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HBA · Ben King, Kathy Zhang, Miriam Youssef

Entertainment as inspiration

Jan 30, 2023

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Entertainment has been around for centuries, constantly evolving and adapting to meet the needs of the current generations. Now more than ever, entertainment’s prolific spread can be felt – from blockbuster superhero films to indie darlings, virtually any topic is accessible in today’s climate. With a plethora of options, one avenue we’ve been drawn to is the very one we’re studying – business. Time after time, business is used as a catalyst for change and leads to innovative breakthroughs in various industries. As AEO students, we’ve experienced the influence of business through different means, and each of us will guide you through a medium that helped us uncover our passion for business.

Kathy Zhang: Itaewon Class

As an avid explorer of diverse romance TV dramas, stumbling across Itaewon Class (2020), a Korean drama series, may have been the most significant inspiration for my pursuit in business thus far. Itaewon Class, written by Gwang Jin, is a drama focused around themes of business, love, and revenge. We follow the story of Park Saeroyi, a restaurant owner, who lost his father due to the misdeeds of a large corporation which also led to his arrest; Saeroyi takes us on a journey of revenge for his father by rising in the corporate world with his own restaurant. We also experience the life of a successful business strategist through the character of Oh Soo-ah; the benefits of having a good financial advisor and crucial financial strategies in stock investments, social media’s huge role and impact on exposure and business popularity, and most importantly, how business is about people.

What was seemingly a romance drama was surprisingly very informational whilst being entertaining. This show, for the first time, exposed me to the idea that a business should value its people more than anything else, and how that concept can be applied to multiple, complex layers. From employee branding to community involvement, Itaewon Class taught me all about the importance of people rather than funds. As a series mixed with multiple elements and genres, its perfect showcase of people’s passion for a business definitely stood out to me and continues to inspire me to pursue a business that values its people.

Ben King: Business Crime

Reading has consistently been a part of my life from a very young age, and as each year passes, my genre of choice shifts. One year it might exclusively be political thrillers, the next, only foreign horror will do, with a perpetual rotation of pages changing like the seasons. This season, it’s business crime. Before reading Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, I had never read a book about business crime. Suffice it to say, it was my not my last. Carreyrou sent me on a literary journey, where from then on out, my Goodreads reading challenge was almost entirely comprised of these kinds of tales. It was fascinating to learn about Elizabeth Holmes and her failed billion-dollar enterprise, Theranos. What particularly commanded my attention with this genre was the conversation surrounding morality and ethics within the corporate world. This was the first time I realized just how much work goes into creating and maintaining a company, as well as the consequences when a foundation is built from lies, deception, and dishonesty. The best business is done in good faith with care, attention and transparency. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, offers readers a chance to uncover why some businesses succeed while others crash and burn.

Miriam Youssef: Golden Balls

I believe that game shows are breeding grounds for business thinkers. This conviction of mine, however unusual, emerged when watching a segment of the game show Golden Balls during a grade 12 economics class. The show follows two contestants who must independently decide whether they will "split" or "steal" a sum of money. If the two opt to split, the money is shared equally among them, while if they both choose to steal, each player leaves empty-handed. In the event that one player decides to split the money while the other steals it, the contestant who steals inherits the entire fortune while the other player earns nothing. If the framework of the show sounds familiar, that's because it reflects an economic principle about strategy and compliance known as "game theory." My brief encounter with the show piqued my curiosity for business and gave me a new lens for starting to perceive the world from a risk-management perspective.

As I became hooked on Golden Balls, I saw how each episode highlighted players' uniquely crafted money-allocating strategies; a testament to how rational (or irrational) the human mind can be. Parallels between the game show contestants and effective business leaders became evident, as did the importance of evaluating the relative payoffs of certain business strategies. Like each Golden Balls contestant, a business thrives on the precision with which it predicts and preemptively responds to a competitor's moves. Game theory, as illustrated in the show, commands players to make logical risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses, ultimately helping them make informed business decisions from price-setting to target marketing. Today, thanks to a stellar British game show and a tricky economics lesson, I continue to learn how businesses use game theory strategies as a mechanism to grow while remaining innovative and agile under disruptive circumstances. So, on the off chance you find yourself in a corporate slump, remember that the answer could be waiting just one TV channel away.