27 Best Documentaries for Entrepreneurs
By Sandeep Mallya
If you’re in need of inspiration in your entrepreneurial journey or you’d like a break from your hectic schedule, watching business documentaries is an excellent way to unwind and learn more about your craft.
Ben Clymer - Rolex: Timeless Excellence By Patrick O’Shaughnessy
Ben Clymer is the founder and executive chairman of HODINKEE. It covers the fascinating history of Rolex, the mechanics of the luxury watch market, and how Rolex marries manufacturing and marketing excellence to separate it from other brands.
Rolex is effectively a nonprofit, some say one of the largest nonprofits in the world, which I would believe. There are dozens and dozens of rumors that you may have heard, such as they’ve got the largest private art collection next to the Vatican, or they own more real estate. They make more money in real estate than they do in watches. Any of those things could be true. What I can say with the utmost certainty is that they will never reveal any of that to be true, even if it is. They’re not the type of brand, type of company that will ever stand on the rooftop and shout about anything.
Are you building a business or practicing your craft?
I would like to offer some advice on two issues: understanding the allocator’s perspective and gaining clarity about what it is you are trying to build: a business or a practice.
This may sound like very specific advice. But I think it applies to all of us who are attempting to build something new, something difficult. It is about putting ourselves into the shoes of our customers or audience. And about introspection and building self-awareness. What are we really trying to do? And how do we square it with what the world is willing to pay for?
The distinction between an investment practice and investment business. A business gives to the customer what they want. The manager creates a product to fill a need. A practice, like a medical or law practice, is there to give a client what they need.
Joincolossus David Senra - Thomas Edison: A Biography
David Senra is the host of Founders, where he studies history’s greatest entrepreneurs. This is what he learned from reading Edison: A Biography by Matthew Josephson.
Edison’s natural drift was that he was curious about a lot of things. He wanted to work on a bunch of different things at once. Where if you go back and listen to the last few podcasts, once… Ford had one idea, right? He’s like, “I just want to make an affordable car for the every man.” And he dedicated his entire life for that. Once Steve Jobs starts making products, he did the same thing. He’s like, “I just want to make insanely great products, and then I want to build a world class organization that outlives me.” Edwin Land literally invented the industry that he worked in, in instant photography, and dominated that industry for four decades.
Buffet says, “Then at dinner, Bill Gates Sr. posed the question to the table. What factor did people feel was the most important in getting to where they’ve gotten in life? And I said,” Buffet saying. “Focus. And Bill said the same thing.”
Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and Edwin Land all saying the exact same thing. Focus. A simple thing to say, and a nearly impossible thing to do over the long term.
Lessons from the Titans: What Companies in the New Economy Can Learn from the Great Industrial Giants to Drive Sustainable Success.
By Scott Davis, Carter Copeland, Rob Wertheimer
Filled with illuminating case studies and brilliant in-depth analysis, this invaluable book provides a multitude of insights that will help you weather market upheavals, adapt to disruptions, and optimize your resources to your best advantage.
Before Silicon Valley disrupted the world with new technologies and business models, America’s industrial giants paved the way. Companies like General Electric, United Technologies, and Caterpillar were the Google and Amazon of their day, setting gold standards in innovation, growth, and profitability. Today’s leaders can learn a great deal from their successes, as well as their missteps. In this essential guide, three veteran Wall Street analysts reveal timeless lessons from the titans of industry—and offer battle-tested survival tactics for an ever-changing world.
6 things I learned from Pixar about fostering a creative culture
Learn how to encourage a company culture of innovation and creativity based on lessons and best practices from Pixar based on the book Creativity, Inc.
Encourage straight talk- “If there is more truth in the hallways than in meetings, you have a problem.”
Learn how to receive feedback- “A lot of people believe they know what’s right and can’t listen to advice.”
Collaborate with other experts- “Inspiration can, and does, come from anywhere.”
Don’t fear failure- “The reality is—new ideas are fragile. They don’t look good.”
Hire brilliant employees- “If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.”
Facilitate, don’t just manage- “Rather than getting caught up in a problem, I always wanted to look (at the team) to see if everyone is saying what they think. When these dynamics are working, you will solve your problem every time and do remarkable things.”
Josh Aguilar - GE: Lessons From the Rise and Fall
Josh Aguilar is a senior equity analyst at Morningstar. We cover GE’s business strategy, how it lost the right to be an industrial conglomerate, and the role GE Capital played in its rise.
