Entrepreneurs exhibit a variety of admirable qualities that make them positive role models in their communities. People can appreciate the financial acumen, personal traits and interpersonal skills they must acquire in order to see their businesses thrive. These characteristics also contribute to their personal well-being well beyond the bottom line, as well as to the common good of society. Elements within the media and the culture may like to malign the entrepreneurial spirit as if it were inherently unethical, but entrepreneurs themselves, and those who are aware of how much the prosperity of our society depends on their successes, know better.
Superheroes are ubiquitous in the popular culture today. Portrayed as larger than life, they face threats of unbelievable magnitude and possess powers beyond ordinary human abilities. But, superheroes can and should be interpreted as metaphors for the ways ordinary people can face the challenges of this world bravely and responsibly. From this perspective, it is fair to ask, which superheroes best represent the virtues of entrepreneurs? As an entrepreneur, you can ask yourself: Which superheroes do I most resemble?
For argument's sake, let's rule out Batman and Iron Man, although both are famous for being rich and running colossal corporations. The principal conceit surrounding Bruce Wayne is that he is super-smart at everything, including running the company he inherited. But, we largely have to take his business savvy for granted since we rarely see it in action; he largely leaves the actual handling of his conglomerate's activities to executives. Meanwhile, Tony Stark, another beneficiary of a sizable inheritance, has won and lost his fortune many times despite his tech-savvy know-how. People like Benjamin Franklin or Donald Trump might admire Stark's ability to rebrand and rebuild again and again after every setback, but he simply is not a businessperson who can be relied on.
Looking instead at the sorts of situations and character types that other superheroes represent, let's ask: Which superhero deals with the kinds of challenges you face and exhibits the kinds of qualities you possess that help you overcome them?
Do you find yourself in competition against a well-established competitor with goodwill to spare, having to prove over and over that your own product or service is as good if not more commendable than theirs? Then you might well think of yourself as being like Supergirl. She cannot help being compared against her cousin, Superman, the first and most famous of superheroes, and someone with an unassailable reputation. Still, lots of comic book readers and television viewers appreciate that Supergirl's stories are often more compelling, and her character is arguably more admirable -- especially for having to prove herself more in the public's eyes.
Are you a second-career entrepreneur? Did the life path you initially embarked upon not pan out? Did you have to overcome a sense of disappointment in yourself, start from scratch, strike out in a new direction, develop new skills, and build new networks -- only to discover greater success and satisfaction? Then consider yourself like Jessica Jones. She attempted a career as a superhero but found herself strictly D-list. She got knocked out of the game in ways for which she was not to blame, but later found success as a private investigator, gained newfound confidence, new friends and partners, and is now universally respected by those who had hardly noticed her existence previously.
Have you decided to take charge of your life and become your own boss after being at the mercy of others who tried to control your career path, or ruin it, or turn you into someone you're not and didn't want to be? Then there's no better superhero to admire than Captain Marvel. She became a superhero by accident on account of her relationship with another one. She eventually was kidnapped and manipulated (and worse) by another man, had her identity stolen by a villain, was further altered by aliens, turned to alcohol to cope and lost her status as an Avenger. Eventually, she caught a glimpse of how her life could be if she decided to take full responsibility for becoming the very best version of herself. Since then, she has become a premiere superhero, the first woman to get a lead role in a self-titled Marvel movie -- coming to theaters in 2019.
Are you all about leadership and mentorship? Have you built an indefatigable, loyal team that is ready, day in and day out, to make your company strong? Do your employees take pride in their allegiance to your product or service? Do you labor every day to make your team the best it can be, knowing that together, you're unstoppable? Then Black Panther is your man. King of Wakanda, Black Panther is the model of effective leadership, where the strength of the whole is the product of each team member excelling at their role, where innovation is prized and good counsel is sought from one's subordinates, where a spirit of trust and belonging is cultivated, and where people treat work almost like family.
Did you work your way up from a team member -- maybe taken for granted and underestimated -- to a leader in your own right, so that people now listen to you and trust your experience and judgment? Then look no further than the Wasp. She was there at the founding of the Avengers, and always had within her great potential as a motivational personality. She had to manage other capable but flawed persons, like her husband Hank Pym, but she eventually established herself as an independent woman, built an empire in the fashion industry, and took the reins as the first female leader of the Avengers. She remains someone the superhero community looks to forinspiration and good sense. And she knows how to enjoy life and the finer things in it.
Do you take pride in your ability to recruit people with overlooked talents and get them to join your team? Do you have the uncanny ability to form collaborative relationships with potential rivals such that everyone ends up profiting? And if they refuse to work with you, are you prepared to fight tooth and claw in order to prevail? Then you'll love Squirrel Girl -- hopefully coming to television soon! The unbeatable Squirrel Girl, with the proportionate powers of a squirrel, including a bushy tail and the ability to speak squirrelese, is underestimated at others' peril. She has formed a scrappy group of friends and heroes with similarly unlikely abilities, such as chipmunk- and fish-based superpowers. But, she would rather solve problems with words than with fisticuffs, and as such, she has befriended some former supervillains, too.
Luke Cage is the original entrepreneurial superhero. He formed Heroes for Hire on the premise that people might pay him to perform jobs that required superheroic abilities. As it would turn out, he almost never got paid. You might say that he ends up learning that virtue is its own reward! OK, maybe he's not the best model of entrepreneurship. He didn't really have a great business plan. Still, he eventually became leader of the Avengers and married Jessica Jones, so that's not all bad.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors