5 Lessons Creative Entrepreneurs can Learn from the Women of Westeros
Game of Thrones may be over, but the lessons will never die.
The women of Westeros did not come to play. Each of the major female protagonists who lasted until the final season of Game of Thrones — Daenerys, Cersei, Arya, Sansa, and Brienne of Tarth — relied on some serious badassery to survive.
For creative entrepreneurs, they offer several important lessons. For makers running (or launching) their own business, it’s easy to get intimidated, sidetracked, or stuck. Sure, you can letterpress, wreath-make, or copywrite like a queen, but that doesn’t always translate into marketing and business prowess.
When we launched Hunt, Gather, we didn’t have all the answers (and still don’t). But we knew some things we definitely didn’t want to do based on years at agencies working for a wide swath of clients. There are some lessons you only have to learn once, so we wanted to share. Also, we don’t know what to do with ourselves now that GoT is no longer.
Courtesy of our favorite fierce lady bosses, here are five ways to bring it like the She-ras of the Seven Kingdoms.
Find your purpose
Purpose, thy name is Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons (let’s cap her name there, shall we?). Dany had crystal clarity and laser focus. She knew what she wanted and was unflinchingly faithful to her mission. As a result, Khaleesi wielded a power few possess: the ability to persuade others to join her cause. The half-feral Dothraki, an army of castrated slaves, even the King of the North and Iron Throne claimant himself, Jon Snow: they all flocked to fight for her — because Dany believed in herself with every last ounce of dragon-mother blood.
“Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. Not in any gods. Not in myths and legends. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen.”
What is your mission? Know what you want to build and go after the mother-starking prize with Dany’s passion and determination. Whether you’re entering a crowded market or creating a new one, be willing to burn it all down to create the business (and the life) that you imagine.
Brienne of Tarth was noble, loyal, and brave, but more than that she was committed AF. Since season two, she had but one goal in life*: rounding up Sansa and Arya and seeing them safely back to Winterfell. She made her vow to Catelyn Stark early in the show, and it remained her north star through every season. Didn’t matter that Catelyn died. Didn’t matter that all sorts of rubble fell in her path. Didn’t matter that Arya and Sansa refused her help. Committed. A. F.
What are your core values? Who are you and how do you behave when no one is watching? (Hopefully not because they got their throat slit at a wedding.) How can you infuse these values into your business and your brand? Be authentic and make your word your deed.
*Bedding Jaime doesn’t count.
No one had it easy on Game of Thrones, but Sansa had a pretty sh*t time of things, second only to Theon Greyjoy. She watched her father lose his head, got betrothed to a psychotic prince, was forced into a loveless marriage with an Imp, got betrayed by a master manipulator who wanted to bone her mother, and suffered the sickest kind of torture under a sadistic madman. But did Sansa give up? N to the O. Sansa turned each horrifying twist of fate into a lesson, ultimately learning how to find and exploit others’ strengths and weaknesses for her benefit. In the end —SPOILER ALERT—she became Lady of Winterfell, proving that you can’t keep a boss babe down.
Truth: you will screw up. The road to success is paved with fear, risk, and failure. Your job is to not let them sink you. When things don’t go your way, take a breath, figure out what went wrong, then brush off your leather cloak and get ready to jump over the next hurdle, be it a new business pitch or a castle wall.
Fill in the gaps
No one starts a business, especially a creative endeavor, knowing everything they need to know. Likewise, Arya Stark wasn’t born a vengeful assassin capable of sword-slaying her enemies while wearing other people’s faces. She started where she was, and worked hard to plug up the holes in her game. From fighting lessons to mind games and mental discipline, Arya picked up the skills she needed to slay all damn day.
There’s a learning curve to starting a business. Whether it’s finding clients, scaling smartly, or handling taxes and LLC paperwork, there’s a lot you have to do for the first time. Take advantage of free instruction online, invest in classes, find a mentor, join a local organization (in Austin, we love bossbabesATX, who offer training and networking opportunities galore for women and non-binary folx). Don’t muddle through or be afraid to admit what you don’t know. Learn how to do it.
Ah, Cersei. The queen we loved to hate. Madame Baratheon, née Lannister, would stop at nothing to keep her family and herself on the throne, and she’d fall into bed with anyone (ahem) to do it. The Iron Bank. The High Sparrow (oops!). The Greyjoy devil with the rotten smile. Even her enemy, Daenerys, for a spell. Although Cersei was about using people for her own gain, in the real world everyone needs allies, and the principle of partnering with those that have complementary strengths is solid business strategy.