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What the Business World Can Learn From Harry Dresden

Harry Dresden, of the Dresden Files, is a low-paid private investigator, who also happens to be a wizard.

Dresden and Friends

Yes, that’s right, he’s the ultimate multi-tasker. Not only does Harry have to fight off bill collectors and get his apartment cleaned like everyone else, but he also has to fight off seen and unseen beings with a freakish amount of power. Sometimes he gets paid for this, sometimes not. Instead of just having suspicious cops on his tail, he is also shadowed by other wizards, called Wardens, the cops of the magical world. Oh, and his godmother is a faery being whose idea of training is other people’s idea of being locked up in spiritual Dachau. He has friends who help him – a lot – but generally the trail of doom and devastation that he leaves after fighting off oddly-shaped, badly smelling powerhouse beings from the Nevernever …. well, it limits his dating pool.

Harry Dresden

What the Business World Can Learn

  • Harry genuinely tries to do good, and keep the peace for people. However, he can’t make everyone happy, especially those who get in his way, or his clients’ way. Buildings burn, old books get stolen, and Harry is frequently hurt in the line of duty – and running on nothing but adrenaline fueled by lack of sleep. Sound familiar?
  • Harry isn’t a self-made man. In the later books, he needs a complete team of helpers to put his mighty evil-bashing schemes into place: Butters (morgue tech), werewolves, Murphy (Aikido-wielding female cop friend), Thomas (half-brother vampire), Molly (cute and skilled apprentice), Lasciel (annoyingly ‘helpful’ fallen angel inside Harry’s head), Michael (God-fearing friend with Knight of the Cross sword), Father Forthill (helpful priest), etc.
  • He’s also got connections to leaders of the faery world (Queen Mab, Godmother Lea, etc) that he can call on, but they all exact a price. Harry’s constantly juggling between the cost versus the benefit of calling in his favors.
  • The only reason Harry’s apartment is clean is because he got smart, and hired outside contractors. Tiny housecleaning fairies work well on pizza. His office is always a mess, often because otherworldly beings show up to trash it, not unlike small business owners who have offices in bad downtown areas.
  • There is always something to replace on the Blue Beetle, his somewhat-reliable vehicle, or his apartment, which is always being devoured by zombies or ghouls. It puts business overhead costs in perspective.
  • People help Harry because Harry has a reputation for (a) power, (b) anger at bullies, and (c) a desire to help others. A good name is better than a paid-up bank balance.
  • Even when he’s not using his Sight to see past faery glamours and visual tricks played on mere mortals, Harry uses cool detachment and observation to see past what people are saying to what they really mean – like Columbo. In business, you have to trust your instincts while honing them against plausible lies.
  • Harry often has to pep-talk himself into doing what he doesn’t want to do. There’s rarely a time when he thinks, “Ah, yes, I’d like to dash into that flammable situation and save the day,” because he knows what it will cost. Like a good lawyer or dentist, Harry often places himself in harm’s way and then wonders why his life looks like Holes in the Sand instead of Footprints in the Sand.

Holes in the Sand

Helpful Business-Related Quote from Blood Rites

“Thomas flicked a piece of monkey flambé off the back of his hand and out the window [of the Blue Beetle]. ‘You call this living?’

‘Jobs are a part of life. Maybe you’ve heard of the concept. It’s called work? See, what happens is that you suffer through doing annoying and humiliating things until you get paid not enough money. Like those Japanese game shows, only without all the glory.’ ”

Calculated Risks

Good Business Excuse to Read Fiction

If you, like many male business types, don’t believe that reading fiction is anything but a waste of time – read this and weep. The Harvard Business Review and researchers from York University says that reading fiction makes you more empathetic and gives you social skills. You Understand people to their core. So when your inner guilt trip starts babbling about how you should be pounding away at your work instead of reading, tell them off – in any educated way you see fit.

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