Culture Via Hollywood

Trying to explain what it is like to work with your organization is like trying to describe the colour blue to a blind person. We embed ourselves in a couple dozen companies a year, and every one of them is unique. There are inside jokes, quirky personalities, and a whole lexicon of references and language that we need to learn. From scratch. Really fast. We’re used to that, but I often wonder what it’s like for people who are starting a new job, or for a new client that is entering your system. How do you welcome people into your team?

One way is to create a common frame of reference, and the folks in Hollywood tell stories better than anyone. Why not borrow from them, and explain your company’s story through movie metaphors? We repeatedly reference movies when we’re describing client environments and even our own company. These are our top “Welcome to Bellrock – here’s what you’ll see” movies.

The Princess Bride

When you solve problems for a living, you engage in a battle of wits almost daily. Vizzini characterizes a unique kind of business person who we love to run up against and test our mettle. “Have you ever heard of Plato? Aristotle? Socrates? Morons.”

Of course, we all think we are Wesley in the story….

Glengarry Glen Ross

Walk in to any new professional environment and breathe the words “sales process”. The first image that many think of is Alec Baldwin giving his Always Be Closing speech. There isn’t a worse way to motivate sales people (or any people), and yet you have to assume this is what your people are thinking when you talk about sales process.

Groundhog Day

This is one of our all-time favorite movies because it contains so many lessons. All clients are unique, but their problems are very similar and after a couple decades, your staff can start to feel a bit like Bill Murray. When you are working with Gen Y, if something goes wrong, you know you’re making progress when they come to you after the fact knowing what they should have done to get a different outcome. But Gen-Xers usually recognize in what’s happening in real time, and course correct on the fly. The Boomers are able to predict, days or even weeks ahead, the likely outcomes associated with their actions. Our favorite clip is this one about a god.

The Matrix

In this classic tale of perception vs. reality, the heroes live underground, eat terrible food, work long hours and get into bizarre situations all in an attempt to save a world that doesn’t even recognize there is a problem. That’s just a regular day at the office for us. There are so many great analogies in this movie but the one that is required viewing from our point of view is when the protagonist must make a choice between knowledge and ignorance. Ignorance really can be bliss, but once you know, you’re ruined from going back to the way it used to be. Red pill or Blue?

Jerry Maguire

You have amazing technical solutions, wonderful services, bright people….just remember, for your clients it’s all about the results. Always. Yes, we have been required to go through this with a client. Maybe even more than once…but whether they make you say it or not, every client you have is thinking about that classic Cuba Gooding line.

Many companies have required reading as part of their on-boarding process, but what about required viewing? As you train new people on what you do and how you do it don’t forget the fun side. Company movie night anyone?

Which ones did we miss? Leave us a comment and tell us your favourite movie that describes your work place.

Written By:
Tara Landes

Tara Landes is the Founder and President of Bellrock. She has spent over 20 years consulting and training in small to medium-sized enterprises. A sought-after speaker on a wide range of business topics, Tara has delivered workshops and seminars at conferences and industry associations across Canada. Tara obtained a BA (Honours) in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and earned an MBA from UWO's Richard Ivey School of Business.

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