Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

A Reel Leadership Article

I have fond memories of Pokemon. From the original cartoon to the trading card game to the video games (Pokemon Red and Blue for the original Nintendo Gameboy). I spent countless hours consuming the content of Pokemon and trying to catch them all in the video games.

When I first heard of the new Pokemon movie, Detective Pikachu seemed like an odd name. What is Detective Pikachu? How is this related to the Pokemon world? What will the movie be about?

Still image of Pikachu from Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

We found out this weekend. Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is everything you could hope for in a live-action Pokemon movie. The characters are likable. The story was fun. And it was different than you would expect.

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu tells the story of Tim Goodman (Justice Smith, son of Will Smith) as he travels to Ryme City to look for his father, Harry Goodman. There, Tim meets his father’s Pokemon, a detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds). The movie only gets better once the two pair up to continue Tim’s search for his father.

Today, we’re going to look at the leadership lessons in Pokemon: Detective Pikachu. There’s a lot a leader can take away from this movie. So, don’t be afraid to go to the theater, have a little fun, and discover a few leadership insights from a movie.

Caution: Pokemon: Detective Pikachu spoilers below

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

1. Awaken the wonder:

The opening scenes of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu inspired and awakened wonder in me as I watched Pokemon come to life. Seeing Cubone, Spearow, Mewtwo, and other Pokemon come alive on the big screen. Honestly, it reminded me of my first viewing of Jurassic Park. That’s how cool this scene was.

But the team behind the new Pokemon movie knew this opening would leave viewers in awe and wonder. They did a great job creating life-like Pokemon that one could believe truly existed. In doing so, this creative decision drew me deeper into the movie.

You need to awaken the wonder of two different audiences as a leader of an organization. You first need to awaken the wonder of your team members.

They need to fully buy into your vision and mission. To do this, awaken wonder in them by what you’re doing and how they can be a part of it.

Secondly, you need to awaken the wonder of those you serve. You can awaken the wonder of your customers by showing them what is possible because of your organization. Help them see the possibilities you and your team make possible.

2. Leaders need great friends who will tell the truth:

Tim’s friend Jack (Karan Soni), recognized Tim was lonely. Tim didn’t have a Pokemon and he only had a few friends. This wasn’t good for Tim’s mental health.

Jack saw this. He wanted to help Tim to feel less lonely. This is why Jack encouraged Tim to capture a Cubone in the wild.

The Cubone had been lonely as well. Jack believed the two would make a great pair. Jack eventually told Tim this was why he brought him out there to hunt the Pokemon.

Telling the truth wasn’t easy for Jack. Yet, he did. Why? Because Jack was a great friend to Tim and Tim needed someone to tell him the truth.

Sadly, many leaders don’t have a close friend who will tell them the truth. They hide behind yes men who are willing to back every idea. Too many leaders have built up a house of cards because they don’t want to hear the truth.

Don’t be like these leaders. Instead, find a close friend or two who can hold you accountable. They will be valuable in multiple areas of your life from your business to family to finances. You need people in your life who can speak freely and truthfully to you.

3. Be the best you can be:

Harry was a detective in Ryme City. His detective skills were beyond compare. So much so, he was a legend.

He became a legend because of what he could do on the field. He could track down criminals and bring them in like no one else.

What skills are you cultivating? Are you working on becoming the best leader, husband, wife, philanthropist, etc that you can be?

By honing your skills and becoming great, you will be recognized for what you, and only you, can do. Become the best.

4. Lieutenant Hide Yoshida (Ken Watanabe)

No one should have to go through something like this alone.

Lieutenant Hide Yoshida was close friends with Harry. When Tim came looking for answers, Yoshida knew Tim’s journey wouldn’t be easy. Even more so because Tim was currently alone.

Yoshida offered sage advice to Tim. Tim needed to find a friend to go through the trials of his life with.

We’ve already realized we need a truthteller in our lives. We need a friend or two who can be brutally honest with us. You still need another type of friend.

Sam Chand calls these types of friends Pain Partners. They’re your 3 AM friend you can call when things aren’t going well.

