a cursory glance. But, like most big gangster movies, there is a deeper meaning in there somewhere.

For us, in legitimate businesses, greed is still a fact of life. While there are certainly some people who ascribe to a healthy benefit in possessing a certain amount of greed in business, the fact remains that the competition is always greedy. Or, at the very least, you should perceive them that way. If you’re hesitating on sending our business proposals or answering requests for proposals, or nervously avoiding sales opportunities, you should acknowledge that your competitors are likely scooping up your missed opportunities.

So take a business tip from a fictional Miami drug lord and remember that the competition is greedy, but only if you give them the chance.

While it feels tempting to end this article with “THE END” in bold white letters on a black background, let’s do it another way. Tell us what movies you think are business tip goldmines in the comment space below.

Click here to read the first 7 flicks to flaunt your business skillz.

Photos: Flickr, Creative Commons, Tara Gadwell

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Todd Spear is a freelance blogger and journalist. He's helped media outlets and brands alike connect with their audiences. He's a regular contributor to Anthill Online, the Quote Roller Blog, and Naluda Magazine, among many other sites. You can connect with Todd via his website www.toddspear.net

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