If you’ve spent enough time working in the corporate world, you’ve likely been subjected to thousands of business metaphors and clichés. Some of the very best (and worst) examples of these abstractions are illustrated by often questionable clips from popular movies (which are frequently used out of context). Below I give you some of the more curious and popular examples I’ve come across over the years.
They Live (1988): “A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.” Former WWF (now WWE) wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper brings us the zinger below that I’ve seen more than a few new managers play when they take over a team or project.
A Few Good Men (1992): “Neo military lawyer Kaffee defends Marines accused of murder; they contend they were acting under orders.” You want the truth?! You can’t handle the truth! While intense, there isn’t a really obvious translation of Nicholson’s rant into a healthy business message.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992): “An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.” Alec Baldwin’s epic sales speech has received over 3.8 million views on YouTube and is an obscenity-laden tirade that will certainly land you in hot water with your HR department. Caution: not safe for work.
Scent of a Woman (1992): “A prep school student needing money agrees to “babysit” a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated.” Apparently 1992 was a very good year for monologues from Hollywood’s male royalty. In this case, Al Pacino goes a bit over the top with his hard-boiled Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade and while terms like “integrity” should be the basis of every leadership speech, I’d try to minimize any reference to flamethrowers when rallying the troops.
Gattaca (1997): “A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.” Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law star in this sci-fi drama about a future where your genetic make-up determines your success in life … or does it? This is one of the better clips out there for motivating a team to give it their all on an especially tough project.
What are your favorite movie clips that have (for better or worse) made their way into the business psyche?
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