Top 10 Inspirational Documentaries to Advance Your Career

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

watching an inspirational documentary to advance career

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Have you seen any good films lately? If not, it may be about time to take a couple of hours of your time and watch a compelling documentary. Who knows? Perhaps you will learn something that will help you become a better employee, a happier person or a more productive leader in your firm. 

From the mundane to the incredible, plenty of documentaries have been produced over the years that can serve as an inspiration for you and your goals, and help you define success. Whether you want to advance your career, or you desire to be a celebrity in your profession, you will find a treasure trove of documentaries to encourage you.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 most inspirational documentaries that will help you further your career.

1. The Secret 

Over the years, you have likely heard of successful people embracing the concept known as the law of attraction. This consists of transforming your thoughts to change your life. If you think positively and genuinely (you are going to earn that promotion, or you are going to make $1 million by the time you are 35), you can realise your dreams.

The Secret is a 2006 documentary that was later turned into a bestselling book that sold over 30 million copies worldwide and translated into 50 languages. At a time when everything is so negative in life, it is essential to take a step back and change your morose and self-deprecating thoughts into ones that are more encouraging, optimistic and instrumental, something which might reverse your career stagnation.

2. Becoming Warren Buffett 

Who doesn’t want to be Warren Buffett? Well, the actual question is: Who doesn’t wish of his fortune? 

Warren Buffett’s journey into becoming one of the richest and most respected men in the world was highlighted in the 2017 documentary Becoming Warren Buffett. The film documents his entrepreneurial childhood in Nebraska to the head of one of the most successful companies in the world: Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett goes through his hard work, education and decision-making, which will have you taking notes and performing some introspection to improve your life – professionally and personally. 

If you incorporate some of the lessons learned from Buffett, you may get that promotion or land that lucrative client.

3. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things 

Thanks to Marie Kondo and her ‘spark joy’ philosophy, minimalism has become the latest fad. And why not? Isn’t it time that we start leading simpler and appreciate lives without the latest, expensive gadgets? Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things will have you second-guessing your lifestyle choices and start to reconsider everything you have done up to this point. 

For aspiring entrepreneurs, this can serve as a great lesson in the age-old notion that ‘less is more.’ Minimalism may be about living small, but it takes big ideas to successfully embrace the philosophy - like entrepreneurship! 

4. Man on Wire 

Anytime you check out lists of the most inspirational documentaries, you will inevitably come across the 2008 documentary, Man on Wire. It is the story of Phillippe Petit, a man who performed a high-wire walk between the two World Trade Center skyscrapers in New York City in 1974. 

The picture is essential for career professionals and entrepreneurs as it highlights Petit’s meticulous planning, his training and the primary task at hand - walking on a wire without any safety measures.  

Many startup owners can oftentimes feel like they are waltzing on a wire high in the air, so they will empathise with Petit’s plight. 

5. Anne Frank Remembered 

Everyone is aware of the story of Anne Frank. The German diarist continues to serve as an integral source of inspiration for everybody. If you read her diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, you witness Frank’s emotional growth as she overcomes adversity. 

Most important of all, despite the atrocities occurring around her, Frank maintained a positive attitude on life: ‘In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.’ These are important lessons, which are shared in the documentary, Anne Frank Remembered. It looks at how she coped, persevered and transitioned from a young girl to a mature young woman. 

Indeed, if your world seems like it has been turned upside down or you think you cannot survive what is being thrown your way, other people have handled the situation with dignity, class and respect. You can, too.


6. Freakonomics: The Movie 

If you have not read Freakonomics by now, then what are you waiting for? If you do not have the time, then Freakonomics: The Movie is an excellent substitute that highlights some of the main chapters of the book. 

Ultimately, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt challenge conventional wisdom, use data to learn about life and determine that incentives can help you predict how people are going to react or behave. No matter what career you are in, these are imperative strategies to employ to further for your job growth – if you can understand someone’s incentive, you can use it to your advantage. 

7. Hank: Five Years from the Brink 

Every one of us has had to do something that they don’t like. This is especially true in a business setting and the political arena. Hank: Five Years from the Brink is an important tale for any young professional who has to clean up the mess of somebody else in order to advance his or her career. 

Former Treasury Henry Paulson was assigned with the unenviable assignment of trying to encourage financial institutions, lawmakers and presidential candidates to agree to $1 trillion in bailouts. What made the objective difficult for Paulson was that he did not agree with the bailouts nor with the behaviour of the parties that triggered the financial crisis.

8. Particle Fever 

How dedicated are you to your company or your job? Well, no matter how much you love your occupation or how much you spend every day at the office, it might pale in comparison to the physicists in the 2013 movie, Particle Fever

The group physicists profiled have spent their entire adult lives devoted to science searching for the Holy Grail of particle physics that no one has ever proven it exists. Physics may not be the most riveting of subjects, but the film is relevant for anyone who is having a hard time trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You might not think it right now, but your hard work will always pay off in the end and lead to perpetual career advancement.

9. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters 

Perseverance, dedication and an underdog. Your personal story may have these descriptors, but so did Steve Wiebe’s who set out to defeat Billy Mitchell’s record score in the legendary arcade game Donkey Kong.

The two men engage in a cross-country battle to be the king of Donkey Kong. On the surface, it may not seem important for your busy entrepreneurial lifestyle, but The King of Kong showcases competition, camaraderie and dedication to your craft. It also spotlights how you can venture from obscurity to wealth and fame in an instant. 

10. Happy 

Studies have revealed that we are the most depressed generation in recorded history. Despite technological advancements, longer lifespans and luxuries that generations past could only dream about, we are anxious, depressed and troubled. Indeed, these feelings have been thoughtfully examined in time immemorial. But what about happiness? Happiness? What is that? 

This 2011 documentary assesses the cause of happiness, attempting to determine what triggers this emotion. It may seem like an obvious answer, but the response has evaded us for centuries. Happy interviews individuals from around the world with eclectic backgrounds, such as a 60-year-old Brazilian surfer and community dwellers in Denmark. The film is filled with positive stories of life, and it can be a tremendous source of inspiration for any viewer. 

When you feel like your career is in the doldrums or your business is on the cusp of insolvency, it may be time to think happy. 

Do you want to be motivated to be a better employee or entrepreneur? Do you want to be more productive in your career? Whether you wish to operate a lucrative business with hundreds of employees or become a wealthy investor, you must first become inspired – and stay inspired!

Can you reccomend any other great documentaries for career advancement? Let us know in the comments section below!