It’s said that all good fiction is just philosophy in disguise. This can also apply to bad fiction. Either way, we can certainly learn some valuable small-business lessons from the example of fictional characters.
Sam Vimes is the captain of the night watch in the fictional city of Ankh Morpork. Throughout Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld series, including Night Watch and Thud! Vimes is ferociously loyal to the people under his command — to the point of risking his life and status to protect them whenever possible. As the series continues, readers see his people blossom into more successful officers and even better people under his watchful, protective eye.
According to research by the Center for American Progress [PDF], the cost of replacing an employee runs from 16 percent of annual salary for high-turnover, low-paying positions to 20 percent of annual salary for professional positions — all the way up to 213 percent of annual salary for high-level jobs and positions that require a lot of education. This, plus the value of long-term employees as mentors and potential leaders makes reciprocal loyalty a la Sam Vimes a trait to learn from and emulate.
The recent movie touches on Reacher’s meticulous and careful planning for every dangerous encounter, but doesn’t do it justice compared to the novels. As a dangerous man who spends his life doing dangerous things around dangerous people, his research and attention to detail are what saves his life more often than not.
Reacher’s adventures as played out in Lee Child‘s Jack Reacher series, including Killing Floor and Personal, aren’t the only examples of the reasons planning is important.
Such experts as Michael Gerber and Tim Berry espouse the value of careful planning. Reacher takes it a step farther by showing how small details can lead to big results if you do your research and think through your actions.
This famous gumshoe from Robert B. Parker‘s Spenser series, including Looking for Rachel Wallace and Sixkill, takes a simple approach to all mysteries. He identifies a target, then keeps poking at it until he gets a response. Then he starts poking at whatever the response reveals until he solves the mystery.
Although Parker was a renowned technophobe, Spenser’s detecting is a perfect metaphor for social media strategy. SEOMoz is one of many expert sources recommending that you poke, test, and revise as the core to successful social media marketing. Most important, though, is Spenser’s refusal to give up, or even ease up, in his poking. Consistent pressure is the key to his ability to solve mysteries, and can also be the key to your social media success.