Nightcrawler Business Leadership
Nightcrawler Business Leadership
A thriller that tells the story of a young entrepreneur?
Nightcrawler, AKA “How to find opportunities in business leadership”
So what are some lessons in business told in this film?
Entrepreneurship is not a theme I expected to get from the movie Nightcrawler, which came out recently in theaters. Jake Gyllenhaal may very well get nominated for the big awards with his performance, playing a smart and creepy sociopath (are there sociopaths that aren’t creepy?) but the surprising thing about the film was the character’s affinity for business.
Gyllenhaal’s character, Lou Bloom, is a guy who is trying to survive by doing odd jobs, even if it means unethical or against the law, such as stealing fencing or other materials to sell on the black market.
We learn early on in the film that he is seeking out every opportunity he can, as he asks the owner of a construction company (whom he sells stolen goods to) for a job. He is turned down as the owner replies that he does not want to hire a thief.
The bulk of the movie, however, is about a major opportunity that comes his way, in which he learns that if he films crimes or shootings or car accidents, then he can sell the footage to the local news station for good money.
He takes it upon himself to hire an employee, an unwitting young man who is down on his luck, low on self-confidence and just wants any job to make some money. One can only assume he found this job opportunity on a site like Craigslist. The funny thing here is that while most understand that dating as well as buying goods through Craigslist may yield dangerous results, few of us likely expect a new employer to be a psycho. Sometimes employees need to interview their future employers as much as employers do, so that they have some idea of what line of work they may be getting themselves into–not the case in this movie!
Interestingly enough, in a very cold, anti-social sort of way, Bloom exhibits many of the qualities of someone who rises to power, like a burgeoning company executive. He understands leveraging, the art of negotiation, and even goes the “I know you want what I have so you will sleep with me” route, which is, of course, the very caricature of finding the target market that wants what you have.
If a young Donald Trump was a low-income sociopath who went into media instead of real estate, he would probably be Lou Bloom.
Entrepreneurship is often a process of trial and error, taking initiative, taking risks, and sticking your head out in uncharted territory. Lou Bloom does this throughout the picture. He pitches high, he has a business plan, he invests in himself (better cameras, police scanners, etc.), and he knows that working for himself is the only way to go. His competitor even offers him a job, clearly a sign of the competition recognizing Bloom’s worth in the industry. Bloom knows this, and turns him down without even taking time to think about it. Despite the uncertain future an unpredictable industry may bring, he is certain of his confidence and understands the value he brings to his customer. He not only negotiates higher fees when he has the upper hand, but perhaps even more important, he asks for connections and brand recognition. This is one smart young entrepreneur.
While the ending of the movie may be hard for some viewers to grasp, as it seems very unlikely, the story is one of seeking out and acting on new and exciting opportunities. This is one of the great lessons of business leadership, and other than it being an entertaining thriller, the film could be used to prove a point in business schools all over the world. You may not have to be a sociopath to be an entrepreneur, but you definitely need to have some nerve—and this movie tells that story quite well.
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