CAREER DEVELOPMENT / NOV. 05, 2015
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6 Career Lessons James Bond Can Teach Us

In honour of the release of the latest Bond film (what do you mean, you didn’t know? It’s called Spectre, it’s the 24th Bond film and the fourth starring Daniel Craig. It’s out in the UK now and it’ll be out in the US on November 6), we thought we’d look back at his 53-year career and see what career lessons we can learn from him; he’s obviously doing something right. His undeniable resilience is just one of the things to admire about him.

Before you despair and wonder how you could ever match up to the suaveness that is Mr Bond, remember that even he isn’t perfect; he stays young by cheating and simply turning into a different person (Craig is the sixth Bond), he gets captured in most of the films, and I doubt any real secret service agency would appreciate the fact that everyone knows who he is. Worst kept secret ever.

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of having the exciting life of a super spy but thought it was out of your reach, read on for some things you can learn from the best in the business, and then head to the poll at the bottom of the article to let us know your favourite Bond.

1. Never Go Down Without a Fight

James Bond
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There isn’t one James Bond movie where James isn’t threatened by a villain, told to go away and actually does it. In a lake with crocodiles? Use them as stepping stones to safety. About to be lasered in half? Ask a silly question. James Bond refuses to believe that even the most inevitable of deaths is actually inevitable and gets out of the tightest spots without a hair out of place. If he was a cartoon, he’d be one of those where they come out of water completely dry.

Anyway, the lesson you can learn here is that you should always stand up for what you believe in and fight for what you want; people will come to respect you if they see that you’re someone who can’t be easily swayed, and you will be much happier if you make yourself heard than if you hide in the corner. Jump over the heads of the crocodiles (your coworkers) and make your way to safety (a coveted promotion, or that project you really want to work on), and by turning your problems into solutions you will never face another career barrier. Or at least you won’t be defeated by it.

When things do go wrong, don’t let it stop you. Didn’t get the promotion? Maybe it’s a sign that you should be looking for better opportunities elsewhere where they’ll appreciate you more. Messed up a major project? Don’t panic, show your boss your resilience by owning up to it and learning from your mistakes. You don’t see Bond giving up when he gets betrayed or loses a friend, he just follows through on his mission and trusts that he will come out on top.

2. People Aren't Always Who They Seem

Can you name three things spies are famous for? Did you say disguises? Good. Bond often wears a disguise to sneak in or blend in to places where he doesn’t want to be spotted, but here we’re talking more about the kind of disguise Colonel Bouvar used in Thunderball, dressing up as his own widow to lure our favourite spy into danger.

Your coworkers probably aren’t murderers lying in wait to kill you, but you should never judge them too quickly: that person you think is cold and unfriendly might just be shy, and that overly friendly person might actually be stealing your ideas or trying to find out your weaknesses so they can take you down. You can’t take everyone at face value, but you also need to be aware of the impression you’re giving people.

There’s nothing wrong with allies, of course; even 007 tends to make a useful friend to help him along. You just need to be careful about who you choose, making sure that this person is someone aligned with your interests and who isn’t going to stab you in the back. Until you’re sure you can trust them, you should take care to be discreet: you wouldn’t see Bond sitting on a train complaining about the terrorist he has to go and deal with, likewise you shouldn’t call your friend on the train ride home to complain about work, especially if you’re going to name any names - you never know who’s listening.

3. Always Look Impeccable

He might have let himself go a bit at the beginning of Die Another Day, but let’s cut him a little slack, he had just been captured and tortured for fourteenth months. And anyway, by the end of the opening credits he’d gone back to being the well-dressed, well-groomed agent we all know and love.

James Bond’s fashion sense gets him all the ladies and all the good missions. Barney Stinson agrees that nothing’s better than a suit, and look at the great apartment he can afford as a result of caring about how he looks. How we dress is always a major part of the first impression people make when they meet us, and even a genius wouldn’t get past a first interview in ill-fitting clothes and too much unkempt facial hair.

It isn’t just about clothes, either. Have you ever seen Bond flustered? No. He knows how to always stay cool under pressure (sometimes literally) and channel his inner calm to never look anything less than elegantly composed. No one’s saying you need to be able to conduct a car chase in a tank and then have the presence of mind to adjust your tie, but if you can be the cool and level headed one in a crisis, people will respect you much more than if you’re the flustered one running around like a headless chicken. You might not always have the perfect one liner, but you can exude confidence and never let fear stand in your way.

4. Embrace Technology

I know what you’re thinking. "If my job involved gadgets as cool as Bond’s, then I would happily spend all day learning to use it!" Fair enough, I’m not going to argue with you. Depending on your preferences, you might also be thinking you’d quite happily spend all day with Ben Whishaw as Q, too.

My point is that each film includes a scene where Bond goes to see Q and gets a quick lesson in how to use his latest gadgets - and then he does actually use them. Sure, he also seems to have a reputation for destroying and losing them, but let’s ignore that for a moment. Whether your work involves gadgets or learning a program or a code, you should always be prepared to learn it and then to use it when you’re supposed to. If Daniel Craig still approached things the way Sean Connery did, the films would be ridiculously outdated.

Additionally, you won’t see Bond calling time out on a fist fight to respond to an email. You might think that sounds crazy, but be honest: have you really never allowed technology to distract you from anything? You probably have. And when you did, you were becoming a slave to your tech rather than remaining the master of it. Take a lesson out of James Bond’s book and use things only when you need to, and make sure you’re prepared for every eventuality.

5. Don't Be Micromanaged

We mentioned Bond never stopping a fight to check his email, but he also never stops to contact M; they talk at the beginning, and Bond tends to get yelled at at the end, but in the time in-between Bond is on his own. He has the self- confidence to know he can get the job done and what rules he can get away with stretching, and M knows they can trust him and simply give him support from afar.

Which is exactly how you should be ensuring your bosses treat you; it’s far preferable to be trusted and believed in than it is to have someone constantly checking up on you, or worse, to be expected to check in with them every time you want to do something. It does nothing to help your self-esteem, and all they’re really doing is making more work for themselves, especially if you’re perfectly capable of getting on with things without assistance.

6. He Knows How to Brand Himself

"Bond. James Bond."

Three little words and several things come to mind, from his women to his drink to his licence number. Now, what comes to people’s minds if they hear your name? Whatever the answer to that question, if it’s anything less than words that make you sound great at whatever it is that you do, then you need to look to Bond for some advice. He’s found what he’s good at, and he’s become to spying what Sherlock Holmes is to detective work - you don’t see them wandering off to try anything new, do you?

People don’t need to know that you like your drinks shaken, not stirred, but they should be associating your name with whatever it is you do. An effective self-marketing strategy should mean that people are at least able to say "oh, yes, James Bond... 007, isn’t it?" which can then turn into a great conversation about why you’re better known than 001 and 006.

See Also: Jobs Perfect for Bond Villains

There you were, thinking your life could never be anything like a super spy’s life, when all along there are at least six things you could have been learning from the greatest spy of all. The next time you run into difficulty ask yourself "What would James Bond do?" No, punching them in the face is the wrong answer. You should be using all the fortitude, technology and charisma you have at your disposal in order to gain the upper hand and come out on top at the adventure that is your career.

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