Leaders Assemble! Leadership in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

What kinds of serious organizational leadership concepts can be learned by watching movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)? Authors Sy Islam and Gordon Schmidt argue that there are a lot of leadership lessons to be learned. There are so many lessons, in fact, that they teamed up to write a book about the subject entitled Leaders Assemble! Leadership in the MCU.

Recently I has a chance to talk with Sy and Gordon about their book, about which characters from the MCU were the best leaders (spoiler alert: neither Iron Man nor Captain America made the cut… although there was an interesting spin off to this conversation that revolved around Thanos!) and what specific steps you can take to bring leadership through the eyes of the MCU into your organizations. Plus, there’s an ultra-nerdy trivia battle at the end of our podcast which mixes leadership as well as Marvel trivia.

Introduction 

Ep.119 Leaders Assemble

Brian Washburn: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Train Like You Listen, a podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn, I am your host. I’m also the Co-founder of an organization called Endurance Learning. And today I am joined by Dr. Sayeed Islam and Dr. Gordon Schmidt who are co-authors of a new book that’s just come out entitled Leaders Assemble: Leadership in the MCU.

We’ll talk about that in just a second. But before we get into any of this stuff, I just need to remind you that we are brought to you by Soapbox. Soapbox is an online tool that you can use for about 5 or 10 minutes, and you can take care of 50 or 60% of the work when it comes to developing live, instructor-led training. So basically, you go into the tool, you tell the computer how long your presentation is, how many people are going to attend, whether it’s in-person or virtual, what your learning objectives are, and then Soapbox does the rest for you. It instantly generates a training plan for you, and that will come with clusters of training activities that are specifically designed to help you accomplish your learning outcomes. Don’t just listen to me babble on about this. You should try it out for yourself. You can try it for free for two weeks if you visit www.soapboxify.com.

Okay. Now we are here with Sy Islam, who is the Vice President of Consulting at Talent Metrics. And we’re also here with Dr. Gordon Schmidt, who is the Director of the David and Sharon Turrentine School of Management, and he’s a Professor of Management at the University of Louisiana Monroe. Welcome gentlemen, how are you?

Sy Islam: Doing great.

Gordon Schmidt: Great. Happy to be here. Your sponsor, Soapbox, sounds interesting. I’m teaching a course on Human Resource Development, so I’d love to talk more. Sponsorship works apparently because I’m now very interested in this company. I hadn’t heard of them before. It’s fun, Brian. That’s a good deal, right?

(ALL LAUGHING)

Six-Word Biography

Brian Washburn: I didn’t even pay you to say that, but yes, you should definitely check it out! As should you, listener! Before we get into some questions about leadership in the MCU, I just would love for you all to introduce yourselves to our audience. And we always start out with really short introductions—six-word biographies, actually. So when we think of this idea of leadership in the MCU, I would introduce myself and give my whole life story in six words, by saying, “Thinks like Banner, trains like Hulk.” How about you, Sy? How would you introduce yourself in six words?

Sy Islam: Sarcastic like Stark, without the money.

Brian Washburn: (LAUGHS) Nice. How About you, Gordon?

Gordon Schmidt: I prepared serious, which is unfortunate apparently based on, you know, because I was gonna say, you know, “Management Professor, superhero leadership, future work.” Those are the things I do. (LAUGHING)

Brian Washburn: It works though!

Gordon Schmidt: I just sound like a dork though. I don’t know, you guys had really well-connected stuff. I prepared this and it’s the worst! (LAUGHING)

Sy Islam: There is such a thing as over-prepared though.

Gordon Schmidt: Over-learned is what I should do.

Sy Islam: Over-learned, yeah.

Brian Washburn: So today we’re talking about your book, which sounds like a really cool book. So this idea of Leaders Assemble: Leadership in the MCU, and MCU stands for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So for those who are listening, if you think of movies like Iron Man or the Avengers or things like that, that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about MCU. 

I always love a good metaphor as the basis for a book. In fact, I wrote a book that has a metaphor of the periodic table, which is kind of the basis for the book. You’re using the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the basis. I’m kind of curious, as we get started here, what inspired you to use the Marvel Cinematic Universe as your metaphor for leadership?

