How many times have you heard the 'Always be closing' speech from my favourite film Glengarry Glen Ross at a conference? It is also easy to be influenced by the more autocratic leaders in films such as The Iron Lady, Wall Street and The Godfather over the stereotypical inspiration of Jerry Maguire or The Shawshank Redemption.
All these films provide excellent reference points for how to conduct yourself in business - and how not to. However, businesspeople can also learn from other, less obvious movie characters whose damaging personas or persuasive salesmanship make them equally worth observing.
Here are three movie characters you should know about, and perhaps not from films you'd expect.
Dr King Schultz
Django Unchained, 2012
My favorite Tarantino film character of all time, hands down, is Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Every conversation was dramatically drawn out in a way in which you didn't know how it would end, but he was so utterly compelling that you almost wanted to agree with him on any issue.
Calm under pressure, fair and resourceful, he's the guy you'd want in your corner. In the final scene, as the tension between he and Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) comes to a head, he understood he was in a corner, so calmly did what he felt he had to before letting the cards fall as they may.
Sometimes in business we can only impact outcomes to a certain point, and then just have to deal with whatever unfolds.
The Anniversary, 1968
The cunning family matriarch with a fabulous eye patch, Mrs Taggart (Bette Davis), always left an impression on me. She was a manipulative and overbearing woman who was determined to ensure her children knew who was boss. Everyone has worked for someone like her.
Each of her grown children also represents various personality types we may come across in the office.
The reason this character is so interesting is that she unveils the facades of what strength actually is. Mrs Taggart's whole life revolves around causing others to believe they simply will not survive without her, they are inept, and that her condescending and hurtful remarks disguised as witty comebacks are acceptable behaviour. Sound familiar?
What this film highlights is that these personality types are often overcompensating, because truly great leaders equip and develop those around them rather than humiliating them into faux loyalty.
Sure, Trent (Vince Vaughn) was a bit of a high-roller wannabe and womaniser – but his ability to walk from situation to situation while leading his browbeaten mate is exactly why every business leader should hire him.
He remained focused and kept a particular tape running in his head that impacted his belief system, ultimately influencing his past-obsessed friend.
Trent was the obnoxious bravado type, but ultimately charismatic and results-driven. He also had the type of eternal optimism that is actually quite annoying. But there is something about people who are able to remain cool and smoothly brush off the hits of whom businesspeople need occasionally to be reminded.
All about being not who you are but who you want to be, Trent Walker is exactly the type of person I would want pitching sales for my team.
Alexandra Tselios is a business start-up consultant and the founder and publisher of opinion website The Big Smoke.