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5 Worst Pieces of Business Advice From Hollywood Movies

5 Worst Pieces of Business Advice From Hollywood Movies

    There are some movies that give great business advice. And there are some movies that give, shall we say, questionable advice for the sake of advancing the plot. If you’ve been taking your business advice from movies, you’re probably already in rough shape. But if you’ve been taking guidance from these quotes in particular, then you’re really in trouble. Here are some of the worst pieces of business advice from movies.

    1. Wall Street (1987)

    “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.” -Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas)

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    Wall Street is the classic movie about business and investing. But while some of the advice fits perfectly with the story line of the film, a lot of it doesn’t necessarily work in the real world. Everyone knows Gekko’s “Greed is good” speech, but looking at the last few years in investing news, it’s clear that greed, while necessary for a functioning capitalist system, can still do a lot of damage.

    Let’s take a look at AIG just a few years ago to illustrate this point. After the “great September bailout”, AIG execs seemed to be driven by an insatiable greed. The week after the September bailout, AP reported that AIG executives traveled to California for a decadent company retreat which cost a reported $444,000 and featured spa treatments and golf outings. Then on the 17th of October, AP reported that AIG executives spent $86,000 on a hunting trip in England. News of this spending spree came just days after AIG received an additional $37.8 billion loan from the Federal Reserve, on top of a previous $85 billion emergency loan given to them the month before.

    Is greed good? I’d say, like all good things, it is only good in moderation.

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    2. Office Space (1999)

    “Michael, we don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.” -Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston)

    While this may be a valid point, this conversation ultimately leads to Peter and his friends stealing over $300,000 from the company they work for. And while we were not designed to stare at computers all day, that doesn’t mean that embezzling money is a good way to get around that draining business requirement.

    3. The Godfather (1972)

    “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” – Michael Corleone (Al Pacino)

    Business is always personal. It is the decisions of people that direct the paths of companies, and it is always people who make the mistakes attributed to a specific company. It’s important to make decisions based on what’s best for the company, and not just what’s best for you, but if you’re going to take the advice from Michael Corleone, make sure you keep the other side of the coin in mind. There is no business without people, and can be no people without businesses to support them.

    All that being said, let’s not forget what happens to Sonny.

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    4. Working Girl (1988)

    “You can bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you’re trying to get there.” -Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith)

    Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in recent memory made their millions by being innovative and bending the rules. If Mark Zuckerberg had tried to make his fortune “the traditional way”, would he have had such a high net worth so early in his life?

    Sometimes, bending the rules can backfire. But thinking outside the box and pursuing an entirely new business concept can be what sets you apart from the pack. So feel free to bend the rules on your climb to the top. As she says later in the film, “I’m not gonna spend the rest of my life working my ass off and getting nowhere just because I followed rules that I had nothing to do with setting up, OK?”

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    5. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967)

    “I realize that I’m the president of this company, the man that’s responsible for everything that goes on here. So, I want to state, right now, that anything that happened is not my fault.” -J. B. Biggley (Rudy Vallee)

    Personal responsibility is what keeps corporations successful, honest, and in touch with their shareholders. The higher up you get in the corporate food chain, the more important it is to stay in touch with that need to be personally responsible for your work. Sure, when something goes wrong, you will have to take the heat. But if something goes extremely well, don’t you want to make sure you get full credit? You can’t have it both ways, you know, so you’ve got to take responsibility for what happens on your watch.

    Oh, and a word to the wise: it’s probably not the best idea to take business cues from anyone in a musical.

    What other Hollywood films feature dubious business advice? Tell us in the comments below, follow us on Twitter, or take the conversation over to Facebook.

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    Last Updated on October 18, 2018

    10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

    10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

    When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

    Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

    People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

    These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

    1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

    Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

    To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

    Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

    When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

    Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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    2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

    Things go wrong when you run your own business.

    Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

    Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

    Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

    Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

    If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

    3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

    Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

    As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

    Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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    After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

    Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

    He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

    4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

    No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

    It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

    You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

    Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

    An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

    5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

    You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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    As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

    Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

    Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

    You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

    6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

    In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

    Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

    • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
    • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
    • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

    By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

    7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

    Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

    As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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    8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

    No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

    Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

    9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

    Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

    If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

    10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

    Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

    Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

    If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

    The Bottom Line

    Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

    Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

    Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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