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Super Mario: short, mustached plumber in red and blue who has been rescuing Princess Peach for decades in Nintendo video games since the '80s.
If you're of a certain generation, you can count one of the first major accomplishments of your life as beating Bowser, his arch-nemesis. Super Mario Bros. is an institution in pop culture and a ground-breaking icon in the video game world. So how can you apply what thousands of gamers learned from those hours spent gobbling power-up mushrooms to professional success?
1) It's-a me, Mario!
If you’ve ever played Mario Kart and figured out that you can drive your friends nuts by hitting a button over and over and causing your character to shout out, you know how important it is to make yourself known.
I’m not suggesting walking into a conference and shouting out, “It’s a-me!” but making a first impression with an emphasis on your unique branding is definitely crucial. Try not to drive them nuts by over-doing it.
Take a cue from Mario's "branding":
2) Keep going, even if your princess is in another castle
Regardless of what your goals are, there are probably going to be a few obstacles in the way. Hopefully there won’t be disappointment after disappointment like Mario had to go through reaching castle after castle with no princess in sight, but Super Mario Bros. is actually a pretty good model for benchmark planning. Make your goal the level 8 castle with that final push being the toughest of the Troopas. Note several points along the way where you’ll have to exert a little more effort and deal with tricky problems, like the lower level forts. If you fall flat on a level, use another life. Just keep on running and jumping and eventually you’ll rescue the princess.
3) "Yoshi" your resources by using them or spitting them out
Just in case you’re not familiar with my favorite dinosaur, (or dragon… but I’m 90% sure he’s a dinosaur) Yoshi is Mario’s incredibly helpful pal who gives the mustachioed plumber a ride every now and then, eating bad guys and fruit and turning them into 1-ups and coins.
Should Yoshi come across something indigestible like a turtle shell, he turns it to his advantage and spits it out, taking out some goombas in his way.
The lesson Yoshi shares with the world is that if you can’t absorb something and turn it into something helpful and productive, get rid of it. I would like to make it clear that I am not, in any way, advocating the hurling of turtle shells at anything.
4) Utilize the talent of your partners and work with your opponents, like Bowser
The Mushroom Kingdom, where Mario's adventures take place, is a magical place with some baffling relationships. First one must ask how Princess Peach is continually under such lax security that the same monster kidnaps her over and over. But stranger than that phenomenon is the reality that despite all of these kidnappings, Mario and pals later invite Bowser GO KARTING. And to play tennis! And baseball! And to nine parties! (12 parties if you include the hand-held Nintendo devices.)
It works both ways, too. When Bowser’s castle was taken over in Super Mario RPG (for the Super Nintendo) he joins Mario and his friends to help repair the Star Road so he can get his castle back.
Chances are there are competitors in your world who are giving you a run for your money, but that’s no reason not to ask them to play metaphorical tennis. Also you never know where those professional associations will go and what you will learn.
5) You have to smash your head sometimes to earn rewards
One of Mario's signature moves is the ability to smash inexplicably floating brick masses in the air, revealing gold coins. Money does not fall out of bricks in real life, and even if they did we’d find a way to get it out besides jumping up and smashing them with our heads. But Mario believes in the old adage that nothing worth having comes easy, so he keeps bashing his head just in case a coin falls out. Sometimes he gets really lucky and finds a mushroom, a 1-up, or one of those temporary-invincibility stars.
I don’t suggest you partake in such a painful and risky activity to earn rewards; there are easier ways and Mario apparently doesn’t suffer at all from bashing his skull in repeatedly. The lesson here is that a little effort into something that’s seemingly useless could turn out to be great. Try it out. Who knows?
Who knew an old-school video game had so much to offer the professional world?