Growing up, I loved comics. I saw incredible artwork combined with great stories and I was hooked. The man most responsible for many of my favorites – Captain America, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, Iron Man, and the Vision – was non-other than Stan Lee.
Sadly, Stan Lee passed away on November 12th, 2018 at the age of 95.
One of the best things about comics is they stimulate our imagination, a key component of success in today’s high-speed world. Consumers demand innovation from companies. Those that adapt and shift with the changing winds of customers’ needs and desires will reap the benefits. Those that stick to their guns often find themselves surpassed by smaller, more agile companies. GE stock recently hit new lows, but while GE struggles, Amazon continues to grow with innovative products such as the Kindle and Echo.
Stan Lee’s characters helped shaped much of my approach to business. So let’s take a look at my favorites and how they influenced my approach to business.
Cap (as he’s often referred to) taught me nothing is impossible to overcome. A man with a shield doesn’t seem to stack up against the legions of super-powered villains, but he’s fought some of the most powerful in the Marvel universe and always managed to find a way to win.
Business Application – Cap was a natural born leader and the obvious choice to lead the Avengers. The reason they succeeded was in no small part due to Cap’s leadership. Organization is critical to the success of any business, and it always starts at the top. Cap was a no-frills kind of guy, willing to do whatever it took to get things done. Every leader should develop this skill to ensure they don’t lose touch with their team.
Stan Lee’s most popular character. When Todd McFarlane took over the reins, it took Spidey to a whole new level. What set apart his comics from many others was the humor he brought with him to battle, cracking jokes and insulting villains in a way only a teenager could do. Spidey taught me to bring a sense of enjoyment to work.
Business application – High performers are happy people. They make light of tough situations. which. when done correctly. instills confidence in the people around them. Back in 1983, Ronald Reagan was shot and rushed to the ER. As he was being wheeled into the operating room, he turned to his wife and said, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” The American people breathed a sigh of relief as people knew their president was well enough to laugh about a near-death experience. Business is a high-stress environment, but in order to boost productivity, CEOs and executives should try and find ways to inject humor where they can. It’s helped me develop strong relationships with my employees over the years.
We all know him as Tony Stark, the playboy billionaire who had the latest tech. His suit would constantly be upgraded, each time adding new cool gadgets or functions. Tony is the genius of the Avengers. He would figure out how to defeat the most powerful villains with tech, and he was Marvel’s answer to DC’s Batman.
Business application – Tech can be a powerful ally in productivity and communication. As we get older, people have a tendency to avoid tech as they are comfortable with the way things are. That’s why the Internet flat footed many top CEOs; it turned the business model on its head, with young kids taking the reins. The lesson – be constantly on the lookout for ways to implement new tech, because your competition is.
This guy rocked: cosmic power and an indestructible surfboard capable of incredible speed.
Business application – Speed is the name of the game. It’s not enough to get things done today; it’s also about how fast you can get it done. My wife taught me that the key to business is threefold – efficiency, accurateness, and speed.
An android capable of turning from diamond hard to intangible. I always thought that was cool, not to mention his eye beams.
Business application – Coolness stands out. There are thousands of great products, but the winners are those that stand out. There is any number of niches in which you can dominate – cheap, ultra-pricey, effectiveness, size, and cool to name just a few. Over the years, I’ve asked clients why they chose the computer they did – some mention a function (like screen size or speed), but surprisingly, cool is one of the most common answers. People want to buy things that aren’t an eyesore. In fact, just the opposite: they want people to say, “Wow, that looks nice!”
What Marvel list would be complete without discussing their strongest team. While I do think DC’s Justice League is the stronger team, I always preferred the Avengers.
Business application – Teamwork wins battles. Every team is made up of individuals, each with their own skills. The success of every team depends on their ability to work together – communication is critical. The Avengers always found a way to win thanks to their superior teamwork. They didn’t do it for praise; they just did their job. Too often today, people make the mistake of trying to stand out on their team, but a team’s success is not dependent on one person, no matter how talented they are. Just ask Michael Jordan. The first few years he joined the league, he went on a scoring rampage, yet his team never got past the first round. It wasn’t until he started sharing the ball more with Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant that they went on to greatness.