Episode 187: Super Managers not so Super (Tales of Suspense #63) -- March 1965
Why Iron Man was not a great boss
…and we are back. For those waiting patiently, sorry for the hiatus. Mike and Ed both had great holidays, and are now back on track with weekly episodes. Both this one and next week’s were a lot of fun. Enjoy!
In this episode:
The rumors of Tony Stark’s death were greatly exaggerated. After three months of absence, the titan of industry has returned, and Mike and Ed have opinions! Iron Man was apparently a terrible replacement boss while Stark was away. What makes anyone think a superhero would make a super boss? New joke: How are superheroes like doctors and lawyers? Tune in to find out!
Behind the issue :
This ends the four issue storyline of Tony Stark being stuck inside the Iron Man armour, and the challenges that created for his personal and professional life. The second half of the issue is a re-telling of the origin of Captain America. Recall back in the 1960s, getting access to character origins was a lot more difficult than today, so many readers would not have known Captain America’s origin, and regular reminders were important to the mythology.
In this issue:
Iron Man wanders into the office and acts like a real jerk to Pepper and Happy. They think that Iron Man let Tony Stark get killed, and as such, they are not thrilled to see him anyway. Iron Man/Tony gets to work behind closed doors at fixing his chest plate so that he can live without wearing the whole Iron Man suit, and figures it all out. Now out of his Iron Man costume, Tony struts out of his office like nothing happened, causing serious confusion to Pepper and Happy, and the world at large. He explains that he was caught up in a secret love affair and is engaged to be married. People seem relieved that Iron Man will no longer be at the helm of the company. Meanwhile, the Phantom is attacking Stark facilities, leading to unsafe conditions for workers that causes union bosses, and the government holding the Stark military contracts, to put pressure on Tony Stark to catch the Saboteur. Iron Man ends up catching the Phantom, who turns out to be a jaded Stark employee.
Assumed before the next episode:
People are wondering how stable Tony Stark is, after disappearing for months on a love affair with an unnamed woman.
This episode takes place:
After Tony Stark has “returned from the dead”.
Edward: Out with the new and in with the old Mike, the old guard is back.
Michael: Well, I'm sure that the market responded favorably to find out that Tony Stark is indeed among the living .
Edward: Yeah. It turns out the laser from space that destroyed his residence and we all thought he died. He wasn't, he was, he just wasn't there. He was off having a gallivanting with some woman that he's now engaged to.
Michael: Yeah. And so I, think. Leaving aside our interest in the SUPERPOWERED community and the Avengers, I think that there's a lot of questions that arise just for the head of one of the most important companies in the world. Just, disappearing for months, for a few
Edward: weeks, months. At a time. For months now? No, it was it months. How long was it? Months. It was months. It was, it like when the,, I'm trying to think of the exact date when the laser hit, but it was back in January or something. We're in April now. Like that's, that's a long time to be like, oh yeah. The, whole world is freaking out. The, stock is plummeting. Iron Man is running your company and, just. Did you not just read, check the news? Is he not just looking at the morning news and be like, you know what, I should probably correct the record.
Michael: Well, it's not just the idea that he owes an obligation to his company, his employees, his shareholders. How about his personal life? I mean, ed, if you were reported dead and just disappeared for months at a time, I'd be worried and I'd be quite upset with you.
Edward: Thank you, Michael, for caring about me. .
Michael: Well, yeah, I'd be worried. And, just like with Tony Stark, there'd be, funeral announcements and it'd be articles written about it. I dunno if you get the same treatment. , I would notice and the have you come back from the dead would be, shocking that you, it'd be a shock and it'll also be disappointed that you'd treat your personal relationships like that.
Edward: Oh, can you imagine? And not only that, you probably, we've, you love replaced me on the show. There'll be some new, new host for, three where a helmets , where your helmet, because that new host does not want to reveal his identity.
