By Gina Blitstein

Movies can be a fanciful escape from our day-to-day lives and from the pressures of work. The stories they tell can entertain and delight, teach and inspire. Through drama, laughter and tears, movies can impact us on a variety of levels, both personal and professional.

Throughout history, movies have been made about every aspect of life, including business and the workplace. Lessons can be gleaned from the topics covered in any movie; business, professions and the experiences of people as they perform their jobs are no exception. Sometimes literal and sometimes more obtuse, movies about business can serve to motivate and influence our professional outlook.

What follows is a random and eclectic list of movies from which knowledge and insight into the world of business can be garnered.

The Godfather: A multitude of lessons are delivered in this classic and epic tale of a family business, including:

  1. The perils vs. rewards of expanding your operation.
  2. Defining – and sticking to – your own moral code in the operation of your business.
  3. Family vs. professional loyalties.

The Devil Wears Prada: This movie explores the dynamic between a demanding boss and an ambitious new employee. Lessons gleaned could include:

  1. Be a gracious, respectful leader, even though you may wield great power.
  2. Inexperience doesn’t necessarily translate to unqualified.

The Pursuit of Happiness: For the entrepreneur in all of us, this movie strikes at the heart, teaching that:

  1. Working hard and sacrificing much in pursuit of your dream is not a unique concept.
  2. While you may not be able to follow a direct route to your goals, you may find an alternative way to work in the right direction.

Nine to Five: Although this was an outrageous comedy, it does bring up many serious issues between bosses and employees, including:

  1. No one is indispensable.
  2. It’s not a good idea to underestimate your staff.
  3. Avoid a threatening or hostile workplace environment.
  4. It’s amazing how much more can get done when you empower your employees.

Trading Places: This movie explores the plight of an up-and-coming executive when his professional status and perks are suddenly taken from him and given to another. From this, one could learn the following:

  1. There’s more to being a success than a good education and credentials.
  2. With the right coaching, environment and experience, an honest, hard-working person can go far.
  3. In the end, misfortune can fling any successful professional off his or her pedestal.

Modern Times: In this classic Charlie Chaplin film, the loss of humanity is explored when machines take precedence in the workplace. We learn from this funny yet touching movie that:

  1. It’s difficult for employees to feel appreciated when their productivity is the only measure of success.
  2. Automation is great, but ultimately nothing gets done in business without people.
  3. Employees need to have an adequate amount of personal time away from their duties at work.

This, of course, is a mere smattering of movies from which you could discover things to inform and inspire your business attitude and outlook. My list will hopefully get you thinking a little differently – a little more contextually – the next time you sit back to enjoy a movie. You may even begin to realize there were lessons awaiting your discovery in movies you’ve already seen. Business inspiration is all around us – even on the big screen.

Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.