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Business Lessons from Adam West

As the news breaks that a cultural icon has passed away, it's a good time to reflect on what he brought to the world -- and what we can learn from him.

1. Leave a lasting legacy. Adam West was a well-known figure who, even up until his death, was making TV and radio appearances, and his passing generated news alerts from media outlets including the Washington Post, CBS News and Buzzfeed. While not everyone can be Batman (and as the saying goes "be yourself -- unless you can be Batman, then be Batman"), everyone can certainly leave their mark in their own way. Think about a leader or manager that you respect and admire, and reflect on how often you've either emulated a behavior they modeled or spoken to others about some experience you had with that leader. Realize you have a similar impact on those around you, and be a leader who is emulated or spoken positively about, perhaps even after you've moved on to a different position or company.

2. Don't be afraid to reinvent yourself. Despite decades of largely being known for playing a superhero, Adam West's impact on millennials is due to his long-running role as "Mayor Adam West" on Family Guy. While he certainly played a caricature of himself, West boldly made himself well-known to a new generation in an entirely different form and venue than that which brought him previous success. If your interests lie outside of your current career path or position, be confident in your abilities to break out of the course you've set and move into something entirely different. It may seem risky, but by using your network and speaking with others already in roles you desire (or even volunteering to work with teams on projects that seem interesting to you), you can build the knowledge and connections you need to move toward something more professionally appealing.


3. Have a sense of humor about yourself. The fact that Adam West is known to an entire generation for his lunacy as "Mayor Adam West" -- a character who married his own hand, believed he successfully planted sausage seeds, valiantly professed his love of taffy and thought his own name was "Adam We" when he simply ran out of Lite-Brite pieces -- speaks volumes to the real Adam West's ability to laugh at himself and not take himself too seriously. Humor is disarming; using it humanizes people and facilitates more personal connections with those around them, and those kinds of interactions are key in business. When speaking with others in a business environment, even within your own organization, keep in mind that they're just people, and it's important that both parties make an effort to put each other at ease to make those conversations as effortless as possible. Naturally, humor should be used appropriately in terms of context and amount, but the ability to inject humor into an interaction can help everyone involved more easily reach their goals, be they information transfer, achieving a deal on a business proposal or receiving approval on something. At the end of the day, we all go home, eat like every other person and sleep like every other person, so don't feel like it's a show of fallibility to be able to laugh or to use humor to put someone else at ease.

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