Lessons from a REAL depression – Biz Movie “Water for Elephants”

While you might think the movie “Water for Elephants” is about a Depression era circus – which it is, but also it is not. If you read or listen to the book – which I recommend, there is more detail than the movie but overall this was a solid, interesting and visually stunning film.

Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants” is number one this week on the NYT best sellers list for the combined print & ebook fiction. It has been on the list for 12 weeks – no small feat. I had been a bit concerned about what would get left out of the book and whether the movie would be disappointing as a result but THIS time I need not have worried.

From a business view (mine) the movie does not go into as much detail about how really bad times were for individuals and families during the Depression the way the book does. But this is reasonable as the book has more time to really explain about a time when there was no Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or Unemployment Security. This time is actually the reason we now have these support systems.

If you have been laid off in the past few years or lost your business I know things have been hard. Imagine if there were no temporary payments of any kind. What about parents who need medicine? If there was no Medicare what would you do to get money for Grand Dad’s insulin every month? Would he just go without it – not complain to you and get sicker? That still does happen at times, but not to the large numbers that it did then.

Another parallel to the current time is how businesses are buying up competitors who are failing or just want to get out of the market now. The fictional Benzini Brothers circus is a poor relation to the much more popular and better run Ringling Brothers. Benzini owners buy up good acts to help move up in popularity to sell more tickets. This helps them to stay constantly in debt. AND has some lousy impacts on troop members when funds run short. Okay not funny if you get this one.

Lousy management and dangerous behaviors by owners/leaders have brought down many a potentially successful business. One final lesson from “Water for Elephants” is to make sure you do not become the character August while trying to create a successful company.

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This blog was written by Rhonda F. Waters, Ph.D.
– Founder of The Mutare Group, and http://www.askdrrhonda.com.
“Reaching goals that matter to YOU.”

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