The web is packed with some of the greatest educational material on entrepreneurship and enterprise, material that didn’t exist a decade ago and is now within the mouse-click reach of vast swaths of humanity. Are we taking advantage of it?
Doug French and I set out to collect the top 15 videos on entrepreneurship — a totally subjective list, of course, but these are the ones we have found most compelling. Watching all of these provides a great overview of the contribution that enterprise makes to the quality of life.
They illustrate, too, the dangers of government rules, regulations, taxes, and trade restrictions. They kill creativity and prosperity, making life harder for entrepreneurs and capitalists to serve society through innovation and expansion.
We sought to pick videos that show the real stuff at work — not just academic lectures, but the real heartbeat of human action in an enterprising world.
Please share this set with people who need to understand!
1. The LEGO Story
This is an amazing short movie about the history of one company, covering the dream, the setbacks, the innovations, the development, the achievement, and so much more. It is also very beautifully made. Every kid in the world ought to see this wonderful video!
2. Caine’s Arcade
This is a heartwarming story of a child with an idea. But it is more than that. It is a look at the dream of commercial achievement and what it takes to see it realized. We see in Caine the traits that made a Rockefeller or a Carnegie or any of the greats. There is a certain fanaticism about what they do, a deep love and belief in the idea and the desire to serve others.
3. Matt Ridley: When Ideas Have Sex
Matt Ridley may not have set out to illustrate the power of economic thinking, but that is what he does here. He shows how a developed, complex economy is all about sharing, cooperation, service, and learning. He re-characterizes the commercial spirit as community minded and deeply connected to public service. It is a brilliant presentation from one of the finest writers and thinkers working today.
4. Johanna Blakley: Lessons From Fashion’s Free Culture
This lecture sweeps away a profound confusion about commerce: that it is due to the containment and privatization of ideas. On the contrary, a true enterprise economy is about the spreading and sharing of ideas, just as entrepreneurship itself relies on innovating from existing knowledge. Great creators are great students too. This video uses fashion to show how it works.
5. Hans Rosling and the Magic Washing Machine
Hans Rosling is a demographer with a passion for explaining what the numbers mean, as a way of countering ideological bias in the population. He uses amazing tools to show how economic forces are all about the quality of life: longer, healthier, wealthier lives. He is a dedicated believer in the cause of human flourishing, and this comes across in his beautiful tribute to the washing machine.
6. Rory Sutherland: Perspective Is Everything
Rory Sutherland is one of the most-perceptive marketing experts in the world today. He has a keen mind, and he traces his own economic influences to Ludwig von Mises. His many examples of how real-world commerce differs from what you find in textbooks make for an interesting corrective. As Mises himself said, the difference between capitalism and socialism comes down the principle of marketing. Sutherland is the great specialist in consumer behavior.
7. Richard Branson’s Advice for Entrepreneurs
Richard Branson is a legend in his own time, an extraordinary entrepreneur and a breaker of every rule in the book. He does not give systematic lectures or write detailed essays, but he will sit for spontaneous interviews. This short video packs a powerful punch. He makes the case for making errors, giving employees lots of freedom, and praising accomplishments of others.
8. Soda Pop: John Nese, proprietor of Galcos Soda
A store owner discovers a market niche in making customers happy by offering 500 different kinds of soda pop, rather than Pepsi or Coke… he couldn’t compete with Ralph’s down the street by carrying Pepsi and Coke… but could compete by offering something different.
9. Anthony Bourdain in Haiti
Anthony Bourdain didn’t set out to make a documentary about economics, but that’s what it ended up as. Laissez Faire Today goes into greater detail here about how this film makes the case for capital accumulation.
10. Allen Edmonds Factory Tour
Many people have never seen the inside of a manufacturing plant. This video take you there. This company started in 1922 by Elbert Allen and is still business after 90 years, through thick and thin, overcoming every obstacle.
11. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama Plant Tour
Korean car manufacturing has brought astonishing economic vitality to Alabama. The plant has been a real godsend, and it underscores just how complex economic structures are in today’s world. There is no more us versus them. We are all in this together. And this video shows just what a marvel manufacturing really is. Miracles are made here.
12. I, Smartphone
Based on Leonard Read’s famous essay “I, Pencil,” this short video beautifully illustrates the vast complexity that we carry in our pockets. No one person could ever make a smartphone. It required the spontaneous cooperation of millions across all countries. The world could never be reinvented by a single mind, but rather requires the coordination of plans made possible only through private property and the price system.
13. The Call of the Entrepreneur
This is only a trailer, but covers one of the finest movies ever made about entrepreneurship. It is made by the Acton Institute. It seeks to put a human face on commerce, showing entrepreneurs from three very different walks of life. It includes extremely effective interviews with some of the best intellectuals, as well. This is only the trailer but you can purchase the entire film at Acton.org.
14. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Together
This video is historic in so many ways. It includes lots of technical talk, some interesting memories, and a fascinating dynamic. But it demonstrates how two great entrepreneurs see the world and their roles in it. Despite the famed rivalry here, they also understand that they have benefitted from each other’s work.
15. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey on the Moral Case for Capitalism
John Mackey is a rare CEO and corporate founder who understands much more than his own business and industry; he understands just how crucial and beneficial freedom itself is to the social order. In this interview, which is quite short, he provides a compelling defense of the corporation and its place in the modern life, directly refuting those who think the corporation is parasitic and evil. His candor is extremely refreshing.
Conclusion: As these films show, economics and enterprise are not things that exist outside the human experience, but rather extend organically from it, as an expression of the finest that the human person has to offer humanity.