1. Do not owe anyone, anything
The famous line of the Lannister’s is “A Lannister always pays his debts”, which is probably the most valuable tip in this list of lessons for entrepreneurs from Game of Thrones. As soon as you leave your debts to gather, you enter a downward road. This is foremost a network environment where your reputation is paramount. If you do fail, better that everyone in the market will recognise you as a reliable, serious entrepreneur, so they will be willing to work with you again.
Granted, Tyrion and his family used this rule to justify wholesale slaughter, but entrepreneurs who keep this principle in mind are reinforcing the foundation that allows their business to thrive.
2. Do not fear bad times:
Littlefinger is the key GoT strategist, isn’t he? He says that “chaos isn’t a pit, but a ladder”, and “the climb is all there is.”
Anyone can hold the tiller steady to maintain a ship’s course in favourable winds but challenge is the real measure of the entrepreneur.
You need to see your most difficult times as your greatest opportunities. This is where you learn most about yourself – how boldly you can make decisions, how creatively you can solve problems, how quickly you can act, how high you can climb the ladder out of the pit to success.
3. If you need to reinforce your status as a leader you’re sitting on a thin layer of ice:
Just like respected people never have to say “respect me”, successful entrepreneurs never have to say they are the leader. You have to inspire your employees and partners and earn your status.
In Game of Thrones the Lannisters act as rulers and they are seen as rulers. As Lord Tywin said; “Any man who must say I am the king is no true king”.
In real life, you need to act like a boss, take the right decisions, be objective and never cross the boundaries. If you are a good entrepreneur, power will come to you on the way, as well as respect and profit.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak up:
Tyrion Lannister also offers a great lesson for beginner entrepreneurs: he might not be taken seriously at some times, but this doesn’t stop him from speaking out loud. When you are a starting-out young entrepreneur, or you’re not even currently holding the rank of an entrepreneur, but you wish you could run your own company one day, you need to be bold enough to speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to step up in front of the line and share your ideas – sooner or later, you will be noticed.
5. Don’t be unfair to your employees or partners:
The Game of Thrones landscape is almost entirely populated by leaders who rule by fear. With one exception: Daenerys. The blonde teen becomes the beloved Khaleesi due to her kindness. When you translate this into business world, you gain important lessons for entrepreneurs. Yes, you do want people to respect you and listen to you, but using cruelty is not the way to gain loyalty. Listen to your team! A team that admires you will go much further for you than one which fears you.
Remember Game of Thrones’ Joffrey Baratheon and the effects of his leadership style? Again, it’s all about reputation – and being despised is a sure way to kill your company.
6. Never break your word:
In businesses, your word is sacred! Once you’ve broken a promise, you’ve lost your word as well as your credibility. Without a valid word, you are going to have a tough life in the business world, where many agreements and contracts start with an informal discussion. Retrieving your credibility is almost impossible, so make sure you never break a promise.
Who taught us this from Game of Thrones? Robb Stark (“The king in the North”), who promised to wed a Frey woman, then completely forgot about it and we all know the bloody consequences of his broken promise.
Lastly, remember the iconic line from Game of Thrones: Winter is coming!
Winter is one of Tony Robbins’ favourite business analogies – he talks about needing a ‘gladiator mentality’ to make it through an economic winter.
GoT’s House of Stark are always aware that winter is an inevitable, and they ensure they take steps now to prepare for when it eventually arrives.
Back to business, you have to constantly look to the future and make sure you stay up to date with the latest innovations and technologies. If you are preparing your “winter coats” in the summer, you give yourself a greater advantage to win the Game of Businesses!