As you might expect, we’re big fans of the AMC show Mad Men here at The Golding Group. We just love the romantic idea of creative professionals getting in a room together and pulling genius ideas out of thin air. Of course that’s not how the “real” world works, but it’s fun to watch. Even if it’s fiction, we did notice some real lessons all business leaders could learn from this season’s 2nd episode.
1. Keep real business goals in mind, leave your personal stuff a home
Don Draper (the main character) is working on a new campaign for Heinz Baked Beans. The client wants the Rolling Stones to record a jingle for them because his teenage daughter is their biggest fan. Don knows it’s a bad idea, but tries to make it work. In the end, he realizes the Stones are not what sells beans and has to find a way to convince his client.
2. Be a team leader, not a glory hound
Another story line involves a bright, upcoming junior partner Pete struggling for respect from a rather stagnant senior partner Roger. Long story short, the young gun is bringing in all the best business, making him highly valuable to the struggling firm. Pete has secured an airline account (a big deal) and is leveraging his success against Roger.
Here comes Pete’s big mistake. He uses the announcement to the staff of the airline account as a way to put Roger down, missing a chance to build the entire team up. His ego and personal politics are in the way of what’s best for the company. Pete’s action cost him respect from some of the senior partners.
Bonus mistake: Roger no longer wants to hire the best young talent, because he fears everyone new is after his job. The firm will now miss out on opportunities to build the best team possible due to Roger having insecurities.
Of course, the Mad Men ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce does it right more often than wrong. Don is the best at what he does because he gets to know his clients real strengths and weaknesses, finds a way to tell their story and always keeps the big picture in mind when working on individual pieces. Don is a strategic thinker long before the term came into vogue, and that’s why we love his style so much.