Using the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a Metaphor for Leadership

Gordon Schmidt: Yeah. And so, you know, as with many things, there’s the practical aspect, as well as the “why this?” And so one, there was a call for book proposals for this proposal by Emerald Publishing about using popular culture to teach leadership. And Sy and I seeing that, you know, we really felt like Marvel and this universe was a great fit. We love these movies. We’ve loved the comic books. And Marvel–the Marvel comics themselves started with this idea of the “Marvel method” – that instead of just a writer writes it and then tells an illustrator exactly what to draw, you’ve got this partnership together of them where the writer comes up with the idea, the basic big picture, and the artist has a huge impact on putting together all these images, kind of, the flow. And then the writer comes back and adds the dialogue to it with inkers, letterers, and all this getting involved too. And so very much a collaborative process on the creative aspect. 

You've got to come in here and fix the problem or save the day. Leaders often have to do that. And when we bring leaders and others together, we have that potential for conflict.

And I think the superheroes themselves fit with that really well too. You’ve got all these people that save the day on their own, right? Kind of like we’re often asked to in organizations. It’s your job. You’ve got to come in here and fix the problem or save the day. Leaders often have to do that. And when we bring leaders and others together, we have that potential for conflict because you see people like Iron Man, Captain America coming together – they got different perspectives on the world. They’ve got their own egos, right? And we’ve gotta get these people together to somehow work together and function, even though they may not always like each other, they may not always agree, and they might think, “Heck I could take care of this on my own.”

And what is a more apt metaphor than a lot of work? Because we tend to act like the big CEO tells us what to do and we all listen. And that’s what you’ll get in a lot of leadership advice, right? You know, Steve Jobs said this, everybody did it. That’s why Apple’s successful. But real organizations, the boss says something and maybe you do it, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re motivated, maybe you’re not. Sometimes, maybe you do the opposite. And I’ve certainly been in situations where that’s the case—where people are, you know, they’re sending the emails to each other, “Ah, we’ll just ignore that” or “I don’t need to do that deadline,” right? 

And so I think the Marvel heroes are a great way to talk about this, because, yeah, they come in conflict, they gotta figure out how they’re gonna resolve what they’re gonna do. And if they don’t, it has major negative consequences for the world, which you would argue does happen during the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well—when people can’t get along in the Avengers to really get the work done. So to me, it’s a very good metaphor. I’m sure Sy would agree as well.

Brian Washburn: Yeah. And we’re gonna get into this idea of conflict in just a second. I love what you just said though, Gordon, in terms of it’s not just about what you see in the movies. It goes back to how the comics were written, what the movies were based on, and the method that Marvel even used. 

Now, in the movies, you know, there’s– and as you mentioned, there is often intra-team tension because everyone has superpowers or special skills or abilities, you know. Black Widow doesn’t have superpowers, but she has certain skills and abilities that makes her special. You know, Hawkeye doesn’t have superpowers, but he can shoot a bow and arrow with the best of them, right? So most of them are strong-willed, and not everyone wants to yield to any other character who tries to be the leader. So, actually, I have two questions here. The first is, in your opinion, or maybe as you were researching this, who among the Avengers, would you consider to be the best leader?

Who Among The Avengers Is The Best Leader?

Sy Islam: I’ll start off on this one. So the leader that I like the most among the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters is actually a character that I like the most from the comics, which is Black Panther—T’Challa. And I think the reason that he’s such a compelling leader is because he’s able to take enemies and turn them into allies. So in the movie, he has– like one of the first things that he does is he has to fight for his throne. He fights a character called M’Baku, and that character later saves him and helps to save Wakanda. And a really great leader isn’t just somebody who can, kind of, make you do something, but can kind of convince somebody from, you know, an opposing viewpoint to come around to that viewpoint. 

The way that Gordon and I have conceptualized leadership in this book is that it's an influence process.

