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4 Lessons Wonder Woman Can Teach Entrepreneurs

Women and men alike can learn a thing or two from this awesome superhero

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BY Lian Kyla Dyogi - 19 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Brave, compassionate, and killing it at the box office, Wonder Woman is a force to be reckoned with.

One of the pivotal parts of the film is a scene where Diana of Themyscira (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) charges into “No Man’s Land”, where no man can cross without being shot and killed. “There was some apprehension as in what she was going to do, or defend herself along with those behind her, but when she charged with a heart full of nobleness, her male counterparts followed suit without hesitation, showcasing her leadership and influence in the story,” says Rebecca Yap, head of business intelligence at Shoppr, a Malaysian fashion app.

She adds: “The movie gave me an insight into her history and journey, emphasizing her vigor, tenacity, and empathy. So thanks to Patty Jenkins and the crew, I can safely say I’m now a true fan.”

Making waves in the box office aside, start-up entrepreneurs—men and women alike—can learn a thing or two from this awesome superhero. Here are four:

1. Don’t let naysayers get you down

When Diana steps off the island where she grew up, she enters a world where people tell her she can’t do this or can’t do that.

Wonder Woman is “continuously oppressed when it came to helping others in need and doing what’s right all because “it wasn’t part of the mission”—yet she believed in change, in the betterment of mankind,” says Yap. Eventually, she stops listening.

Even before she enters man’s world, Wonder Woman decides to go after Ares herself, disobeying her mother. Zad Ngor, co-founder of Vietnamese start-up Perkfec, which helps companies nurture meaningful workplace relationships, says what people can learn from Wonder Woman is her determination “to kill Ares and save the world, regardless of the risk.”

“Having an uncertain journey and her failure to save the town from the corrosive gas, it directly reflects what entrepreneurs will go through—high risk, uncertainty, and failure. People procrastinate because it's tough. Entrepreneurship is never easy but to get what you want you've got to be determined to take action, knowing you will have to go through hell,” Ngor says.

2. Empathy is a strength

Whether it’s Thor, Marvel’s take on the Nordic god of thunder, or Batman with his angst, it seems we had yet to see a superhero movie put more weight on empathy rather than other values like drive and grit.

The Wonder Woman film shows this in spades. Diana lets her empathy for mankind drive her. And entrepreneurs can learn from her example.

“Combined with empathy, when sincerity is infused with daily execution, you are able to walk a mile in a customer’s shoes, to understand their pain points and how to best solve them. As cliché as it may seem, businesses are meant to fulfill the needs of the world, and provide the best experience that consumers deserve. Female leaders tend to be viewed as more emotional but this so-called shortcoming can actually be turned into a strength, if used wisely,” says Yap.

3. Recognize gender obstacles

For Patty Jenkins, the film’s director, various reports and interviews say she set out to make a “good superhero movie” and not just a “good female superhero movie.”

“If Patty Jenkins wanted to make a “good female superhero movie” that mindset might have downplayed the potential of Wonder Woman,” says Ngor who says the movie did even better than other male dominated superhero movies.

Jenkins might have been on to something, especially about the way female leads are talked about in the media, as well as in entrepreneurship. “Personally I think media do not need to portray a successful woman entrepreneur as a miracle,” says David Foo co-founder of Graaab JaGaApp, a Malaysia-based app that optimizes a community’s security and communications. “I think it is both remarkable for both sexes to achieve success, and of course both sides have our fair share of sacrifice,” he adds.

However, it’s not to say that there are no gender obstacles. While female entrepreneurs and leaders are present in Southeast Asia, more can be done to bridge the gap. According to a 2015 report by CNBC, in Singapore only 5% of tech start-ups are led by women.

“In Southeast Asia, I do observe a quite healthy participation of females in entrepreneurship, of course there is more room to encourage more to participate,” says Foo.

Part of bridging the gap is recognizing there is one. “I think that many female entrepreneurs tend to set their professional ambitions and goals while disregarding the gender factors in the workplace because we believe that our merits, skills, talents are the key to help us succeed,” says Aim Kusuwan, events planning lead of Lean In Singapore and Lean In Women in Tech Singapore & Asia.

4. Believe in your inner power

While it’s important to recognize any gender obstacles one may face, don’t let it stop you. The turning point of the movie, Kusuwan says, is when Diana realized her potential—that the power to stop her enemy was in her and not the weapon.

Kusuwan says, “[W]omen tend to rely on the external validation that we can succeed when the primary factor that determines [our success] actually lies within us. When Diana inherited the sword, she was confident that she would win because the sword was acclaimed to kill God. As the story unveils, we saw that the God-killing ability was actually within her…I think what she needed was the confidence in believing that she could succeed.”

Wonder Woman sends the strong message to all of us, not just to the women, that there is something great inside all of us, we just need to look for it,” she adds.