Article | 8 Entrepreneurial Lessons Tolkien Taught us in “The Lord of the Rings”

Tomorrow, the 25th of March happens to be the 14th edition of Tolkien Reading Day*. Who doesn’t love some good quest against the inconceivable might, the same one the Lord of the Ring team embarked on, right? We decided the famous fantasy trilogy is not only an exciting read but also a real magical fountain of universal entrepreneurial lessons every changemaker should take to heart. Don’t be shy and read on to learn how to navigate the tricky entrepreneurial paths of your private Mordors!

#1 Team up with people with different skills

Look at them all! The fellowship came in all sizes and races. Each of the team had unique unequalled skills – Legolas could see across terrains and never missed with his bow; Gimli’s axe and fearlessness (not to mention staggering self-confidence) kept the foe trembling; Aragorn knew fancy herbs and navigated as if he came equipped with a high-class GPS system and so on… From the outside, the group seemed like a random mix, but the glue of common enterprise for the greater good brought them together. The Fellowship of the Ring aka the well-performing powerhouse shows us how teaming up with people of different personalities, expertise and skills makes sense when exploring the unknown.

A much needed voice of reason.

>>> Tip: Even if you are a solopreneur, you still need input. Being a member of Impact Hub Vienna means you get access to experts, who live the social impact life. Check our membership packages here or, if you already are a member, check our current programs. Oh and we recently published a handy guide on how to make the most out of your membership.

#2 Do not build teams of orcs

Having a team made up of people with the same set of skills or character can be a right downer on your productivity, effectiveness, idea-generation and harmony. Let’s take Orcs. Orcs are murderous, vicious, blood-craving and it’s safe to say that, just like mass-produced Uruk-hai, Orcs are pretty consistent in what they want (meat), what they like (kill) and how they get what they like and want (hack repeatedly). This is a great example of how meetings with orcs would go:

>>> Tip: Avoid pairing yourself with people with the same personality as yours. When you are an idea generator, make sure you get a doer. If you prefer to run analysis and reports, find a strategist who will implement data-driven solutions.

#3 Have a mentor

In the books, there will always be somebody smarter, older or more immortal than any character. The chain would just go up and up. And the way the hero and heroines went about it was to respect their mentors and learn from them. With all their might and (sometimes royal) status, the Fellowship would always look up to Gandalf. With all of his wisdom, Gandalf never feared asking Saruman for help (even though he turned out to be a righteous and, to quote Jennifer Cornick, ‘rainbow bastard because he went from “the white” to “many colours‘).


>>> Tip: Avoid pairing yourself with people with the same personality as yours. When you are an idea generator, make sure you get a doer. If you prefer to run analysis and reports, find a strategist who will implement data-driven solutions.

Tip: Search for a mentor within our global or local Impact Hub Community (to learn how to do it, see this post!). Mastermind groups are one of the best growing tools for entrepreneurs.

#4 Know your ecosystem

Remember the scene in the ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’, when an Ent, Treebeard, takes Pippin and Merry towards Isengard? He steps out onto a plain, which once had been populated by his tree-friends, and sees tree stumps peppering the swidden around the tall tower and the soil blackened from the Orcs’ slash-and-burn. This is when it becomes apparent that Saruman did not factor peeved tree-men into his mighty plan. Just like that, the ecosystem where you decide to nest your business plans should be scanned and scouted for threats and opportunities. Otherwise, one day you might find yourself in an unpleasant and unexpected situation. Had Saruman done his SWOT analysis, he wouldn’t have had his house stormed by a group of Fangorns.

“Damn, we did not factor assault into scaling risks”

#5 Break the rules sometimes

When Eowyn was sent away to rule in the king’s stead, we all thought she would succumb to the obedient role her elder had envisioned for her and her trip would be done just right and there. This is why some of us were left speechless when she broke the rules and chose her fate, riding into battle disguised as a man. She not only showed some prime swordwork but also ended up killing the scariest enemy of all – one of the Black Riders. As an entrepreneur, there will be many moments you will be told to take it slow or skip on your dream because it seems too risky. Bah, you will be told you don’t have what it takes! But why should you back down, when the gut feeling is telling you that you can do it? Had Eowyn listened to her mentor, she would have never proved to herself she could fight the way her folks did. In the end, her courage gave strength to the troops and saved them from a much worse fate.

#6 Don’t be a solo ring-bearer 

We all felt it – when Frodo succumbed to Gollum’s persuasion and Sam was sent off, our hearts broke, and our fists wanted to connect with Mister Baggins’ face. The faithful companion came back to salvage the day, and the journey of two Hobbits continued. Don’t presume you have to do everything yourself, and don’t think that sharing your workload will lower the value of your success. Luckily, here at Impact Hub Vienna, we do everything to make sure you know you are not alone! You are a part of a booming community of doers, who are itching to help you walk in and out of Mordor with all your fingers intact.

Tip: Feeling lost? Go and talk to one of Impact Hub hosts or join one of the many community events Impact Hub Vienna organizes each month.

#7 Venture into the unknown

You know Hobbits? The unadventurous breed of humanoids, who will eat six times per day, smoke pipe-weed and avoid attracting unwanted attention? Had it not been for Bilbo Baggins, with his unusual taste for adventure, Frodo Baggins would always live in literally the same hole, meet the same people and not save the Middle-earth when the time has come. Even though he acted against his nature, he ventured into the unknown and, in the end, became victorious.

Tip: Whenever you feel you are looking over the borders of your comfort zone, put yourself in the most uncomfortable positions of all. ‘You can’t grow when you’re comfortable’ said Dave Anderson.

#8 Embrace your leadership role

Aragorn had long avoided his rightful seat on the throne of Gondor, which made his existence the allegory of hide-and-seek. The circumstances finally forced him to act and, boy, did he embrace the leading role his destiny had assigned him. Being an entrepreneur means being in the thick of things. When it comes to your business, your dreams, your ideas, you have to take the lead. Moreover, you probably will have people around you who will be looking up to you. You will hire employees, who will need your direction. Learn how to be a motivational speaker because when the time comes when you will have to convince an army of undead to follow you, you have to know what you are standing for.


J. R. R. Tolkien’s fiction continuously amazes readers all over the world with how intricate the details of each character are. The web of fantasy tales acts as a hot glue binding the realm of Middle-earth, but the world he weaved is intrinsically and universally life relatable.

* The 25th of March is the date of the downfall of the Lord of the Rings (Sauron) and the fall of Barad-dûr. Can’t believe you did not know that!

This article was written for the Impact Hub Vienna blog and published on the 24th of March, 2017. Access it online here.