Inspirational movies for business leaders

I especially enjoy sports and coaching movies because they often provide a great metaphor for business life whether you are in the job board business or any other. First the motivational movies and then pick-me-up list for those days when your business gives you the blues!


Coach Carter

 Samuel L. Jackson plays the titular, controversial coach, a hardliner who firmly believes that scholarship and a sense of ethics go hand in hand with excellence on the basketball court. A man of his convictions, Coach Carter benches his undefeated team of high schoolers when they turn in poor academic grades (much to the chagrin of the players’ parents and many of his fellow teachers). Co-stars Ashanti. Thomas Carter directs.

Glory Road

Glory Road tells the true story of Don Haskins (Josh Lucas), a high school basketball coach who, in 1962, took the reins of the Texas Western Miners, an underdog NCAA Division One team. Haskins’s insistence on recruiting the best players available to him, regardless of the color of their skin, revolutionized the sport … and changed the course of history. Director James Gartner’s inspiring drama triumphs both on and off the court.

Goal! The Dream Begins

For as long as Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) can remember, he’s had a passion for playing soccer, a pastime his father wishes he’d give up. But when British scout Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) spies Santiago playing in an amateur match, Foy persuades him to come to England — and the world soon takes notice. Some of the hottest stars from the world of football, including David Beckham and Zinédine Zidane, make cameos in this action-packed romp.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

With a pint-sized caddie (Joshua Flitter) at his side, amateur golfer Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) shocked the world at the 1913 U.S. Open when he outplayed defending British champ Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane). But Ouimet’s rise to the top wasn’t easy, with a hard-nosed father (Elias Koteas) and a hard-knock life to overcome. Actor Bill Paxton (in his third time out as a director) helms this inspiring true-life story based on actual events.

The Heart of the Game 

Attending predominantly white Roosevelt High because her mother thinks she’ll have better opportunities under the school’s successful coach, gifted black hoopster Darnellia Russell puts herself — and her coach — through the wringer. Shot in a suburban Seattle high school over a seven-year period, director Ward Serrill’s stirring documentary explores the complicated relationship between gender, race and organized sports.

Invictus(2009) PG-13

In this drama based on real-life events, director Clint Eastwood tells the story of what happened after the end of apartheid when newly elected president Nelson Mandela used the 1995 World Cup rugby matches to unite his people in South Africa. Based on John Carlin’s book, the film stars Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon (both Oscar nominated) as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the scrappy South African team that makes a run for the championship.


Average Joe and devoted Philadelphia Eagles fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) manages to land a spot on his favorite NFL team in open tryouts. He’s just lost his wife and his job as a substitute teacher, but by
impressing the coach and winning a place on the field, Papale turns a terrible year into a winner in this inspiring film (based on a true story) from the producers of the similar, baseball-themed The Rookie.

Man on Wire 

Philippe Petit captured the world’s attention in 1974 when he successfully walked across a high wire between New York’s Twin Towers. This documentary (nominated for Best Doc for the Independent Spirit Awards) explores the preparations that went into the stunt as well as the event and its aftermath. Obsessed with the towers even before they were fully constructed, Petit sneaked into the buildings several times to determine the equipment he needed to accomplish his daring feat.


Relive the miracle on ice all over again as coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) takes a ragtag band of college hockey players and molds them into an unstoppable juggernaut (Team USA) that did the impossible — beat the Soviet Union and won Olympic gold at Lake Placid. Do you believe in miracles? You will after you watch this inspiring movie.

On a Clear Day

When Frank (Peter Mullan) loses his job at the docks, he quickly realizes that, at age 55, he’s too old to start a new career but too young to simply stop working. Despondent about his life and past mistakes, he decides to take on the ultimate challenge — to swim the English Channel. With the support of friends and family, he thinks he can rise to the occasion and bear the physical pain, but is he ready to come to terms with his emotional pain?


A small-town high school football coach (Ed Harris) befriends an illiterate, developmentally disabled man (Cuba Gooding Jr.) nicknamed “Radio,” who has always been the target of jokes and teasing. Although their friendship raises eyebrows at first, Radio’s growth under the coach’s guidance ultimately inspires the local
townsfolk. Based on the true story of the life of James Robert Kennedy.

Saint Ralph

Ralph (Adam Butcher) is a typical teenager with atypical questions, the largest of which concerns his mother. She’s fallen into a coma, and the 14-year-old has set his sights on winning the 1954 Boston Marathon in a makeshift barter with God to make his mother well. His teacher, Father Hibbert (Campbell Scott), wants to encourage his dream, but in doing so, he goes up against the reserved, ever-realistic Father Fitzpatrick (Gordon Pinsent).

Twelve O’Clock High

Hard-as-nails World War II Gen. Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) must turn a discouraged group of American bomber pilots into heroes. Along the way, the once-alienated general comes to view the men as family. No longer a heartless commander, Savage — with the aid of his loyal adjutant Maj. Harvey Stovall (Dean Jagger) — learns how difficult true leadership really is. Director Henry King’s Oscar-winning war drama boasts actual
air combat footage.

