This past weekend I had a chance to take my middle school aged daughter and a group of her friends to the recently released movie Wonder Woman. They had decided to go as a part of a summer program assignment. She was very excited to spend some time with her friends. I knew the film had received many accolades and was considered a success based on box office receipts. Having a movie be part of a project they were all working on was interesting and I was happy to be part of something with my daughter and her friends. I assumed it was just another movie about a comic book superhero and the kids would have fun watching an action film.
We all know the story of Wonder Woman from the comic books. She was an Amazonian princess that used her intelligence, golden lasso, and athletic abilities to fight evil across the globe. The recent success of Batman, Iron Man, and the other superhero movies made a Wonder Woman feature an obvious next choice. The film was based in Europe during World War I and showed all the positive and negative elements of culture during that time frame. In comical fashion, Wonder Woman entered an early 1900s harbor in London filled with garbage and pollution and commented on why anyone would want to live in such a place. It also showed the gender bias of that time’s culture with Wonder Woman being told to hide behind men for protection, that she could not enter a room of politicians, and that she was to wear outfits that were uncomfortable or not practical for daily adventures.
As I watched the movie and as a business owner myself, I could not help to think of what a great role model the filmmakers made for young women and aspiring leaders. During the movie Wonder Woman overcame the cultural issues, led a team to accomplish a mission, and learned multiple lessons along the way. She did so without compromising her values, staying true to her mission, and maintaining a certain sense of style and grace. I kept thinking of all the parallels that my daughter may have as she builds her career and starts her own entrepreneurial endeavors. I got to have the incredible experience of discussing the movie with the entire group later in the day and we identified some lessons that are true for any entrepreneur:
- 1. Have a Clear Mission – As discussed, the movie was set in the early 1900s during World War I. Wonder Woman was convinced that if she could destroy Ares (the god of War), she could also stop the war. Throughout the movie she was dedicated to her mission. She was out to find Ares and to confront him in battle. Everywhere she went she was thinking about how to find and stop him. When others said it was not possible, so discounted their input and continued her mission. A similar skill is needed when starting a business or running a company. You need to be clear in your mission and share it with as many people as possible. Don’t let the naysayers discourage you – if it was easy everyone would start their own company.
- 2. Be Intellectually Curious – Wonder Woman is put in many situations that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable. In one scene she is asked to wait outside a room while a collection of politicians discuss an issue. In Wonder Woman fashion, she does not wait outside and enters the room to hear what is happening. In the same scene, she even questions individuals that seem to be presenting an illogical solution. The movie is interesting in that she never barges in, yells, or uses her super abilities to influence the situation – she is passionate and curious, but is dedicated to making her mission known. This is a skill I hope my daughter builds as she creates her career. Successful business leaders have an incredible thirst for knowledge. They don’t let people keep them out of conversations that are important, they ask questions when they don’t understand, and they make their mission known. Leaders are careful in showing frustration or becoming too emotional.
- 3. Surround Yourself with a Team - One of the first things Wonder Woman does as she is working toward her mission is to create a team. Each member of the team is very different – different backgrounds, different skill sets, and even different personalities. With all their differences, the team is united by the mission of stopping Ares and ultimately stopping the war. As a business leader, it is important to surround yourself with individuals that have different skillsets and backgrounds. Everyone needs to understand the mission, but must be aware that no one individual can accomplish a mission by themselves. Surrounding yourself with people that have different skills and backgrounds is one of the most brilliant ways of ensuring that you consider every possibility of accomplishing your mission.
- 4. Lead By Example – As Wonder Woman is traveling through war torn Europe she comes upon an area called no man’s land. At this point in the war both armies have a strong foothold and neither have waivered for many months. A village is caught in the crossfire of battle and innocent individuals are being injured. The team is pressuring Wonder Woman to move along in the mission and bypass this area as there is nothing they can do to help. Wonder Woman makes the decision that she must help the villagers and cannot stand by as innocent people are hurt. As she enters the battle, her team notices that she is making a difference and joins in. As a team, they defeat the enemy and overtake the village, saving many individuals in the process. In business, many times a team can get frustrated or can convince themselves that a goal is not possible. Sometimes the best thing a leader can do is lead by example. Roll up your sleeves, push through a barrier, and bring the team along. Celebrate the victory and make sure that the team knows that nothing is impossible!
These lessons are only some of the highlights from the film that I discovered by talking with a group of engaged young women. I was excited to see how empowered and they were and hope that they bring these lessons into their daily lives and ultimately their professional careers.
USAmeriBank’s Women Entrepreneur program invites to you connect and exchange ideas with peers about how they are empowering themselves and their businesses by leveraging their knowledge and experiences. To learn more, please contact us at email@example.com or at 1-800-949-5666.