9 Lessons for Entrepreneurs from the Entertainment World

by Rajesh Setty on August 7, 2009

This is a Friday special from Active Garage.

You can watch movies for entertainment. Some movies provide NOT only entertainment but also pack some valuable lessons for your life, business or both.

Here are 9 lessons for entrepreneurs from the movie world.

1. Be Comfortable Being Unreasonable

People say you are not qualified to do this orย  you are not qualified to do that. If you believe what “limits” others are putting on you, you will be reasonable. You have to be unreasonable

This is a clip from the movie “Erin Brokovich” where you can see an example of someone “being unreasonable” and being very comfortable being unreasonable.

2. NEVER give up on your dream.

Spoiler Alert: This is the ending of the movie “Shawshank Redemption.” So, please don’t click if you have not watched the movie and have plans to watch it.

You have to hope and dream for a new reality and never give it up even if it takes decades.

This clip is from my all-time favorite movie “Shawshank Redemption” whereย  you can find the above message as Rod reads Andy’s letter.

3. Believe that journey is where the magic is.

Language Alert: This is a song from a Hindi Movie. Some of you may not understand the song but I am sure you will enjoy the music. Also, the song will begin after 30 seconds of dialogue.

You feel that journey is on this path is far better than the destination. This clip is from the movie “Jab We Met.” (meaning “When we met.”)

Here is the first piece of the song.. (in Hindi)

Hum Jo Chalne Lage
Chalne Lage Hai Yeh Raste
Haaan Haaan
Manzil Se Behtar Lagne Lage Hai Yeh Raste

Sort of translation to English:

We have started walking
Started walking this path
Yes, Yes
A path where the journey is better than the destination!

4. Put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential

This is from the movie “Hoosiers.” The clip is Gene Hackman’s motivational speech before the Regional Finals.

Your journey will take you many places but something that is totally in your control is to play to your FULL potential all the time.

Gene Hackman says –

“If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says, in my book we are going to be winners.”

5. Remember that stakeholders will be asking you to “Show Me the Money”

Whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, the stakeholders for your business will see “revenue” and “profits” as metrics for measuring the success of your business. You have to show them the money.

This clip is from “Jerry McGuire.” Enjoy!

6. Fight for Every Inch.

Things don’t go as planned – “That’s what life is… six inches before your face.”

This clip is from the movie “Any Given Sunday.” Al Pacino delivers an inspiring speech where he talks about how winners win by inches and will fight for every inch.

Hat Tip: Raj Raheja from Heartwood Studios for suggesting this.

7. It’s Not How Hard You Hit. It’s How Hard You Can Get Hit.

It would be a miracle if your plans unfold the way they were laid out. It would be a miracle if you don’t find roadblocks on every other turn.

It is not about not having the roadblocks. It’s about what you do when you hit a roadblock that matters.

This short clip is from the movie “Rocky Balboa” where Stallone is advising the young kid about fighting and life.

The key message is just that –ย  “It’s not how hard you hit but how hard you can get hit. And keep going.”

Hat Tip: Dr Mani for suggesting this.

8. Don’t Vanish Without a Fight

This short clip is from the movie “Independence Day.” Here Bill Pullman (playing the role of President of America) is giving an inspiring speech to the soldiers before they take on the Aliens.

9. Accept Outcome with Grace

When it is showtime, give your best but accept the outcome with grace.Winning and losing are part of the game.

This is a short clip from the movie “Bring It On.” Kirsten Dunst and her team will put on a show like no other in the final dance of the competition. Unfortunately they don’t win.

The grace with which Kirsten accepts the outcome and congratulates the winning team wholeheartedly is noteworthy.

Kirsten and her team did their VERY best in the show but when the outcome was not in their favor, they accepted it without questioning it and with utmost grace.

For those of you who really want to see the dance of the winning team, here it is – from the “Clover team.

Once again, Happy Friday to all of you.

Come and share with us what lessons you have learnt from the movies.

rubber_meets_the_roadRajesh Setty is an entrepreneur, author and speaker based in Silicon Valley. He maintains another blog called Life Beyond Code and tweets as @UpbeatNow

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  • artmaker

    Since I wowas a kid, Iloved watching movies, just for nuggets like these, now I can get 9 in one place! lets be honest I was never ever going to watch 'bring it on' so that's a bonus for me, Great Collection =)

    I'll share this on twitter once it geys back up =S

  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301

    Ming, thank you for the comments.