The World’s Fastest Indian

Based on a true story, this drama follows 67-year-old grandfather and New Zealander Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) as he flies across Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats and blazes into the record books at 183.586 mph on his customized Indian Scout motorcycle. Set in 1967, this film is the second pairing for Hopkins and writer-director Roger Donaldson (Cocktail, Thirteen Days), who also worked together on The Bounty (1984).

Things could be worse

A Beautiful Mind

John Forbes Nash Jr. (Russell Crowe)
was a brilliant economist — when his mind was clear. But life changed
forever with the revelation that he was schizophrenic, although his
brilliance persisted amidst the anguish his mental illness caused for
him and his wife (Jennifer Connelly). Ron Howard directs this Oscar-winning drama that picked up honors for direction and acting (Connelly) as well as the Best Picture prize.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Mathieu Amalric stars as author and Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby — who suffered a stroke in 1995 that rendered him mute and completely paralyzed — in this adaptation of Bauby’s autobiography, which he dictated by blinking his left eye. Julian Schnabel was nominated for the 2008 Best Director Oscar (and won the Golden Globe in the same category) for his poignant docudrama about the strength of the human spirit.

Emmanuel’s Gift

Oprah Winfrey narrates this inspirational look at living with a disability in Ghana,
as seen through the eyes of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born with a
badly deformed right leg. While most of the nation’s 2 million citizens
who are deemed “disabled” suffer discrimination, abandonment and
ridicule, Emmanuel has dedicated his life to traveling the country via
bicycle to open people’s minds and to transform lives.

Mozart and the Whale

 Based on a true story, this romantic drama follows the love affair of two people with Asperger’s Syndrome — a subtle form of autism with a side of savant. Donald (Josh Harnett), an emotionally dysfunctional mathematical genius, leads a support group for those with the syndrome. When an attractive music and art genius (Radha Mitchell) joins the group, Donald’s falls for her, but their unique natures make for a challenging relationship.

Music Within

After losing his hearing as a soldier during the Vietnam War, Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston)
returns to America, where he falls in with an unlikely circle of friends and finds a new calling as a spokesman for the disabled. His activist efforts eventually lead to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This inspiring and entertaining true story won the Audience Award at the 2007 AFI Dallas International Film Festival.


 A richly deserved Oscar went to Geoffrey Rush for his riveting portrayal of Australian virtuoso David Helfgott and his ultimate triumph over a domineering father (Armin Mueller-Stahl, who also earned Academy honors for his supporting turn); schizophrenia; and an obsession with the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3. Sir John Gielgud, superb as ever, plays Helfgott’s tutor, with Lynn Redgrave co-starring as Helfgott’s future wife.

Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains

 In 1972, a plane carrying players, coaches and friends of a Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes. Using dramatic reenactments and interviews with the remaining survivors, this documentary recounts the
riveting story of their horrific ordeal. The harrowing tale of human survival (which inspired the movie Alive) became even more dramatic when it was discovered the men ate the dead bodies of their friends to go on living.

The Visitor

Widowed professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins, in an Oscar-nominated role) finds himself drawn to a different rhythm when he discovers an immigrant couple, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Gurira), squatting in his Manhattan flat and becomes wrapped up in their lives. Hiam Abbass co-stars as Tarek’s mother, who forges an unlikely connection with Walter when Tarek is thrown into a detention center.

Waste Land (2010)

Renowned artist Vik Muniz embarks on one of the most inspired collaborations of his career, joining creative forces with Brazilian catadores — garbage pickers who mine treasure from the trash heaps of Rio de Janeiro’s Jardim Gramacho landfill. In this Oscar-nominated documentary, the catadores prove to be unique and surprising individuals in their own right, waxing philosophic as they impart a valuable lesson about what society discards.


Books I like

booksin addition to favorite movies, here are books that I love, like or have found useful:



  • $1,000 and an idea: entrepreneur to billionaire by Sam Wyly
  • built to last by Jim Collins
  • don’t shoot the dog, the new art of teaching and training by Karen Pryor
  • good to great by Jim Collins
  • I was blind but now I see by James Altucher
  • mastering the rockefeller habits by Verne Harnish
  • maverick by Ricardo Semler
  • positioning: the battle for your mind (my review)
  • primal branding by Patrick Hanlon
  • radical honesty by Brad Blanton
  • roar! get heard in the sales and marketing jungle: a business fable by Kevin Daum and Daniel A. Turner
  • the power of full engagement: managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal by Jim Loehr
  • the seven-day weekend by Ricardo Semler
  • the slight edge by Jeff Olson
  • start small finish big by Fred DeLuca
  • what should I do with my life by Po Bronson



  • abraham lincoln: the prairie years and the war years by Carl Sandburg
  • team of rivals: the political genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

survival, sports & outdoors

  • angels in the wilderness: the true story of one woman’s survival against all odds
  • assault on lake casitas
  • deep survival: who lives, who dies, and why
  • how to stop worrying and start living’ by Dale Carnegie
  • i don’t want to talk about it: overcoming the secret legacy of male depression by Terrence Real