HR and the Movies

Everything I Know About Business I Got From Watching Jerry Maguire

jerrymaguire1

Editor’s Note: With the Academy Awards fast approaching, TLNT asked some prominent thought leaders to reflect on their favorite movie with a management or HR theme. We’ll feature one a day up to the Oscar ceremony on Feb. 27.

By Ben Eubanks

I can still fondly remember the first time I watched Jerry Maguire.

My girlfriend thought it was a “cute” movie with a romantic twist, so it was one of her favorite chick flicks. After watching the movie, I realized that it was much more about vision, passion, and leadership than a sappy love story.

If a company can pull itself together and follow these principles, they will stand head and shoulders above the others in that industry.

It’s all about vision

Jerry Maguire:I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your own song in a new commercial, starring you, broadcast during the Super Bowl, in a game that you are winning, and I will not sleep until that happens.”

Can you see what your end goal is? Do you really know what you want to achieve in the long run?.

Being able to see the big picture is a skill that is both a blessing and a curse. While it allows you to see things on the horizon (and start preparing) before others, it also opens your eyes to possibilities that might be less desirable (poor economic climate, layoffs, etc.).

Tom Cruise plays struggling sports agent Jerry Maguire.

Tom Cruise plays struggling sports agent Jerry Maguire.

However, if you don’t know where you’re going, you will certainly never get there.

If you don’t already have a long term plan and vision in place, there’s no time like the present to make it happen.

Fair warning: planning is the easy part. It’s the implementation that will get you every time. Good thing Jerry gives us a hand with this one — to get to where you want to go you need some passion.

Great passion for the work

Jerry Maguire: “But if anybody else wants to come with me, this moment will be the ground floor of something real and fun and inspiring and true in this godforsaken business and we will do it together!”

The kind of opportunity Jerry is talking about is worth so much. Even if the “ground floor” turns out to be a bust in the long run, most people never get the chance to work somewhere that offers them that “real and fun and inspiring and true” feelings that makes work worthwhile.

I’ve worked in big companies and small, and it’s those where things are new and fresh that it’s easy to see the possibilities and be passionate about doing what you can to make the organization better.

We constantly hear about engagement these days. Companies are trying to push people to be “engaged” in their jobs. It doesn’t work like that.

You need people that will stand up and say things like the quote above (and seriously mean it, obviously). Let’s say someone started a staff meeting with the following words and from the passion in their voice you can tell they are completely focused on making it a reality: “If anyone wants to come with me, we can do something real and fun and inspiring and true and we will do it together.”

Cuba Gooding Jr., in his Academy Award-winning role, plays Jerry Maguire's last remaining client.

Cuba Gooding Jr., in his Academy Award-winning role, plays Jerry Maguire's last remaining client.

Tell me that doesn’t give you goosebumps. Who wouldn’t want that level of passion for what they do and in the people that follow them? The only problem is that you can’t guarantee that others will have the passion, too. While you might have a fire in your belly, it’s going to take leadership to pull others along with you.

Anyone CAN be a leader

Dorothy:I was inspired, and I’m [only] an accountant.”

Leading others? It’s not always easy. Especially when they might not be in key strategic positions to help the organization grow.

There’s a story I love to tell about a janitor in a hospital. His CEO walked by one day and casually asked what he was doing. The janitor instantly delivered a dead serious reply that he was saving lives and proceeded to emphasize the importance of a clean and clutter free workspace for the doctors and nurses.

That guy was a leader. It’s not something that’s position specific. Some CEOs are terrible leaders, while others in “lowly positions” can be fantastic at leading others.

Anyone can be passionate if you lead them and show them their fit into the overall vision.

Those three elements are key to business success. While some can get by with less, they really are just “getting by.”

Hmmm, that’s interesting. Somehow I made it through the whole Jerry Maguire discussion without ever mentioning the famous “show me the money” quote. Wait, darn. Never mind.

Ben Eubanks is an HR professional and blogger from Huntsville, AL. During the day he works as an HR Specialist for a startup government contractor, Pinnacle Solutions , with a focus on aviation training systems. In his spare time he blogs about human resources and leadership at UpstartHR UpstartHR, serves his local SHRM chapter in North Alabamaas the Social Media Director, and cares for the three special ladies in his life. Contact him at beubank3@gmail.com
  • http://www.recruitinganimal.com RecruitingANIMAL

    You were right the first time. Jerry Maguire is a chick flick and that’s the whole story.

    The writers put all the fancy speeches in Jerry’s mouth — the ones you like — but no one in his office was impressed except one single mom who had a crush on him. They knew he was going nowhere.
    And he did. Jerry turns into a total loser.

    He only finds success because he is forced to be dedicated to a man who — in movie terms – assumes the woman’s role. He wants Jerry to love him not do business with him. And this man is dominated by his wife at home. She is the tough cookie at home.

    It’s a good movie. I liked it but it’s about romance not business.

    • http://twitter.com/truebluetitan Rob Schultz

      I have to disagree with you. As someone who jumped off of the big business bandwagon and went to work for himself, I see the motivation in Jerry Macguire.

      Sure, only one person joined him, but sometimes being a leader means that you have to go against the grain and not a lot of people are going to see the payoff until it’s tangible. A lot of people like the perceived security of their Corporate America jobs. However, the control that they have over their futures is far less than someone who does what Jerry did.

      Jerry doesn’t turn into a total loser. He had to fight through hardships, both personal and professional, but at the end of the movie he was recognized for achieving what he set out to accomplish. Being a trailblazer is usually never an easy path to travel but, then again, that’s not why we choose to do it.

      • http://www.recruitinganimal.com RecruitingANIMAL

        Rob, can you give an example of a situation like Jerry’s.

        The story is not simply about someone who strikes out on his own. It’s about someone who learns to love other people and that is what brings him success.

        It’s all about girls being appreciated. In this movie Cuba Gooding is a girl in a man’s body.

        I think the betrayal by the young athlete at the beginning is the realest part. In this movie that’s “business” or rather business as usual and business as usual has no heart.