    Most of my friends had not seen “Bring It On.” My hope is that they will be inspired to see the movie after watching these short clips.


  • http://www.surskeeg.com robe1221

    I posted something along these lines on my blog, but not as much detail. My focus was on teaching life lessons to children through geek based animations. The example I used was from Bolt, where he had to come to the realization that his perspective was not necessarily the right or only one and had to come to terms with that.

    I agree 100% that movies can point out a multitude of lessons and I bet the list of such movies could go on and on and on. Great List here, and I have seen all of them, and to be honest didn't really realize some of it till I read your blog. Great post!

  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301

    Thank you for your comments here. That's a great lesson from Bolt. I guess that lesson is not just for kids, all of us can learn from it.

    Have a great morning.


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  • sfermigier

    Hi Rajesh,

    what about the Alec Baldwin performance in Glengarry Glenn Ross ?


    Great scene, and also gets you thinking about what's bad (and also what not so bad) in his character approach to sales teams motivation.


    S. Fermigier, founder, Nuxeo – http://www.nuxeo.com

  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301


    Thanks for sharing that clip.

    That was a “powerful” sales meeting – questionable for sure but he definitely gets his message across.

    The AIDA Model is very popular. However, my mentor Yakov has a slightly different take on it. According to Yakov, the missing component in the AIDA model is the “comfort.” You can read the entire article here:



  • http://www.nuxeo.com/ sfermigier

    Indeed. The ABC / AIDA model can only work for simple sales or sales (such as in the movie) where you have to close the deal before the prospect has the time to realize he's making a mistake, i.e. you only have limited time for the confort phase (but if you watch the whole movie, you will see that's exactly what the Al Pacino character does with his prospect).

    More sophisticated models exist for complex sales (solution selling, etc.) that add this consulting aspect to the sale, which fills the confort-building need of your friend's model.

    S. Fermigier, founder, Nuxeo – http://www.nuxeo.com

  • http://twitter.com/mike_stelzner Michael A. Stelzner

    Good stuff here Raj

  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301

    Thanks Stefane,

    On sales models, yes – I am sure all of us have been exposed to dozens of sales models and the applicability of these models depends on the context, type of deal, industry and the nature of the client.

    I have not seen the movie but now I will ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks again.


  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301

    Thanks Mike. Glad you liked it. Have a great weekend.


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  • http://LeanStartups.com Apolinaras Sinkevicius

    I don't want to be a party pooper here, but having spent some time in the entertainment industry and in startups, REAL LIFE lessons are a lot deeper and SIMPLER than any of the corny lines some writer conjured up.
    We sometimes look for some fancy statements or ideas, but real life experience teaches you very simple things no movie or motivational speaker will give you:
    1. Luck has a lot more to do with success than hard work, though hard work and tenacity gets you higher odds.
    2. You will be crushed under the weight of your ego. Get some humility in you real quick.
    3. Those who learn from experience and mistakes of others are much more likely to make it. As the saying goes: “don't re-invent the wheel, make it better”.

  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301


    Thank you. I like real life lessons but my teachers have also taught me to notice and learn good lessons from anywhere.

    As you rightly said, “You will be crushed under the weight of your ego. Get some humility in you real quick.” When you really practice humility, you may not see the lessons from others as corny lines ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Have a great evening there.


  • http://LeanStartups.com Apolinaras Sinkevicius

    Nice comeback re. corny lines. Zing! I like you already!

    Twp points I would like to add:
    1. Sometimes it takes a big failure to get over the ego and focus on what really matters. Right out of school, the first company I worked for and was part of blew up. I was the last employee and had to shutter everything. So much for “equity”. That was a real eyeopener. People can sometimes warn, tell you, hammer it into you – sometimes you have to get burned to learn the stove is hot.
    2. Too many times we get too much fiction in stories of success. We don't learn much from success of others, but sure as heck we can learn a lot from the failure of others.

  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301

    Thanks Apolinaras.

    Thank you for sharing the story of your first startup. You can read my own failure story ( I have had dozens of them ) here:


    Have a great week ahead.


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  • lameei

    Good job,Raj. I hit this post at the right time. very useful. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301

    I am so glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting here. Have a great weekend.


  • lameei

    Good job,Raj. I hit this post at the right time. very useful. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/ rajesh301

    I am so glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting here. Have a great weekend.


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