Credit: Open Road Films

This weekend marked the debut of Oliver Stone’s latest mega-film, the controversial epic, Snowden, based on the real-life story of the CIA operative turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

The film’s overarching melody focuses on Snowden’s transition from tech geek to CIA and NSA intelligence guru to painted traitor or hero.

Key takeaways for life and for business from the film are:

Timing – Knowing that at any moment the NSA, the CIA, or another clandestine group from the U.S. government could find Snowden and his U.K. Guardian comrades who broke the story, the timing was imperative. Life altering, all-encompassing decisions, in this instance, were made not only in Hong Kong, but thousands of miles away in the New York headquarters offices of the Guardian. In business, that sweet spot of timing can make or break a new product launch date, propel a positive narrative of a challenging story, or be the distinction between engaging or disengaging with your customers.

Surface Shifting – What is the underlying current to your marketing operative? While Snowden shared a duty to supporting the government in a post-911 world, his coveted software creations were bumped up to surveilling ordinary U.S. citizens. As marketers, what is the current organization mantra and are these shared ideals, principles, and beliefs or perhaps a narrow viewpoint of a few chosen people? In the case of the latter, beware of the ramifications of what can be construed as a misguided operation, an underfunded mission, or a pet project that could derail at any moment.

Love – Whether it was love for his long-time, sometimes estranged girlfriend, Lindsay Mills or love of his country, Snowden’s brewing, yet controlled passion embodied his personal journey. Within his quest to serve the USA in a non-combat role, Snowden’s computer prowess aided his climb to the upper echelons of intelligence operations while also eventually propelling his trajectory to leaving the country he so loved. In business, what is shimmering beneath the surface of the organization? Positive indicators can demonstrate that new ideas are evolving that will benefit the company. 

Snowden may be right or wrong, to be classified as a modern day maverick or a forever far slung computer hacker – whatever his depiction maybe for the ages, the film highlights a path we can learn from.

See other business parallels in Snowden? Tweet me at @circledotmktg.