Help Your Company Slay the Dragons

The bookshelf of your average business owner is usually chock-full of hard-hitting nonfiction. And why not? Books like “The Obstacle Is the Way,” or “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” are great sources of inspiration for entrepreneurs in any industry. But did you know that the world of fiction has lessons to offer too?

‘The Hobbit’: A Poorly Planned Venture
J.R.R. Tolkien’s first fantasy novel chronicles a quest for treasure, led by the upstart dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield. There’s just one problem: A dragon guards the gold and jewels. Thorin has no plan to defeat this threat, and his party unwittingly releases it upon a town. The angry residents then hold the dwarf king liable for destruction of property.

The dragon attack was a known risk in Thorin's venture, and he failed to account for it. Rather than work to protect himself from risk (and liability), he failed to prepare for the worst outcome. Wishful thinking never helps leaders — even in fantasy stories.

‘Harry Potter’: Hogwarts Built to Sell
In the final book of the megahit series, it becomes clear that Dumbledore’s real wizardry was in his ability to execute an exit strategy. Over the course of the novel, Harry and his friends uncover the tools Dumbledore left behind to defeat Voldemort. The instructions he left were cryptic at best, but thankfully, Harry and friends eventually sort things out. Dumbledore’s key to success was putting the right people in the right positions.

‘The Witcher’: Toss a Coin to Your Marketer
In Andrzej Sapkowski’s popular novels, Geralt of Rivia has a PR problem. Mistrusted for his supernatural abilities, he can rarely find work, despite being an expert in a niche industry: monster hunting. Those willing to hire him often misunderstand his services and think he’s an assassin, all due to a classic case of bad branding.

Fortunately, our hero’s prospects change when he befriends an eccentric bard named Jaskier, who decides to write songs and poems about his adventures with Geralt. Soon, people across the continent know of Geralt and his talent for driving off things that go bump in the night, which goes to show that sometimes, good marketing makes all the difference.