July 27, 2005

What I learned from Hollywood - Part 2

"I always tell the truth, even when I'm lying". This incredible line is spoken by Al Pacino in the 1983 Brian de Palma film Scarface The movie follows the rapid rise and quick downfall of a gangster (Tony Montana) in 1980's cocaine infused Miami.

It's a tempting topic but I'm not focusing on lying in this posting. I used the above quote to grab your attention. But I am thinking that there's something more important to learn from de Palma's Scarface. The movie's got greed, power, money and ethics or rather lack of ethics. Something for everyone plus all are the elements of a great business story.

The story starts with Tony arriving in Miami with nothing but the clothes on this back. In no time he's climbing the crime corporate ladder. He cuts out middle men (literally), secures his own line of supply and builds an empire with piles of money. But has a flaw - he's full of greed and it brings him down.

According to WordNet Search the definition of Greed is: 1. the excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves, 2. reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth. If you've seen the movie, you know that there should be a #3 to the definition, and it includes a picture of Tony Montana.

In the business world we know about greed. It was greed that drove the Dotcom Boom and Bust. Greed was a factor in recent celebrity stock trading court actions. Greed was the subtext in the email trails that compelled big settlement payments by brokerage houses to governments.

Like his real life counterparts Tony doesn't know when enough is enough. According to Warren Buffet the ability to manage greed is as important as managing fear. I agree.

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