The X-Men Approach to Being a Better Entrepreneur
Yesterday, I was watching an Avengers cartoon with my kids, and it got me thinking about what I can learn about entrepreneurship from my favorite comic book characters. I totally nerd out on X-Men, so I’m thrilled to present my ideas on how to be a better entrepreneur by studying the qualities and abilities of X-Men characters.
Business takes a team!
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Every X-Men member could break away and fight against the forces of evil on their own. Most of them could do a solid job for a while, but they know that they are more powerful and productive as an organized team.
If you’ve read X-Men comic books (or watched the movies or cartoons), you would know that Wolverine struggles with the lone ranger complex. Sometimes he wants to ferociously go at it alone without a plan. He loathes structure and often clashes with leadership (typically Scott Summers aka Cyclops). But Wolvie ultimately comes to his senses and rejoins the team just in time to kick the enemy’s butt. Let this be a lesson in entrepreneurship: when you have a team, do all that you can to keep working together for your common business goal.
Develop Jean Grey’s Mindset and Empathy
You can move the world in a positive direction with your business ideas just like Jean Grey can move objects with her mind. Let that truth marinate in your mind for a bit. Develop something good to offer and then create a plan for you and your team to execute.
Empathizing with what others feel without having to experience what they’ve gone through is perhaps the most important ability of great entrepreneurs. Empathy helps with understanding why people do what they do and are the way they are. Empathetic business leaders are a gift to their team members and customers.
I wrote about how empathy is the most important — but often the most overlooked — quality for successful writers. The same goes for entrepreneurs.
Have Wolverine’s Grit, Determination, and Agility
Successful entrepreneurs get up after getting knocked down. They have thick skin and bounce back after a temporary setback. You may not have Wolvie’s mutant healing and regenerative powers, but you can certainly give yourself time to learn from past mistakes so that you can make better decisions in the future.
Secondly, you have to be agile if you want to become a better entrepreneur. Analogous to Wolverine’s agility…great entrepreneurs learn how to creatively avoid pitfalls that can hurt their business. Is there a disruptive technology or event that can threaten your business’s livelihood? Develop a plan that will help your business be agile when change is needed. Embrace business agility to launch a new product or service or target a promising new customer avatar. Whatever you do, don’t stay still. Keep flipping. Keep innovating.
Study Cyclop’s Leadership Style
Become a better entrepreneur by putting your team members in the right place for them to be successful; and once they are in the right place, delegate the appropriate tasks to them. Cyclops (who many consider to be the greatest leader of the X-Men) excels at putting his fellow X-Men in the right position for the team’s success.
Cyclops is also a good character to teach us about leading by example. He doesn’t just stand back and gives orders. He gets into the battle alongside his teammates. Are you willing to work hard for the benefit of the team? A team-focused entrepreneur would never leave their team members alone to fail.
Rediscover Jubilee’s Eager Curiosity
Another key to becoming a better entrepreneur is having childlike curiosity and eagerness to get your hands dirty. Curiosity leads to world-changing ideas and groundbreaking discoveries.
Jubilee isn’t the most powerful or experienced X-Men member, but she’s eager for action. She wants to learn and mix it up to gain experience. And her eager energy inspires the team.
It’s also important to note that Jubilee has great mentors in people like Storm, Wolverine, and Gambit who teach and guide her. I believe that every entrepreneur should have a mentor when they get started and a coach to keep them sharp while on the business journey. You should also surround yourself with a good group of people (a mastermind) who help each other improve. Iron sharpens iron, right?
Cultivate Beast’s Love for Learning, Research, and Data
Beast is always in his lab, learning something new that can help his team and the world. As an entrepreneur (or a human being for that matter), if you’re not learning you’re dying…so always be learning!
Data has always been important for entrepreneurs. But the modern business world demands an even more serious focus on collecting and analyzing data for business success. Not making good data-driven decisions can be the downfall of your business.
A bonus tip (from the future): Do you know about Bishop? He’s the long-haired gun-toating mutant rebel from the future who time travels to help the X-Men on occasion. He’s not the most popular X-Men character but he’s undeniably powerful. When I think about learning from people and events around you, I think about Bishop’s mutant ability to absorb energy and release it from his body for his benefit and his enemy’s detriment. So for you, my fellow entrepreneur, I encourage you to do the same (without incinerating people with energy blasts). Absorb knowledge and wisdom from others, process what you learn, and release it back into the world in the form of good ideas, products, services, and deeds.
Professor Charles Xavier’s Heart and Eye for Talent
Great entrepreneurs care about what’s good for the world and use their powers for good. It’s not only about making money or being popular. They use their resources and platform to improve people’s lives. This reminds me of the X-Men’s founder and leader, Professor Charles Xavier.
Professor X keeps his mind on the pulse of what’s happening in the world — constantly involved on the good side in the battle of good vs. evil. Professor X knows how to navigate in a fallen world and he does it while facing serious physical challenges (being paralyzed from the waist down).
How is your business benefiting the world? Respond and let me know. I’d love to hear and get inspired by your story.
Lastly, Professor X’s eye for talent is undeniable. He recruits the best of the best to join the X-Men. But he doesn’t recruit purely for the talent grab. Xavier helps new X-Men recruits become better versions of themselves. For instance, he taught Wolverine how to control his temper. He helped Gambit leave behind a life of crime. And he helped Rogue get over the trauma of being negatively influenced by an evil mother figure in Mystique. Successful entrepreneurs know how to attract talented people who are a good fit for their business culture and help those individuals improve as complete people.
There’s a good chance that you’re not a mutant superhero (or are you?). But there’s a really good chance that you’re a capable human being with talents, resources, and ideas. Use those talents, resources, and ideas to be the best entrepreneur that you can be. I hope that my X-Men analogy has inspired you to take on the world and accomplish your goals as an entrepreneur.
P.S. — I was thinking about including the smooth charisma of Gambit in this article, but ultimately decided to leave it/him off the list. Charisma is one of those qualities that’s hard to possess unless you’re born with it. And honestly, charisma isn’t necessary to be a great leader or entrepreneur. Lastly, Gambit is a sketchy character in some people’s opinion (though he left his life as a thief behind when he joined the X-Men). I don’t want my readers to think that I’m suggesting that a person has to be a smooth criminal in order to be a successful entrepreneur.