Westeros to Wall Street: Lessons on Dominating Your Workspace from “Game of Thrones”

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Winter is coming.

- Ned Stark

Well, unless you are currently living in the southern hemisphere south of the tropical zone , indeed you know that winter is not coming any time soon. But the newest season of Game of Thrones is most certainly upon us. If this forum is any indication, there are at least a few of you who have been anticipating this for about a year now (ok, 306 days, but who's counting?) I, for one, can't wait. People everywhere vying for positions of power, alliances being forged and broken, backstabbing, intrigue, coercion, indiscretion, dishonesty, back-alley deals, and frigging DRAGONS!

And with the return of our favorite fantastical/political/skin-bearing HBO mini-series, we may find that the trials and tribulations of the inhabitants of Westeros are not unlike our own. And as much as we may all want to bitch-slap the Joffrey in our own lives or make some co-workers "pay the iron price", we know that's not always the most political way to approach things. So whether you're a monkey trolling away in the frozen North or working from a cubicle in King's Landing, take some advice from the characters of the show on how to win your own personal Game of Thrones.

Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can be never used to hurt you.

- Tyrion Lannister (to John Snow on being a bastard)

Tyrion had no problem calling a spade a spade (or a bastard a bastard, or an imp an imp, etc). Self-awareness is a key to dominating your work environment. Whether you're trying to impress during an interview or networking event, or you're working on a project as a part a team, you've got to know that you're not perfect. Identify that weakness, and make sure that no one can ever use it against you. If you see a particular flaw in your resume, make sure that you have a good answer to the objection that interviewers will have about it. If you're working in a group or team, you know there are things that you probably can't do as well as someone else can. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and you can save you and everyone on your team from ending up with their head on a spike.

Well, my brother has a sword, and I have my mind. And a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.

- Tyrion Lannister

If you don't stay current on the market in whatever industry you're in, you're probably not winning. You might hate that guy who checks MarketWatch on his twitter incessantly throughout the day, but you can't blame him for trying to get smart. Even the smartest chimp can benefit from some broad professional education every now and then. Stay up on the trends, keep a broad perspective on the world around you, and you'll be Johnny-on-the-spot the next time the boss asks about the second order implications of the next Euro crisis.

When you play the Game of Thrones you win, or you die. There is no middle ground.

- Cersei Lannister

Compromise and negotiations are great in Candy Land. But if you're going to play the game of office politics, treat it as a zero-sum game. Identify the goal, create a gameplan for getting to that goal, and have a backup plan for when someone goes Theon Greyjoy on you. You'd be surprised at the lengths you'll go when you convince yourself that there's no other option than win or bust. And even in the worst-case scenario, you could always bring out the dragons...

No one will take my dragons.

- Daenerys Targaryen

(SPOILER ALERT) Someone eventually takes her dragons. Daenerys is not amused. And in the ensuing aftermath, we find a smoldering tower full of dead warlock clones, a heap of dead Q'arthian villagers and politicians, and two people locked in a giant vault forever (one of them was her best friend). Moral of the story: mean what you say, and say what you mean. Nothing kills your credibility like an empty promise (or threat, for that matter).

Tell me, which do you favor, your fingers or your tongue?

- Joffrey Baratheon

As an old boss of mine used to tell us, "Gents, we've got to eat a shit sandwich. Let's figure out if we want that with mustard or mayonnaise." Yes, Joffrey is being a complete shit and probably deserves a good bitch slap at this point in time, but he's not completely off the mark when he asks the accused criminal which fate he would prefer. There's always stuff that you or your team will not want to do. But by letting people choose the vehicle of their perceived suffering, sometimes it solidifies their feeling of being "stakeholders" in the process. That gives them more buy-in to the project, and at the end of the day sometimes that makes all the difference. Or they could be wishing that they'd picked the mayonnaise.

In that darkness the White Walkers came for the first time. They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders big as hounds."

- Old Nan

No, we're not talking about the audit team. But this old wive's tale does serve as a great example of an organizational narrative. Stories passed to members of an organization throughout the years, whether real or made-up, help to define the culture of an organization. Remember hearing about those business schools where students would supposedly tear out pages from books in a library so that other students couldn't get to them? That story helped to define that school's competitive culture for its own students and those at other schools. The story of the white walkers had long been thought a myth, but it didn't stop people of the North from telling everyone that "Winter is coming", right? In fact, that mentality pervades throughout the kingdom as a reminder that everyone must be prepared. Find the right narrative and the right vehicle, and you'll be able to motivate your team in the direction you want.

A very small man can cast a very large shadow.

- Varys

In any kingdom, even the littlest monkey can ascend to the throne. Just ask Tyrion Lannister. But don't ask Varys about his balls.

Comments (27)

Mar 21, 2013

actually im more looking into how fast martin can finish the next book, give i already read the book and know the plots.

Mar 21, 2013
CaliforniaAnalyst:

actually im more looking into how fast martin can finish the next book, give i already read the book and know the plots.

I have given this a lot of thought.

Assume a summer/fall 2015 release for book 6. It is supposed to be massive, so HBO might be able to get 2 seasons out of it. At the very least, they could combine A Dance with Dragons/Winds of Winter to get a total 3 seasons.

HBO gets:

2013: First half of books 3/4

2014: Second half of books 3/4

2015: Book 5

2016: Book 6 First half

2017: Book 6 Second half

So Martin should have a little over 2 years to finish Book 7. It's tight, but probably doable. The plot should pretty much be set at that point, so all that remains is execution.