The way that Gordon and I have conceptualized leadership in this book is that it’s an influence process. So it’s not just that you are a leader with a job title, as Gordon mentioned earlier, and everybody listens to you. It’s really, at any level, you can be a coworker, a subordinate, or somebody with a job title that says Manager, CEO, etc., and still exert that kind of leadership power. And that’s what makes him such a compelling leader in terms of T’Challa being great leader because he is able to– he listens to people, he implements a plan by the end of the movie that isn’t his own, that’s actually the villain’s idea, and he’s able to see like, “Oh, there’s something good here. There’s something good here. This person was bad. Killmonger was bad and I’m not gonna listen to– I’m not gonna go for the negative stuff in his proposal, but he’s got the right idea. I need to open up the borders. I need to bring everything that we know to everyone else.”

And I think that’s really a compelling way to think about, you know, leadership. And it’s a good way to think about it because, in a lot of cases, when we talk about leadership, when I’m speaking with a executive coaching client, or if I’m running a leadership development class, there’s so much tied up in leadership in terms of how we think about it that it’s a zero sum game. That it’s like, “Oh, kill or be killed, if you don’t destroy your enemy, it’s over,” right? And that’s a very unhealthy approach, a very unhealthy thought process when it comes to actually building good teams, especially to your question about conflict. The Avengers are not, you know– it doesn’t do them any good to like fight each other because they’re all so powerful. So, defeating the other person doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be on your side. And so I think that’s one of the big reasons why T’Challa is such a great leader. I’m gonna let Gordon talk about a surprising thing that we found out as we were rewatching the movies that I think’s really cool about who might be the best leader in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Brian Washburn: Well, and I think that that’s a really fascinating take because if I think of leaders in the MCU, Black Panther is not who would come to my mind. That said, you think of, you know, Iron Man and Tony Stark, and all during Civil War, all he wanted was to avenge the death of his father, right?

Sy Islam: Yeah.

Brian Washburn: And you have another character, Black Panther, whose father was killed. And while he was seeking justice for his father, that didn’t drive him.

Sy Islam: No.

Brian Washburn: And so I really love what you have to say in terms of leadership being an opportunity or the best leaders being able to take a step back and even– whether they’re enemies in the movie or when you think of at work, you know, people that you don’t always agree with, people you don’t always get along with, doesn’t mean that they don’t ever have a good idea. And you should be able to incorporate that. Gordon, I’d love to hear your thoughts in terms of who you feel was the best leader among the Avengers.

Gordon Schmidt: Yeah. Yeah. So I think one leader that doesn’t get the attention that she should is the Black Widow. And it partly has to do with how the movie is set up. And so you’ve got this five-year gap period. And during this five-year gap, you know, we’ve got half the population has disappeared, the worst event ever in history, essentially, right? And during that five-year period, what happens? You’ve got Tony Stark goes off to do his own thing, The Hulk goes off to do his own thing, Thor goes off, Captain America is helping people with grief, but is not leading. 

Brian Washburn: Thor goes off and drowns his sorrows.

 (CHUCKLING)

Gordon Schmidt: And so suddenly you’ve got, “Hey, Black Widow. You’re the only one left, take charge of this.” And this can happen in organizations, right, is that people get thrust into these roles. But what we get to see in the movie is five years later, the world is in a pretty good place considering how horrific an event happened, right? People are sad. It’s still a tragic event, but the world seems to be functioning pretty normally overall. And I think it’s got a large amount to do with the work that Black Widow does during this period. You see her meeting with other leaders around there. We’ve got this group with Okoye from Wakanda, we’ve got War Machine, we’ve got Captain Marvel. We’ve got the most female and most diverse leadership team going – happens during this five-year gap period. And Black Widow seems to be doing a good job of managing all these competing interests and issues at once. 

And so I think she’s a great leader. I wish we could get some time to really see her engage in that leadership. And she was put in a very difficult situation. We see this in literature, this idea you might have heard of the glass ceiling, the idea that women, minorities can’t get above a certain level. But there’s this newer idea too, about the glass cliff where women tend to be promoted in times when things are risky, when things are going wrong, and therefore they’re much more likely to fail because anybody would fail in this situation. They’re not given the same level of power. And so Black Widow, that’s a pretty big glass cliff situation. Half the population is dead. All the experienced leaders are gone. “Hey, Black Widow you’re in charge. Hope you do a good job and save the world.” But I think she really does. And so she doesn’t get the credit that she really deserves.

