Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Finch

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

Finch is a film starring Tom Hanks and showing exclusively on Apple TV+. The film is a survival film set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

While I wasn’t expecting an emotional joyride, Director Miguel Sapochnik and writers Craig Luck and Ivor Powell pulled off an emotional ride. The story hinges on Finch’s (Hanks) journey to find someone to care for his dog, Goodyear, when he passes.

Tom Hanks as Finch in Finch the movie. Jeff the robot behind him

Finch is ill. He knows he doesn’t have long to live. So, he does what he can do and builds a robot companion, Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones), to care for the dog when Finch passes. The connection formed between the threesome is heartwarming and touching. As a dog lover, I completely understood Finch’s desire to see his beloved pet cared for after his death.

Not only will Finch pull at your heartstrings, but Finch will also challenge you to become a better leader. We will look at the leadership lessons in Finch and how you can apply those to your role as a leader.

Brace yourself for Reel Leadership!

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Finch

1. Know your environment:

Finch carried with him a warning computer. The computer would tell Finch when he was in danger.

There were warnings for high UV radiation, rising temperatures, elevated heart rate, and more. The computer would warn him if things weren’t kosher.

This helped Finch know his environment. He knew when he could go outside safely and when he couldn’t.

Leaders need to know their environments. By assessing your organization’s current culture and temperament, you can begin to understand when it is safe to change things, take action, or stay where you are.

Learn how to understand and know your environment. Doing so will make leading so much easier.

2. Finch:

Tell me something interesting about you.

Finch built Jeff, a robot. At first, Jeff was a talking head. The rest of his body had not been made.

As soon as Finch powered on Jeff, Finch began to ask him questions. One of those questions was, “Tell me something interesting about you.”

Jeff answered. He shared a bit about what he knew. This helped Finch understand Jeff better.

When was the last time you asked your team members what made them interesting or unique? You’re missing a huge opportunity if it’s been a long time.

People love to talk about themselves. By asking questions about their interests and hobbies will open up who they are to you.

Let your interest get peeked and learn about your people.

3. Leaders prepare for the future:

Finch knew he didn’t have long to live. He had been exposed to toxic UV radiation. By the end of Finch, Finch would be dead.

Knowing this, Finch began to prepare for the future. He had a dog he cared for. The care led to Finch wanting to make sure Goodyear would be safe after he was dead.

Enter Jeff.

Finch created Jeff with multiple directives. The fourth directive was to care for Goodyear in his absence.

Jeff does just that after Finch passes. He takes care of Goodyear as they embark on new adventures.

While we never know what the future holds, smart leaders prepare themselves and others for their absence.

Begin preparing your organization for a world without you. I saw this play out when a former manager of mine was retiring. He began to prepare the organization and me for his absence.

You won’t be around forever. Make sure you’re leaving your organization prepared.

4. Leadership storms can last a long time:

Finch walked out of his shelter to see a storm approaching. In a post-apocalyptic world, storms are never a good thing.

Finch connected Jeff to the weather station to find out how bad of a storm was coming. Jeff received the reports and calculated the storm would last 40 days.

40 days!!!

That’s a long time for Finch, Jeff, and Goodyear. Finch had to make plans to avoid the storm.

While Finch avoided the storm, we often cannot when we’re leading. We have to lead through the storm.

Storms have a way of wearing and tearing us down. We feel beaten down, tired, and more when we go through trials.

But you can make it through the challenges you face.

Know that there’s an end date on all storms you will face. You won’t always know when but you do know they will end.

5. Finch:

Well, we can’t all be Einstein.

The storm approached quickly. Finch knew Jeff, Goodyear, and the rover Dewey would have to leave the shelter soon. Unfortunately, Finch was still uploading data to Jeff.

Jeff knew he wasn’t fully programmed. He made Finch aware of this. Finch knew but told Jeff they would have to leave as soon as Jeff learned to walk.

Jeff may now know everything. However, he was at 72% of the knowledge he was to be given. That would suffice.

We all want to be smart. We want to be full of knowledge. Being smart is an advantage, right?

It is, but it’s not the only thing that is important. We can’t all be as bright as Einstein. We can all be as good as we can be.

This means you’ll excel in areas that I won’t. I’ll be better at certain things than you.

We all have our talents and skill sets. Be happy with those.

6. Finch:

Lesson number five: Live a little.

Finch found a movie theater as they scavenged for food. Jeff was with him when Finch wanted to pop the popcorn.

The expiration date on the popcorn was 15 years ago. Ouch. That’s not healthy. Yet Finch couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pop some popcorn.

Finch grabbed an old hubcap, placed a few kernels, and extended the hubcap into the sun.


The popcorn began to pop and scare Jeff. Finch encouraged Jeff to live a little. Have some fun.

Jeff learned from this.

Leaders… We have to learn how to live a little. Our work is not everything in the world. We have family, friends, and loved ones all around us.

We also have a world full of entertainment, exciting hobbies, and enjoyment. Learn to live a little.

Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

7. Finch:

Raw emotion will find you. When it does, how you deal with it, what you do will define who you are.

Finch had an emotional moment where he exploded on Jeff. Finch’s emotions got the best of him.

He’d been trying to hold everything in. His love for his dog, the losses he’d experienced, and his impending death. Everything boiled over, and he responded poorly.

How do you respond when your emotions run high? I’m not always the best at this. I mess up. I get upset.

We all fail. Yet we can get better. We can continue to work on our emotional reactions to the events around us.

8. Knowledge and experience are entirely different things:

Jeff had knowledge of the Golden Gate Bridge. He knew how many rivets were in the bridge (approximately 600,000). He knew how high the bridge was (746 feet). Jeff even knew how many miles of cable the Golden Gate Bridge had (80,000 miles).

However, Jeff had never experienced the view from the Golden Gate Bridge. He hadn’t walked the expanse of the bridge. All Jeff had was head knowledge.

At the movie’s end, Jeff got to experience the Golden Gate Bridge. He saw the beauty that stats and figures couldn’t explain.

We all know things. Many of us haven’t experienced the things we know.

Experience will change everything. What you know will change when you’re face to face with a situation. You’ll feel differently when you’re doing what you know.

Be ready to learn that knowledge isn’t everything. Experience will change your mind.

9. Jeff:

What am I going to do?

Finch passed away. Jeff was left to care for Goodyear. Jeff had never been in this situation before.

Jeff wondered aloud what he was to do next. He did one of the things he knew. Jeff busted out the dog food and fed Goodyear.

Once this was done, Jeff took the next steps he knew. He drove. Eventually, Jeff and Goodyear end up at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Every leader asks himself or herself this at some point. We will wonder what we need to do next.

Do what Jeff did. Do what you know.

Take things step by step. Do one thing. Then the next.

That’s how you lead.

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