*UPDATE* — This post has been a huge hit … to the tune of over 80,000 visitors! Thank you and I’ve taken your suggestions and added to this list since originally writing this post. You will find the newest inspirational entrepreneur movies at the end of this post. If I missed any, please let me know in the comments below so that I can add them to my list!
Inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere. Even on the big screen. Being a motion picture fanatic, I like to watch movies not only for entertainment value, but I really enjoy ones that have a powerful messaging ingrained into it.
Like Tony Robbins said in one of his recent interviews, sometimes my mind is just active all day working on projects, that watching a movie is great way to decompress at the end of the day.
This list of 21 entrepreneur movies created over the past 25 years that will not only entertain you, but have the capability to impact you with the powerful messages behind them.
These films are a must for every entrepreneurs library. Click on the images to see a trailers for some of the films.
21+ Inspirational Entrepreneur Movies:
Big Takeaway: Every dream has it’s price.
Summary: Bud Fox is a Wall Street stockbroker in early 1980’s New York with a strong desire to get to the top. Fox finally meets with extremely successful (but ruthless and greedy) broker Gordon Gekko, who takes the youth under his wing and explains his philosophy that “Greed is Good”. Taking the advice and working closely with Gekko, Fox soon finds himself swept into a world of “yuppies”, shady business deals, the “good life”, fast money, and fast women; something which is at odds with his family including his estranged father and the blue-collared way Fox was raised.
Big Takeaway: Leaders never give up on their vision.
Summary: Based on a true story. Shortly after World War II, Preston Tucker is a grandiose schemer with a new dream, to produce the best cars ever made. With the assistance of Abe Karatz and some excellent salesmanship on his own part, he obtains funding and begins to build his factory. The whole movie also has many parallels with director Coppola’s own efforts to build a new movie studio of his own.
Big Takeaway: Make success your only option.
Summary: Times are tough in a New York real-estate office and 4 salesmen are given a strong incentive by Blake to succeed in a sales contest. The prizes? First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is the sack! There is no room for losers in this dramatically masculine world; only “closers” will get the good sales leads. There is a lot of pressure to succeed, so a robbery is committed which has unforeseen consequences for all the characters.
Big Takeaway: Determination and heart will get you further than talent.
Summary: Rudy is a true story about Dan Ruettiger, an aspiring Notre Dame football player and his struggles to make it. Rudy grew up in a steel mill town where most people invested a lifetime into hard labor. With poor grades, mediocre athletic skill, and half the physical size of the other players, Rudy shows he can overcome all challenges with spirit and drive.
Big Takeaway: Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.
Summary: A man with a low IQ has accomplished great things in his life and been present during significant historic events – in each case, far exceeding what anyone imagined he could do. Yet, despite all the things he has attained, his one true love eludes him. “Forrest Gump” is the story of a man who rose above his challenges, and who proved that determination, courage, and love are more important than ability.
Big Takeaway: What are you willing to fight for?
Summary: One of the best movies of all time. When he was a young boy, William Wallace’s father and brother, along with many others, lost their lives trying to free Scotland. Once he loses another of his loved ones, William Wallace begins his long quest to earn Scotland’s freedom from English rule around the end of the 13th century. Wallace leads the people of his country into a outnumber battle and never looses sight for what he believes in.
Big Takeaway: The journey is everything.
Summary: Jerry Maguire used to be a typical sports agent: willing to do just about anything he could to get the biggest possible contracts for his clients, plus a nice commission for himself. Then, one day, he suddenly has second thoughts about what he’s really doing. When he voices these doubts, he ends up losing his job and all of his clients, save Rod Tidwell, an egomaniacal football player. Can Jerry resurrect his career while still staying true to himself?
Big Takeaway: The 9-5 may not get you very far.
Summary: Peter Gibbons is a cubicle-dwelling employee stuck in the rat race. His girlfriend is cheating on him, he has an obnoxious neighbor, and he’s completely miserable with his job as a small cog in a company called Initech. Then he visits a hypnotherapist, who put Peter into a state of complete bliss. Free of worrying about making a living, he no longer feels the need to keep his job, just as the company is going through a massive downsizing. However, his new attitude only makes him more valuable in the company’s eyes.
Big Takeaway: Copying may just mean good business.
Summary: From the obscure dorm-room and backyard origins to their very public battle for corporate supremacy, recap the journey of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak — the former a crafty Harvard dropout, the latter a pair of hippies with jobs at Hewlett-Packard and a yen to sell miniature versions of corporate mainframes to small businesses and at-home enthusiasts. The former plot thread recounts how Jobs and Wozniak “borrowed” key concepts from a Xerox computer lab, eked out their success as counter-cultural businessmen.
Big Takeaway: Selling will close one deal, caring will change your life.
Summary: A morally decent college dropout finds himself at conflict with his harsh federal judge father. From running a profitable underground casino, he gets a job as a stock broker and gets on the fast track to success. The firm is full of hard-nosed young go-getters striving to make it rich. Only things take a turn for the worst when he learns that his job isn’t what’s it cracked up to be.
Big Takeaway: We all are one.
Summary: Suburban Virginia schools have been segregated for generations, in sight of the Washington Monument over the river in the nation’s capital. One Black and one White high school are closed and the students sent to T.C. Williams High School under federal mandate to integrate. The year is seen through the eyes of the football team where the man hired to coach the Black school is made head coach over the highly successful white coach. Based on the actual events of 1971, the team becomes the unifying symbol for the community as the boys and the adults learn to depend on and trust each other.