Brian Washburn: You know, I was going to ask about Nick Fury because he’s, kind of, the head of the Avengers initiative, but one of the things that you said made me wanna shift my question over to Thanos. And I’d love to hear your thoughts in terms of, I mean, he was effective and he accomplished his goal. What would you say about his leadership style?

The Leadership Style of Thanos

If you have a core group of people that are willing to follow what you do, you can get things done.

Sy Islam: So Thanos is really an interesting character. And actually one of the things we talked a little bit about, we didn’t really get into it in the book, but I think it’s super interesting to think about is you always wonder why would anybody follow a villain, right? Why would you follow the villainist leader? And really for Thanos, there are a couple things. One is that he has a clear mission and he’s got a core group of people that are following him on this mission. Those are the Black Guard, basically. you know. Those characters that come to Earth in Infinity War, and they’ve got– you know, they’re very, very powerful and he’s convinced them about the mission and the importance of the mission. And that’s really important. So even dictators, if you have a core group of people that are willing to follow what you do, you can get things done.

The other part of it is just pure coersion. In the book, we talk about French and Raven’s basis of power. And one of the ways of which Thanos’ power is that he’s just able to coerce, he’s able to give rewards because he is so physically powerful and so dominant, but then once he gets the stones, he can do even more than that. So he– you know, everybody that’s working for him, they kind of sense that he has some reward power as well. Imagine if you could turn back time, change reality, do all of these things. So he has incredible power in that sense. 

And so he’s kind of a classic dictator with, you know, some compelling ideas, I guess, but not somebody that anybody would really wanna follow if they really thought about it for a little bit more than, “Oh, I really wanna satisfy this desire, this urge,” or “I’m using Thanos to achieve something else.” 

And as far as Nick Fury, you know, he’s pretty good at selecting a team. I’m not really sure he’s great at managing that team. You know, he’s very hands off, he pops up on occasion. A little bit like not Michael Scott, but Michael Scott’s superiors in The Office. He pops up when he needs to be there. I guess when the story requires it. So he’s okay. You know, but he’s Sam Jackson, so who am I to critique his leadership style?

Brian Washburn: (LAUGHING) That’s right. That’s so funny and I’d love to hear your thoughts also Gordon on Thanos. So my oldest child has been trying to convince me for years, since Infinity War/End Game kind of took place that Thanos actually, was he all that bad? You know, he has his vision, he has this mission, and the concern is that people or humans or whomever are resource intensive. And so is it really–  yes. I know that we’re doing away with half the population, but does the Earth kind of deserve it? And so I’d love to hear your thoughts too, Gordon, because there is a compelling vision that some may find in Thanos. What’s your take on Thanos’ leadership style?

Gordon Schmidt: Yes. Certainly don’t wanna go on the record as being pro-Thanos, personally.

(LAUGHING)

Gordon Schmidt: But there’s definitely that interest and #Thanoswasright is something you see on Twitter and other places. I think Thanos is interesting because in the comics, he very much is pretty much doing his own thing. His mission is more just he really loves this personification of death and is trying to impress her or be equal to her. But the decrease in the population idea is something that, you know, could be used to convince others – this idea of resources and we need to think about that. And I think that that’s one of the things when you look at vision is who is interested in the vision? How do we communicate it? And if you get them interested, they might be really devoted to that mission and that type of way.

I think we see this in the X-Men movies as well, too. With Magneto, you might say, “Why would you join Magneto’s team like Pyro does in X2?” And the answer is, well, Charles Xavier’s mission doesn’t mean much to me. This idea that “I can use my power and I should be able to – I’ve got a right as a powerful person to control the world” is something that would appeal to some people. And I think that that’s one thing in Thanos in the movies, and to some degree in the comics, is he’s a charismatic character. People are interested in him. And what you saw in the comics is, yeah, he does the infinity gauntlet and gets sort of half the population for a bit. But then, you know, he’s kind of a good guy in the next one. He’s kind of a, you know– because people are like, “This guy’s really interesting.” I think– I’d like to see him in more books. And we see that all the time in comics. The worst killers in a comic become, you know, a hero later on or an anti-hero because they’ve got this charisma. And so I think Thanos has that. Do I think his plan is a good one to go with? I’m gonna go on the record to say no.