It would be an understatement to say that GE looks very different today than during its peak in 2000. As you alluded to, GE was worth nearly $600 billion or so. Many of your listeners are going to remember that CEO Jack Welch was named Manager of the Century by Fortune. And he humble was then called the world’s most admired company by that same publication and the most respected company by the Financial Times. GE was in fact, the most valuable company. Flash-forward today gone are the days when a larger than life figure like Jack Welch would wax poetic of GE being the place where one’s dreams could come true and management was considered one of GE’s structural competitive advantages.
Problems could be pegged on two areas to answer the question. One is culture, and two is capital allocation. To a certain extent, they worked in tandem with one another. Welch’s issues were really two-fold, short-termism at the cost of rational long-term decision making. Secondly, a failure to mitigate downside risk.
Harley Finkelstein - Building the Entrepreneurship Company
Harley Finkelstein is the President of Shopify. We cover the different dimensions of entrepreneurship, the most interesting trends in e-commerce today, and the lessons learned from Shopify’s transition to public markets.
The luxury of finding something that if you were to borrow the term Ikigai, which is a Japanese concept, which is like life’s work, it’s a reason for being. It’s something that gives you a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning, but also a living, meaning someone will pay you for it. We are incredibly lucky that we can even think about that. The reason I think it’s really important is because for past generations, they effectively did a job they didn’t love to eventually stop working if they were able to retire to go do their life’s work, and they were able to pick up all these clues throughout 20 or 30 or 50 years of work providing with an indication that, “Maybe my life’s work is in this direction.”
Leaders should have enough self-awareness and they have to have enough capacity to realize that, “Hey, I’m really good at this thing and I think there’s a chance that I could be world class at it, but these other things I’m just not that good at,” and then to put up their hand proverbially or literally and say, “I need help on these things because this is not where I’m going to excel.” So at Shopify, we want our leaders, and I think if you look at Tobi and I in particular, we’ve tried to do that, sharpen our edges so we can be really, really great and eventually potentially even world class, but mitigate our weaknesses by hiring people that are better, smarter, faster than we are at those sort of things also.
Okta, the cloud identity provider, reported earnings this week and while the results were very strong on the surface, the company flagged extensive challenges integrating its Auth0 acquisition, sending the stock down over 30 percent and wiping $4.7 billion in shareholder value.
Integrations are always difficult and touch every part of an organization. While we are making progress, we’ve experienced heightened attrition within the go-to-market organization as well as some confusion in the field, both of which have impacted our business momentum. In order to improve our performance going forward, we’ve implemented a number of action items.
Great CFOs are extremely rare, and great CFOs at specialty businesses like fast-growing SaaS companies seem to be rarer still.
Mitch Lasky is a partner at Benchmark. We cover the most important features of the modern gaming business model, how platforms like Twitch and Discord have re-shaped the industry,
Historically with the console business and the PC business and even the mobile business, games would come and go in a fruit fly’s lifespan. They were extremely short lived. You could understand from an investor’s perspective how hard it would be to figure out continuity of value when you had that temporal mismatch between the way the business rolled out and the needs of the investor.
The key things to understand about the business model are that it is ultimately a customer acquisition, customer lifetime value business, fundamentally, like subscription businesses and other sorts of businesses. Although interestingly, the monetization models are a lot more diverse. And so it’s not necessarily always just about retention, although clearly retention plays an important role.
The other thing is that it’s very much driven by content and network effects in a way that a lot of investors are somewhat unfamiliar or may be uncomfortable making calls because you kind of have to make an aesthetic call. It’s very hard to look purely at the metrics of something, particularly at the early stage and say, “Oh, this is going to work.” You could with a social network.
Much harder to do with the games business. Much easier for those metrics to be manipulated in the early days through enthusiasts coming on board early, but maybe the product not making the transition to the mass market or aggressive customer acquisition spending early on, which somewhat distorts the KPIs.
Today, we’re breaking down a global semiconductor company known as AMD. AMD isn’t the biggest and it hasn’t always been the best chip-maker in the world, but as cyclical and structural changes take place in the semiconductor industry, AMD serves as a great proxy for what’s going on and why.
In my mind, when I think of electronics, technology products, electronic in particular, you live and die by the product cycle. If you have the right product at the right time, that is going to determine success. Getting that mixed right has always been the challenge for lots of companies because you miss one part or the other, you don’t have the right product or you’re not at the right time, then you fall by the wayside. And what we saw between AMD and Intel from fairly early on was one company was a little bit better at executing. Intel was a little bit better and then eventually got a lot better at executing. I think that ability to execute on time is what really made the difference.