5 thought-provoking documentaries and series to consider

After a long working week many of us are craving for a chilled out weekend. Your comfortable couch, a warm blanket, lit candles and comfort food – exactly what you need! This what Danish would describe as a “Hygge” weekend.

While you most likely already have quite a list of favorites in your Netflix list, I thought I’d chip in with my own top 5 of thought-provoking documentaries and series and tell you why you too should consider watching these.

01. The Big Hack

A must watch not only for the ones interested in technology, but literally anyone somewhat concerned about the impact of technology on our future. This documentary gives a great insight on how companies like Facebook opened itself up to Cambridge Analytica, selling personal data to influence e.g. voters behavior.

While this data breach scandal has been widely covered by the media before, watching the documentary triggered me with another topic – PURPOSE. I was trying to emphasize with Cambridge Analytica’s former employees, who knew they were contributing to the company’s unethical and even illegal way of doing business. Targeting the “persuadable” segment on social media to influence democratic elections.

Do you believe and support your company’s mission?

While it is difficult to always fully understand everything your employee is doing, I am so glad to see that more and more people are becoming “picky” about the company they’d like to work for. The Millennial generation especially is known for their desire to work for a company with a relatable purpose and culture. Let’s keep that up!

02. The Spy

An interesting series based on a true story about Israeli spy Eli Cohen working in Syria during the 60’s. Although many critique the series for inaccurate historic facts, I found it intriguing to observe the main character’s Eli Cohen (wonderfully portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen) personality.

He is so dedicated, smart, charming and talented. Eli has everything to become a hero mentioned in Israeli history books and indeed he does. However the story ends dramatically.

It is a great example showing how far our ambitions can bring us, but it’s always good to know when to stop. It seems like a hard-stop break for extremely ambitious people such as Eli Cohen is needed to be given from the outside.

03. Generation Wealth

What is it like to be extremely rich and famous? How happy are people who can afford (just about) everything in the world (e.g. plastic surgeries, surrogate mothers and immense yachts)?

Wealthy people are not rich people.

It’s interesting to listen to the stories of different people reflecting on their past lives. Most of them are sometimes almost unbelievable and dramatic for sure. You are so rich from the outside, but so poor deep down within. I am extremely proud of the characters who dared to speak up about their experiences and give an example of what to watch out for in our lives. We often look up to those characters as our role models.

I also loved the angle the documentary was showcasing, namely the life of the creator herself. An ambitious and workaholic photographer following the example of her savvy and highly educated parents. Even though she was surrounded by extremely rich and famous people, she never chose to follow that path. She is an outsider, silently observing others with her camera. But guess what? This is how she is described by her kids – a traveling mum always away and hiding behind a camera.

04. Bobby Robson

If you really want to understand tremendous power or true leadership, then you want to learn more about Bobby Robson. It’s just amazing how one person can truly transform groups of people to achieve the highest of highs.

Great leaders are ambitious, but people obsessed.

The iconic football coach Bobby Robson was hard on the outside, but soft within. He was so driven to achieve the best results and knew that this could never happen without bringing his people along. Many football players, including the famous Brazilian Ronaldo described Bobby as an extremely great people manager who changed his life forever. As does Jose Mourinho, a protege of Mr. Robson, who turned out to become one of the greatest football coaches in history himself.

The leadership lesson is clear. However, the documentary also shows the other side of this successful career. A great football manager spends so much time at work that his own family isn’t seeing the same people management skills at home. It seems so hard to balance a successful career with a happy family life.

05. American Factory

A thoughtful documentary about Chinese company Fuyao opening its factory in Ohio State (USA) in a closed down General Motors plant. In the beginning of the story everyone is super excited because the Dayton (Ohio) citizens get new employment opportunities. Although, over time we see more and problems popping up. The plant isn’t profitable and didn’t meet the expectations of the Chinese investor who had good intentions.

We can never underestimate the cultural differences among us, so we need to keep learning about each other.

The documentary especially drew my interest because it showed different perspectives. How does a Chinese CEO feel that his good intentions are not bringing him back profit? How can American factory workers adapt to a (to them) completely foreign management style? And what about the Chinese employees, who left their homes to work in the USA?

It is great to see the issues from each involved party individually, as it creates empathy for each group. We live in an extremely global world, where travelling and getting to know different cultures is easier than ever before. Yet we still all have our own preference “lenses”. We need to learn more about how to take off those lenses and see the different angles.

These are my favourite recently watched documentaries and series. Do you have any recommendations to watch?

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