(CHUCKLING)

Communicating it, getting people on board, seeing the vision has a huge impact as the leader.

Gordon Schmidt: But it is still something where communicating it, getting people on board, seeing the vision has a huge impact as the leader. And he does that pretty well for the right audience.

Brian Washburn: Sy, did you wanna add on to that?

Sy Islam: So I just want to add one thing to what Gordon said is, Thanos is, I think, in current comics continuity, a good guy. He’s kind of like on– he’s sort of positive. And then in What If– if you ended up watching any of the What If episodes- he is a good guy in an episode with Black Panther when he does space-faring adventures. So there’s this whole thing where, you know, the quote from Dark Knight is that, “If you’re the hero, you live long enough until you see yourself become the villain.” The reverse is also true in comics where if you’re a villain, eventually if you last long enough, you could be like Magneto, you could run Xavier’s school. You can be like Thanos and come back as a potential hero. 

You can't really get rid of people. And I think that's a good lesson in work groups. Like it's very unlikely that you can get rid of a coworker that you have really harsh conflict with. It's better for you to, kind of, figure out how do I manage this conflict? And understanding leadership processes, influence processes can help you to do that.

That redemption arc is really important. And so that kind of goes back to this idea that you can’t really get rid of people. And I think that’s a good lesson in work groups. Like it’s very unlikely that you can get rid of a coworker that you have really harsh conflict with. It’s better for you to, kind of, figure out how do I manage this conflict? And understanding leadership processes, influence processes can help you to do that.

Brian Washburn: And now we’re starting to get into some more concrete pieces to this. And the last question that I’m gonna wrap this up with before we get into a little bit of a speed round and really nerd out, is for the folks who are listening and thinking, “This is an entertaining, albeit nerdy conversation, but what do I actually do with this?” What might be one or two first steps that someone could take to develop their own leadership style or leadership of people on their team?

Steps to Developing Your Own Leadership Style

Gordon Schmidt: I think that’s great because that’s part of the setup of the book, as well, is we’ve got the leadership concept, learn about something like shared leadership. We’ve got the example, which for that is Guardians of the Galaxy. And then we have, in those chapters, reflection. How does this relate to me? How might I apply it? And so I think like a lot of development processes, a lot of it is about how does this relate to me? What could I do? 

And so we would suggest things like, you know, watching the movie and then using those examples to springboard your own discussion about your leadership or where it is. And as I think Sy alluded to a little bit earlier, there is that idea of it being sort of a safer space to criticize or kind of reflect. So to say, “My boss thinks” is a lot harder than saying, “Don’t you think Thanos did some things wrong?” And then by talking through it, realizing, “Oh, I’m doing some of those things negatively.” And so I think that’s part of it–it gives us a space for us to talk about that’s fun. And so it’s a nice kind of first step to talk about our own work experiences and what’s going on.

Brian Washburn: Yeah. What do you think, Sy?

We're infusing a lot of our work with pop culture all the time. And I think that these examples are really relevant. 

Sy Islam: So one thing that’s really interesting about this is that Gordon and I, we’re both teachers, I do some consulting and executive coaching and conduct to leadership classes, and the really interesting thing is that I assign these movies sometimes with my coaching clients. I say, “Hey, go watch this movie or watch this scene.” And we’re infusing a lot of our work with pop culture all the time. And I think that these examples are really relevant. 

You know, we– Gordon and I both have like toddler-age kids and I can see them learning things. I can see my own son learning things from stories that I’m reading to him. And what I find that is most important is kind of connecting that story to some leadership lesson, right? So, you know, whether it’s Marvel, whether it’s something else, if you can connect with your audience, whether it’s a college classroom, whether it’s an executive, whether it’s somebody else, you can really help them understand that. 

If you can bring them to that understanding through a movie, through a TV show, through something else that's very, very helpful.

