“The door is more than it appears. It separates who you are from who you can be. You do not have to walk through it… you can run.”Franklin, Fantastic Four
Comics aren’t just for kids.
There’s a reason every other movie Hollywood pumps out is based on a superhero franchise. Superheroes with mad skills raging against the forces of evil, the good guy always just barely coming out on top – I mean, who doesn’t love that? Kids love comics, but comics bring out the kid in us all. Remember how much fun you had playing hero as a kid? I always pretended to be the Hulk. I had superhuman strength, speed, and durability and used my powers to battle against ingestion of the horrifying broccoli stalk. I resisted the evil M.O.M’s poison as long as I could, until finally I was met with an unimaginable decision: death by time out or death by vegetable. On that day, I learned I was actually fond of little green trees. At least compared to time out.
I know you have similar memories. Maybe you made your little brother be your dependable sidekick. Maybe the family dog was a mutant. Whatever your deal was, you learned a lot through superhero play. And believe it or not, you still can today. The stories of triumph over adversity that embodies the Marvel Comic franchise are overflowing with epic lessons you can apply to your own life.
“Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give life purpose.”The Flash
Soar like Spiderman with these Fantastic 5 Lessons from Marvel:
1. Assemble Your X-Men
In a dark and long forgotten yesterday, in my most humble beginnings, I did my superhero work alone. I was Wolverine – I didn’t play well with others, and I preferred to ride solo. I believed the best way to get ahead was to do everything myself. I was the lone captain of all facets of my workflow. But much like Logan’s reaction to adamantium, the approach was slowly killing me. The sheer force of trying to be all the things in all the places at all the same times was sucking the life out of me. I was wasting so much time and energy.
You may be the Iron Man of your industry, but there are going to be times when even the strongest business magnate will benefit from teaming up with other strong players. Gather a network of advisors, investors, partners, and colleagues and soon you’ll be able to conquer anything.
I sat myself down, looked in the mirror, and said, “Robert, Roboto, Rob-You Magnificent Human Being, You! You’re good, but you’re not that good. It’s time to assemble a league of superheroes (or converted supervillains) to make a major impact on your business.” I hugged myself and wiped the slowly falling, glittering tear from my eye. Then I put together an all-star team of super humanoids who helped me take on the fight against our extinction, freeing me up to focus on moving our operation to bigger and better things. ArcadeLab… UNITE!
2. Tell Your Origin Story
Oh my origin story? Well, I grew up in a small village outside of Nunya, USA. Listen pally, I just came here to provide you with great business advice and that’s where our connection ends. Kapeesh?! That is how I used to open up about my origin story… more or less. I felt that as long as I was working hard and producing quality products, my origins were irrelevant.
If you’re anything like me, you’d prefer everyone accept that you’re from Nacho-business, ND, which is just a few towns over from not-really-your-concern, south of don’t-ask-me-personal-questions. I always felt like working hard and producing quality products was all the backstory anyone needed to work with me. But if you can’t be personal in your business, you won’t build a trusting work relationship with customers and investors. You want people to be comfortable working with you.
Your customers want to hear where you came from and how you discovered your product. Your origin story humanizes your business and helps you deliver the image of being a relatable brand they can depend on.
When I started to share how I found my product niche, what makes me passionate about what I do, and why I believe my business can better their lives, I earned a closer connection to my clients. Selling got easier. Stop trying to be the dark and mysterious type and let them get to know you – you know, the alter ego that comes out after business hours.
3. Know Your Super-Strengths
My super human strengths include the ability to predict the future, enlisting the team and tools necessary to make a great product, and ultra-impressive factoid retention skills. My super strengths make me passionate and keep me motivated to learn and grow – not just for my business, but for myself, too. But sometimes I get caught up in my own energy, and my super strengths end up keeping my workflow from flowing.
Since I know myself well and can get honest about my super strengths – and their tradeoffs – I am able to intervene on my own behalf. I got myself some superhero sidekicks who can manhandle my backlog and help keep me on task. Our super squad uses our combined superpowers to drive production and keep the business in sync.
Being able to find fierce team members who can shield you from your weaknesses while complementing your super strengths will make your work force impenetrable. Figure out where your real “super-strengths” lie and pump them up so your product, your business model, and your team are undefeatable.
4. Become Intuitive
Learning to be proactive instead of reactive is one of the greatest challenges I have fought to overcome as an entrepreneur. When I got my dream gig up and running, it literally never even dawned on me that I might have problems in the future, so I never really prepared for problems in the future. When I ran into an unexpected market change and business started to slide, I had to scramble – and learn what happens when you don’t think ahead.
You’d think with my power to predict the future and all, I might have seen a little more of the horizon, right? What can I say… I said I could see it, I didn’t say I knew how to prepare for it.
And that’s the difference – predicting trends and being on top of the market doesn’t do you much good if you’re still just going to spend your time reacting to events instead of making the first move. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. exist in the Marvel World to organize and strategize for any future villains they may encounter. They know harm is bound to come their way. They know a strong foundation and process is the best protection. So they don’t just wait around to see what supervillain shows, they proactively train for any eventualities.
I was lucky and able to implement some fail-safes into my company matrix that have stopped disasters from happening and have addressed crisis-level issues before they became crisis-level. It may feel like one more thing to add to the bottom of your to-do list, but when there’s danger afoot you’ll be kicking yourself for not being more proactive.
“You’re much stronger than you think you are.
5. Wink at the Groupies
Quick as a flash… what is the best way to get your product out into the public eye? Word of mouth – the holy grail of publicity! Technology allows us to get information out about our product faster than a speeding bullet – but even better, it can also help us spread word of mouth like wildfire. I make sure to maximize my website and social media presence and create hype with my following to rally them into going out and spreading the good news about what’s up with ArcadeLab.
I encourage our following to be a part of the journey and ask questions anytime. I enjoy being able to engage my audience, provide clarity, offer production descriptions, and help them understand exactly what my team has to offer. Even if the info I pass on doesn’t apply to them, I think most people are helpers and happy to pass along relevant information that applies to people they know and care about.
Iron Man is usually surrounded by legions of fans cheering him on, and he thrives on the attention. Let your fans market you by engaging them on social media or through a personal website. Allow them to write reviews and leave comments so that future customers can hear just how awesome you are.
- Successful Assemblage. Even with your amazing powers and abilities, you cannot be the savior of every situation. Assemble your own personal Justice League to help you wage war against the forces that seek to destroy you.
- Have a Backstory. No one trusts the shadowy figure lurking in dark corners, and consumers need to have faith in the folks they invest in. Share your origin story and let them understand why you’ve come to help them. You will gain their confidence and support.
- Check Your Super-Strength. Have the courage to admit when you are susceptible to defeat and the ways your strengths can reveal weaknesses. Then recruit the right team members to cover for any deficiencies and marvel at the impervious force you’ve created.
- Look to the Future. Strategize for possible business emergencies that may arise. A backup plan will take extra work on the front end, but it will save you endless amounts of time and energy doing damage control in the event something does go wrong.
- Thrive on Attention. Encourage your customers to be involved in your business model by reviewing and commenting on your products. This can help you gauge what is working and what needs to be adjusted, and creates an energetic, enthusiastic network that loves to love you.
No one said the life of a superhero entrepreneur was easy, but that’s not why we do it! Just like our Marvel idols, we feel a sense of responsibility to uphold the good in this world and to protect it from menace. We love what we do.
Who knew you could find so much valuable information in a book that’s basically all pictures? Take that, English class.
Now go forth… find your team… and take on the world.
Zap! Pow! Wham!