Are You a Bruce Wayne?

With the next Batman movie coming out on Friday, I thought we might explore what kind of entrepreneur Bruce Wayne is. Of course, I understand that he is a fictional character, but there is much an entrepreneur can learn from how Bruce Wayne built his empire.

First, Bruce understood that value of publicity and marketing.  He always chose to be in the spotlight. He donated wealth to help build his market. He understood how to get and keep the media’s attention on his businesses and his causes.  He reminds me of Sir Richard Branson in this way. He didn’t create the industries he was in but he was the leading innovator in several key markets that matched well with his view of the world.

Bruce Wayne’s family wealth came from serving the public good.  His father Thomas helped build power plants, medical instruments and hospitals, and accumulated significant power and influence in the process.  He was the 20th century version of the one percent.  He understood the synergies between wealth and good causes and was not afraid to make waves. Today, we see many entrepreneurs that have created similar wealth and have chosen to invest it in bigger and bigger causes. You might think of Bill and Melinda Gates being an example of this. After being vilified for much of his earlier career, Bill is likely to be the most influential activist entrepreneur in the history of the world. The same forces that help create Microsoft are now gathered to immunize a large part of world’s population at a cost that few could have imagines less than five years ago.

Bruce Wayne understood how technology could be a game changer for an entrepreneur.  He understood his only limits were his own on what he could imagine and develop. We all know he was a great car innovator adding such breakthrough features as rocket power overdrive, fighter pilot seat belts and who can ever forget how his car could fly, drive, and go into water with equal vigor.  He created inventions great and small to support his central mission in life, restoring Gotham City to its former splendor.  He reminds me of Steve Jobs in his ability create new products and services at a dizzying rate.  As other businesses were striving for evolution Jobs was leapfrogging the competition by bringing a wonderful mix of new products to the market.

Finally, Bruce Wayne understood the value of surrounding himself with great people.  He was the master of determining who to trust and then having them develop many projects concurrently so that he was able to build out at a dizzying pace.  He reminds me of Warren Buffet in this way.  Buffet’s ultimate success has come from finely honed instincts on reading people and business quickly and seizing opportunities when they can be seized at the right moment. In Warren’s case his managers would make up a corporate A Team. He may be an extremely capable strategist, but successful implementation is where real long term growth comes from.

Now why does this matter to you, my fellow entrepreneur? Here’s why.  Over the past several years, we have been vilified as evil, corrupt, and even being the devil incarnate. The one percent of society who helps creates for the rest.  Recently our President talked about how entrepreneurs could not be successful without the infrastructure the government provides.  I believe he’s half right on this. We need many of the services the government provides for us. I think Bruce would remind the President to just send him the bill. Bruce and all entrepreneurs know that we always get the bill and we always pay our share and a little more. Think of Jon Huntsman and his incredible cancer center on this count. We all know that with great power comes greater responsibilities.  We haven’t shirked our responsibilities for over two hundred years, and I don’t see this changing now.  Now get out of the way, and let us take on the next big crisis, and see how well we do.

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