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New Frontiers in Business Management: Heist Films

May 7, 2010

I'm walking, yes indeed. I'm talking...

It has been said, “Behind every great fortune there’s a great crime.” so where better to crib hot business management strategies than from heist films. I selected three of my favorites: Mamet’s Heist, Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 and Mann’s Heat to bring you a few cinematic examples of the do’s and don’ts of running a bidness.

Clarify your mission/Business Plan

  • In Ocean’s 11 CEO Danny Ocean and his Vice President Rusty Ryan spend more time planning their heist than actually executing it. Their planning includes: stealing schematics, drinking a lot of fine spirits and wearing well cut expensive suits.

Oh believe me, it's been tried!

Listen to your investors

  • Businesses need capital to get off the ground and unfortunately that means dealing with eccentric bitterlicious industrialists who chew with their mouths open – like Reuben in Ocean’s 11 – and tick off all the reasons why your business is going to fail. Resist the urge to correct their perceptions. If they’re actually willing to waste their time on you, they want fund your business idea.

Don't let Waingro happen to your business!

Rigorously investigate your key people

  • A strong team is the key to successfully running a business, if your intention involves anything other than running that business into the ground. Before you can get fancy office furniture or plan your escape to a country without an extradition agreement with the states, you might want to avoid hiring hard headed, sociopaths whose stupidity then becomes your downfall. Unfortunately for the CEO Robert DeNiro, this was a lesson learned the hard way. If you need to beat the shit out of one of your top executives to keep them on message, you’ve made a poor hiring choice.

If you're gonna steal from Terry Benedict you damn well better know what you're doing.

Aggressively investigate the competition

  • Successfully delivering the goods means being able to do so unabated. This can only happen if you are able to effectively get the jump on the competition’s way of doing things. So you need to know more about Terry Benedict that he does. Find out who Al Pacino runs with. Make some calls. Hide in some bushes. Wear a bad wig. But do something to get the edge.

Rusty thinks they need another guy.

Learn the industry jargon.

  • Do you know what it means to be “burnt”? Do you have an “out”. Do you know who the “heat” is? If you don’t you can’t run a business or heist. You gotta know what the hell you’re talking about, yet avoid detection by cops like Vince Hanna (Heat) who are looking to take your ass down. He won’t like it, but brother if it comes down to you or him, he’s gonna make damn sure it ain’t gonna be him.

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A version of this entry previously appeared on IFMiB

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Valerian permalink
    May 7, 2010 10:44 am

    You always leave me skittering back to Netflix, Snarky, and I love you for it.

  2. May 7, 2010 2:44 pm

    Thank you, Valerian! You might like The Score too. I have been writing about it in terms of its problematic ableist aspects, but at the same time I have praised its depiction of disabled folks too. It’s a very weird film in that regard. Brando’s character – and Brando himself – had well documented health issues, which he was candid about, so seeing him framed as capable, valuable and integral to the plot was refreshing, however, Ed Norton’s character is INCREDIBLY problematic.

  3. Valerian permalink
    May 7, 2010 9:18 pm

    I appreciate the recommendation!

  4. May 8, 2010 4:00 am

    I’m glad this topic is still around, because I’ve been meaning to mention one of my all-time favorite heist films: Grand Slam, directed by Giuliano Montaldo. It’s an Italian flick (in English) from 1967, and it’s a great blend of classic and cutting-edge. It’s got Edward G. Robinson, Janet Leigh, Klaus Kinski, laser beams, tinkertoy contraptions, a slimy playboy, Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, shaving cream, a lovely Ennio Morricone soundtrack, and much more. Just when you think there couldn’t be any more twists, it hits you with another one! Lots of fun to be had.

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