Michael: No. Exactly. And then, and then just turns out, it turns out that you were alive all the time. This whole time you just decided to take a break from life, have a fantastic old time, just gallivanting a around, well,
Edward: not just Galvan, he dropped back into life, not just Galvan. He was so, he dropped out of life. He didn't drop out, he dropped out of his professional life, but he accelerated his personal life. The guy's engaged to get married. .
Michael: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think that's,
Edward: that takes focus, Mike. He couldn't be distracted by things like running his publicly traded company. He couldn't get distracted by maintaining his relationships, couldn't be distracted by informing the public of what's going on. He was focused on this woman like that. That a hundred percent focus.
Michael: So you're saying that maybe the key to Tony Stark's life and his success has not been that he's a multitasker, but he's a uni tasker. He's a uni tasker. So he can only focus ,
Edward: the ultimate uni tasker, .
Michael: Yeah. So it's just like, okay, you know what? I'm going to, uh, be the leader, a captain of the industry, and then I'm gonna take a four month break and devote myself to wooing this one woman. And then what happens now doesn't bode well for the engagement, I must say, not his return to taking the reigns of Star Corp.
Edward: Yeah. Like, well, yeah, I guess now, now he's gonna be focused a hundred percent on Stark Corp. And this woman's gonna get left in the dust. And, hey, my prediction. Prediction right now is that this wedding doesn't happen. He's so distracted now by running the company. He can't do two things at the same time.
Michael: Well, that leads to the next point that we have is that, so, we've discussed before how odd we've found it that a man, or we think it's a man in an Iron Man costume operating under a pseudonym, has been running one of the most powerful companies in the world.
Edward: Well, Mike, if, Iron Man was a woman, don't you think they would call it Iron Woman?
Michael: Um, they could, but who knows? We don't, we don't know what's under the mask though, ed. It could, it could very well be a, woman who's in a man's costume, but, but, um,
Edward: oh, that, that would be the ultimate trick, right? Like she calls herself Iron Man, but she's really a woman. And then now everyone, no one, no one suspects the woman under the mask.
Michael: exactly, but whoever it is. The reports have been coming out now since Stark has taken the reins that I don't think that Iron Man was the best boss, or at least the most well liked boss. And, and maybe it's not a shock for a few reasons, right? Like number one, you didn't know who it was, who are you talking to? Who's giving you the, these orders? It's a massive,
Edward: he's like, he's like, look, look, look me in the eye, or like into these little holes that you get. You, you, you, you assume there's eyes.
Michael: Yeah. Like, you just don't, it the unsettling to work for someone who you didn't and you didn't know their, real name or what they even look like, what they were like, I mean, you know,
Edward: or, or, or facial expressions. Like so much communication is facial exp Like, I tell my boss, like, oh, I wanna go and do this. And they don't say no, but you see it like in their eye. You're like, oh, maybe I, that was a, that was a, I shouldn't have told them that. I shouldn't have said that. It doesn't, you know what I mean? Like, you can, we can read these signals. You can't read any signals from an Iron.
Michael: No, it's unsettling. And I think it really is a counterproductive to developing a proper workplace and or a happy workplace.
Edward: Mike's rules for man, Mike's rules for management entail, uh, show your face, .
Michael: Show your face and tell them your real name. I mean, those are, to me, those are deal breakers and they should have done, he should have done that, but he didn't. And the stories that are coming out like show that just wasn't well liked. And it's, again, it. unsurprising because of the reasons she just said. But also because you know, we've speculated, you and I have speculated openly on this show, did Iron Man have something to do with Tony Stark's disappearance?
Edward: Well, turns out, no turns there. There was suspicions about that, but turns out Tony Stark did it all by himself. He was off like . This woman, this woman is to blame not to not Iron Man, unless this woman is Iron Man. Wouldn't that be a twist?
