Tywin Lannister died doing what he loved: belittling his youngest child, Tyrion.
While Tywin won’t be winning a Father of the Year award anytime soon, he could certainly be in the running for greatest business mind. Game of Thrones is fraught with many perils, yet through these, Tywin Lannister built and maintained an empire of wealth that will take years to tear down now he’s gone — but believe us, his children are more than capable.
With an estimated net worth equivalent to $10 billion, Tywin Lannister was the richest person in Westeros, and one of the wealthiest fictional characters of all time. While some might argue he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he actually worked tirelessly throughout his life to maintain the wealth and reputation of House Lannister. His hard-fought battle left us with some valuable Game of Thrones-themed business lessons we can all learn from.
Appreciate the Value of a Business Pivot
When Tywin died, he was still the wealthiest man in the Seven Kingdoms, yet his initial source of wealth, the gold mines under Casterly Rock, had been dry for years. Odd, isn’t it? When a business loses the ability to trade in the commodity that it relied on, you’d expect it to crumble pretty quickly. Right?
Tywin Lannister wasn’t going to go down easy, so he did something many businesses in the real world have done: he performed a business pivot. He totally changed the strategy from which he amassed his wealth. Instead of banking on his gold mines, he used the other resources and skills he had to bring in money.
If you’d like to know exactly how Tywin Lannister survived the collapse of his gold mining business, this infographic will tell you everything you need to know:
This type of move isn’t unique to the Lannisters though. Any business can perform a pivot when faced with economic difficulties. The key is to not move too far out of your comfort zone and abilities. Tywin was a ruler already, so he knew how to control land and acquire wealth through it. He pivoted his business model to do exactly this, just on a much larger scale.
An accountancy firm, for example, could pivot to use its experience working in business to provide business consultations and growth advice services. A corporate design company could move into something more commercial, like creating t-shirts or wall art. There is always another avenue to explore — Tywin Lannister is testament to that.
Take Risks, But Don’t Be Reckless
Tywin rolled the dice on Robert’s Rebellion, siding with the Baratheon warrior over the Mad King, and it paid off. From a business point of view, this was perhaps his ultimate victory. It’s not surprising, of course. We all know that taking risks reaps reward, and that almost every famous name in business has taken at least one large risk.
But risks and recklessness are not the same thing, and it’s important to make the distinction. Taking reckless risks can result in the total collapse of your company or, in Tywin’s case, the separation of head from body.
It’s easy to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but if the rainbow is too treacherous, should you even attempt the journey? Tywin Lannister chose his risk well. He knew Robert was strong, he knew the King was weak and he knew that he could win.
He made a calculated decision based on the risk factors.
Look at other risks in Game of Thrones. Stannis Baratheon took a reckless risk by attacking Winterfell without proper resources and he paid the ultimate price. Robb Stark took a reckless risk by breaking his oath and marrying another woman, and suffered the same fate.
What Tywin Lannister demonstrates so well is that risks aren’t all stabs in the dark. Some are more likely to fail than others. It’s all about taking the right risk.
Backing up Your Branding is Important
If you’ve seen the show, you know a Lannister always pays his debts. There is a reason this motto was adopted by Tywin, rather than using the official house motto: ‘hear me roar’.
The way Tywin branded his family was to exude prosperity. Even in times of secret hardship, people believed they were richer than the Gods. But it wasn’t enough to tell people they were wealthy, they had to live up to their branding — which they did. Countless times Tyrion has promised payment, and payment is what the people got.
What we can learn from Tywin Lannister is that you must always keep the promises your brand makes. If you are all about great customer service, never miss a beat when it comes to consumers. If you’re all about quality, don’t get caught making products on the cheap.
If the Lannisters were to claim they always paid their debts, and didn’t, they’d damage their reputation and destroy their branding. But, since they do always pay their debts, people trust in their brand, which saved Tyrion on a number of occasions.
Having a trusted brand message could save your business too, or at least bring in more customers.