Big Takeaway: The only thing greater than the power of the mind is the courage of the heart.
Summary: From the heights of notoriety to the depths of depravity, John Forbes Nash, Jr. experienced it all. A mathematical genius, he made an astonishing discovery early in his career and stood on the brink of international acclaim. But the handsome and arrogant Nash soon found himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery. After many years of struggle, he eventually triumphed over his tragedy, and finally – late in life – received the Nobel Prize.
Big Takeaway: Cut corners to easy street and it can cost you everything.
Summary: I had to include my favorite gangsta flick in this list. George Jung is the son of a struggling small business owner. Seeing his family struggle to make ends meet and failing, George vows never to share a similar fate. Moving to California, he starts his own pot pushing operation in which he finds both success and imprisonment. In prison, he meets a cellmate who introduces him to the lucrative new market in cocaine. Upon release, George Jung quickly becomes a druglord moving masses of narcotics. However, for all the fabulous wealth and power he gained, the true costs of his dangerously treacherous occupation catch up with him in ways from which he would never recover.
Big Takeaway: Through our failures we become a greater success.
Summary: Friends since high school, 20-somethings Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman have an idea: a Web site for people to conduct business with municipal governments. This documentary tracks the rise and fall of govWorks.com from May of 1999 to December of 2000, and the trials the business brings to the relationship of these best friends. Kaleil raises the money, Tom’s the technical chief, and a third partner wants a buy out. The constant need for cash and for improving the site brings venture capital in by the millions. Kaleil is on C-SPAN, CNN, and magazine covers. Will the business or the friendship crash first?
Big Takeaway: Will you do what’s right or what will make you rich?
Summary: Since the late 18th century American legal decision that the business corporation organizational model is legally a person, it has become a dominant economic, political and social force around the globe. This film takes an in-depth psychological examination of the organization model through various case studies. What the study illustrates is that in the its behaviour, this type of “person” typically acts like a dangerously destructive psychopath without conscience. Furthermore, we see the profound threat this psychopath has for our world and our future, but also how the people with courage, intelligence and determination can do to stop it.
Big Takeaway: Imagine a life without limits.
Summary: Phenomenal public success contrasts with private behaviors close to madness: Howard Hughes from the late 1920s to the late 1940s, from “Hells Angels” (spending a fortune on details) through the only flight of the Hercules, a huge, money-losing transport plane. Along the way, the public Hughes sees the big picture – in movies and in aviation, building TWA and leading it through a fight with Pan Am and the US Senate. In private, phobias and compulsions threaten him with self-imposed solitary confinement. How long can his imagination, drive, and the sympathies of Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and the men who work for him stave off these internal disorders?
Big Takeaway: You are what you attract.
Summary: The Secret is a feature length movie presentation which reveals The Great Secret of the universe. It has been passed throughout the ages, traveling through centuries… This is The Secret to everything – the secret to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth: everything you have ever wanted. All the resources you will ever need to understand and live The Secret. The world’s leading scientists, authors, and philosophers will reveal The Secret that utterly transformed the lives of every person who ever knew it… Plato, Newton, Carnegie, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Einstein.
Big Takeaway: Our true-self will always outperform our ego.
Summary: A talented college gymnast with serious Olympic aspirations, Dan Millman, leads a charmed life of first-place trophies, fast girls, and rowdy parties until a career-threatening injury and a chance meeting with a mysterious stranger named Socrates (Nick Nolte) show him how little he truly knows about living. In the months that follow his tragic injury, both Socrates and elusive beauty Joy impart to the growing young man the wisdom that he needs to leave the past behind and follow the path of destiny and fulfill his transformation into the peaceful warrior.
Big Takeaway: Life isn’t easy and we must make sacrifices.
Summary: In 1981, in San Francisco, the smart salesman and family man Chris Gardner invested the family savings in Ostelo National bone-density scanners, an apparatus twice more expensive than x-ray with practically the same resolution. The white elephant financially breaks the family, bringing troubles to the relationship with his wife that leaves him and moves to New York. Without money and wife, but totally committed with his son Christopher, Chris sees the chance to fight for a stockbroker internship position at Dean Witter, disputing for one career in the end of six months training period without any salary with other twenty candidates. Meanwhile, homeless, he has all sorts of difficulties with his son.
Big Takeaway: If you are not living, you are dying.
Summary: Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find the joy in life.
Big Takeaway: It’s not where you’re from, but where you’re going.
Summary: In Mumbai, the eighteen year-old orphan from the slums Jamal Malik is tortured by the policemen in a precinct accused of cheating a game show. Jamal, who has no education and works in a call center serving tea, is close to wining twenty million rupees in the show “Kaun Banega Crorepati?” (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) hosted by Prem Kumar, giving precise answers to the questions and raising suspicion of fraud. The police inspector shows the videotape and after each question, Jamal tells parts of his childhood with his brother Salim, his crush for Latika and their fight to survive on the streets to justify each correct answer, guided by his common sense and past experience, and prove his innocence.
Big Takeaway: With success comes friends and enemies.
Summary: On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history… but for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications.
So, what movies did I miss? I’d love to hear from you.
Obviously I don’t have time to watch every movie out there. So, what are YOUR favorite inspirational entrepreneur movies? If you have a great movie idea, suggest it in the comments below and maybe I will add it to the list.