Mar 21, 2013

Tyrrion said that to john snow, not rob stark. robby aint no bastard

Mar 21, 2013

Noted, and correction made. Thanks!

"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."
-John Wooden


See my WSO Blog

Mar 21, 2013

I would climb an Everest sized mountain of broken glass and dicks just to have night with the Khaleesi.

Mar 21, 2013
Unforseen:

I would climb an Everest sized mountain of broken glass and dicks just to have night with the Khaleesi.

Have you seen her out of costume? Might change your mind about those dicks (probably still crawl over broken glass, though).

Definitely hot, but I wouldn't say smokeshow hot.

Mar 21, 2013
Edmundo Braverman:
Unforseen:

I would climb an Everest sized mountain of broken glass and dicks just to have night with the Khaleesi.

Have you seen her out of costume? Might change your mind about those dicks (probably still crawl over broken glass, though).

Definitely hot, but I wouldn't say smokeshow hot.

After about 4 beers you'd be saying whatever she wanted to hear... as would I.

Mar 21, 2013
Edmundo Braverman:
Unforseen:

I would climb an Everest sized mountain of broken glass and dicks just to have night with the Khaleesi.

Have you seen her out of costume? Might change your mind about those dicks (probably still crawl over broken glass, though).

Definitely hot, but I wouldn't say smokeshow hot.

Currently dating a girl who looks exactly like Daenerys, but taller. For some reason, my interest in Game of Thrones has since skyrocketed.

Mar 21, 2013
Unforseen:

I would climb an Everest sized mountain of broken glass and dicks just to have night with the Khaleesi.

Dude, do you KNOW how tall Mt. Everest is? No way you could climb that many dicks/glass. No way.

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer
Mar 21, 2013
seabird:
Unforseen:

I would climb an Everest sized mountain of broken glass and dicks just to have night with the Khaleesi.

Dude, do you KNOW how tall Mt. Everest is? No way you could climb that many dicks/glass. No way.

For anyone who is not familiar with Game of Thrones and was just about to google image "Khaleesi", let me save you some clicks






"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."
-John Wooden


See my WSO Blog

Mar 21, 2013
seabird:
Unforseen:

I would climb an Everest sized mountain of broken glass and dicks just to have night with the Khaleesi.

Dude, do you KNOW how tall Mt. Everest is? No way you could climb that many dicks/glass. No way.

For anyone who is not familiar with Game of Thrones and was just about to google image "Khaleesi", let me save you some clicks






"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."
-John Wooden


See my WSO Blog

Mar 21, 2013
seabird:
Unforseen:

I would climb an Everest sized mountain of broken glass and dicks just to have night with the Khaleesi.

Dude, do you KNOW how tall Mt. Everest is? No way you could climb that many dicks/glass. No way.

For anyone who is not familiar with Game of Thrones and was just about to google image "Khaleesi", let me save you some clicks






"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."
-John Wooden


See my WSO Blog

Mar 21, 2013

^^I think that's right Eddie, she's one of those types whose character lends to their smoke-caliber. I feel the same way about Gretchen Weiners from Mean Girls. Her dad invented the toaster strudel, she coined the phrase "fetch," her hair is full of secrets, etc aka is the perfect woman. But when people refer to her as "Lacey Chabert," it sends douche chills up my spine.

Gretchen Weiners

vs

Lacey

Mar 21, 2013
CaR:

^^I think that's right Eddie, she's one of those types whose character lends to their smoke-caliber. I feel the same way about Gretchen Weiners from Mean Girls. Her dad invented the toaster strudel, she coined the phrase "fetch," her hair is full of secrets, etc aka is the perfect woman. But when people refer to her as "Lacey Chabert," it sends douche chills up my spine.

Gretchen Weiners

vs

Lacey

Yeah but Gretchen is no Glen Coco

/Gay

And CaR is right, the character adds infinite hotness. I told my girlfriend that i would leave her for the Khaleesi but only if she picked me up with her dragon and she said that it was cool. Then she smacked me and said no "no sex tonight".

Mar 21, 2013

I guess my weekend RedBox plans are filled now. I have not seen this series (yet), but good comparisons

Mar 21, 2013

How about one from my generation?

Vs.

The years have not been kind in a galaxy far, far away.

Mar 21, 2013
Edmundo Braverman:

How about one from my generation?

Vs.

The years have not been kind in a galaxy far, far away.

Supposedly she, Hamill and Ford are rooting for episode VII to happen and were asked to star in the movie. You think she looks like hell, look at Hamill

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thum...

Mar 21, 2013

Having read the books, as well as many other sci-fi and fantasy novels, it really is amazing how many truisms are put in places like this. In the past it was a place to slip in social and political commentary which was "inappropriate". The lessons to learn are no less important now that it is "PC" to talk about them publicly. In fact given our current media, it may be back to being the best place to slip the message in.

Mar 21, 2013

stop quoting the goddamn picture comments

    • 1
Mar 22, 2013

^Damn that speech is fucking intense. Wouldn't want to get on his bad side.

Mar 22, 2013
Comment

"I am not sure who this 'Anonymous' person is - one thing is for certain, they have been one hell of a prolific writer" - Anonymous

Mar 21, 2013
Comment

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer

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