If you haven’t been watching AMC’s Mad Men over the past few years, you are definitely missing out. The show is set in the 1960’s and shows the complexity of running an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City. The intriguing characters, historical accuracy, company drama, vivid costumes, and superb acting have made the series a huge hit.
But the show is more than just a dramatic portrayal of America during a volatile and changing time period. Don Draper, the focus of the show, displays many ageless truths about running a successful business through good times and bad.
Here are 4 timeless truths any business can and should learn from in the series.
1. Look For Talent in Unexpected People
When Peggy makes her debut with her very first marketing idea (a tagline for Belle Jolie lipstick), her career reaches a turning point. She slowly emerges as the dark horse in the office.
During a time when women were sticking mostly to secretarial positions, taking a chance on Peggy was rather out of the ordinary. And Peggy transforms from an awkward girl, into a sophisticated and business savvy woman who offers creativity and perspective that her peers could not. Peggy is truly a testament of why you should encourage talent and growth in employees.
Warning: unlike Don, don’t fall into the trap of taking your talented employees for granted, forcing them to eventually leave the company.
2. Master Handling Potentially Bad PR
Don’s response to Lucky Strike is a genius move, and one of the most memorable moments in the television series. He swiftly takes the action needed to re-position the Lucky Strike breakup with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce into positive PR for the company by writing a letter explaining SCDP's rejection of tobacco companies.
And while his actions didn’t win him brownie points in the office at first, because it alienated any future possibility of working with another tobacco company, his bold move does not go unnoticed by businesses looking for advertising. And it ultimately saves the company.
3. Learn the Importance of Personal Branding
Don Draper is a brand unto himself. He has mastered not only advertising brands, but advertising and presenting himself. The moment he walks into a room, he has a presence that is powerful and he draws the attention of the room on him. He knows the power of dressing well, speaking eloquently, and oozing confidence. All of which go far in the business world.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Fire Clients
Now, while Don’s reasons for firing Jaguar as a client was not taken well by the other partner’s involved, it does bring up an important point: sometimes clients are more trouble than they are worth.
One of the mistakes many businesses make is continuing to do business with companies that destroy their reputation, and harm the company culture they've worked hard to build. It is important to say no to bully clients who are only causing damage within your company, even if they are paying most of the bills.
Viewing the inner workings and evolution of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce can provide valuable insight into your own company and the decisions you make when it comes to hiring, firing, and more. Not only is Mad Men entertaining, but it is also informative.
Be sure to check out the second half of the final season on Sunday, April 5th!