I’m a big Bill Murray fan and my fondness for his work and his enigmatic style, both on-screen and off, has grown over the years. Whether he is photobombing tourists or visiting Fall River for pierogies, his Zelig-like ability to show up, to be intentional, in the moment and randomly there, speaks to all of us who dream of a world where every day could be spent doing what we love to do. That has me thinking about entrepreneurs and the creation of innovative businesses, not because everyone actually is ready to start and run a new venture, but instead because we all should be thinking about our life’s possibilities and who we want to be. So what movies and books might Bill recommend to anyone with an entrepreneurial mind-set? Unless he returns a message I might leave on his iconic 800 number (which is the only way anyone can connect with him for the last decade), I can only imagine.
Let’s start with one of Bill’s first films, Ghostbusters, the fun and familiar tale of three paranormal investigators who lose their plum university positions and decide to strike out on their own with not much money, no meaningful organization, and just an idea for a market-defining new service.
The movie is hilarious and shows how entrepreneurs who are smart (and lucky) enough can take advantage of an immediate (and paranormal) market need. Could such a crazy business ever get off the ground? Ask Jules Pieri, co-founder of The Grommet and author of the thoughtful and entertaining new book How We Make Stuff Now, a must-read for anyone who wants to launch an innovative product. Overall, it’s a compelling first-hand narrative from one of the region’s most recognized and successful entrepreneurs. The Grommet team has launched thousands of products and dreams. Pieri’s well-learned tips on marketing, positioning, financing and partnering are timely and true, and she skillfully weaves unique “grommet” (product or service) examples into every chapter.
Of course, entrepreneurs can’t just rely on timing and a cool new idea. They also need persistence and pluck, best demonstrated in Groundhog Day, in which Murray portrays Phil Connors, a TV weatherman caught in an endless life loop until he can learn about his best and truest self. I love this film, especially the memorable scenes of a dispirited Phil driving first off a cliff in a stolen orange truck, groundhog in tow, and then again on train tracks in a purple Eldorado with police in hot pursuit — another day, another drive forward. Bill Murray would love car enthusiast and cultural historian Dan Albert’s new book: Are We There Yet: The American Automobile, Past, Present and Driverless, a witty, thorough and incredibly engaging history of how automobile innovators from Henry Ford to Lee Iacocca persisted through depressions, world wars, and recessions to bring us the driving experiences that have shaped our lives today. Where and how indefatigable entrepreneurs like Elon Musk will drive us next is still a work in progress.
Finally, no entrepreneurial venture can persist or thrive without funding and on this point, you might consider Murray’s most underrated comedy Quick Change, in which Bill’s character, “Grimm,” dressed as a sad clown and aided by two other incompetent co-conspirators, ridiculously and successfully robs a bank, only to screw up the getaway almost completely.
No, I’m not suggesting that you steal from a bank — but only instead that you should talk to one. Before you do that, read former SBA Administrator Karen Mills’ outstanding new book: FinTech, Small Business & the American Dream, a smart, savvy, and useful landscape of lending, fintech, and small business. Mills knows how the engine of small business powers the U.S. and her recommendations about how to sustain it through technology are thoughtful and direct. Her observations about how small banks can anchor communities are especially astute and important. Relationships still matter, especially today and even with online banking. As even a sad clown might tell you, access to the money just might be the easy part. What happens next can be an adventure, and you can never have enough friends.