Find a friend you can share your pain and struggles with. They will help you navigate the pain of life and leadership.

5. Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton):

I may only be an unpaid intern but I can smell a story. I’m going to find it.

Lucy was an intern for the GNN news station in Ryme City. She first meets with Tim outside of Harry’s old apartment. She had been staking out Harry’s place because she knew deep down there was a story to be told.

How did she know this? She followed her guy. She could smell the story.

There are people who will brush aside the notion we should listen to our intuition, to our gut. The feelings you get about an idea or a project have to have concrete evidence they’ll work, right?

That’s what those who believe only in empirical evidence will tell you. Your gut won’t lead you in the right direction.

However, you will find your gut will lead you in the right direction more often than not. If we listen to our gut, we can hear an inner voice we often block out. This voice is using all of the data we’ve gathered over our life and putting it into the feeling you get.

Listen to your gut.

6. Your team wants to be understood:

In the Pokemon world, humans and Pokemon cannot understand each other. Humans will typically hear a variation of the Pokemon’s name. For Pikachu’s, they hear Pika Pika. Or Charizard might roar.

Humans and Pokemon cannot understand one another. They speak a different language and communication can be a barrier. Take a listen to someone sharing different Pokemon sounds below.

But when Tim could understand Pikachu in Detective Pikachu, Pikachu was ecstatic. He had finally found someone who could literally understand him. And this person could understand Pikachu.

Your team is seeking to be understood. They’re looking for a leader who is seeking to understand their team. Something magical happens when a leader understands his team. Even more so when a team understands their leader.

Find ways to understand your team members. You may have to sit down and have lunch with them. Or you might have to have a one-on-one session where the two of you talk about life. Or you might observe them at work and listen to what they truly have to say.

Learning to understand your team won’t be easy. It may be the most challenging thing you do. When you do though, oh, it will be a beautiful thing.

7. Roger Clifford (Chris Geere):

You want a story? Find a source.

Roger was the owner of GNN. This made him Lucy’s boss. When Lucy approached him about a story she wanted to run, Roger told her to find a source.

Lucy didn’t have a source at the time. She had to go find one to present evidence before she could run with it.

This may seem to contradict my previous leadership lesson of following your gut. However, I don’t believe it does.

Leaders need to run with their gut. Especially when it makes sense. In other cases, find evidence for taking the next step in a project will make sense.

Know when to go with your guy or when to get evidence.

8. Remind your team of what they’ve previously accomplished:

Tim and Pikachu went to an underground Pokemon fight club in Ryme City. These weren’t supposed to exist because the Pokemon in the city were no longer forced to fight one another. However, there was one of these venues there.

After Pikachu and Tim arrived, Sebastion (Omar Chaparro) confronted Tim. Pikachu had defeated Sebastion’s Charizard before and wanted a rematch.

One slight problem, Pikachu didn’t remember the fight. Worse, he couldn’t remember how to fight. This didn’t stop him from getting in the ring but it did prevent him from being effective.

That is, until Tim began to remind Pikachu that he had previously defeated Charizard. Through Tim’s encouragement, Pikachu battled the larger Charizard.

You know the benefit of tallying your wins. However, do you tally the wins of your team? There’s a great power behind doing this.

If you tally their wins, you can remind them of the great things they’ve done. You can show them where they excelled. You can show them how they battled self-doubt and still came out on top.

Be willing to remind your team of their past victories. This will remind them they have done great things in the past and can do great things in the future.

9. Weak team members can become strong:

One of the Pokemon you’ll see in Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is a Magikarp. These Pokemon are basically worthless and weak. They are easily destroyed and don’t put up much of a fight.

Yet, with some work, a Magikarp will become a valuable Pokemon. They are able to evolve into a Gyarados. The Gyarados is a very powerful and hardy Pokemon.

You may see some team members as weak or worthless. They may slack off and not produce. But I think the example of a Magikarp into a Gyarados may apply to situations like this.

