Okay, it’s the most obvious choice on our list. But if you want to see how business tycoons like Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’ Leary and Daymond John evaluate whether a business is worth investing in, it doesn’t get much better. The show features entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to see if a shark will invest in them. High schoolers will learn a lot about what it takes to turn an idea into a business.
Say you’re not a budding start-up, but instead you have a small business that’s been around for a while but is having difficulties turning a profit. That’s where CNBC’s Marcus Lemois steps in. His job is to offer advice (and sometimes cash) to struggling companies to get them on the right path. In the process, high schoolers will gain insight into how to overcome common problems many businesses, small and large, face.
This show features company CEOs disguising themselves to work alongside their frontline employees to get a better sense of how the business looks through their eyes. During the course of an episode, high schoolers will gain a better appreciation for how bosses and employees think differently about the business and how their expectations and experiences sometimes dovetail and sometimes diverge. It also offers insight into the human aspect of work, as it delves into the personal lives of many of the employees and shows how the job is part of their larger lives.
Can improvements to a small town’s small businesses create a positive impact on an entire community? That’s the fundamental question this show asks in each episode. Besides getting a window into what individual small businesses can do to improve their bottom lines, students will learn how the health of a community’s businesses can help them improve the overall quality of life in a town.
It’s a PBS documentary and not a TV show. But it’s impossible for students to not learn something from this in-depth portrait of perhaps this generation’s most influential business person. From his early influences, and through all of his personal and business achievements and failures, this is an unflinching look into the life and times of an American business icon.
Admittedly, not every talk in this series is about business—at least directly. But the stories people share about what they’ve learned about navigating life, through their failures and successes, can be applied to the business world and to people’s lives more generally. High schoolers should find this series inspirational and helpful.