Michael: Whoa. Well then, yeah, then we got a whole other, other episode on this. But no, it's, I think the reason why people might be unhappy with Iron Man is because they thought he might have been involved in the disappearance of Tony Stark, and maybe they're annoyed now in retrospect that Iron Man must have known all along that Tony Stark, someone that the, company grieved and the workers grieved for months is alive. So maybe that's why, it's another reason why they wouldn't be that happy with, with Iron Man. Now.
Edward: Well, well, hey, let's count the reason. So, number one, they thought that he killed the old boss. That's a way, that's a reason not to like your boss. Number two, he's wearing an Iron mask. We don't know his name, a reason to dislike your boss, but here's number three, which is , how much management training do you think Iron Man? How much experience do you think he has managing people? His specialty The. Thing, he's really good at is, being a mighty hero who saves the earth from aliens. That does not necessarily mean you're gonna be good at managing one-on-ones. .
Michael: Yeah. It doesn't translate into, reviewing reports and giving feedback to people that are working for you and saying, you know what, maybe we should work a little, harder on this, on this marketing plan. Jerry .
Edward: Let, let's, let's, let's set our priorities and you know, what my priority is saving the planet. What? What's on your list? What are your OKRs this week? What are you planning to get done? I just don't see Iron Man being particularly good at that. I mean, maybe he is, but if he does, it's uncorrelated with his ability to save the planet from aliens.
Michael: Well, yeah and let's say this, I would suspect that Iron Man might be connected with the military, and I said that because he's acting as a superhero, and works with the Avengers who are connected with the American military. So I'd say that in the best case scenario, from a management perspective, iron. Man may very well be a military person. I don't know if military command structure translates very well to corporate structure. Right. Okay. It might be a little more severe.
Edward: Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's fair. Although there is, there's lots of successes of people coming out of the military and having very successful careers in corporate America. So I think that if he was trained by the military and if he has a lot of military training and being able to, the military, the military's different than the Avengers. Avengers is five people. The military, if you got to any degree of seniority, you're managing, overseeing hundreds of people. And if you have the skillset to do that, you probably have, it's very similar to the skillset of running a big corporation. Not the same, but there's overlap. There is no overlap, in firing a blaster and like shooting off in rocket.
Michael: Realistically, yeah. No matter where Iron Man came from his, yeah, his skillset was dealing with extraterrestrial, and interdimensional threats. It's funny because he was one of the most popular people in the world, one of the most popular heroes in the world. It saved,
Edward: We've done episodes on that, on how well he managed his PR for so, .
Michael: Yeah. But it turns out maybe being a superhero doesn't make you a super boss. It might make you a terrible boss. Oh man. The world's the world's greatest hero. The world's worst boss. .
Edward: So they've done studies of salespeople, and you take your salespeople and you take your best sales. The best salespeople tend to get promoted to being sales managers. And when they do that, it turns out that the best sales people aren't the best sales managers. In fact, if you look at the people who are promoted to sales manager, it tends to be. Of the people who are promoted, the worst performing sales people who are promoted tend to be the best sales managers. And so Iron, Man being one of the world's greatest. You know what? Given the fact that the most popular hero becomes a terrible boss, maybe we should look at the worst heroes out there, the least popular heroes, and give them the promotion.
Michael: Spider-Man is up and down. , you know,
Edward: Spider-Man, spider boss. Spider Boss.
Michael: Well, it's funny because I know that when it comes to I work in as a lawyer and this is no secret on lawyers and law firms, but, as lawyers, we're not trained in running a business. Number one, we're trained in the law, but if you're in private practice, you run a business. And number two, we're not trained in management necessarily. Of the very successful lawyers that I know, they're driven by their personality to some degree, and a lot of them operate as solo people. Even if they work in a firm and to go from that to managing a business is, it would happen later in life, in your career and I've seen it, not necessarily across the board, but it's challenging for the people to make that leap. And I've heard the same thing about doctors. Doctors, might be excellent doctors, but not great business people.
Edward: I think what we're saying is there's two types of people out there. There are people who are good at managing and there are doctors, lawyers, and superhero.
Michael: That's good.