Gandalf: A Quintessential MBA…

Gandalf. Mithrandir. Olorin. Incanus. Tharkun. Whatever you call him or remember him by, he is simply the MVP of the LOTR series. A tall, old wiseman with trademark old-age-badass hair-works, who smokes foot-long pipes to chill, wields a crooked magic staff and has a robe that changes colour according to the level of awesomeness can only be the result of some ancient, dark, Batman-esque history.

(He is so awesome that even Dumbledore copied his style *ahem*)

All along the Hobbit-LOTR series one can see Gandalf dropping words of wisdom now and then. I have always found those fascinating and I’m rediscovering them now as I am preparing to take on my own Balrog – THE MBA!!!

Here I am listing my take on a few of them and I think these make sense for all of us out there…

  1. Don’t Be Late.

1 Who can forget that scene when we see Frodo and Gandalf meeting for the first time on-screen? And that epic dialogue? A mental picture of yourself racing the clock in real life and be that ‘whoa-dude-you-just-made-it-(you-wink-and-whatnot)’ is all cool and ‘yo’ but seriously, DO NOT be that guy. Being in time means being IN time.

  1. Know. Period!

2 Gandalf always seemed to know. He was always full of ‘tidings’ and ‘counsel’. While in our case we have either delegated our knowledge to multiple storage devices or outsourced it to the internet, it would be wise to just know. Imagine a business case or an interview where others want you to deliver, and you go…”Ah! Wait my Google is loading”.

  1. Always have a plan.

3 Gandalf always had one. In Hobbit he pre-empts the competition (Sauron) by over a hobbit-generation by defeating Smaug (A shareholder in Sauron’s success). In LOTR he’s the one who drives the cause of destroying the ring (further weakening Sauron) and also planned for Rohan’s help to Gondor. He took little steps to defeat a much larger socio-corporate evil giant and was successful. Lesson: Be a meticulous planner bordering on OCD.

  1. Perspectives matter.

4 The fellowship made it happen, and it all began in Rivendell in Elrond’s open air conference room where everyone’s ideas were welcomed. The importance of various angles becomes clear when you ask “what if Boromir was left in charge?”

  1. Be honest about your weaknesses.

5 The movie could have done without that dialogue. He could have simply sat there not saying a word and the rest of the party would not have had a clue. The fact that he did utter those words is an ode to crystal clear communication. It builds trust in a team.

  1. Challenge the status quo.

6 Saruman was turning black and nobody batted an eye, except Gandalf that is (maybe he just badly wanted that white designer robe, and so kept a tab). What was true in the past may not be so in the future. Always be objective in your scrutiny and avoid biases.

  1. Face the unknown.

7 Age long piece of wisdom handed down from my dad, who got it from his dad and so on to the point when someone up along my line got it from Gandalf himself *wink*. One needs a lot of guts to navigate the MBA. But it’s exciting too. I bet if Gandalf wasn’t so tired after beating the Balrog he would have tweeted, “Whooooo! I just made free-fall cool”.

  1. Network network network!

8 The importance of networking is drilled into the MBA candidates’ psyche even before joining the program. It pays massive dividends I’m sure. Gandalf using his eagle-contacts to reap massive rewards is a lesson well taught in this sense! I believe in Gandalf.

  1. Learn to unwind.

9What with you carrying a blue-whale around on your shoulders for the next couple of years (and maybe beyond), the easy-going, fun-loving part of you can take a massive beating. Don’t get ‘KO’ed by ‘stress fatality’. Even with Smaug, Witch-king, Saruman, Sauron etc. Gandalf knew how to party. I bet your problems are much less of a life threat.

Now that you are a little wiser about Gandalf and all the hidden messages he ever meant to pass on, it’s time for you to make your own magic out in the world! Look at the world through a fresher glass if I may say so, and by that I do not mean “…use a Palantir”.

Let the Silmarilli shine ever so brightly on your chosen path wanderer…

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