THE BLOG
01/30/2015 05:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Business Lessons From 3 Iconic Movies

I have long been a fan of movies and the numerous things they have been able to do for people over the past century. They entertain us, they bring us together and they inspire us.

Movies also teach us.

These lessons come from movies based on actual events, accounting for some creative liberties here and there. Also, these lessons come from remarkable pieces of fiction where you can leave your daily life and experience another.

A few of my favorite movies are listed below. I connect with these movies very closely and very differently. I quote them regularly with my best friends. I reference their stories and lessons on a daily basis but have never been so clear about them, until now.

'Ocean's 11' (2001)

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Image credit: Dailymail UK

The moment: Early on, Rusty (Brad Pitt) and Danny (George Clooney) are shown discussing the team they need to pull off the ultimate heist. When Danny asks Rusty who he has in mind for the job, Rusty replies:

"Well, off the top of my head, I'd say you're looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever!"

The business lesson: Teamwork. I love this scene in the movie because it is arguably the most important decision the leaders (Rusty and Danny) need to make. They are assessing the unique skills and individualities of the team they need using creative references to famous people.

The collection of people Rusty and Danny put together is flawless. Each member brings in their own strength, and allows the other members to let their strengths shine. Have a surveillance question? No questions asked, you would go to Livingston. Need transport? Consult the Malloy brothers from Utah. Roles and strengths were clear for the team, and they were all very different. This dynamic allows for unprecedented collaboration and trust within the team.

You have this type of meaningful diversity among the people you work and collaborate with now. You just need to see it and unlock it.

'Drive' (2011)

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Image credit: Dailymail UK

The moment: The Driver says this monologue twice, once in the first scene of the film:

"If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place, I give you a five-minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours, no matter what. I don't sit in while you're running it down; I don't carry a gun... I drive. "

The business lesson: Self-awareness. The driver (Ryan Gosling) brings an effortless sense of power and influence with what is effectively his elevator pitch. The influence in his words come from their assuredness. He knows exactly what he can do for you, what he will do for you and most importantly, what he won't do for you.

He knows he is the best wheelman and driver in Los Angeles and he can get you out of a pinch. He states his loyalty and commitment, accompanied with focused boundaries. His self-awareness also makes clear what he cannot bring to the table, a sign to the other party that they will need to find someone else with a different set of strengths to create a holistic group. Check lesson one.

Let self-awareness be the foundation in your journey of personal and professional development. Grant yourself the ability to approach your work and life through your natural strengths.

'Wall Street' (1987)

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Image credit: NY Daily News

There is not one specific quote that highlights the lesson I have gained from this movie. It is played out throughout the entire film, and the more you watch it, the more you see it.

The business lesson: There are no short cuts. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) and Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) are two of my favorite characters from any movie I have seen. Their dynamic together is exhilarating. They are in very different states of their lives in this movie, yet are remarkably similar. Bud Fox was the young-gun, recent NYU grad who was looking for fast money and the quick rise to the top. Gordon Gekko was the kingpin. He was the man who had everything, and nothing. His lust for the game and for money led him to always be looking for quick riches through any means necessary. Both of these characters were looking for some kind of short cut. Short cuts lead to unstable foundations; shallow roots that produce weak branches.

The secondary lesson from this concept is to exercise patience. You can have everything you have ever wanted, you just can't have it all at once. Enjoy the journey you are on, even and especially if it is difficult. The journey should be challenging, because if it isn't, you aren't maximizing your potential. Don't let the need for instant gratification lead you to take short cuts, the end result may inevitably be that of Bud Fox and Gordon Gekko.

What are your favorite movie moments? Connect with me on LinkedIn and let's discuss.