Box Office Business Lessons: Money Monster

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October 19, 2016 by Karen Que

Don’t buy. Don’t buy.

Buy buy buy.

What’s a person to do?

If you’re a fan of financial shows, you’d probably consider whatever advice the host was giving you. But if that advice turned out to be bad and you lost everything you have, who would you blame?

Most people are familiar with Jim Cramer’s financial show “Mad Money.” With a push of a button and a witty, entertaining repartee, Cramer doles out stock market advice that the common person can understand.

The movie “Money Monster” takes the same concept and puts it on steroids. George Clooney plays Lee Gates, the man in front of the camera, while Julia Roberts runs the show from the control room as producer Patty Fenn. It seems like any other day on set, until a man disguised as a delivery guy shows up with two bomb vests and the need for revenge.

Kyle Budwell, played by Jack O’Connell, is one of the people who listened to Lee when he told the audience to buy, buy, buy. He used his $60,000 inheritance to buy stock in IBIS Clear Capital, which Lee highly recommended, and lost everything when the stock later went down $800 million in one day. The company blames it on a glitch, but Kyle decides to take Lee hostage on the air to demand answers for what he believes is a corporate conspiracy.

There’s a lot going on in this movie, and it was honestly a little bit stressful. But then again, so is being an entrepreneur. Here are four lessons I took away from the hostage situation.

  1. Take responsibility.

When Lee was talking up the company’s stock, he assured viewers, “It’s safer than a savings account.” And Kyle took this to heart. Lee probably had no business comparing an investment to something as secure as a savings account, but he was so caught up in his exaggeration that he forgot how much faith people would put in his words. He wasn’t being responsible with the way he was communicating.

It doesn’t matter what kind of platform you have, whether it’s a blog or a social media account, you have a responsibility as a manager in your own company. Your tone, your style and everything you say has an influence on the people listening to. They might be taking action according to what you’re saying. It doesn’t always feel like people are watching, but they are. So remember to be responsible with the way you conduct yourself.

  1. A dedicated team makes all the difference.

Even though Lee didn’t necessarily deserve it, he had a lot of trust and loyalty from the crew on his show. So how did he manage to build that? By setting a standard for professionalism and respect.

When you give people opportunities to be great, you give them a sense of ownership over their job. Great leadership doesn’t over manage, which then makes people want to rally around you.

Throughout the hostage crisis, Patty continued to call the shots. She produced the show, coordinated with the police, kept everyone safe and kept Lee calm while he was on the air. She didn’t have to say much to her crew, because they already knew what was expected of them. That’s the kind of dedicated team that makes a difference.

  1. There are good shortcuts and bad ones.

The CEO of IBIS Clear Capital was taking shortcuts to artificially make his stock go up. He would orchestrate labor strikes from the South Africa mine his company was investing in to make the stock go down. Once he’d bought enough stock, the strikes would end, causing the price to go back up. Eventually, the leader of the labor union refused to call off the strike, and the stock never went back up.

There are ways to get bigger, better and faster in business that don’t involve cheating or deception. You can use technology or create new technology that increases production. Instead of scheduling appointments manually, you can allow clients to do it themselves online. Sometimes all it takes is finding a new way to do things, or creating a new formula.

Finding bad shortcuts to success might work in the short-term but can never sustain. Manipulating situations that hurt people and other companies just so you can get benefits from others’ struggles is not an effective long-term strategy. At some point, a lot of people are going to get hurt and you are going to lose bigger than ever.

  1. Failure is temporary. Keep adjusting to new situations.

Sometimes when you are failing, you just have to keep making adjustments until you can figure your way out of it. In the movie, Lee and his crew tried everything to satisfy Kyle. At first, Lee offered to pay back his $60,000, but Kyle said the only fair repayment would be $800 million. Instead, Lee tried to convince the audience to buy up the stock and show how much his life was worth to them, but no one bought into his idea.

The police brought in Kyle’s pregnant girlfriend to talk some sense into him, but even that blew up in their faces. Every tactic the crew and the police used to pacify him failed in some way. Each failure drove them closer to finding out the real answers behind the $800 million stock dive. When you don’t give up, failure is just an opportunity to try something different.

It’s amazing what can come out a high-pressure situation. Most businesses won’t ever encounter something quite this extreme, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have to deal with a crisis or two. I think high pressure makes everyone perform well. You end up seeing the best in people when the stakes are really high, especially in business.

Have you ever had to make it through a high-pressure situation?

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