The human brain loves stories, and there is no better story than one inspired by real-life struggles. That’s why founders and entrepreneurs have become the muse for scores of movies and TV shows. While entertaining, they are also an excellent source of valuable lessons for business leaders.
To that end, here are ten shows and movies every founder should have on their must-watch list to enrich their knowledge. Each entry is chosen because it either tackles a common pitfall or serves up helpful advice.
Six Must-Watch Movies For Founders Looking For Inspiration
Millions of people (and founders) relate to the amazing content these movies uphold. It’s about time you join the bandwagon:
1. The Social Network
The story of Facebook’s founding, The Social Network, takes a lot of creative liberties while giving a glimpse of how Mark Zuckerberg began Facebook while at Harvard. But that just makes it more memorable and worthy of a watch.
The lesson: Every success story has a humble beginning. The movie is extremely inspirational, particularly about how founders must be resilient when facing challenges and be ready to pivot when required.
2. The Great Hack
This documentary on Netflix handles incontestably the biggest scandal of recent times: how Cambridge Analytica mined the data of millions of Facebook users without permission. The analytical firm then used it for political advertising to turn the tide in the 2016 US presidential campaign and Brexit.
The lesson: The Great Hack lays out how (and the extent) digital platforms can harvest personal data and exploit it to their benefit or otherwise. Given the sharp rise in demand for data privacy and security in the last few years, the movie is worth every minute.
3. The Pirates of Silicon Valley
A partly-historical film, The Pirates of Silicon Valley explores the early days of Apple and Microsoft and the relationship between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. It is depicted as a play in three acts, spanning the period between 1971 and 1997.
The lesson: It packs quite a few priceless business lessons for entrepreneurs, not surprising since it features the two most iconic business magnets who revolutionised the tech world.
4. Wall Street
Wall Street, one of the 80s movies to make the cut, is not inspired by a well-known business icon. Instead, the story simply spans the life of a stockbroker who succumbs to ambition and greed. Nevertheless, it offers very objective learning.
The lesson: Chasing power at the expense of morality never ends well. It’s a cautionary tale of the high price people pay when they lose their moral compass and make unethical business decisions in pursuit of money.
5. The Pursuit of Happiness
Based on Chris Gardner’s story, the true-to-life movie does take a few liberties. Still, it exceptionally portrays how Gardner rose from poverty to become a legend on Wall Street ultimately. The gruelling circumstances Gardner faces during his homelessness are very similar to what founders go through during the early stages.
The lesson: The movie is not to be missed because you can draw many parallels, from going to extreme lengths to achieve a goal to playing the long game instead of instant gratification. Besides, it’s heartening to watch the protagonist work hard, overcome obstacles, and fulfil his dreams.
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street portrays the life of stockbroker Jordan Belfort and how he went from being a successful entrepreneur to a convicted felon. It is entertainment and learning packed into a couple of hours.
The lesson: The film doesn’t teach what one should do, but rather what not to do. Belfort acts as a quintessential example of the result of letting greed take the driver’s seat. He is also a warning about the outcome of having entrepreneurs who lack empathy.
Four TV Shows To Put On A Founder’s Watch List
Movies are movies, but there are TV shows, equally gratifying and well-made that a founder can watch:
1. Silicon Valley
Although a satirical show, the episodes of Silicon Valley are profoundly relatable. The sitcom depicts the story of Pied Piper, a startup that began in a garage and grew to be a titan. It captures the lucrative world of the real Silicon Valley accurately and entertainingly.
The lesson: The TV show stays very true to the ground reality of startups, so it hits close to home for founders. It also enlightens on the amount of authority the powers-to-be hold, how morality plays a role in business and if ethics and money can exist in balance.
2. Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates
Each episode of Inside Bill’s Brain talks about a different facet of Bill Gates’ life. The documentary-style show should make a founders list for one reason – it is based on arguably one of the most successful founders.
The lesson: The series is a fount of insights and knowledge since it lays bare the thinking of Bill Gates. The characteristics, ideas, and techniques it highlights are better than any book, seminar, or talk.
3. Dirty Money
A Netflix Original, Dirty Money paints the dark side of the business world, depicting corruption in large global corporations. From HSBC to Donald Trump to Volkswagen, every episode gives the background on the most significant scandals using footage and interviews.
The lesson: Besides giving the Cliff Notes on major corporate frauds, corruption, and crime, the show offers one unsurpassable wisdom. Exploitation is not the only path to success.
4. Workin’ Moms
The last pick on the list, Workin’ Moms, follows the lives of four professional women juggling work and parenthood. Moving beyond issues like postpartum depression and job opportunities represents breaking the expectations of society.
The lesson: With the need to include more women in India Inc’s boardroom, it is high time founders and entrepreneurs gained an authentic view of how working mothers manage. The TV show offers just that.
Watch and Learn
These ten movies and television shows are just the tips of the iceberg. There are dozens of fantastic series and films to give any business leader a jolt of motivation or harsh truths, from Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened to Planet of the Apps. If you find one that’s more than worth a watch, share it in the comments.