To become a Gyarados takes lots of hard work. You’re working with a Pokemon that has a weak attack. When you work with it and get it to the point of evolution, you have a great Pokemon to use.

This can happen with your team members as well. The more you pour into them, the better they become. Your example, your teaching, your coaching can improve weak team members into strong team members.

10. Pikachu:

Second chances are a great thing.

You may be hesitant to give team members a second chance. They messed up, it’s on them, and they’re the ones that are going to have to fix it or live with the consequences.

I want you to think back to before you were a leader. Maybe even once you became a leader.

Did you ever mess up? Did you ever do something that could have sunk the organization you work for? Maybe…

And what happened? Someone gave you a second or third or fourth chance.

These extra chances are a great thing. They give you and those you lead a chance to redeem themselves. To continue serving the organization.

Be willing to give a second chance.

11. Tim Goodman:

I know you who you are.

In a fake recreation of what happened to Pikachu and Tim’s dad, Tim and Pikachu are shown Pikachu turning on Harry. This caused doubt to rise up in Pikachu.

He began to believe he was a bad Pokemon. He wasn’t trustworthy or good.

Tim wouldn’t have any of this. In the short time he had known Pikachu, he saw Pikachu was good and honest.

One of the benefits of getting to know your team is that you can remind them of who they are. You can share the stories of the good they’ve done in the past. Or how they helped a project succeed.

Get to know your team members so you can remind them of who they are.

12. Know your best strength:

Tim knew Pikachu’s best move. This move was called a Volt Tackle.

A Volt Tackle is exclusive to the Pikachu evolutionary line of Pokemon. It is an electric and physical move that deals massive damage to the target. Volt Tackle can paralyze the enemy. However, it also could damage the user. Needless to say, Volt Tackle is powerful.

When faced with an R-raged Mewtwo, Pikachu knew what he had to do. He had to use Volt Tackle to fight Mewtwo.

We all have skills and talents. Many of us consider ourselves Jack of all trades. That’s good. We need to know how to do a variety of tasks.

My question to you is “Do you know your best strength?” Do you know what you do that no one else can do?

Seek out the answer to this question if you don’t already know it. Ask friends, family members, and coworkers. Try different tasks. Look at what you like and dislike.

The answers you find there will lead you to your best strength. Once you’ve discovered your strength, use it.

13. Earn your chance:

Earlier in Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, Roger had told Lucy to find a source. By the end of the movie, Lucy had her story. Roger gave Lucy a chance to report on what had happened.

You may feel like your leadership journey is taking forever. The transition from a team member to a respected leader doesn’t happen overnight.

You will have to earn your chance to show yourself as a leader. You will have to speak up when you see something that needs to be done. Moreover, you will have to take action like a leader.

Be willing to do the things others are unwilling to do. Show yourself willing to set aside your needs for the betterment of your organization.

Do the things leaders do and you will earn your chance.

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14. The things you seek can be right in front of you:

Major spoiler alert here

Tim was seeking out the answers of where his father had gone. First, he believed his dad had died in a car crash. Then, he finds out his dad may have survived the car crash. Another twist and Pikachu helped kill his dad.

Then the truth comes out. Harry was merged with Pikachu by Mewtwo. This allowed Harry to survive the crash… Just not in the way Tim thought he might have.

In the end, Harry and Pikachu are unmerged. Tim has a happy reunion with Harry (who we discover is Ryan Reynolds!).

Throughout the whole movie, what Tim wanted was right in front of him. His father was with him. Maybe not in the way he desired but there he was in the form of a Pikachu.

There are so many things we may be seeking in our lives. Some of them are good. Others are bad. Many of the things we seek are right in front of us if we’d only open up our eyes.

We are surrounded by love. We are surrounded by family. And we are surrounded by people who care about us.

Open up your eyes. Be willing to set aside the office hours and take in all that you have in your life. Is what you’re seeking right there?

Question: Have you seen Pokemon: Detective Pikachu? If you have, share a leadership lesson from the movie. If you haven’t, let me know what Reel Leadership lesson from Pokemon: Detective Pikachu resonated with you the most.

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