Here’s a quick and fun way to enrich your business knowledge: streaming documentaries on Netflix.
The online movie and TV service has a vast cache of business and tech documentaries that anyone with a subscription can watch instantly. The topics range from profiles of great innovators like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford to the psychology behind human behaviour.
Each of these 15 documentaries offers an entertaining storyline, as well as valuable insights into business success.
The 2011 documentary 'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi' profiles Jiro Ono, a Japanese sushi chef and restaurant owner who is widely revered for his skill and $300-a-plate dinners. It follows the now 90-year-old master as he works with vendors to secure the finest ingredients, manages and mentors his staff, and prepares his son to succeed him when he retires. The movie brings viewers inside the dedication, obsession, and decades of hard work it takes to achieve perfection.
'TED Talks: Life Hacks' is a collection of 10 popular TED lectures that offer tips and insights for success in life and business. You'll learn body-language secrets from Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, research-backed productivity tricks from positive psychology expert Shawn Achor, and more.
'Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work' takes viewers deep inside the business of the late Joan Rivers. After following the comedian for a year, filmmakers reveal the highs and lows of Rivers' decades-long quest to stay relevant. What does it take to get to the top and stay there? From meticulous organisation systems to her willingness to take any job to make sure her staff got paid, the movie shows the fierce determination necessary for success.
The 2005 documentary 'Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room' is a cautionary tale. It's a deep dive into the fall of Enron, the energy company that was at one point valued at $70 billion but filed for bankruptcy in 2001. It's become one of the most well-known cases of financial corruption and accounting fraud, and this film explores the psychology behind and fallout of the collapse of an empire.
From PBS's documentary miniseries on American history, 'American Experience: Henry Ford' chronicles the life of the famous automobile maker. It follows Ford from boyhood to mogul and reveals how he forever changed the way we work and manage businesses.
'Something Ventured' portrays some of the most successful and prolific venture capitalists, who through genius or luck made big early-stage bets on tech companies like Apple, Google, Atari, and Intel. For a crash course in venture capital or a modern business history lesson, this 2011 documentary shows how entrepreneurs partnered with investors to build some of the greatest American companies.
The face on Burt's Bees products belongs to the late Burt Shavitz, a beekeeper who never anticipated that he'd found a billion-dollar international brand. 'Burt's Buzz' tells the story of Shavitz's career, starting from his days as a young New York City photojournalist. Viewers also learn about Shavitz's complicated relationship with cofounder Roxanne Quimby, who eventually bought Shavitz out and sold the business to the Clorox company.
Original Netflix documentary 'Print the Legend' takes viewers inside the budding 3-D printing industry. It follows young companies like MakerBot and FormLabs as they race to be the next big consumer tech giants, printing everything from footwear to human organs to handguns.
When 'Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price' debuted in 2005, it highlighted many of the company's negative business practices, like underpaying its workers. Since then, Wal-Mart has made a number of changes, including raising wages for workers and stocking some organic foods. It's a compelling -- albeit controversial -- look at the effects of big business in America.
'Somm' follows a group of four men preparing for the master sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. Their obsession with getting ready for the exam consumes them as well as the people closest to them. The film will inspire you to pursue your own ambitions, however lofty they may seem.
A word to the wise: Don't plan on snacking while you watch 'Food, Inc.' -- you might feel sick. The 2008 film is based on the premise that virtually everything we eat comes from corporations that value their own profit over consumer and environmental health. It raises questions about what companies should do when their financial interests conflict with their customers' well-being.
Napster and its creators are the stars in 'Downloaded,' a 2013 film about the rise of file sharing on the internet. Viewers learn how the company developed, the impact it made on the music industry, and how it was eventually acquired by Rhapsody. Most importantly, they get to hear the narrative from multiple perspectives -- Napster's founders as well as musical artists and legal experts.
Produced by James Franco's company Rabbit Bandini, 'The Director' goes behind the scenes of world-renowned fashion house Gucci. It follows the career of Italian fashion designer and Gucci creative director Frida Giannini. Viewers see how a collection goes from concept to runway to closets, and can learn a lot about building a venerable brand.