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The Best Films, Shows and Books for Business Students

While many of us learn about business from reading textbooks, lecture notes and case studies, being able to recognize the business aspect on screen and in literature can further develop our knowledge about the field and its industries. With so many entrepreneurs and filmmakers who want to share their passions and ambitions, business students have an ample amount of media to associate their field-related knowledge to. Let’s take a look at some favourites!

Shows

The 6 Dragons stand in front of the Dragon’s Den logo.

Dragon’s Den

Do you have a business and want to learn how to pitch it to investors? Dragon’s Den features entrepreneurs pitching to a panel of “dragons” who can agree to purchase ownership in their business. The panel consists of many Canadian accomplished and experienced business people such as Michelle Romanow, who founded multiple tech startups in university and Clearco, a venture capital firm, Manjit Minhas, Marketing Specialist and CEO of Minhas Brewery & Distillery, as well as having featured dragons such as Kevin O’Leary, a venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur who is well-known for appearing on Shark Tank and other experienced entrepreneurs. GIMME360, a startup created by TRSM students, made an appearance on Dragon’s Den and secured funding from four dragons. Daniel Bokun, the founder of GIMME360, said that “his time at TRSM helped him develop his passion for entrepreneurship, expand on his skills as a founder and better understand how to convey his company”. You will better understand how to assess a business model, how to build a business presentation, and how to answer questions that investors will ask to perform their due diligence. Anyone interested in entrepreneurship, startups, and investing would definitely gain a lot of value from watching this show. All seasons and episodes are available for free here!

Narcos (and Narcos: Mexico)

Man next to Narcos logo with dark background

Yes, drug dealing is an illegal business, but it’s still business. It is important to learn about this market, as it generates hundreds of billions of dollars in sales revenue. You will learn about business dealings and negotiating in intense situations, supply chain management, transporting products, as well as the business practices in this region. This is the perfect show for students in Global Management such as myself. Overall, it teaches about business operations and is based on notable figures such as Pablo Escobar who reached immeasurable heights in the business. By watching Narcos, you will have a great foundational understanding about the Latin American business environment, which will help you excel in GMS 693!

Suits

4 people in black and white standing with SUITS in background.

Suits has been one of my favourite shows. Main characters Mike Ross and Harvey Specter make a great mentoring pair and they often learn from one another, showing the importance of a mentor. It takes you into the everyday life of corporate lawyers who work on business transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, contracts, class-action lawsuits, and many more fields of law and business law. While watching, you will learn about the mentality of success, how to manage relationships with clients and ways to approach cases. I recommend Suits for all TRSM students, especially for those of you who are majoring in Law & Business or plan on going to law school!

Films

Moneyball

Brad Pitt & Jonah Hill in Moneyball

Moneyball is based on the true story of Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, and Jonah Hill plays assistant general manager Peter Brand, making it a strong cast. The Oakland Athletics had a limited budget for composing the best roster, but by using analytics they started to succeed and drastically improve from this unusual approach. You’ll learn about baseball and further develop your interest in it, which can be useful when networking and talking about general interests and building your personality. This movie is great for economic students who study big data and interpreting it for business uses. Moneyball is also a book written by Michael Lewis, for those who wish to explore this story further!

The Creative Brain

Colourful artwork of a brain next to the title, “The Creative Brain”

This one may be less business-oriented, but creativity is an important aspect of business. This fifty-two minute documentary features neuroscientist David Eagleman interviewing creative people to understand creative thinking and how to generate new ideas. These individuals include the former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold, co-creator of Game of Thrones, D.B Weiss, and a Canadian singer/songwriter and artist, Grimes. It emphasizes that ideas do not magically come out of thin air, rather they come from a combination of things that we do know. By enhancing your creative capabilities, you can better address business problems and develop yourself to become someone who creates solutions. This could help those based in idea-generating industries such as marketing or solving case-problems in consulting!

Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo Di Caprio in the Wolf of Wall Street

This film is based on the real-life memoir of Jordan Belfort. Renowned actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese headline a movie about a stockbroker and the lavish lifestyle he lives, until his fraudulent schemes are uncovered by the FBI. This movie is outstanding because it provides a glimpse into the darker side of Wall Street where many are enticed by the lavish lifestyle, and profits and sales come at any expense. It is a reminder that greed can ultimately lead to one’s downfall, and how one can be blinded by the glamour and explicit content in the film. It is something that every person in business should understand and learn from during their path to success. It was also nominated for an Oscar as Best Motion Picture of the Year in 2014!

