What Would Jerry Maguire Do?


Sometimes all you need is a cinematic classic to exemplify  lessons of business ethics we heard about in class. There is much to learn from watching Tom Cruise in his heyday– playing the unforgettable role of sports manager as the title character, Jerry Maguire.

The movie sets the stage for something students write off and don’t quite understand as naive beginners in a new world. Students understand these basic rules and guidelines and mentally categorize certain moral principles under “ethics.” And although most understand the meaning and basic importance of “ethics,” often without a narrative there is no grasp at the real meaning behind the word.

Jerry Maguire is a character any given communication studies aficionado can relate. As Maguire states in the movie, “I’m the one behind the scenes.” 

The message, however, is clear to those who also are passionate and ambitious whether it be in the world of sports management or communications alike. The message is consistent, and present now more than ever, nearly twenty years later– that morality and ambition can be one in the same.

In the article, “5 Social Media Lessons from Jerry Maguire Quotes,” author Brian Rice sheds light upon the social media truths brought full circle by the film’s plot.

Rice suggests, “In the grand scheme of things, a small following of highly engaged users is more valuable than a large group of disinterested individuals.”

Rice then continues by alluding to the movies arguably most memorable exchange, in which Maguire confesses to his loyal compatriot and incidental love interest, “You complete me.” Rice demonstrates that this scene sheds light on the bigger picture. This simple statement is a reflection on the same morals Maguire pledged for his business statement. Rice writes, it is “an important reminder that it takes at least two willing people to have a conversation.  The purpose of social media is to use these tools for finding like-minded individuals to share/converse and learn from.”

Third on the list is proposed courtesy of Renee Zelwiger’s character (love interest/ confidante/ loyal employee) and her justification for why she sticks by this man. This, Rice notes, also has a double entendre, “it is also imperative to be “real” – individuals want to connect with other people.”

Who could forget Cruise in the scene opposite Cuba Gooding Junior, his loyal client, and only hope throughout the film. Maguire emphasizes some of the most memorable words in cinematic history– “Help me… help you. Help me, help you.”  This reflects, as Rice suggests, that social media, much like Maguire begs of his client– requires two-way communication. More importantly, for success in social media, “listening and monitoring” is, of course imperative.

In a last and simple conclusion to his article, Rice leaves the reader with the same advice the movie leaves its audience with. These are words that hold equal importance as any other lesson in both social media, business ethics, and life– “Hey, I don’t have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I failed as much as I have succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life. And I wish you my kind of success.”