Eleven Business Lessons From The Movie “Jerry Maguire”

Image for post
Image for post

Jerry Maguire(Tom Cruise) is a successful sports agent working for the Sports Management International (SMI). He likes his work — Big clients, Huge money, Beautiful fiancee — He is willing to do anything to get the biggest possible contracts for his clients and profitability for his company.

Note: The below content is part of the following book

Business and Life Lessons From The Movies by Shah Mohammed M on Amazon.


Jerry to his client: I will not rest until you're holdinga coke in your own commercial, -- broadcast during a Super Bowlgame that you're winning.

It was just about money, commercials….not about how well an athlete could enjoy while playing, not about how an athlete could entertain the audience.

One day, an injured athlete’s 14-year-old son confronts Jerry with the brutal truth that Jerry no longer treated his clients as humans and his athletic clients no longer treated the audience as humans.

In the quest for the big dollar,little things were golng wrong.

Jerry realises how he has transformed — How he used to enjoy simple pleasures in his job — How he enjoyed the stadium sound when one of his players performed well, How he helped his players in health and injury but now everything is seen from the perspective of “profits”.

Jerry: Who had I become?Just another shark in a suit?


“When you focus on money, you would fail to spend your ‘limited attention capacity’ on noting some critical problems. These problems would aggravate further, forcing you to invest more money in the business”


Less money. Caring for themand caring for ourselves.

If you care about your people, they would care about your product or service.

If you need to care for your consumers, avoid calling them as “prospects”, “consumers”, “early adopters or laggards”, “buyers”, “customers” and consider them as “humans”. A consumer is defined as a person who purchases goods and services for personal use. This definition prompts us to think “How to sell our product or services to them?” — It reduces people to mere objects. It diminishes empathy.

If you call your customers as humans, your mind subconsciously would think about flesh, blood, infallible, compassionate, kind-hearted, considerate, moral, understanding, sympathetic, tolerant and the list would go on. These thoughts would prompt you to think “How to improve their lives?” and treat them as your partners.

Consumers Buy, Humans Live — Marc Gobe


Jerry remembers his mentor Dicky Fox’s advice

Dicky Fox: The key to this businessis personal relationships.

As Jerry has got limited options, he concentrates all his efforts on establishing a personal relationship with Rod.

Today, in this hypercompetitive market, great brands no longer depend only on innovation, creativity to attract a new market, maintain existing markets, clients — They need to satisfy the emotional desires, cultural-orientation and needs of their clients. Even customers expect the same. To understand their emotional desires, needs, we need to establish personal relations with our consumers — Need to engage a deeper, lasting connection with consumers.

Preference is the key reason why a consumer is willing to pay a premium for a product or service and be loyal to the brand.


Jerry: Fine. What's up?Bob Sugar: I came here to let you go.
Jerry: Pardon me?Bob Sugar: I came here to fire you, Jerry.

As the movie shows, this ‘Focusing on improving lives of people’ may appear counterintuitive in short-term(As Jerry struggles in his initial stint in the movie) but in the long run, it would bring loyal customers and sustainable business as the movie shows in the end.


Rod: I'm sitting here with an ant problem.My brother Tee Pee's room is flooded.

Rod claims that Jerry is not trying hard enough to get him a good value contract while Jerry feels that Rod is not proving himself worthy of the money for which he asks. But at the end of the movie, we see a different Rod Tidwell.

Understand that the customer may not be always right, but do not blame the customer for the problems, blame the situations, environment.


Jerry spends more time with ‘Rod’ — travels with him to all the games, watches him play. Slowly, he understands the problems that block ‘Rod’ from achieving his goals. Jerry realises that he could get a high-value contract only when ‘Rod’ mends his ways and performs well.

Jerry slowly makes Rod understand his problems, helps him to overcome those obstacles.

It is our duty to inspire our consumers to have dreams and help them to accomplish those dreams.


In one of the scenes, Jerry asks Rod not to just play but provide a wonderful experience to the audience. Unless Rod enjoys playing, forgets himself in the game, he cannot provide a wonderful experience to his audience.

Jerry: Rod, Show them your joy for the game.Bury the attitude a little bit,and show them...Get back to the guywho first started playing this game.
Way back when you were a kid,was it just about the money?

Your customer would enjoy your product or service only if you enjoy designing, producing it. Show your customers your joy for the product and Show them the experience.


Jerry: Rod, Play like a guywho first started playing this game.
Way back when you were a kid,was it just about the money?
Help me.Help me... help you.Help me help you

If we are willing to listen, observe, our customers would provide a path to a long sustainable business and they are the best source of information for our new product ideas, inventions, habit building products. Help them to help ourselves.


Jerry: I have a question for you.Are we really friends?You know, friends can telleach other anything, right?
I'll tell you why you don'thave your $ million.
You play for the money. You playwith your head, not your heart.
When you get on the field,it's all about what you didn't get.
Who's to blame. Who's gotthe contract you didn't get.That is not what inspires people!
Shut up!Play the game from your heart.
Then I'll show you the kwan.And that's the truth!

Everyone has got limited attention capacity. Thinking about rewards or consequences would take away attention away from the activity itself. As Rod is focussed on the external rewards(Money, Fame, Commercials), his concentration in the game suffered, affecting his performance. Jerry mentions that ‘playing’ alone should be a reward like how Rod had enjoyed playing while as a kid. Instead of external rewards, we need to encourage our customers to substitute with their own internal rewards which are under their control.

In May 2007, Mahalo.com, a Q&A website similar to Quora was born. The team at Mahalo.com provided monetary rewards for best answers in the form of virtual currencies, which could be traded for real money. They believed that monetary benefits would encourage more customers to use their website. Unfortunately, the website died. In 2010, a similar website Quora did not offer any monetary rewards, yet succeeded in increasing customer engagement. Focus on internal rewards.


Jerry was consistently honest, truthful, sincere to Rod — He put real effort in building the relationship. Whatever Jerry did, advised, was for the benefit of his client Rod and not from the perspective of earning more commission. Jerry did not deceive, mislead or withhold any information. Even his feedback was honest. Build trust.


If you want your customer to love your product or service, you need to help him in achieving their aspirations like how Jerry helped Rod in achieving his desires.

Dicky Fox, Jerry’s mentor says

Unless you love everybody,you can't sell anybody.

In the end, ‘Rod’ succeeds and appears in a TV show. In the show, Rod becomes emotional, proceeds to thank Jerry publicly and extends warm, heartful greetings to him. As they say, if you love your customers, they would do the marketing for you.


Note: The above content is part of the following book

Business and Life Lessons From The Movies by Shah Mohammed M on Amazon.

Reference: Jerry Maguire movie script from script-o-rama.com, Emotional Branding by Marc Gobe, Unconscious Branding by Douglas Van Praet, What Great Brands Do by Denise Lee Yohn.

Written by

Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at mmshah8@gmail.com. or https://www.shahmohammed.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store