5 Tips in Business Survival from Mad Men
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is the fictional agency at the heart of AMC’s Mad Men. Viewers have watched it grow from its inception and have seen it suffer great losses, celebrate important triumphs and milestones, and even rise from the dead. Watching the evolution of SDCP, one can’t help but notice its realistic qualities (despite the difference in era).
Therefore, in honor of Sunday’s finale, we take a look back at the tips Mad Men has taught us for surviving the world of business:
1. “50% isn’t enough––only settle for 100%”: This was one of the most powerful lines delivered this season by SCDP shining star, Don Draper. In a pitch to win a big fish (Dow Chemical ), Don argued that even though their brand was profitable, they were only operating at 50%. In Dow Chemical’s eyes, this was okay. However, in a passionate monologue Don explained that 50% would always be half, and no one likes half of anything. While the premise of 100% can sometimes be unattainable, it should always be the goal.
2. Always consider morale; it can make or break an agency: Whether you are in a leadership position or entry level, everyone affects morale. It is very important that agency morale stays high for the sake of the entire agency. This lesson came from the SCDP partners’ decision to forgo their own Christmas bonuses so they could reward their team. In the long run, happy employees produce better work.
3. You are never truly off the clock: Constantly bringing in new business is the cornerstone of a successful organization. As obvious as this notion is, we can sometimes forget that business opportunities are all around us. This lesson came from Lane Pryce’s attempt to bring in this season’s big account: Jaguar. While watching a soccer match with a fellow Englishman, Lane scored a meeting with the potential client over a few beers. Not to mention, Lane is not an account man, but actually a numbers guy. This just further proves the importance that everyone at a company work toward the goal of new business.
4. Know your worth: For those who watch Mad Men, you know Peggy Olson (played by Elisabeth Moss), one of the show’s most dynamic characters. In season one, she started as a meek secretary. By the end of season five, she was running an entire department. A lot of her worth was attributed to the leadership of Don Draper, but viewers admired Peggy’s self-determination. In an era where her worth was constantly questioned, Peggy became a force to be reckoned with. In the business world, if you don’t know your worth… no one will.
5. Speak up: Being vocal about ideas is a running theme in Mad Men. Don Draper does it about his creative ideas, Peggy did it for the sake of her own well-being, and in one very inspirational episode, Harry Crane (longtime SCDP exec) did it to benefit the whole agency. He demanded that the agency have a TV department and that it be led by him. It was risky, but in the end it worked in his favor. That is what business is about: taking risks, especially when it comes to advancing your career and your agency.
What are some of your favorite lessons from this season? Let us know in the comments!
Ten Tips for Improving Interpersonal Communication
The Halo Group recently met with Andrea Nierenberg of The Nierenberg Consulting Group to talk about interpersonal communication. Communication is key in all aspects of business and life. Ms. Nierenberg was kind enough to share a few tips with us, and we would like to share them with you.
The key to communication is listening and understanding. Everyone has a different communication style. This is easy to forget that and can lead to misunderstandings. When you understand where the other party is coming from how they take in your comments and how they process them–-you can make sure that you’re tailoring what you’re saying in the most effective manner to get your points across.
Check Ms. Nierenberg’s ten tips below to help improve communication:
1. Always take the high road; there’s less traffic. We all communicate differently and in different ways.
2. First listen to the other person and hear their point of view. You may not agree, yet you can listen, learn and then start a dialogue and conversation.
3. For every action, there is a reaction, and perception is often reality. Be clear in your communication and always ask for clarification.
4. Be a professional-–don’t take it personally.
5. Be aware of the other person’s communication style and realize that some people are visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners.
6. Learn from each generation and how they communicate. Ask, observe and find ways to communicate and collaborate.
7. Everyone is always an ambassador of your firm or company. Think of how you describe yourself, your brand and what your company does. Always think: “How do I wish to be remembered by that person,” etc., and know you have the power to influence.
8. Respond to inquiries in a timely manner and know when you should email, call, text or make it a face-to-face communication. Always ask people what their preferred method of communication is.
9. Be brief, be brilliant, be gone. Time is of the essence. Know what you want to say, be prepared and be clear.
10. LISTEN actively and without filters.
By taking into account the tips above, you should be well on your way to not only understanding how others communicate, but also improving your own communication with others.
Andrea Nierenberg is president of The Nierenberg Consulting Group, a business communications company headquartered in New York City. You can learn more about The Nierenberg Group on their website or on their Facebook page, and you can connect with Andrea Nierenberg on Twitter, or LinkedIn.