I’ve been talking a lot about movies lately, including starting a movie review site with a good friend, and it got me thinking about all the movies I’ve seen that made me think about business. And when I started thinking about it, I realized that there were, in my mind, two movies that defined entrepreneurship as far as I was concerned and I wanted to take this time to introduce you to the philosophies of my two on-screen business heroes.
Meet Jim Young. Jim Young works for an investment firm called JT Marlin. Now I’ll start by saying (SPOILER ALERT) that the activities at JT Marlin are highly illegal and I don’t encourage or endorse them. BUT, then there’s Jim Young. Jim Young is played by Ben Affleck and is a very minor character in the film in terms of screen time but certainly not in terms of screen presence. He is introduced to us through a series of short and powerful speeches. My favorite is the “act as if” speech. 

Act as if you’re the president of the company. Act as if you have the body of a Greek god. Act as if you’re the best thing since sliced bread. Jim Young IS confidence and for many founders, this is sorely missing. But if you think you have an idea that will blow people’s minds, WHY ARE YOU WHISPERING? Scream it out loud. Act as if this is the greatest thing in the history of all time. Act as if you can’t lose because you absolutely can lose and you will if you don’t push everything to the limit. Don’t go into anything half hearted. Jim Young wouldn’t, and neither should you.

Meet Jerry Maguire. While Jim Young is all about confidence, all about bravado and all about image, Jerry Maguire is all about passion with a healthy dose of reality. He has an idealistic vision of what his chosen profession should look like and shares that with his colleagues. Now, this does (SPOILER ALERT) result in him losing his job and almost driving him into an insurmountable hole, in the end, Jerry Maguire is about the idea that your passion project can succeed.

If you’ve started your own business, it’s unlikely that you did so based on an idea you weren’t passionate about. Starting a business with and idea you don’t like is, well, kind of dumb. Jerry Maguire embodies the idea of the purist, the person who is in it to win it for all the right reasons. Jerry Maguire cares and as a founder it’s important that you care. If you don’t care, go get a job. Anyone can not care about their “job”. In fact, a large number of people don’t “care” about their “jobs”. Those people just want someone else to “show them the money”.

In the end, you need a good balance of Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise. You need to be confident. If you show weakness, it will be exploited. But at the same time, you can’t be all bark. You have to know when to bite and when not to bite off more than you can chew.

Ok, I’m going to go watch a movie now.