Business leaders can inspire us, but can we be inspired to improve our own business skills by fictional characters?
Anyone setting up a business is well-advised to familiarise themselves with the business aisle of the local bookstore. The …For Dummies books alone have covered all the business bases: from Business Ethics For Dummies to Business Succession Planning For Dummies they’ve got it all set out in the simplest of terms. But it’s no ordinary business book that’s got us talking this week: Game of Thrones on Business is hitting the shelves and we’re more than a little excited.
Now for those of you who don’t know much about Game of Thrones, where have you been hiding? The TV series is a global phenomenon, based on a series of books written by George R. R. Martin. The series follows characters in the fictional realm of Westeros, where lords and ladies, and wolves and lions alike battle it out for the Iron Throne. You can find out all you could ever possibly need to know about the world of Game of Thrones on their wiki here.
We think that the business book authors, Tim Phillips and Rebecca Clare, have hit the jackpot with this one: drawing comparisons between the similarly tumultuous worlds of Westeros and the business sphere makes business engaging and interesting. Although entirely fictional (and far more gory than we hope your business board room is), the characters of Westeros do their own kind of business, and the resilience, determination and financial prowess that some of them exhibit certainly holds a lesson or two for those hoping to succeed in business.
So following the lead of Phillips and Clare, we’ve racked our brains and have come up with some more fictional characters who we think are a shining example of business genius (although a few of them you may not have considered!):
Samwise Gamgee of The Lord of The Rings trilogy:
Though he may not scream Wolf Of Wall Street, Sam could and should still be a business inspiration for you. Loyal and determined, he will stop at nothing to ensure Frodo reaches Mount Doom in one piece. Though his role may be somewhat secondary to Frodo, he shows courage, determination and strength; unlike Frodo he is not drawn to the power of the ring.
Vito Corleone, The Godfather
Although he may not be the most best influence when it comes to staying within the parameters of the law, the ways in which the Don takes care of business could influence the way you approach your own entrepreneurial efforts. Running a New York crime family requires a lot of organisation, and comes with the competitor threat of rival families. Could your new business mantra be to ‘make them an offer they can’t refuse’?
Jane Austen’s Emma may seem an odd character to have in a list of inspirational business characters. However her charm and demeanour can teach businesspeople a lot about interaction. She bumbles through life without a care, making mistakes as she goes, but never does anything meanly. Should she offend someone or make a dreadful mistake, her ultimate goal is to ensure the matter is rectified. Things happen in business and in life, so the best thing to do is apologise and try to sort the matter out.
Ebeneezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol
If ever there was a businessman who could benefit from a decent business manual it would be Mr Scrooge. Successful financially, his personal life is barren, as he slowly begins to realise as his ghosts start to appear. His put-upon employee, Bob Cratchit, may not have Scrooge’s money, but he has something far more valuable: friendship and family. A lesson to be learned: look after your employees and family when times are good, and you’ll find them still there when you hit rough waters.
Master Uguay, Kung Fu Panda
We could only end this with an animated character. Master Uguay is sent to teach our panda friend to fight for the kingdom. While his adeptness at martial arts leaves a lot to be desired, his insight into life is astute. “There is a saying, ‘yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present’.”
As you run your business, you’ll have highs and lows, there’ll be mistakes and triumphs, but at the end of the day, the bad times happen and pass. Today is the present.