Websites too often go for the hard sell when promoting films that deliver the site’s message. Or worse, nothing to sell but a cheap gimmick to get you to click through a slide show of images and worthless content. I am going to swing for the fences and give you three movies every executive needs to watch on one page, no images or hard sell, and I will even use movies that aren’t about business.
1. The Goonies
Steven Spielberg’s 1985 magnum opus. Better than Raiders. Better than Close Encounters. Hands down the best movie about setting goals, overcoming obstacles, not settling for less and, at the end, getting what you deserve rather than what you wanted. A group of young friends set out to find treasure when one of them finds a clue from One-Eyed Willy, a legendary local treasure hunter. The promise of pirate treasure pushes the motley crew of kids who learn adult lessons along the way.
Executive lessons: sometimes the prize isn’t a pile of gold but in proving yourself right. Use what resources you have. Particularly your mind and your sense of adventure.
Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s story about an ambitious producer who wants to make a movie in Hollywood sat in the wings for twenty years until Gene Kelly took a chance and directed. Singing in the Rain’s plot is not as interesting as the challenges the cast and crew faced to make it. This 1952 film follows Kelly as the erstwhile producer who wants to make the perfect musical. Knowing Kelly roped in an 18-year-old Debbie Reynolds with no dancing background and made Donald O’Connor bedridden for a week is just a few examples of how important being ‘perfect’ meant to Kelly.
Executive lessons: reaching for perfection is admirable. Be mindful of the capabilities of your team and their limits. You might have a Debbie Reynolds on your team but if you push too hard to meet your expectations, your project may be a masterpiece you will lose the talent that helped you. Know your ego.
Another Spielberg movie is the Tom Hanks-Leonardo Dicaprio vehicle, Catch Me If You Can. (2002) About a young imposter who fakes his way through different careers to defraud the rich. It is also about an FBI agent who matures from a by-the-books lawman to understanding his quarry more humanely. A stand-out performance by Hanks and Dicraprio (and an appearance by the amazing Christopher Walken), it’s a crime caper, a comedy and a romance about the twentieth century.
Executive lessons: succeed with the resources you have and the creative ways you and your staff can exploit them. Be mindful of the consequences, don’t let nearsighted rewards blind you from the long term gains you could have. And the prize isn’t always about money.
Epictetus wrote, ‘Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.’
Runner up is The Big Lebowski. The executive lessons listed here can be found in this interpretation of The Big Sleep by the Cohen Brothers.