Five things entrepreneurs can learn from the movie The Intern


The movie introduces actor Anne Hathaway playing Jules, the founder of fashion e-commerce website About The Fit, in a scene where she is trying to pacify a customer on a call. Sounds familiar, right?

The Intern was a fun watch, only because the makers got the startup culture right. Open offices, buzz and an in-house masseuse (wow!). Of course, there was a lot of drama and some unnecessary bits but the movie picked up on an important dilemma many entrepreneurs face during their startup lives: “I started this, should I let someone else run the company?”

Irrespective of the ending, it is a very important point to ponder upon, considering startups gather momentum suddenly and sometimes become difficult to handle.

Apart from touching on this aspect, there were a few other things that struck me as lessons that startup founders could learn from the movie, most of them coming from Ben Whittaker (played by Robert De Niro).

  1. It might be a startup, but dress up. Why not?
  2. They show Ben shave and suit up every day. They could have easily shown him get talked into wearing shorts and a T-shirt to work, but there is a subtle message in not letting that happen. It is important to look your best at all times, irrespective of whether you are in casuals or formals.
  3. Don’t let the communication go all electronic
  4. Emails are convenient but don’t let them hinder a face-to-face chat. Nothing can beat a good conversation. This hit me when Jason messes things up with Becky and tries to persuade her by spamming her with texts and emails. Ben’s suggestion to talk to her in person and apologise actually works!
  5. Wake up at seven am and clean that messy desk
  6. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about cleaning a messy desk. It could be something that has been on the agenda for a long time. It could be undone laundry, a date that you rain-checked, a phone call that you’ve been procrastinating, or an inbox that you haven’t cleared in ages - make some time for it, it will make you feel great.
  7. Being busy doesn’t mean you are effective
  8. Becky, the personal assistant of Jules, is a Wharton graduate, but she rants about how she works 14 hours a day, and does not get any credit at the end of it. Well, nobody notices the heap of files, folders, and undone work in front of her! In short, don’t waste time on unnecessary things, prioritise work and do them effectively.
  9. Whatever will be, will be. Follow your heart
  10. When Jules and Ben are in San Francisco for the weekend, she talks about marriage and how Matt is cheating on her. She almost blames herself for it happening, and is willing to hire another CEO to replace her so she can fix her marriage. Ben tells her to follow her heart and not do things in the hopes that it would make her husband stop having affairs. It is great practice to follow your heart finally, everything else usually fall in place.


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