Eight business lessons we can all learn from superheroes and villains

When you think about popular superheroes and villains, you probably don’t think about the invaluable business and finance advice you can take from them.

But while this is a rather unorthodox take on the comic book world, these characters demonstrate qualities and live by values that can translate incredibly well in the realm of business. 

Of course, there are times in everyone’s career when they probably wish they had some sort of superpower. Perhaps to get their work done quicker, to conjure up amazing new ideas or sway decision makers’ minds.

This said, some of the lessons that can be learnt from comic book characters are much more human and achievable than being bitten by a radioactive spider or building an indestructible flying suit. 

Read on to find out what your favourite superheroes and super villains can teach you about business and money. 

1) Iron Man – Always keep innovating  

Iron Man may not have had any superhuman abilities, but an aptitude for technology combined with great wealth was the real making of him.

From his exoskeleton that shielded him from harm (most of the time) and empowered him with the ability to fly, to J.A.R.V.I.S – an AI computer system controlled by his eye movements and voice – Iron Man continued to invent new gadgets to help him safeguard the planet.

In business, an ability to think outside of the box and come up with innovative new ideas can go a long way. Coming up with a ground-breaking new product or fresh way of doing things is essential to standing out and making money in a saturated market. 

2) The Joker – Enjoy what you do

The Joker’s ‘job’ may be crime, but boy does he have fun when he’s at work. His mantra “why so serious?” is synonymous with this. Personal satisfaction sits higher on his list of priorities than financial gain – in The Dark Knight he famously burns a huge pile of money just to prove it’s not about wealth.

He can often be spotted speeding around Gotham in a truck or pulling risqué pranks on the city’s residents – all with a wicked smile on his face, of course. 

While a life of crime is not recommended, there is something to be learnt from the Joker’s attitude. With pressures to hit deadlines and targets, many people allow stress to get the better of them in their jobs. But we spend too much time at work not to take some enjoyment from it.

Try to find the fun in what you do and hopefully you’ll feel more driven and passionate for it. And if you can’t find enjoyment in your work? Well then perhaps you’re not in the right field. 

3) Black Panther – Leverage new technology 

Largely thanks to his genius younger sister Princess Shuri, Black Panther has an extensive collection of the latest gadgets.

Technology is a significant contributor to his power, from his nano-technology suit and fortified vibranium trainers that absorb and redistribute energy, to a set of kimoyo beads that allow him to communicate and access endless information. 

You don’t have to be a technology whizz to harness the power of tech, however. In fact, you simply need to be open to the latest innovations. Anything from new software or equipment to the latest social media platform has the potential to transform production, data management, sales, marketing, finances and more. 

4) Thanos – Never give up on your dreams

Sure, Thanos may have used his power for evil, rather than good, but you’ve got to admire his tenacity. He faced knock back after knock back in his mission to gain possession of all 6 Infinity Stones, but he never gave up.

In business it’s a given that you’ll come up against challenges and there may be times where you want to turn your back on your goals. But the truth is that success doesn’t come easy, and these road blocks will simply provide learning opportunities. Maintain a positive outlook and work past the setbacks to strive towards your goals and targets. 

5) Captain Marvel – Be proactive 

After crash landing on Earth, Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel immediately takes control. Time after time she demonstrates a proactive attitude towards challenges, getting stuff done with confidence, all the while leading others. 

In business, a proactive company is one that adopts forward-thinking strategic planning. By looking to the future and not simply reacting as things happen, you can be better prepared for potential hiccups, and in turn, save money, time and reduce stress.

Thinking ahead can also help you to identify when there’s a need for change and to make strategic moves that can position your business at the forefront of innovation.

6) Superman – Know your strengths AND your weaknesses

While Superman is aware that his biggest strength is quite literally his strength, he’s also very much tuned into the fact that he has one rather undeniable weakness – a vulnerability to kryptonite. 

Of course, in a business setting it is unlikely you’ll find yourself up against an alien mineral that deprives you of your business skills, but being aware of your own weaknesses can work to your advantage.

Once you’ve identified any areas for improvement in yourself, it allows you to work on them. Nobody is perfect, but accepting your flaws and dedicating time to bettering them will put you in good stead.

7) Harley Quinn – Learn from your mistakes

In Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn tells El Diablo to own his mistakes. They are what shape you as a person. After all, Harley’s lacking a squeaky-clean track record herself, but she is unapologetically her (crazy) self. 

In the early days of business it’s only natural that you’ll make mistakes. Instead of dwelling on them, learn from them and move on. When you can look back and see what went wrong in a certain scenario, you can use this new knowledge to inform your future strategies and goals.

8) Spider Man – With great power, comes great responsibility 

After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker develops the strength, agility and ‘spidey senses’ of an arachnid. Unfortunately, upon discovering his new power, he got a little carried away with the glitz and glamour and neglected the responsibilities that came with it.

In business, you don’t have to be the CEO to have power. It could be that you’re managing direct reports, or simply that your decisions or actions within your role can directly impact a client. The important thing is to understand your power and the responsibilities that come with the job. Think about the potential consequences and who could be affected before acting. 

Channel your inner superhero (or villain)

Sure, these superheroes and super villains may be unlikely business influencers, but as you can see, there are valuable lessons to be taken from their experiences and attitudes.

Next time you face a challenge at work think “what would Captain Marvel do?” or if you’re stuck for ideas, a little ‘Iron Man thinking’ may do the trick. You never know: by channelling your inner comic book character you could feel empowered at work and ready to take on challenges ahead.  

Photo by Esteban Lopez