Some of that you can even do through self-development. So if you and your coworkers, or even people that you know in the community, if you’re looking to become leaders, this is actually a good book to use along with maybe some movie watching to have like a book club and to develop those skills and to think about what those skills are. Because once you think about it in the context of Civil War or if you think about it in terms of the Infinity War, you start to make those connections, and then you can draw those connections into your own life. And that’s what I’ve seen in my coaching, my consulting work, that that’s been a really good way of, kind of, illustrating these ideas in a safe way. And that allows that reflection to happen in a way where people can come to that conclusion themselves. Especially if you’ve ever worked with leaders – senior leaders, C-level leaders – they got there because they know something, they have some real talent, and they’re not used to hearing other people tell them, “Well, maybe that’s not gonna work.” But if you can bring them to that understanding through a movie, through a TV show, through something else that’s very, very helpful.

Trivia Challenge

Brian Washburn: I really love this conversation. We could go on for a long, long time. Unfortunately, I don’t know if our listeners can do the same, so. But before we do finish up here, I do have a little trivia challenge to see which one of the two of you can maybe be the nerdiest of the bunch today. So are you ready for a little trivia challenge?

Sy Islam: I am ready to lose.

Brian Washburn: All right. I love the confidence. If Iron Man thought that way, guess where we’d be? We wouldn’t know time travel. We’d still be relying on Ant-Man’s little theory that had its holes in it. So, first question, here we go. First one to five will win. 

First question is, and go ahead and buzz in with your name once you know the answer: Who wrote the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People?

Sy Islam: Sy.

Brian Washburn: Sy!

Sy Islam: Dale Carnegie.

Brian Washburn: Dale Carnegie is correct.

Gordon Schmidt: Was his answer Sy? Because that’s definitely incorrect.

Sy Islam: Sy Carnegie actually wrote that.

(ALL CHUCKLING)

Gordon Schmidt: Sy Carnegie, wow! Talk about that book next.

Brian Washburn: Next question. Which Marvel character’s real name is Carol Danvers?

Sy Islam: Sy

Gordon Schmidt: Gordon.

Brian Washburn: I think that Sy– I’ll go with Sy because I heard an “UM” before Gordon put his name in there.

Gordon Schmidt: His name is shorter!

Brian Washburn: It is.

Gordon Schmidt: I couldn’t remember what to say.

Sy Islam: Captain Marvel.

Brian Washburn: Captain Marvel is correct. We have two points to Sy, Gordon still not on the board.

Gordon Schmidt: I was ready to click something. Like I was gonna click before you would, Sy, but I did remember to say my name. This is not good. Little sleep deprived with a seven-month-old. Okay. I’m ready.

Brian Washburn: Ooh. Yes. That will happen. Who is credited with developing the Situational Leadership Model?

Gordon Schmidt: Situational… Gordon?

Sy Islam: What’s that part of? I should know this.

Brian Washburn: Gordon!

Gordon Schmidt: Fiedler?

Brian Washburn: That is not correct. Sy, any guesses? Any leadership names you want to throw out there?

Sy Islam: I have a lot of bad– a lot of wrong guesses. I’m going, you know– I was going to say I also thought it might be Fiedler or Crager, but I don’t think either of those are right. So who came up with Situational Leadership?

Brian Washburn: Ken Blanchard.

Sy Islam: Ken Blanchard. Oh, the biggest name in leadership!

Gordon Schmidt: Oh no, I know Blanchard. Yeah, I was– for some reason I was– I got House stuck in my head but–

Sy Islam: I think that’s Path-Goal, actually I don’t think that’s–

Brian Washburn: And listener, we’re not only nerdy about Marvel stuff, we’re nerdy about leadership theory as well. All right, so we still are sitting here at two for Sy, zero for Gordon. And the next question, which Marvel creator made a cameo appearance in every MC movie?

Gordon Schmidt: Gordon.

Brian Washburn: Gordon.

Gordon Schmidt: Stan Lee.

Brian Washburn: Stan Lee is correct.

Gordon Schmidt: You gotta buzz in before that’s done, Sy. That’s the way. Take advice from me.

(LAUGHING)

Sy Islam: There we go, the Jeopardy rules.

Brian Washburn: Next question. How many steps are there in John Kotter’s model for change management?

Sy Islam: Sy.

Brian Washburn: Sy.

