Everything I Know About Business I Got From Watching Jerry Maguire

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Feb 22, 2011

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.

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