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July 19, 2010

Justice League of Communications

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The year was 1960.  The Cold War was in full effect, Neil Armstrong hadn’t yet touched the moon and Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States.  Heck, The Beatles hadn’t appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show yet!

However, a comic book came out, issue #28 of The Brave and the Bold.  It featured the first-ever team-up of seven of the greatest and most powerful superheroes of all-time!  Over the years, dozens of characters spent time as members of the Justice League of America (not to mention it’s popular off-shoot groups!).  Each grouping of heroes had something in common – the whole was greater than the sum of it’s parts.  Everyone working together had much more of an impact than if each hero had their own agenda.  They didn’t always get along, but they worked as a team.  Sound familiar, Communications Pros?

Don’t we all want to be a superhero?  Check out which member of the Justice League of Communications you are most like!

Code Name: Superman

24-year-old American film actor Christopher Reeve stands before the Manhattan skyline dressed as the comic-book hero of the film 'Superman'. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Powers and Abilities: Ummm…everything…he’s frickin’ Superman! Every communications team has a Superman (or woman)…and if they don’t, they may be in trouble.  Your Superman may seem like he’s from another planet.  His skills are top-flight in just about every area.  He may not be THE best at EVERYTHING, but when you need EVERYTHING, he’s the best. He’s a natural leader, and not just because of his powers.  Leadership and respect are earned, and this fella has done just about everything to earn every ounce of it.  Deep down, you hate him.  And even deeper down, you wish you were him.  But it’s cool, the burden of being Superman isn’t for everyone.


Code Name: Batman

Powers and Abilities: Top-flight athlete, master strategist, genius inventor

circa 1966: American actor Adam West poses in costume as Batman in front of a yellow backdrop in a promotional portrait for the television series, 'Batman'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Dark Knight strikes fear into the hearts of evil-doers everywhere.  He strikes from nowhere and everywhere at once.  He knows you better than you know yourself – and while his methods are suspect, nobody gets the job done as consistently as he does.

On your team, there is probably a person you don’t like or trust.  They keep to themselves, possess a mysterious past and speak grimly about the future.  However, the one thing you know about them is that their work is second-to-none.  You don’t know HOW they get the job done, and frankly, you are probably better off not knowing.  But at the end of the day, your Batman is on your side

Code Name: Wonder Woman

Powers and Abilities: God-level strength, speed, flight, lasso of truth

If you think Wonder Woman is just a female version of Superman, you are selling her far short.  The champion

Promotional portrait of American actor Lynda Carter in costume in front of a backdrop of stars for the television series, 'Wonder Woman,' 1976. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

of the Amazons has the requisite superpowers needed to get the job done, but her ability to look at the bigger picture is what’s really important.  She has conversed with the Gods and has greater vision than anyone else on the team.  Being able to see  how everything fits together (or how it should) is critical on a communications team.  You are not acting in a vacuum – there are many moving parts here, even for small companies, so you have to be able to understand the greater plan.

The other notable Wonder Woman trait is empathy.  Someone as smart and talented as she is could be horrible to work with.  However, she understands that not everyone views the world as she does and works to open eyes instead of punishing people.  She ain’t a “den mom,” though, so don’t take advantage of her.

Code Name: Green Lantern

Powers and Abilities: No fear, alien power ring that turns your will power into hard energy

Test pilot Hal Jordan was given a power ring from a dying alien that made him one of the most powerful entities in the entire universe.  He just didn’t really know it at the time.  Green Lantern started as a smart-alecky fly-boy who chases the ladies, parties hard and makes it to work on time (ish) and get the job done.  His will to succeed allows him to overcome some sloppiness.

On your team now, you have someone who’s maturing.  They are living life, making some mistakes, and, despite some major faults, able to save the day.  It’s a constant juggling act and if they don’t start making some progress soon, you’ll have to reevaluate their status, even knowing how good they are.  Can you take that risk?

Code Name: Flash

Powers and Abilities: Superspeed

The Flash has one skill: speed.  And he has mastered it.  He has used his speed to break the time barrier, travel todifferent dimensions, clean up dangerous debris, deflect explosions, save people from would-be-tragic falls and more.  But he is NOT a one-trick-pony.

This person on your team became known for one particular skill.  It was something you needed at the time: writing, proofreading, pitching, whatever.  But over time, they became more than just that one skill.  They proved to everyone that their mastery of one area translated to another part of the team.  Perhaps someone who’s great at calling reporters also became the person who sold ideas up the flagpole?  Or a great strategist showed aptitude at dealing with clients.  That’s The Flash.  One ability doesn’t just mean one role.

Code Name: Aquaman

Powers and Abilities: Lives underwater, swims like a fish, ruler of the seas

Arthur Curry is a conflicted man: he is a man of two worlds.  He is the King of the Seas – ruling 70% of the planet, a daunting task for anyone.  But he is half-human, as well.  So while he must represent the 70% on dry land, his prime loyalty is to his Kingdom.

Everyone is a little bit Aquaman.  Be it your family, your house, your dream side gig, we all feel the pull from another important aspect of our life on a daily basis.  The key is to manage it properly.  Unlike any other superhero, Aquaman sets limits and boundaries.  When someone goes wrong at “home,” he checks out immediately.  He may seem aloof and jaded by peers and observers, but he sleeps soundly at night knowing he is comfortable with his priority scale.  The team is important to him, but not THE most important thing.

What other heroes belong on your Justice League of Communications?

Popularity: 21% [?]

  • du4
    Love this post, Mike! Although, you're missing the most important duo in the history of the Justice League... those challengers of awesome, those guarantors of rad-ness...

  • Fleuredeflorida
    I love this post! I agree with Patty in that I think we can see qualities of every superhero in each of us. For me, since I am the only communications "person" at my nonprofit, I've definitely inhabited several of these characters on any given day, depending on the task. I love the creative way you framed this, but I think it makes an important point, that every person in your communications team has valuable skills that, when brought together, yield powerful results.
  • Very creative approach. I would venture we can see qualities of every superhero in each of us. Just wish I had some of those real superpowers, like flying or that lasso of truth!
  • Great post, Mike! I'm a huge DC Comics fan (ok - comic book fan all around) and your article made a TON of sense. Isn't it cool to be able to blog about things like this and have people actually read it because they're interested?

    I'm going to pass this on to my network. It's a good read for everyone. Keep up the good work!

  • I tweeted this to Mike earlier today:

    "I'd add PowerPuff Girls to my PR team. Sugar, spice & everything nice. They make working hard fun.

    I think it's something about the "Chemical X" in their DNA that makes them sweet, yet still kick ass in the office.

    Great post, Superman.

  • Hey Mike,

    I love this post. It really touches on how you need team to do this stuff right. :)

  • know I am Wonder Woman. This is not a shock to anyone. LOL.
  • jeffespo
    Mike, like the belt-buckle I wear each day, I would be Batman. Stuff gets done, just don't ask how. It's better that way.
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