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Optimus Sourcing

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5 of the best films/television shows to use in training


Recently in our LinkedIn group we brought up the idea of whether trainers used clips from films and television shows in order to make or reinforce a point they were making. The reaction was that trainers did do this on occasion and they found that delegates reacted well to seeing what was being said in context. Therefore we have decided to create a list of films and television shows that we at Optimus think make fantastic points for real life. As always, feel free to comment to suggest your own ideas!

The Office (2001-2003)

A real gold mine for common situations and issues that arise in an everyday office – which explains the show’s huge popularity. There is a whole plethora of fantastic quotes for management techniques from the show but here is our personal favourite:

David Brent: I gave a speech only this morning to my staff assuring them that there would not be cutbacks at this branch and there certainly wouldn’t be redundancies, so…

Jennifer Taylor-Clark: Well, why on Earth would you do that?

David Brent: Why? Oh, don’t know. A little word I think’s important in management called morale.

Jennifer Taylor-Clark: Well, surely it’s going to be worse for morale in the long run when there ARE redundancies and you’ve told people that there won’t be.

David Brent: They won’t remember.

The key thing to learn from the ever bumbling David Brent here is – the importance of honesty and getting the facts correct. If everything isn’t all rosy, don’t pretend it is to your employees because in the long run they will resent you for it. In addition to this – don’t make big assumptions. Always try and get the facts right so that you make decisions based on the correct situation. As David himself says – Don’t assume. It makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.

The Office

300 (2006)

An adrenalin pumping film likely to motivate even the most lethargic of candidates! The film is full of brilliant quotes about leadership and teamwork however one particular point stands out –

Daxos: I see I was wrong to expect Sparta’s commitment to at least match our own.

King Leonidas: Doesn’t it? You there, what is your profession?

Free Greek-Potter: I am a potter… sir.

King Leonidas: And you, Arcadian, what is your profession?

Free Greek-Sculptor: Sculptor, sir.

King Leonidas: Sculptor. You?

Free Greek-Blacksmith: Blacksmith.

King Leonidas: Spartans! What is your profession?

Spartans: WAR! WAR! WAR!

King Leonidas: You see, old friend? I brought more soldiers than you did.

This brilliantly summarises the importance of team work, quality over quantity and employee motivation. You can hire all of the staff you want, however if they aren’t motivated, aren’t qualified and don’t cooperate well – then they will be ineffective. A smaller group of employees that believe in the company, know each other well and are good at what they do will be far superior. Remember – THIS IS BUSINESS.


Toy Story 1-3 (1995-2010)

On a much lighter note – this fantastic trilogy of films tell the story of a group of toys dealing with changes in their lives. Change Management is something that every company needs to be good at – especially during these testing market conditions. From Woody resenting the new toy Buzz Lightyear and just generally resisting change to all of the toys panicking about their owner getting older and leaving them behind – they show how even the biggest of changes are not necessarily bad – but an opportunity for something new to come through.

Woody and Buzz eventually become the best of friends and all of the toys end up finding a new home in the end. When they started to embrace change, it became clear that it wasn’t scary after all and just meant a new chapter in their lives – whilst Andy always acted in the best interest of his toys rather than himself, even when it was hard just like every good company should.

toy story

Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

A very popular choice in our LinkedIn Group. There is one particular character in this film that is full of wisdom for your training delegates – the hairy little green fellow called Yoda. Throughout the 6 films Yoda covers issues such as motivation, prioritisation, self-control and patience however there is one particular quote of his that tends to stick in the mind of all that watch the film:

Yoda:Do… or do not. There is no try.’

There is no better way of explaining this sentiment. Self-belief is everything. If when you embark on a task you think of nothing else than success – it is more likely to happen. You make your own luck. However if you dwell on what could happen and how it might fail then it will hold you back considerably. Always make sure your staff knows this – positivity is a powerful thing.


Forrest Gump (1994)

A fantastic tale of a man who although lacked intelligence, accidently finds himself involved with many of the major events in the world over the last 50 years. Forrest’s seemingly detached and simplistic outlook on life allows him to gives some fantastic insights into many aspects such as change, honesty, self-improvement and of course how life is a box of chocolates. However it is a look at goal setting that is our personal favourite:

Forrest Gump: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.

This quote shows both excellent and poor goal setting skills. On the one hand, he sets himself no specific targets and therefore has no purpose. Is what he is doing the right thing? Is it having a positive effect on his life? Probably not. On the other hand, he constantly pushes himself further, beyond what he was planning and achieves more and more – just like everybody should. Finally, what else does this show? He does what makes him happy – and what is more important in life?

forrest gump

Hopefully you find these parts of films a useful resource in training or just to teach yourself a thing or two. If you can think of any fantastic examples of films or television programmes that teach important business or personal lessons we would love to hear from you! Just email us your suggestions at [email protected] or comment below!

5 Responses

  1. Inspiational films for leadership

    Another good example is 'Appollo 13'

    Gene Krantz the Flight Director at NASA Houston, led the ground team to rescue the 3 Astronauts.

    His immortal line: "Failure is not an option!"

  2. Gladiator

    I have used the opening battle sequence from Gladiator at the start of a workshop on how to beat the competition. 

    For sales training you can use a clip from Glen Garry, Glen Ross – brutal but high impact and with some tough messages about sales.

    Paul Sloane

  3. Babe & X&Y theory/Maid in Manhattan controlling nerves during pr

    In the film wonderful film Babe, when Babe is learning how to herd sheep they are told by the sheepdog to scream, shout, put fear into the sheep, always let them know who is charge and they will do what you want. (Theory X)

    When Babe tries this, is goes a bit wrong and the sheep tell Babe that he does not have to do all this aggressiveness and all Babe needs to do is ask in a respectful manner.

    Babe tries this theory Y approach and finds it works well, without any of the sheep feeling bad.

    This works well when training this particular management theory.


    In Maid in Manhattan Ralph Fiennes explains to Jenifer Lopez's son about how he uses a paperclip to calm his nerves when delivering a presentation.

    He uses the paperclip like a lightening rod by holding it in his hand to channel all his nerves into it, release his nerves and give a confident presentation.

  4. Great Suggestions!

    Thanks for the ideas – I really like that we can all look at films and see some valuable business/life lessons to take away!

    I especially like the detail of the Babe example – i had never looked at it in that way before but certainly will in the future.

    Paul – we have actually had a few people contact us regarding the Gladiator opening scene, it certainly seems a popular choice.

    We have also been suggested the 'Help me help you' scene from Jerry Maguire.

    Would love to hear some more as well!

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Optimus Sourcing

Marketing Executive

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