Forget 300-page business books. In reality, comic books contain all the insights you need to create a spectacular startup.
Unlike business strategy books, comic book wisdom is packed into the fewest words possible. Translation: if you give me three minutes, I can save you a lot of time...
1. Listen harder than normal people do. If you had to send a superhero nine emails and four phone calls just to get on his calendar, he wouldn't be much of a superhero. Don't hide in your office.
To create an outstanding startup, you—and everyone in it—have to be proactively listening for problems, like Superman or Spider-Man. In fact, you have to recognize that something is wrong while everyone else is still happily going about their business.
Of course, the best way to launch a startup is to focus on solving specific problems you have heard specific people say really, truly drives them crazy.
2. Help people even if you do not know them. Does Iron Man only help people in his immediate family? Of course not! (That was a trick question; he has no immediate family.)
Superheroes care about all people. If a steel girder is falling from a building towards a crowd below, the hero won't stop to ask, "Are you on my target list? Which segment are you in? Do you have budget?"
Do not ration your proactive efforts. Help more people than you can count, even if they never help you back.
3. Focus on the needs of others more than your own needs. If you want to have a business, care deeply about the needs of others.
If all you care about is going public, you never will.
You don't see Wolverine agonizing over what his stock options are worth, do you?
4. Be highly creative in your efforts to save the day. The same solution won't work every time. There's always a bigger problem, or a fiercer villain. Giving all you have to give one week won't be nearly enough the next. Get used to outdoing yourself.
5. Be relentlessly optimistic. It's okay to grumble and wisecrack in the face of obstacles, but your basic mindset has to be a hardcore belief in yourself and your allies.
The odds will always be against you, but you don't care. That just makes life interesting. Laugh at the odds.
6. Maintain a great sense of urgency. When was the last time you saw a memo to Damsel in Distress... I will be able to help you early next quarter, once we finish our product roadmap?
Drop... what... you...are... doing! "Save the day!" means today, not some random day in the future.
7. Never tolerate bullies. When a superhero encounters a bully, one thing is certain: sooner or later, that bully is going to get what he deserves. You cannot tolerate loud, obnoxious, mean, ugly jerks. There is no room for such people in a superhero's orbit.
Translation: don't partner with them. Don't hire them. Don't work for them.
8. Don't stop trying until the job is done. Your job is not to try. It is to succeed. "I'll do my best to save the planet" is not an option.
9. Take no pleasure in the misfortune of others, even if they sorta deserve it. No matter how much pain and suffering you have endured, take no joy from watching others suffer.
When you vanquish your enemies, do so with a bit of reluctance. Do not gloat over your superpowers. Respect them, and use them only as necessary.
When you win - and you will win - be noble and reserved. You don't see superheroes doing self-congratulatory dances in the end zone.
And now, a bonus lesson from reader Sara Jacobovici...
10. Know your Achilles Heel. Think: kryptonite. If you ignore your weaknesses, they can kill your career. Superheroes know what makes them vulnerable and that it could be used against them. Don't try to use superpowers you do not possess.
Images by Charles Nicholas
Bruce Kasanoff is a social media ghostwriter for entrepreneurs.