Sy Islam: I’m gonna say five.

Brian Washburn: Five is not correct.

Sy Islam: Doggonit.

Gordon Schmidt: Gordon, I thought it was six, but it could be–

Brian Washburn: Getting closer. It’s actually eight.

Gordon Schmidt: Eight!

Sy Islam: That is not– 

Gordon Schmidt: Two of them are garbage.

Sy Islam: Yeah, that is not a very parsimonious model.

Gordon Schmidt: We know Marvel, Brian. This leadership thing, not as well.

(LAUGHING)

Gordon Schmidt: Now it sounds right though.

Brian Washburn: Yeah, well, I love his change management model and he writes about penguins and icebergs melting.

Gordon Schmidt: Yeah. It’s a good model.

Brian Washburn: Which infinity stone does Loki steal in the first Avengers movie?

Sy Islam: Sy.

Brian Washburn: Sy.

Sy Islam: Time stone, I want to say tesseract.

Brian Washburn: Tesseract. Is that the same thing as the time stone?

Sy Islam: It may or may not be. We’ll see. I do remember that it’s the tesseract.

Brian Washburn: It was the tesseract.

Gordon Schmidt: Like there’s a stone name, so time stone sounds more correct than tesseract in the sense you said stone. But yeah, I don’t know. But it’s called the tesseract in the movie.

Brian Washburn: Yeah.

Sy Islam: Yes. That’s the name of the movie, so.

Brian Washburn: We’ll give it to Sy. All right. Let’s throw these leadership questions out and let’s go straight up Marvel.

(CHEERING & LAUGHING)

Gordon Schmidt: I know nothing about leadership, so that’s not good.

Brian Washburn: What is the name of Thor’s hammer?

Sy Islam: Sy.

Brian Washburn: Sy!

Sy Islam: Mjolnir.

Brian Washburn: Sy has four, Gordon at one.

Gordon Schmidt: Oh my God.

Brian Washburn: Let’s see. Oh, here’s one. What former WWE superstar plays the role of Drax?

Sy Islam: Sy.

Gordon Schmidt: Gordon.

Brian Washburn: So close, I’ll give it to Gordon to try to catch up.

Gordon Schmidt: David Bautista.

Brian Washburn: Yes. Dave Bautista is correct. Although I think he just went by Bautista in the WWE, but–

Gordon Schmidt: Oh, Bautista is what he went by, yeah. They got rid of first names–

Brian Washburn: Yeah. The credits are David Bautista. Yeah. He’s one of my favorite Marvel characters actually.

Gordon Schmidt: Yeah. It’s a great character.

Brian Washburn: Name both actors who played the role of War Machine.

Sy Islam: Sy.

Gordon Schmidt: Gordon.

Brian Washburn: Sy, for the win!

Sy Islam: Don Cheadle and Terrence Howard.

Brian Washburn: Correct. We have a winner.

Sy Islam: There we go. To really make this Marvel-specific, you should give me a “no prize,” which is something that, like, you would get in the comics. If you found a continuity error, they would just send you an empty envelope that said “no prize” on it, so.

Gordon Schmidt: But you had to explain it though.

Sy Islam: Yeah. Yeah. You had to explain.

Gordon Schmidt: You had to explain why it actually was an error. Yeah.

Brian Washburn: Well, I think I might just snap my fingers and randomly disconnect one of you and see what happens.

(ALL LAUGHING)

Gordon Schmidt: That’s fair.

Sy Islam: Get your son in here to do it because that would be– that would work the best.

Brian Washburn: That’s right. Well, thank you both for– this has been one of the most fun podcast recordings I’ve had– also one of the nerdiest podcast recordings I have had the pleasure of doing. 

Thank you everyone else for listening as well and for putting up with us for the past half hour or so. If you know somebody who might find today’s conversation about leadership in the MCU to be important, go ahead and pass the link of this podcast along. And if you wanna make sure that you’re notified of a new podcast when it’s hot off the press, go ahead and subscribe at Apple or Spotify, wherever you listen to your podcast. Even better is if you give us a like and five stars or some sort of review because that’s how other people will find out about us. Until next time, everyone, happy training.

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