Four Business Lessons From The Movie “Up In The Air”

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Natalie :Mr Bingham,  
I regret to inform you that your position
at this company is no longer available.

Ryan :Hm. Who the hell are you?

Natalie : My name is Miss Keener. I'm here
today to discuss your future.

Ryan : My future? The only one who can fire me
is Craig Gregory.

Natalie : Mr Gregory hired me to handle this for him.
Ryan : - Handle what? Handle Me?

Natalie : Mr. Gregory hired me,
Ryan : he's the only one who can fire me.

Ryan : You know what? I'm gonna go talk to him.
Natalie : - Mr Bingham...
Ryan would get up at this point and move towards the door. Natalie
too would get up, run behind Ryan to stop him. Ryan would remind her

Ryan : No, no, no. You can't follow me.
You're on a computer screen, remember?
Natalie : Mr Bingham, I'm here to inform you
your position is no longer available.

Ryan : I'm fired?
Natalie : - Yes, you're fired.

Ryan advises : Never say fired.
Natalie : - You've been let go.

Ryan : Why?

Natalie : This is a mythical situation.
How could I possibly know why?

Natalie : Why doesn't matter,
Ryan : you never know why.

Natalie : It's important to not focus on the why, and rather, spend
your energy thinking about your future.

Ryan : Well, I'm gonna spend
my energy on suing you

unless you give me a good
reason why you're firing me.

Natalie : Mr. Bingham, the reason's not important.

Ryan : So you're firing me without grounds?
Now I really have a lawsuit.


Am I supposed to feel better
that I'm not the only one losing my job?

This is ridiculous!
I have been a fine employee for over 10 years

and this is the way you treat me.

How do you sleep at night, man?

How's your family?
They sleeping well at night?

Electricity still on?

Heat still on, refrigerator full of food?

Gas tank full of gas?

Going to Chuck E. Cheese
this weekend or something?

Not me.

No, my kids,
we're not gonna do anything.

What do you suggest I tell them
Perhaps you're underestimating
the positive effect

that your career transition
can have on your children.
The positive effect?  
I make about 90 grand a year now.

Unemployment is what -
250 bucks a week?

Is that one of your positive effects?

We'll get to be cosier cause I'm not gonna
be able to pay my mortgage on my house.

So maybe we can move into a nice
fucking one-bedroom apartment somewhere.

And I guess without benefits,

I'll be able to hold my daughter as she,
you know, suffers from her asthma

that I won't be able to afford
the medication for.
Well...tests have shown that children under
moderate trauma have a tendency to

apply themselves academically... a method of coping.
Go fuck yourself.  
That's what my kids will think.
Ryan : Your children's admiration is important to you?
- Yeah.

Bob : Yeah, it was.
Ryan : I'm not a shrink, Bob.
I'm a wake-up call.

Ryan : You know why kids love athletes?
Bob : - I don't know. Cause they screw lingerie models?

Ryan : No, that's why we love athletes.
Kids love athletes

because they follow their dreams.

Bob : Well, I can't dunk.
Ryan : - No, but you can cook.

Bob : What are you talking about?

Ryan : Your resume says that you minored
in French culinary arts.

Most students,
they work on the fryer at KFC,

but you bussed tables
at Il Picador to support yourself.

Then you get out of college
and then you come and you work here
How much did they first pay you
to give up on your dreams?
I see guys who work at the same
company for their entire lives,

guys exactly like you.

They clock in, they clock out,
and they never have a moment of happiness.

You have an opportunity here, Bob.

This is a rebirth.

If not for you, do it for your children.
Well, anybody who ever built an empire
or changed the world sat where you are right now.

And it's because they sat there
they were able to do it.

That's the truth.
Ryan : Uh...Kara mentioned that you were
having some thoughts.

Jim : I don't think I'm going to be able to uh...
to do this.

Ryan : Why would you say

Jim : Well, last night I was just kinda laying
in bed and I couldn't get to sleep.

So I started thinking about the wedding
and the ceremony,

and about our buying a house
and moving in together.

And having a kid,
and having another kid and then

Christmas and Thanksgiving
and spring break.

Going to football games, and then
all of a sudden they're graduating.

They're getting jobs, they're getting married.
And, you know, I'm a grandparent.

And then I'm retired.
I'm losing my hair, I'm getting fat.

And then the next thing you know
I'm dead.

I'm just, like...I can't stop from thinking,
what's the point?
Ryan : Jim, your favorite memories, the most
important moments in your life.

Were you alone?

Jim : No, I guess not.
Ryan : last night, the night before your wedding
when all this shit is swirling around in your head,

weren't you guys sleeping in separate bedrooms?

Jim : Yeah, Julie went back to the apartment and
I was just by myself in the honeymoon suite.

Ryan : Kinda lonely, huh?
Jim : - Yes, it was pretty lonely.

Ryan : Life's better with company.

Jim : Yeah...
Ryan :- Everybody needs a co-pilot.

Jim : That was a nice touch.
Ryan : - Thanks


what is it you think we do here?

We prepare the newly-unemployed for
the emotional and physical hurdles of job hunting,

while minimizing legal blowback.
That's what we're selling.
It's not what we're doing.
We are here to make limbo tolerable,  
to ferry wounded souls across the river of dread
until the point where hope is dimly visible.

Then stop the boat, shove 'em
in the water and make 'em swim.

Written by

Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at or

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