Lessons Learned from Mad Men

April showers bring May flowers. Well, when it comes to the world of marketing and communications (and consumers at large for that matter), Spring brings the season premiere of Mad Men. What is it about this show that captivates audiences, whether they’re in the business of persuasion or not? Maybe it’s the fashion, the nostalgic peek into the past, or maybe it’s the lessons learned from the show – we like to think it’s the latter (with a dash of the prior).

Here are a few lessons that we learned from the oh-so-fascinating cast of Mad Men:

peggy olsonPeggy: Dream Big

Peggy Olson is a prime example of how the first step to succeed in any industry is to continue to dream big, in spite of obstacles set in your way. She began her career as one among many secretaries in a male-dominated environment. However, she kept her focus on the skills she had to offer, no matter how the world around her tried to influence her otherwise. Soon enough, she had become a successful copywriter for the agency, moving into lead copywriter and managing a team of copywriting staff, and ultimately left SCDP to become Copy Chief at another firm. Similarly, whether it’s a position you’re vying for, a client you want to land, or a larger, personal dream, keep your eye on the prize.

don draperDon: Be client-focused without sacrificing your values

Don Draper recognizes the importance of keeping his clients happy. We all know that a happy client equals a happy business. However, he stands by his values – maybe not in his personal life – but both creatively and professionally. Although oftentimes his decisions are selfish in nature, he doesn’t let his agency or his staff get bullied by a client who is out of control. It’s easy to “just say yes,” but make sure not to lose sight of your core values when doing so!

joan harrisJoan: Ask for what you want

While sometimes scandalous in nature, Joan Harris knows the right times to ask for what she wants. She knew that, with her husband in Vietnam, she needed to ask her mother to live in her home to take care of the baby so that her blossoming career wouldn’t fall by the wayside – and she got what she wanted. Joan also knew that, although in a compromising position with Jaguar, she wanted to become partner at SCDP, and she made that happen. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. In order to better yourself, there’s no time to sit on the sidelines, hoping someone will see how great you are and how great your brand is – get out there and ask to be a part of something.

roger sterlingRoger: Don’t take it too seriously

Your work is important. It is your livelihood. We get it. But if there’s anything Roger Sterling shows us, it’s the importance of making room for work AND play in your life. In order to be productive, clear-headed and, well, charming enough to close a sale like he does, you have to carve out time for yourself. Whether it be a pedicure, uninterrupted dinner with your family, yoga classes or a glass of wine and your DVR before bed – guiltlessly indulge in a moment or two of serenity and comfort daily.

pete campbellPete: Show some restraint

Oh, Pete Campbell. Where do we begin? If anything, Pete shows us what not to do. His lack of restraint both at work and at home have long caused him to derail. How can we apply this as a lesson learned towards our day-to-day? Show some restraint. It’s easy to get excited about a potential project, by a new client, or by a new tool you’d like to use. In marketing and communications, you can make yourself crazy with all of the opportunities! Before rushing into a project, really think all the details through – what is a realistic timeline, what is a safe estimate,  and is this a good fit for you right now? Get excited, but don’t let that take you over or cloud your judgment like it did for Pete!

What is your lesson learned from the ever-so-popular TV show? 

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