The Hollywood MBA – 14 movies every entrepreneur must watch!

While on one hand I’m a  total total believer of the fact that readers make great leaders, I also understand that reading is not the “only” thing that fires up your soul. I’ve found myself feeling motivated and energised after watching a great film which has lessons I can transpose to my entrepreneurial journey. Often in conversations I call this my other MBA – “The Hollywood MBA”.

Today, a colleague coaxed me into writing my thoughts on the Hollywood school of business and here I am !! In no particular order, here is the list:

1. Wolf of Wall street

Year of release: 2013


This movie leaves you bewildered at times but whatever be the case you just cannot, not be wowed by the energy and sales hacker mindset displayed by Jordan Belfort (Leonardo in the film). It also gives you moments of truth on how things can spiral out of control if you’re not mindful.

Learning : Hustle, Team work, Employee engagement, Lead bu example, Incentive programs, Simplify your business

2. The pursuit of Happyness

Year of release: 2006


This is an absolute masterpiece. Again based on the real life story of Chris Gardener and portrayed by Will Smith , the film is an excellent window into the life of a common man with uncommon dreams and the determination and perseverance to achieve that dream. It also shows how no struggle is too tough if your dream is in the right place. Besides some great motivational quotes, the film also teaches you about trying your best to spend time with those dear, despite high stress jobs and life’s lows.

Learning : Hustle, OOTB (Out of the Box Thinking) , Determination, perseverance, Work-life balance, patience, 

3. The Social Network

Year of release: 2010


Of course this film had to be named in every list of movies every entrepreneur must watch. A peep into the world of silicon valley and how startups run and succeed. Adapted on Mark Zucker-Facebook-berg’s real life, the movie motivates youngsters to dream big and chase that dream to no end.

Learning : Startup life, Millennial entrepreneurs, Silicon valley hustle, perseverance, The Good , Bad and Ugly of entrepreneurship.

4. Jobs

Year of release: 2013


Based on the life of Steve Jobs this film is a must watch. Don’t watch it for the acting but for the story of the great visionary who transformed and fuelled innovation in the technology products industry. Of course Steve Jobs had his negatives (Don’t we all ? ) but the biggest take-away from the film is the story of courage, vision, determination and a masterclass in sales and marketing !!

Learning : Determination, Sales, Marketing, Focus, Entrepreneur mindset, Innovation

5. Nightcrawler

Year of release: 2014


Its a dark drama on how a guy hustles his way to being from rookie to good to pro in his game. It teaches you one thing and that very well – Utilising an Opportunity to its most. It shows the story of a stringer played by Jake Gyllenhaal who is self motivated, focused and understands constant improvement.

Learning : Hustle, OOTB (Out of the Box Thinking), focus, self -motivation, drive

6. The Shawshank redemption

Year of release: 1994


Though not a business inspired film,this film is an excellent reminder of the power of human spirit when the odds are all stacked against you. It teaches perseverance, planning and patience in a way no book can. Entrepreneurship is a similar setting. Sometimes odds and situations spiral out of control and only a calm mind, knowledge and planning gets you out.

Learning : Long term vision, Knowledge, planning,  perseverance


Year of release: 2001


This one is a documentary but worth a mention as it triggers thoughts on what to do and what not to do in startups. Its about the Gold Rush of the 1990s. You have to see it to know what I’m talking about, specially if you’re a techie or interested in understanding the internet bubble. The movie takes you through the inception and downfall of the internet company govWorks Inc. which at one point raised $60 million USD in funding and went bust in the year 2000 within two years of having started. It’s interesting to know that the company relaunched in January 2018 !!

Learning : Business, startups, Internet bubble, what not to do , orhanizational struggles, governanace issues

8. Wall Street

Year of release: 1987


The amount of sales dialogues one can learn from this film is insane. In a world of hunger where nothing can ever be enough, the movie showcases the passion  and madness that takes over a business guy when he is maniacal about success. It throws light on what level of craziness businesses go through to succeed terming ” greed is good” . Charlie Sheen totally embodies the role of a power and success hungry man who is ready to skirt the law to get what he wants. We all know someone like that in business – don’t we ?

Learning : Hustle, determination, passion, business acumen

9. Moneyball 

Year of release: 2011


Based on the life of Billy Beane, this film highlights the role innovative leadership takes in business. Needless to say it shows how analytics aces instinct in business. MUST watch !! You can never get enough of the quote “When your enemy is making mistakes, don’t interrupt him” – Think over it !!

Learning : Innovative leadership, Motivation, Determination, Data and analytics focus

10. Office space

Year of release: 1999


This is probably a classic film that motivated thousands if not millions of entrepreneurs globally into leaving their cushy 9 to 5 jobs and answer their calling. In the settings of an IT company, the film takes a humorous look at what it is to be doing that you don’t love, don’t value or what doesn’t inspire you !

Learning : Love what you do, Passion, learning 

11. Pirates of Silicon Valley

Year of release: 1999


Another masterpiece on the competition and meteoric rise of Bill Gates ad Steve Jobs, the titular pirates of silicon valley. My favourite quote from the film is ” Success is a menace. It fools smart people into thinking they cant lose” – I dearly wish Blackberry, Nokia and Kodak CXOs had seen the film in time !

Learning : Competition, drive, innovation, hustle, Entrepreneurial struggles, success, failure 

12. Catch me if you Can

Year of release: 2002


Okay so I understand that this film is about social engineering and the story of real life con artist Frank Abagnale, but hear me out on why this film makes this list. The level of creative thinking the protagonist displays is amazing. This is what the growth hacking mindset needs to be as an entrepreneur. You have to be on your feet thinking of growth and new ideas as a young business !

Learning : Hustle, OOTB (Out of the Box Thinking) , Business vision, perseverance

13. The Devil Wears Prada

Year of release: 2006


Set in the ever-evolving fashion industry, this movie provides a delightful insight into what it takes to be at the top and to how identifying a leadership style that works for you is important. What I also like about the film is how Anne Hathaway’s character transmutes into a smart and confident young woman which shows it doesn’t matter if you start with no knowledge but hard work teaches you all along the way to being the best version of yourself.

Learning : Hard work, Leadership styles, Learning on the job, self-awareness

14. Jerry MaGuire

Year of release: 1996


This is an excellent film on the power of passion and the entrepreneurial zeal to make your own mark. It also pleasantly throws light on work-life balance and has much motivational dialogues within. I totally love the movie for resonating with what I believe in strongly – Value those who value you ! Needless to say, having a strong support system around you is a blessing in life.

Learning: Patience, Things take time, the power of enthusiasm and focus, handling stress, valuing your support system

Do let me know if you have more movies to share that I may have missed.

If you’re wondering if these movies helped me, they sure did. While I am a 2X digital entrepreneur and have been an entrepreneur for long, I have had days when the stress was high and the spirit was low. Reading a good book( I’m more partial towards reading) or watching a good movie like the ones mentioned above gave me hope that this shall pass. While I’m focused currently on growing my newest business an AI powered CRM software tool Alore, I see myself doing a bit of many roles, I lean on data like Brad Pitt did in Moneyball, design and innovation like Steve Jobs or use some hustling tips from the Wolf Street films and try to nurture and protect my dream exactly like (Prof.) Will Smith said.

Image credit: Pinterest


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