What Startups Can Learn from Hathaway and Di Nero’s ‘The Intern’

Photo from trilbee.com

Photo from trilbee.com

I recently went to the movies to see the new comedy The Intern starring Robert Di Nero and Anne Hathaway. The movie centered on Jules’s (Hathaway) online fashion startup company implementing an outreach program for senior citizen interns. The idea of this outreach program was that older generations who have been in the business world might have a lot to add to the company – which Di Nero provides flawlessly.

The film The Intern celebrates entrepreneurs and startups, as well as comments hilariously on our tech-obsessed generation; like the scene where Ben (Di Nero) is baffled by a younger co-worker who only apologized to a girl through text and email. Ben then states, “I assume you’ve talked to her, apologized….” as the young man says, “I emailed her. Subject line I wrote, I’m sorry, like with a ton of O’s…”

But while Ben and Jules (along with the other employees at the startup) come from different generations, The Intern beautifully shows the two learning from one another and growing. Ben genuinely enjoys his internship—we see him excitedly getting ready to go to work in the morning, always maintaining his professional image in a suit, and respecting everybody he works with. We see the younger generation learning from Ben’s business ethic, his demeanor, and how he seems to provide them with confidence and a ‘do-the-right-thing’ mentality. Both performances by Di Nero and Hathaway were well done, satisfying and convincing.

Besides the well-written plot and acting, real-time startups and entrepreneurs can learn valuable lessons from The Intern.

Here are 5 things you can learn from the film:

Photo from kcet.org

Photo from kcet.org

Passion fuels startup success

Passion fueling a startup’s success spoke strongly to me throughout the entire film. Jules’s (Hathaway) passion for her company is what leads her brand and gave her company the incredible growth an 18-month time span. Jules does not simply rule the roost from her office—she is involved in every aspect of her startup. Right in the beginning of the film, Jules is answering customer service calls and smoothing out problems. She then smiles and tells a co-worker that she likes personally taking customer service calls to remember why she’s doing this. There is also a scene where Jules takes a visit to the packaging area to fix the presentation of her products when they arrive to her customers. She is continuously hands-on and treats her startup like it is her baby, which explains her success. This Forbes article also states that one of the best ways for a startup to succeed is when the entrepreneur does not ignore anything. Jules certainly does not.

Technology is great, but can sometimes lead to disconnect

As we see throughout the film, technology is a huge part of a startup and entrepreneur’s world. While this is great because it leads to success, opens doors for growth, and is a necessity in today’s world, it can also hinder us. When running a startup, don’t forget that personal interactions are still incredibly crucial to your company’s success. Ben (Di Nero) breaks this technological barrier. Ben continuously walks amongst the computers in the films, talking to each of his co-workers and asks what he can do to help them out. He is consistently learning from his surroundings and interacting with everyone around him. Earlier in the film, we see each person at their computer and on their phones but not interacting as directly as he does. Going back to the comedic interactions Ben has with his co-workers in regards to their personal life and technology hindering it, we can maybe see how this lesson passes from a business tip to a personal one as well.

Photo from leaderpost.com

Photo from leaderpost.com

Everyone can add to your company – no matter the age

Everyone has different skill-sets and backgrounds that can be utilized in your startup. In the beginning of The Intern, Jules does not think Ben will be helpful to her company at all. Towards the end of the film, not only do they develop a close friendship, but she is also asking for his advice. You could say that Ben shifts from the intern role to mentor. This lesson is crucial, because it reminds entrepreneurs and startups that they should not underestimate people’s potential and hidden lessons. Just because Ben was not tech-savvy in the beginning of the film didn’t mean that his 40+ years in business did not enhance Jules’s startup.

Recognize what true leadership may mean

One of the center plots of the film is Jules’s decision of whether or not to hire a CEO. Ben encourages her to continue running the company, as she is the founder and knows it best. However, The Intern accurately portrays some trials that founders may face with their startups—Jules is overworked, tired, and there is strain in her family. But it is still rewarding. When being an entrepreneur and founder of a startup, realize what this leadership may mean. Are you prepared to be a CEO? Is this company your baby, and nobody else should be running it? Or will you want someone to come in as a CEO at some point in the future? This article also points out that The Intern faltered a bit when it only showed Jules as the founder. Why wasn’t hiring a co-founder an option? Consider that option too as you look into your leadership role.

Photo from thelaughbutton.com

Photo from thelaughbutton.com

Take a moment and breathe

The startup world is a crazy, rewarding, and constantly moving world. The Intern displays this perfectly. But that doesn’t mean that we should forget what’s important and that we don’t need to remember to take care of ourselves. Throughout the film, Ben consistently reminds Jules to eat, sleep, and take care of herself. At one point, Ben does not show up for work, which is unusual. Jules meets him at a park where he’s doing some type of yoga and as she begins to talk, he asks her to join him. Jules also repeatedly says that Ben calms her throughout the film, again, I think, a symbol of her taking a moment and stepping out of her hectic lifestyle. I believe that the lesson to be learned here is that hard work is necessary for success with your startup, but taking a moment to breathe is just as much of a necessity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMY VAUGHN9d54e19e059511e2a62d1231380fd04a_7

As a Montclair State University graduate with a BA in English, my first love is writing, specifically nonfiction and short stories. International human rights and women’s rights are also strong passions of mine. I hope to someday be able to call myself Chief Editor, human rights advocate, and jewelry designer. I can’t live without Mad Men (er, Netflix), soy chai lattes, or my adorable Wheaten terrier, Pippin. 

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