What An Entrepreneur Can Learn From Doctor Who?
Doctor Who is one of the longest running TV shows of all time. It first aired in the 1960’s and is still going strong today. In fact a few years ago it celebrated its 50th anniversary. The programme centres around a character called The Doctor. He is an alien from a planet called Gallifrey and is thousands of years old. His race (the time lords) have a trick that they can use to cheat death. Whenever a time lord is about to die they can change every molecule of their body and renew themselves. As a side effect they look completely different. This allows several actors to play the role of the Doctor and in fact there have been 14 separate Doctors at the time of writing. The Doctor travels around the universe in a time machine called The TARDIS, which can travel anywhere in time and space. Along with his companions he spends his days saving the universe from a variety of evil aliens. I know what you are thinking. How can a programme that is basically a glorified kid’s show teach an entrepreneur anything? Well there’s a lot to learn from the characters in the show and from the show runners. Let’s count it down. 1.) If you have an impossible situation there’s always a solution When Doctor Who first started airing in the 1960’s The Doctor was played by an actor called William Hartnell. After the first few seasons he became very ill and it was obvious that he couldn’t continue in the role. Doctor Who had become very popular and The BBC did not want to cancel it. However without the main actor continuing they really couldn’t see another option.
The show runners at the time had the wonderful idea of regenerating The Doctor. They proposed that because he was an alien, he would have the power to rejuvenate himself near death and come back to life as a different looking person. This would allow another actor to be cast in the role. This strategy was unheard of at the time and allowed the programme to change the main actor multiple times. I can only imagine what a stressful situation this was for the people who produced Doctor Who. They had a certifiable hit on their hands and were in a situation where they might have to cancel it through no fault of their own. The solution they came up with was genius and meant that the show has continued successfully for over 50 Years. Without this one moment Doctor Who might have been a footnote in the history of British TV. As an entrepreneur there will be times when you come head to head with a situation that seems impossible to resolve. Overcoming this might be the difference between your businesses folding or continuing successfully. There is always a way out of every situation no matter how impossible it seems. I’m sure that the makers of Doctor Who thought there was no way out at first however they came up with a solution. The lesson here is don’t be a defeatist. The defining characteristic of an entrepreneur is the ability to find a way around every situation. Simply make sure you don’t panic, approach the situation calmly and a solution will present itself. 2.) Never Give Up
This is kind of related to the last point. The Doctor never gives up no matter what the odds. I have seen him in situations where it is impossible to survive and yet he always seems to win in the end. Whether he is facing an army of Daleks or trying to prevent the end of the world, he never gives up. As an entrepreneur you will have times when you want to quit. There have been dozens of times when I have wanted to quit. The thing that you need to understand is that the moment when you want to quit is when you are the closest to success.
Sir James Dyson invented the Dual Cyclone Vacuum Cleaner. He went through 5127 prototypes before he made it work. Imagine how many times he wanted to quit. If he had given up then he would not be where he is now. Instead he kept going and each failure brought him closer to success. The key thing to remember is that contrary to popular belief failure is not the opposite of success. Failure is a part of success and you cannot have one without the other. 3.) Regeneration can solve a multitude of problems I have already mentioned that The Doctor can regenerate his body. When he is near death or his body becomes worn out he can regenerate into an entirely new person. This trick has allowed him to cheat death many times. As an entrepreneur it’s important to regenerate your body as well. Now I realise that unless anyone reading this is a Time Lord we can’t actually do this in the same way as The Doctor. However we can take steps to ensure that we are not becoming worn out. A lot of entrepreneurs put their business before their health which is a really bad idea. The reason is simple. If you are unable to carry on due to overwork, your business will suffer. This is an undeniable fact. Realistically your health should come first and your business second. I’ve mentioned this before but if you are working 24/7 and having regular 15 hour work days your health will suffer. You can only work at this pace for so long. Make sure you are looking after yourself - take a day off, relax your schedule, book a holiday. It’s important to be like The Doctor and recognise when your body is wearing out. When this happens do something about it! 4.) The TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside The Doctor’s mode of transport is a time machine called The TARDIS. It stands for ‘Time And Relative Dimensions In Space’. It’s designed to blend into its surroundings and can look like anything to the outside world. However it’s Chameleon Circuit is broken which means it’s stuck looking like an old fashioned police box. The TARDIS is also bigger on the inside than the outside. This is something that confuses people that enter it for the first time (as you can imagine). The key point I want to focus on here is that it’s bigger on the inside than the outside. Why is this important to an entrepreneur? Well frequently as an entrepreneur you will have problems that you decide to ignore because they aren’t a huge issue. The thing to remember is that these small problems can become massive problems if you just leave them. Like The TARDIS, if you look at them from the outside at they are insignificant. However once you look more carefully you realise how big they can become.