Margin Call

Split screen graphic of 7 actors from the movie Margin Call.

Directed by J.C. Chandor, Margin Call is an American financial thriller film outlining the 24 hours at a big investment bank on Wall Street during the first stages of the 2007–08 financial crisis. After Eric (Stanley Tucci), a Senior Risk Analyst is laid off along with many of his colleagues, he shares his uncompleted work with Peter, a younger analyst (Zachary Quinto). While working on Eric’s model, Peter quickly realizes that there is a likelihood of the firm’s bankruptcy in the near future. From there, the panic begins. With compelling performances by Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, and several other talented actors, Margin Call creates an atmosphere of thought-provoking financial predicaments where the audience hangs on tight to see how it will all play out in the end.

The Social Network

Closeup of person’s face with The Social Network written over the eyes.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network is an American biographical film adapted from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 book, The Accidental Billionaires. The film depicts the creation of the social networking site Facebook, as well as the legal battles that come trailing behind. Those interested in entrepreneurship will find an interest in the way Eisenberg’s role handles all the obstacles that come his way. The film does a great job of portraying the hardships and struggles that come with developing and building a business from scratch. As a telling of events that center around power, fame, betrayal, retribution, and responsibilities, the film brings to life the hardships and struggles that come with planning and executing an idea in a very competitive environment. As the tagline of the film states, you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.

Jobs

Closeup of Michael Fasbender in Jobs movie.

Following the events from Steve Job’s decision to drop out of college in 1974 till the introduction of the iPod in 2001, Jobs tells the story of how Steve Jobs became one of the most praised visionaries in the world. With Ashton Kutcher taking on the role of Steve Jobs, the film depicts the rejection Jobs initially faced and how he used the lack of support as motivation to improve his prototypes and models. Although the film wasn’t a favourite among critics, those interested in the evolution of the business and technology fields will find Jobs’ ambitions and ideas endearing and inspiring.

The Big Short

The Big Short movie poster

Based on the book by Michael Lewis, The Big Short is an American biographical drama film directed by Adam McKay. Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, the film is recognized for its unique methods of explaining financial instruments and how the United States housing bubble triggered the 2007–08 financial crisis. Winning awards like the Academy Award of Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, and Best Supporting Actor (awarded to Christian Bale), the film is a favourite among a wide range of audiences and continues to be appreciated for its way of storytelling.

Books

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

The Big Short book cover

Michael Lewis’s non-fiction book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, sheds light on the build-up of the United States housing bubble during the 2000s. Describing in great detail the events that ended up profiting from the financial crisis of 2007–08, Lewis’s book is best suited for those studying or interested in economics and finance. The book spent 28 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and was the foundation for the 2015 film of the same name. The book was also nominated for the 2010 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, and received the 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Book Award.

The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson

The New One Minute Manager book cover

Time seems to be what most of us don’t have enough of these days. Between morning coffees with friends, afternoon classes, and late-night projects, we’re always running out of time and forgetting that it’s all in our hands. Along with Spencer Johnson, Ken Blanchard has updated his timeless business classic, The One Minute Manager to present the book’s influential lessons, including goals, praisings, and redirects, to a new era of listeners. Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson present to the public The New One Minute Manager, consisting of simple one-minute teachings that anyone can learn and apply to their daily lives. Once you’ve become an expert at the one-minute techniques, pass them on, because once you’ve mastered them, time is one thing you’ll have enough of.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: The story of success book cover

Outliers: The Story of Success is Malcolm Gladwell’s third non-fiction book. Acting as testimonies to his thesis, Gladwell analyzes various examples, including how Microsoft’s Co-Founder Bill Gates achieved his great wealth, how the Beatles became one of the most popular groups in human history, and how cultural differences can play a significant role in perceived intelligence and rational decision making. On November 28th, 2008, Outliers debuted at #1 on the bestseller list of The New York Times in the United States and The Globe and Mail in Canada, where it remained for eleven weeks on the former. Referring to ideas like the Matthew Effect and the Knowledge is Power Program, Gladwell’s words will appeal to anyone on the path to success and self-improvement.

Those are some of our favourite films, shows and books for business students. Which ones did we miss? Share with us some of your favourite movies, shows and books related to business in the comments section!

The Ted Rogers Students’ Society is the student-elected society that represents over 13,000+ full-time undergraduate commerce students attending the Ted Rogers

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Ted Rogers Students' Society

Ted Rogers Students' Society

The Ted Rogers Students’ Society is the student-elected society that represents over 13,000+ full-time undergraduate commerce students attending the Ted Rogers

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