What Shows Like Mad Men And Vinyl Are Telling Us About The New Successful Business Model

Annie Parisse is Andrea Zito in Vinyl HBO

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.

Mad Men on AMC

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.

Mad Men business models

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.

Ray Romano is Zak Yankovich in Vinyl HBO
Ray Romano is Zak Yankovich in Vinyl HBO

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

Richie’s success

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.

Bobby Cannavale is Richie Finestra
Bobby Cannavale is Richie Finestra

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.

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12 O’ clock boys from YouTube hit, to award winning documentary, to Rocky sequel “Creed”

12 o clock boys in creed movie

12 O’Clock Boys. If you watch the news regularly or at least are active on social media, then it is almost impossible that you have missed the 12 O’Clock Boys. They are pretty much all over the place. And literally too, if you are living in Baltimore. This city, which has been through so much of violence, which continues to be a seat of acute distrust between the authorities and the general public, is popular for a new reason, albeit slightly related, the 12 O’Clock Boys. The 12 O’Clock Boys is the name of a group of dirt bike riders, who are infamous in Baltimore for their antics. What have they done? Well, they ride their two wheelers on one wheel, and their four wheelers on two wheels. They pop some really sick wheelies and hold their vehicles vertically, which resemble the clock at noon or midnight. Hence the name.

The 12 O’Clock Boys shot to fame with several YouTube videos that chronicled their superhuman feats. About 100 of such riders hawk to the roads and showcase their talents with reckless abandon, putting the lives of pedestrians and passengers in other vehicles at risk. There is literally no one to stop them. The police have been given strict instructions to not chase them, as the high speed chases can put the lives of the common citizens at risk. Instead, they keep an eye on the bikers from helicopters, which the bikers call as “birds”. This is the story of Baltimore and its 12 O’Clock Boys.

If you are thinking that the police inaction is a bit too much, then, hear this. There was an accident that took place some time ago, when a police officer was chasing one of the dirt bike riders. The chase ended in an accident that left the biker dead. The tension in the Baltimore got worse, if that is even possible. But, there is more to this gang than simply the police’s unwillingness to apprehend them. The kids, the teenagers, and even some of the adults love them and admire them. In the eyes of the police, and many civilians, this is a great thing. The very people who used to get attracted to drugs and violence have something else they can admire and follow. This is surely a much safer option for the Baltimoreans, who want their children to not enter the world of gang violence. Whatever the motivations for the leniency that the 12 O’Clock Boys are enjoying, they sure are capturing some admiration and attention.

12 o clock boys
12 o clock boys review on Artforum

In 2013, a documentary video on the 12 O’Clock Boys was released, albeit from the eyes of a young kid, Pug. The movie follows Pug over the course of 3 years through his adolescence. Pug is in absolute love with the biker gang, and admires them. He dreams of being a part of the mischievous gang. But, the whole idea is not something that sits well with his mother, Coco. She says that Pug is quite mischievous without a bike, and she clearly does not want to add fuel to the fire. Pug owns a miniature four wheeler in the beginning, and later comes to win a bike of his own. He practices stunts on his bike in the hope of qualifying to join the boys.

12 o'clock boys in Baltimore
12 o’clock boys in Baltimore

Lotfy Nathan, director of the documentary withholds any judgement and personal opinion on the bikers and Pug. In fact, he simply tries to show the bikers as seen from the eyes of the young kid. The 12 O’Clock Boys are sure the center of Pug’s life in the documentary. But, as far as the documentary is concerned, Pug is the central character. It seems the most important aspect of the documentary is to understand how the biker gang has been instrumental in capturing the imagination of the youth. Although the bikers have no social development agenda, they are making a difference in the lives of the Baltimoreans by attracting them towards themselves instead of a possible criminal life. For now, this is a good short term solution for an old problem of Baltimore.

Although director Nathan spends a lot of time portraying the world from the eyes of Pug, there are many hair-raising moments throughout the documentary. The performances of the 12 O’Clock Boys, which do not have any retakes or are produced using advanced computer graphics, are hard to believe, but 100% real. They do stay vertical on the roads, just as their title claims. Whether you like them or not, you simply cannot ignore their talent. Perhaps, they know that too.

Pug from 12 O Clock Boys
Pug from 12 O Clock Boys

While the biker gang has been on the road and in the news for some years now, it was only natural that Hollywood took a shine upon them. This led them to a chance to showcase their skills in one of the most successful movies of the year 2015, Creed. Yes, the seventh instalment in the Rocky series does show them. If you have watched the movie and are wondering what we are talking about, then don’t worry. We will remind you where you saw them. Remember how Adonis ends up in Philadelphia to get trained by Rocky? Well then, you must recall that Rocky does end up training him. Adonis’s training is covered in a series of montages, which showcase him training in various locations. In one of those scenes, Adonis is running through the streets of Philly, which catches the attention of the 12 O’Clock Boys. They speed past by Adonis in their signature wheelies as the music swells.

This inclusion of 12 O’Clock Boys by Ryan Coogler into the movie has been praised by many as one of the best contemporary touches in the movie. It showcases the rising of a young generation that is determined to create its own identity and make its mark felt, just like Adonis. The 12 O’Clock Boys is no more just a neighborhood gang. They have made sure that they are known and recognized across the world.


TWC Gives Hope to a Homeless Veteran as Part of its Veterans Hiring Program

Time Warner Cable has always been committed to the betterment of the lives of the country’s military veterans. In fact, TWC has taken a strong initiative to provide employment for the people who put their lives on the frontline for defending this country. As part of this initiative, TWC recently welcomed another veteran to their family. The veteran, Ivory Alexander, was in the Navy before returning home. But, when he left the Navy, he was left not only jobless but homeless too. When there was little hope left in his life, Ivory received a job offer from TWC. His story is truly an uplifting and emotional roller coaster, which will inspire more businesses to come forward and create special programs for veterans.

A few years ago, when Ivory left the Navy, he didn’t have a life waiting back at home that he expected. He couldn’t get or stay in any jobs that he got, mainly because he didn’t have a support system to maintain the job. He was homeless, and was not in a position to do anything about it. Naturally, he was frustrated with the way things were going. Standing in line for free meals became the routine of his life. This is the story of a man who is not lazy or didn’t want to work. He had the burning desire to work, and to get back up on his feet. But, the system is simply not designed to help the people in need. During this time, People Assisting The Homeless (PATH) became his only support system. However, all these things changed when Ivory caught the attention of the people from the talent acquisition team at the TWC.

Better opportunities are with Time Warner Cable

Today, Ivory works at as the Customer Care Representative of the Time Warner Cable. TWC trained Ivory in the various aspects of the customer issues that crop up from time to time. Soon, he was able to handle all the calls by himself. But, more important than that, Ivory is valued for what he does for the company. Speaking about this, Ivory said, “There’s a great support system for me here. There’s people who always have my back. They’ve enabled me to open my mind up to better things”. Ivory now has great confidence in himself and believes that his “potential is limitless”.
Ivory is not an outlier case in the country. It is estimated that roughly 48,000 veterans are homeless in the country. This is quite a disturbing situation for the country as a whole. But, TWC has taken it upon itself to help change the lives of the veterans for better. Currently, 8.2 percent of the entire workforce of TWC is constituted of veterans. This is much higher than the national average. This demonstrates TWC’s hard work to make a difference to the lives of veterans. The company achieves this by means of multiple channels. It has established a VetNet Employee Network, which is made of veterans, allies and families who have members in the military. