Turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Pop Culture

5 ways Wonder Woman succeeded against the odds (and you can too)

Counting down the days until the new Wonder Woman movie hits screens this Friday? Me, too! Since we should all probably at least pretend to work while we wait, here are a few inspiration career lessons from everyone’s favorite Amazon.

1. Rebrand yourself as needed

Believe it or not, Wonder Woman’s original name was Suprema, the Wonder Woman- not quite as catchy. I gathered a lot of Wonder Woman trivia from DC’s book Wonder Woman A Celebration of 75 Years, including the fact that Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston conferred with his editors and realized a shorter name worked better for his superhero.

In the original versions, Wonder Woman hailed from Paradise Island, though since the 1980s, her home place is called Themyscira. During the 1960s, Wonder Woman was effectively stripped of her powers and rebranded as a mod spy type along the lines of Emma Peel in The Avengers. People hated that incarnation and gave way to the Lynda Carter TV version which was considered the ideal for decades.   

Wonder Woman workplace warrior lesson: Rebrand as needed and when needed. Just because your original idea or title seemed perfect at the time, doesn’t mean it’s the ideal fit. And if you make a mistake, try to find a way back to what used to work.

2. Work your way up and never accept second place 

In June 1942, Diana Prince’s alter ego Wonder Woman had her own spot in the superhero clique known as the Justice Society in a minor role with barely any dialogue…as their secretary. In that early incarnation, instead of fighting alongside Batman or Superman, Wonder Woman instead had the ignoble task of recording their exploits and adventures.

Though she graduated to her own comic strip, paper rationing during the war meant even that short lived strip was canceled. In other words, even Wonder Woman’s beginning was extremely bumpy.

Wonder Woman workplace warrior lesson: Just because you don’t land the job of your dreams immediately, doesn’t mean you should give up entirely. Though it may seem less fun or less glamorous that a fancy title at the start up du jour, starting at the bottom and working your way up also means you get insights from the inside instead of second-hand.  

3. Sisterhood is powerful

As an Amazon, Wonder Woman emerged from a matrilineal culture that valued not only traditional women’s skills, but also taught even princesses to be warriors. And despite the somewhat differing origin story in the comic books, the 1970s TV series, subsequent cartoon versions and the new movie, there’s always a common thread of women teaching and supporting each other. Marston was known as both a suffragette and feminist who some say created Paradise Island as a hypothetical model for a woman-run workplace.

Wonder Woman workplace warrior lesson: Women in the workplace haven’t always had an easy time of it, and there’s still the matter of that pesky glass ceiling. When campaigning for Hillary Clinton during the last election, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sparked controversy when she said, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” Albright later clarified in a column in The New York Times saying “I absolutely believe what I said, that women should help one another, but this was the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line.” Albright still stuck with her philosophy that women “have an obligation to help one another.”

But don’t vote or hire someone just because she’s a woman; vote for a woman or hire a female candidate, or mentor a younger female co-worker (or throw your support behind a female superhero) because you believe her the best person for the job. There’s ample reason to give women a chance, however. Take note: Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins is receiving mass advance praise and it’s predicted that this will be the most successful superhero movie ever- starring either a woman or man.

4. Turn weakness to strength

We all know (and many of us covet) Wonder Woman’s indestructible bullet deflecting bracelets, but the origin story of her defenses adds another layer to their power. Marston borrowed heavily from Greek mythology in creating his most famous character. At one point, the Amazons were captured and enslaved by Hercules, who forced them to wear what were referred to as—wait for it—The Bracelets of Submission. Even after they gained independence, the Amazons wore the bracelets proudly as a symbol of past oppression. Better yet, those former symbols of enslavement became powerful protective tools.

Wonder Woman workplace warrior lesson: Many of us keep small trophies or knickknacks on our desks to remind us of specific workplace achievements or high points. I know someone who keeps every rejection letter he’s ever received as inspiration to remind him just how far he’s come in his career. It also reminds him to stay humble.

5. Put your own spin on things

In the new movie, Wonder Woman is portrayed by Israeli actress Gal Gadot with a charming accent along with some warrior moves probably at least partially inspired by Gadot’s time in the Israeli Defense Forces.  Gadot has been quoted as saying that her military service prepared her for Hollywood.

Wonder Woman workplace warrior lesson: For some reason, since Wonder Woman is recognized as an American superhero, she’s always been portrayed as being strictly American, with her American flag inspired costume and California girl accent in the TV version. But Wonder Woman can adapt and look different, and so can we. You may not look, sound or dress like everyone else in your workplace, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be the true superhero in your office.

Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels. She leads corporate seminars on topics including evolving communication and spirituality in the workplace. Rachel is also the author of three award winning non-fiction books.