CEO portrayals in the movies are actually quite schizophrenic. They really are. They’re binary. Either you get CEOs that are the embodiment of corporate evil or they are out and out angels.
Going by Hollywood standards, it seems that there is no middle ground. Either this person is just out for himself and actively tries to screw everyone and anyone he comes across for cheap gains, or this person is just the living embodiment of generosity, compassion and love.
This really is too bad because this black and white binary depiction of CEOs, captains of industries and movers and shakers in the world of business really does everybody a disservice. At the very least, it confuses people regarding the limits of compassion. At the worst, it paints people who operate out of self interest as essentially evil.
I’m happy to report that the reality actually falls somewhere in the middle. This should not be a surprise because if you are completely honest with yourself, you would quickly realize that people are mixtures of angels and devils. We are both demons and angels. We’re capable of amazing compassion and love. We’re also capable of quite a bit of harm. That’s just part of the human condition.
And unfortunately, CEO portrayals in the movies are completely blind to this. You are forced to choose between some sort of extreme cartoon on one end of the equation or the other. Thankfully, the CEO of Slender Lasers said this about the CEO life: It’s a lot of fun, but it really boils down to service.
That is really the essence of being a CEO. Because you have to understand that for companies to become successful, at some point along the line, they have to provide value to the people depending on them. Whatever Marxist and leftist professors might teach, companies usually stay in business only if they produce a profit. And what produces profits? Believe me, it’s not sympathy or altruism. Instead, consumers hand over their hard earned green pieces of paper to a company only if that company gives them something they demand in return. In other words, profits are based solely on voluntary exchange. If you don’t offer something of value that someone else needs, that person won’t give you the money he or she worked so hard for. See how this works?
People buy products because they’re looking for value. They’re looking for a solution to a wide range of problems, that’s why people would voluntarily put extra dollars in your bank account. Believe me, they’re not doing it for their health. They’re definitely not doing this because they have nothing else better to do. Value is the key.
So if you are looking for realistic portrayals of CEOs, chances are, you need to step away from Hollywood movies and actually interview them. This is why in one interview, the CEO of Slender Lasers said this: Value is the lifeline of any business. In other words, put in the most extreme terms, if a company does not deliver value, it goes belly up. Good riddance.