ENTREPRENEURSHIP: What GUNDAM Teaches About Business
Since 1979, the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise has been pivotal in reconstructing giant-robot anime into a genre that enables the audience to resonate with the harsh realities of war, the benefits of maturity, and of real-world prejudices. As an entrepreneur, as well as an anime-obsessed fool, re-watching some of the older Gundam series surprised me with some very interesting hints about healthy business functions.
Keeping in mind that mobile suits, even the Gundams, are weapons in wartime--military hardware--indeed, giant robots that need constant upkeep of its body and its own weaponry, ammunition, fuel or battery charges, and often resulting in mass production, we have to understand that these mobile suits, and the very armor from which they're built, come from somewhere--at a cost.
Reading into the history of Anaheim Electronics--the development contractor by which most mobile suits on both sides of various wars were developed, including most of the titular Gundam mobile suits--including before their monopoly on mobile suit development and after their collapse, losing business and contracts to the Earth Federation's in-house think tank SNRI in the future years of the UC, we can actually learn a couple of interesting practices about conducting business. After all, we are entrepreneurs--sometimes we can't help but see things like this.
1. LISTEN TO YOUR FREAKING CUSTOMERS
I learned something slick doing graphic design classes in college. One of my greatest teachers taught me early on taught me to listen ever so sharply to the customer and THEN decide if the project assigned is worth its weight in gold. Artistry is about self-expression and commitment to the message, while artistry in business is not always the same thing. Sometimes, artistry in business means installations, contracts out and projects we may not always want to actually do...even when our kids need to eat, and rent or mortgage still waits for no man.
Zeta Gundam (1985) takes place in UC 0087. Anaheim Electronics is on the forefront of mobile suit development and creates and mass produces mobile suits for both sides of the current war--the AEUG, and the Titans. In the earliest episodes, teenage civilian-turned-AEUG sympathizer Kamille Bidan constructed blueprints and technical specs for a state-of-the-art mobile suit he named the "Zeta Gundam". He pitched the idea to Anaheim and about halfway through the series, Anaheim delivered the completed Gundam for Kamille. He went straight to the manufacturer and instead of complaining about every seemingly unimportant detail or talking their way out of minimizing the workload, Anaheim's mechanics not only went with Kamille's concept, but added even more to it. Needless to say, the Zeta Gundam greatly helped the AEUG defeat the Titans, and without it, they may not have won the war and many more lives would've been lost. Anaheim listened to Kamille, went out of their way to develop a special mobile suit fit for his own specifications, and had it ready it time to give AEUG the upper hand.
So, if we are Anaheim Electronics, and our customers are like Kamille, we first have to ask ourselves how deeply involved do we want our customer to be in the projects they want us to complete for them. And when we're willing to listen to our clients, we understand their vision and their mission. That's precisely what's going to keep them coming back.
2. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES
If you're a VA, what are your weak points? Are you selling yourself as a social media management expert when you know that you honestly have no clue how to manage your own time, let alone use Trello or Asana to manage another's time? If you're a graphic designer, do you understand vector and raster imagery and the basics of color theory, or the importance of branding in design? Are you falsley advertising yourself as this when you're actually not, just to add to your email list? That spells disaster.
At the beginning, you CAN NOT advertise skills you haven't obtained--you have to stick with what you know. The crazy thing about the five Gundam pilots of Gundam Wing (1995) is that they were trained for almost any combat situation--hand-to-hand or with mobile suits. But, not just their Gundams! When they find themselves inside of a cockpit of any suit, it's game over for their enemies. The original series (1979), however, is a bit more realistic with that concept. Series protagonist Amuro Ray, age 15, has become assigned the pilot of the mobile suit Gundam to defend the warship White Base against Zeon forces that wanted it precious mobile suit cargo--the Gundam, Guncannon, and Guntank mobile suits--out of commission for good. In one combat situation in the middle chunk of the series, a conceited Amuro, unbeknowest to White Base's captain Bright Noa, or to his fellow pilots, launched in the long-range combat mobile suit Guntank to complete a "simple mission" that deemed the close-range combat Gundam unnecessary in his mind. "I don't the Gundam for a simple mission like this," boasted Amuro. Even as an ace pilot, Amuro didn't do so hot piloting the Guntank and caused hard damage to be received by the suit, but not before retreating. Needless to say, Bright had hefty consequences in mind for Amuro being a brat.
Know yourself in the game. Focus first on what you do best, and learn other things along the way. Nothing is less attractive in business than disingenuous agendas. If you can't pilot a Guntank, don't hop in because you think you're the best with a Gundam. During practice, sure! Get your game up. But not in a life-or-death situation. And trust me, sometimes the business of what we do can be pretty cutthroat at times. So be careful, and be honest about your current weaknesses. Customers will appreciate you in the long run for it.
3. MASS PRODUCE YOUR BEST WORK
"Mass-production" is a term you hear a lot when studying on Gundam series. Gundams were pretty unique, and although there were exceptions, most versions of Gundams weren't mass produced for the battlefield. It was dangerous for certain technological advancements to be replicated anyway--so dangerous, that the tide of the war could be tilted in one's favor with the right fleet of frontline units. Enter the BIG ZAM, one of Zeon's most devastating mobile weapons of the latter section of the One Year War. Two of White Base's finest--Amuro Ray and Sleggar Law--were able to collaboratively distract and destroy the hilariously huge mobile armor--a suit of armor more monstrous than humanoid (like a regular mobile suit, and about five to six times its size)--though at the cost of Sleggar's life. With excellent flight capabilities and the firepower of a battleship, Zeon's plans to mass produce the armored menace were dashed when a courageous Sleggar kamikaze'd his fighter into the lower end of the prototype Big Zam to immobilize it, followed by an enraged Amuro using his Gundam's beam sabers to hack the mobile armor to malfunction and abruptly explode.
Zeon knew that if the Big Zam were mass produced, despite its weak points and low maneuverability, the Earth Federation would have swiftly lost the One Year War. As entrepreneurs, we can take a look back at months worth of content, physical products, and opt-ins to revisit and mass produce. Look at your statistics on Google Analytics, on Pinterest, or the amount of downloads your landing-page freebies have gotten. Which blogs, vlogs, or products are tipping the tide of your entrepreneurial war to your favor? It's time to whip out the BIG ZAMS and repost your most glorious achievements. Did you make a $5,000 goal from VA work or from blogging? Yeah, well writing one post about that achievement--likely the month it happened--and never reposting that again isn't to anybody's benefit. Not yours, and not your readers/viewers/listeners/customers/clients. Pop that bad boy into overdrive with tools like MeetEdgar and Buffer, to repost appropriately, incentivize yourself to keep up stock on your physical products, and keep producing and promoting your best work so you gain FULL exposure and make an incredible impression.
Hopefully these comparisons weren't terribly far-fetched! But hey, if you gotta eat--and we all do--then it would behoove you to get what you can out of everything you expose yourself to. Otherwise, keep it moving and leave it in the past! We got businesses to run, so let's get cracking!!