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10 Brilliant Business & Success Advice Quotes from the Movies

10 Brilliant Business & Success Advice Quotes from the Movies

You go to the cinema to kick back, relax, forget your day-to-day BS real-life struggles. Lose yourself in freaky sci-fi scenarios, mad-ass comedy, violent crime, intense drama, action and intrigue. It’s escapism.

But as legendary British designer Paul Smith puts it, “You can find inspiration in everything — and if you can’t, look again.”

That’s particularly true of the movies. Whether the flick is actually business-focused or not, each of these films contains moments of incisive wisdom that apply beautifully to professional pursuits and life success in general. Settle back, and smarten up.

10. CADDYSHACK (1980)

“Buy, buy, buy! Oh, everyone’s buying? Then sell, sell, sell!”

When Rodney Dangerfield’s crass magnate Al Czervik screams this instruction down the phone to his broker, he perfectly illustrates the concept of ‘zigging when the world zags’ — or as Warren Buffett puts it, being “Fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”


“Sometimes you gotta say ‘What the fuck,’ make your move. Joel, every now and then, saying ‘What the fuck’ brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future.”

So says Joel Goodsen’s (Tom Cruise) buddy Miles (Curtis Armstrong), advising him to loosen up and go with the flow, ‘JUST DO IT’, echoing the sentiments of Steve Jobs: “You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”


“The Dude abides.”

The much put-upon ‘small’ Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) advises adopting a never-say-die attitude, being resilient regardless of what life throws at us. As the Dalai Lama says, “There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilised as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”

In other words, abide, man.


“Get them to sign on the line that is dotted! A-B-C. A: Always, B: Be, C: Closing. Always be closing, ALWAYS be closing.”

The crux of the speech given by Alec Baldwin’s realty drill sergeant here is that it doesn’t matter how good your product is, it doesn’t matter how talented you are — unless you’re selling, you’re screwed. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has a similar philosophy, ‘Sales Cures All.’ He very accurately says, “There has never been a business that succeeded without sales.”

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6. LORD OF WAR (2005)

“There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. Thats one firearm for every 12 people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?”

The arms dealer played by Nicholas Cage in this tale of the global illegal weapons trade recognises that even when a market appears flooded, there’s always room for further exploitation, additional sales. It merely requires a little more thought. Look at the opportunity, not the hurdles. “You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do,” says AOL cofounder Steve Case. “You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.”


“Two little mice fell into a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned, but the second mouse, he struggled so hard that he eventually churned that cream into butter and he walked out. Amen.”

In the role of prolific con-man Frank Abagnale Jr, Leonardo Di Caprio gives a powerful lesson on the value of persistence and perseverance. “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense,” said Thomas Edison.  


“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”

Heroin kingpin Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) shatters the myth of the loud, domineering ‘alpha male’, recognising that an empty vessel makes the most noise. Better instead to keep quiet and — as Sun Tzu wrote — “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”


“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

Jedi master Yoda (Frank Oz) tells Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) — who protests that the task at hand is “impossible” — that to succeed, you’ve got to believe. In Muhammad Ali’s words: “Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

2. THE HUSTLER (1961)

“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.”

So says Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) in The Hustler. The idea doesn’t simply apply to the sort of pool-room wagering Felson engages in. It’s equally relevant when considering earning money as an employee, versus making money as an entrepreneur — always something of a calculated gamble. McDonalds founder Ray Kroc said if you’re not prepared to have a flutter, “if you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.”


“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Do it, do it now, Robin Williams’ prep school teacher urges his charges. There’s no time like the present. “For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks,” says investor and author Timothy Ferriss. “Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.”

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