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New Frontiers in Business Management: Heist Films

May 1, 2010

Rusty thinks they need another guy.

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 of Bank Heist X, 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.

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

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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17 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2010 3:39 pm

    wearing well cut expensive suits

    Nothing good can come when guys that well-dressed come sashaying into your gambling palace. The pockets in those tailored suits aren’t big enough to carry a supply of quarters or chips, so they’re not planning on taking you at the slots or the tables.

  2. May 1, 2010 3:40 pm

    Moreover, there’s nothing for them at the casino. What are they hot for the grannies in fanny packs?

  3. May 1, 2010 3:41 pm

    Yeah they’re obviously out for your money, or your girlfriend, or both.

  4. May 1, 2010 3:42 pm

    Nope. They’ve come for your bearer bonds cause they have no time (or pockets) for loose cash.

  5. May 1, 2010 3:42 pm

    Provided they’ve worked out all the transportation issues.

  6. May 1, 2010 3:44 pm

    If Bernie Mac or Delroy is your transportation specialist then things are okay. But say no to: Waingro or Dennis Haysbert.

    No no no.

  7. May 1, 2010 3:45 pm

    Supply chain issues in heist flicks can be a whole nother MBA-level course.

  8. Heather Flescher permalink
    May 1, 2010 5:28 pm

    My favorite heist film trope is the aging, good-hearted specialist who retired from all that dirty business but grudgingly agrees to do “one last job”.

  9. May 1, 2010 5:42 pm

    @Heather Fletcher = SAUL!!!

  10. May 1, 2010 5:46 pm

    My favorite heist film trope is the aging, good-hearted specialist who retired from all that dirty business but grudgingly agrees to do “one last job”.

    Because hey, what could go wrong?

  11. May 1, 2010 5:47 pm

    Hand to hand combat does not interest me.

  12. Q.V. permalink
    May 1, 2010 9:09 pm

    In my opinion, the biggest risk is a sequel. Ocean’s 13 had such bad sound mixing and pacing that I thought the TV was broken. But I watch Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 at least five times a year. I probably watch 90 percent for Rusty’s cufflinks and 5 percent to imagine a Damon/Pitt makeout sesh.

  13. May 1, 2010 10:29 pm

    @ Q.V. – Damon/Pitt!?!?! How can we deny the sexual tension between Clooney/Pitt? I can’t remember the scene, but there’s a look where Pitt looks like he’s imagining eating frozen yogurt off of George. I clearly need to watch this again.

  14. Q.V. permalink
    May 2, 2010 12:15 am

    @poplife: The Clooney/Pitt makeout after the celebrity poker game is only in my head? I’ve really seen the movie too many times. The Damon/Pitt scenario to me is like Beautiful Thing young first homo makeout, and it doesn’t have the long-term-lovers-after-jail-separation stuff-getting-broken quality that the Pitt/Clooney makeout on the poker table does.

  15. May 2, 2010 6:51 am

    @Q.V. and Spoon – I tend to frame the whole conversation during the poker game as a lovers’s spat.

  16. Q.V. permalink
    May 3, 2010 1:31 am

    The Score (also De Niro, doing one last job) is another movie that rounds all the Heist Movie bases you lay out so well. What I loved quite self-centredly about it is that was the first time I saw a movie shot in the city I was living in at the time. Oh, that and Angela Bassett. I loved that her character, instead of giving him an ultimatum and waiting while he didn’t meet it, she just did what she wanted to do and enjoyed their relationship when it worked for her. Maybe a good double-cross reveal is another essential?

    OHOHOH–and Gary Farmer the dreamcatcher-in-the-rearview-mirror guy was accidentally or maybe even on purpose cast as his own Nation–well, close enough. He’s Cayuga but that’s part of the same Haudenosaunee confederacy as the local Mohawks. A good Indigenous Character sighting will distract me from the storyline long enough for me to have to watch the movie again.

    Actually, a Filipina filmmaker talking after a screening of Reel Injun last week said outright that was why she cast white leads once, she didn’t trust that the (white?) audience would be able to get past the ethnicity of the characters to identify with the story. Then she said that maybe next time she won’t worry about that so much. I wonder if she was thinking also about the utter surprise people in minorities might experience seeing someone like themselves just hanging out, advancing the storyline, like every other actor?

  17. May 3, 2010 9:15 pm

    The Score (also De Niro, doing one last job) is another movie that rounds all the Heist Movie bases you lay out so well. What I loved quite self-centredly about it is that was the first time I saw a movie shot in the city I was living in at the time. Oh, that and Angela Bassett. I loved that her character, instead of giving him an ultimatum and waiting while he didn’t meet it, she just did what she wanted to do and enjoyed their relationship when it worked for her. Maybe a good double-cross reveal is another essential?

    Oh man, I do love me some The Score.

    Even Brando, sitting down and phoning it in is still much better than most of his wannabes acting for all their worth.

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