Before I became serious about business I was just a magician struggling to make ends meet. I knew I needed to organise Public Liability Insurance but I kept putting it off. It didn’t seem important. Then one day I had a call from a big entertainment agent wanting to book me for a last minute show. This was a great opportunity as I’d been trying to get on the this agent’s radar for a while. However they needed a PLI Certificate and I had to admit that I didn’t have one. They ended up booking someone else and I looked like a total amateur. Not only that but they never contacted me again. You see I didn’t look at having a PLI Certificate as a big issue so I kept putting it off. There was always something more important to organise. It only got sorted when not having it in place massively affected my business. Never ignore the small problems. If you look closely they have the potential to become much bigger than you think. 5.) Everyone is important - Everyone This is a direct quote from The Doctor “In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important”. No matter who he meets he treats them as important. I remember watching a Christmas special with David Tennant where he was on a space ship themed to look like the Titanic. He met a lowly cabin girl played by Kylie Minogue. Everyone ignored her, however right from the beginning of the episode he treated her as the most important person on the ship. In turn she helped The Doctor save the earth. Within your business you have to treat everyone as important as you never know how or when they can help you. I’m not just talking about staff, customers and clients, that’s obvious. I’m talking about the people you meet at places like Networking Events, especially the people you don’t think are important.
I was introduced to someone at a networking event once as a magician. This person was looking for connections to landlords. He told me that he didn’t want to speak to me because he hates magic and a magician cannot help him. He then walked off and avoided me the rest of the meeting. What he didn’t realise is I also run a property management and letting agency and personally know some of the top property investors in the UK. I could have introduced him to literally hundreds of Landlords but didn’t get the chance. The point here is to be like the Doctor and treat everyone like they are important. You never know how they can help you. And as the legendary magician Wayne Dobson used to say “it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice”. 6.) You must always be prepared to forgive The Doctor has said numerous times through the run of the TV show that the only way people can really experience peace is by forgiving everyone and everything. In the programme his mortal enemy is The Master. They have been enemies since they were children. However in the show The Doctor forgives The Master, despite the fact that The Master tries to kill him about three times a year!
The important thing to take from this is that if you hold a grudge against someone it can affect not just your life but your business. My friend Croz Crosley, The Mindset Technician, talks about this frequently. He tells the story of how someone stole his business from him. After that point despite trying he struggled to succeed in business again. It was only when he wrote a letter to person in question, forgiving him, that his mind became clear. All that hate, regret and bitterness was holding him back from focusing on anything other than revenge. It’s only when Croz actually forgave the person that his mind became clear and he was able to focus on his life and business. In business you really do need focus and a clarity of vision. If something is clouding that vision you will struggle to advance your business as much as you want to. So if you are holding a grudge just let it go. The UK’s Number One Motivational Speaker Brad Burton said this best. In his book ‘Now What’ he said “Revenge Is a Dish Best Not Served”. Simply learn to forgive and let it go. 7.) Don’t be afraid to run away The one thing you will see over and over with Doctor Who is that there is a lot of running. The Doctor and his companions are constantly running away from danger. Now don’t get me wrong, the Doctor is very brave but he realises that there is a time for being brave and a time for running. Sometimes running away is the best way as it allows him to regroup and come up with another strategy. As an entrepreneur you really need to know when to stand and fight and when to withdraw. Now I don’t mean quit, generally when business owners quit they are a lot closer to success than they realise. However there are times when you should stop doing what you are doing and come up with another strategy.
For example let’s say you are a shop owner and you have a new product that you are trying to sell. Now let’s imagine that nobody wants to buy this product. You might try to market it in a different way. You might try to present it in a different way. There are a lot of different options. However if after a few months it still isn’t selling, you might just be flogging a dead horse. Now that might be an obvious observation but I have met many business owners who are struggling with an aspect of their business while another is flourishing. Rather than focus on the stuff that is working, they continue to put their time and energy into the parts of their business which isn’t working. Remember that 20% of your marketing activities will generally create 80% of your actual customers. It’s called the 80/20 rule. Therefore should always be monitoring and tracking everything within your business. Then you will be able to see what does work and what doesn’t work. Once you have this information just make sure you are prepared to run away from the stuff that isn’t working. So there you have it. 7 entrepreneurial lessons from Doctor Who. Can you think of any others? If you can I would love to hear them. Let me know. If you want to find out more about me please visit www.craig-petty.com