Things to Watch

May’s Must See Movie for Entrepreneurs: American Gangster

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The May flowers have arrived, which means that the season is here to begin grilling, swimming, and hanging around outdoors. Now, you can take your laptops outside and work in the patio or enjoy a nice cup of coffee while writing out the monthly budget for your startup.

Spending the afternoons outside is a great way to enjoy the sun, but when the evening rolls in, sitting down to watch a movie is always a great way to unwind.  Whether it’s watching something from the superhero universe that Dan Mintz is building – and taking inspiration from some of the character’s inner strength and courage- or something a bit darker, like American Gangster, there’s certainly no shortage of options to help you relax, as well as potentially even learn a thing or two in the process.

american-gangster-212x300  The Plot

American Gangster isn’t necessarily the first film you think of when you think about running a business, but through the eyes of an entrepreneur, Denzel Washington tells the true story of business-man Frank Lucas.

After Frank’s ‘mentor’ Bumpy Johnson passes away, he takes over the Harlem crime scene and changes positions from right-hand man to top dog of the city.

While Frank has control over the city, a detective put in charge of the drug trafficking division after his partner overdoses on a particular brand of heroin that is known for its low costs but high potency.

Why is Frank’s product so cheap? The movie goes on to explain how Frank ditches the middle man and goes straight to the source – Thailand – to get his product much cheaper and sell it on his own. He employs the help of his five brothers to do much of the dirty work, but does so by covering up these illegal activities with legal ones, such as running a tire shop or a small convenience store.

After one of Frank’s brothers is caught getting involved in another illegal activity, the detective forces him to wear a wire, which is ultimately the reason that Frank is arrested and brought into custody by the police.

The conclusion of the movie is simple: the bad guy is caught and the good guy wins, but the twist keeps viewers entertained. Frank, who not only ran the crime in Harlem but did so with the help of dozens of police officers and city officials, is offered a shorter sentence in return for spilling the names of the corrupt members of the community. This not only leads to hundreds of convictions, but Frank winds up doing a 15-year-bid for a 70-year sentence.

Why You Should Watch It

Getting involved in illegal activities is obviously not something that should be condoned, but seeing the movie through Frank’s eyes is truly recommended. The film is an outstanding biography piece that shows what the business world is truly like: vicious, cutthroat and unforgiving.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs find themselves in positions where they need to take risks or fail, and while these situations aren’t nearly as extreme as the ones Frank Lucas winds up in, they are certainly as important. Frank’s method of eliminating the competition, while unconventional, is definitely something that needs to be remembered by entrepreneurs everywhere. He knows what he needs to do to succeed, so he does it.

When watching the movie, try to take away these three things:

  • Admire Frank’s neverending aspirations to continue succeeding. He started out as a limo driver, moved up to Bumpy’s right-hand man, and then wound up running the streets of Harlem. Without his motivation and persistence, he may have never reached the level of success that he did.
  • “The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room,” one of Frank’s memorable quotes, is considerably important. As an entrepreneur, it often takes a lot of smooth talking, forming close relationships and listening to get to where you want to be. If you’re busy raving about how great your business is or bragging about a new idea you have, you may be putting yourself in a position to fail.
  • Creating a brand for your business can mean the difference between being on top and being on the bottom. Frank’s brand of drugs, “Blue Magic,” created a reputation for itself and when his competition tried stealing the name, he reminds the audience of the importance of building a reliable and memorable brand.
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