TV shows like Mad Men and Vinyl have their fair share of drama. Sure, one can argue that drama forms an essential component of any interesting show. But, it is also nice to see shows like Vinyl and Mad Men that hit close to home and strike a chord with businessmen, when it comes to real-world leadership advice. And no, this does not refer to those cheesy comments that are intended to sound witty, and show-stealing. The true genius of these shows is representing the real life situations that leaders face every day in a competitive business environment. The portrayal of these scenes sheds new light on the secrets of success of modern businesses.
Help Your Customers Connect With What You Offer
A business’s ability to solve a critical problem for its customers is only half the solution. The next step is to convince them that the problem needs to be solved, and that the solution that the business is offering is worth the money they are charging. This is the job of the marketing department. The most successful marketing campaigns target the customers’ emotions, rather than their rational side. Anyone with even basic exposure to psychology knows that emotion overpowers rationale with ease. By targeting emotions, businesses influence their customers’ decision making ability, and induce purchases.
In season 1 of Mad Men, when Draper was pitching his idea to Kodak, his presentation consisted of slides of his own family in enjoying different emotional moments. The slides were heartwarming, and the executives from Kodak were sold by the idea. In fact, Harry Crane even shed a tear or two. While this scene happened in a conference room, the outside world is no different. Emotions are powerful tools used for marketing success.
Treat Your Team with Respect
In episode two of season one of Vinyl, the American Century was on the verge of being sold to a German buyer. Then, in a drug induced stupor, Richie shows up to the deal signing meeting, and declares that he won’t be selling American Century. There is no doubt that the American Century is Richie’s brainchild. But, without all of his staff, and the two other business partners, the record label wouldn’t have been the same. The convincing tactics he employs on his business partners can, at best, be described as bullying. This is not the sign of a true leader.
Hard working and high quality employees are hard to come by. The ones that are very good at what they do know it, and are accustomed to a certain extent of appreciation. In any work place or setting, if they do not feel appreciated for their efforts, they will often be the first to leave the organization. Thus, a leader, who ignores the importance of colleagues and business partners, ultimately ends up with substandard quality staff. So, leaders who achieve great success always manage to attract great talent. Thus, they create a virtuous cycle, and have the most talented and productive bunch of people working for them. Since great talent is the foundation of business success, their success is guaranteed.
Never Underestimate the Power of Face to Face Communication
Draper always makes his pitches in person. Whether he is making a presentation, or engaging in an important meeting, he is usually doing it face to face. This is something that the best leaders out there follow religiously. In a world where there are a plethora of options for communicating, such as emails, message apps, video chatting tools, and so on, the art of engaging people in lively conversations is slowly fading away.
Of course, having Draper constantly making his pitches to his clients on Skype would not make a great TV show scene. But, the reason for his in-person conversations are different. The best leaders are proficient in communication skills like eye to eye contact, body language, sitting posture, and even exhibit their a high level of energy and passion during important meetings. All these factors are instrumental in tipping the balance of the meeting in their favor. Just as Draper’s pitching skills win him customers, great communication skills often win the leaders the rewards they deserve.
Always Recognize the Source of Magic
The best CEOs and most successful executives in any business are always on the lookout for new opportunities, new revenue sources, and changing trends. The sooner they anticipate these the more they can capitalize on them. In fact, in many dynamic businesses, all it takes is one mistake to shut down a decades old business.
In the beginning of Vinyl, Richie is shown as the guy with the golden ear. He is able to find the best talent and the next great music trends. However, he has lost his touch with the business lately, which has endangered the very survival of his own company. But, he relapses back into his drug addiction, and happens to end up at the Mercer Arts Center. There, he experiences a profound revelation about what his business should be like. Although this is not how business decisions are usually made, there is an important lesson for all businessmen out there. It is impossible to predict when, how, and where, new ideas and trends pop up. But, having one’s ear and eyes open on the lookout for them is the only way to ensure survival in the world of cutthroat competition.
Always Have Backup Plans
Being able to think on feet is one of the most important skills in any business. Be it a large or growing business, many decisions are made at the spur of the moment, as and when the situation arises. A good leader should be able to take sound decisions on the feet. Also, for important things it is best to have well thought-out plan ‘B’s. There have been many instances when Draper’s pitch went wrong, but he was able to save the day for Sterling Cooper, only because of his quick thinking skills during the moment. He always has something else to offer the clients, when they say ‘no’ to his first pitch.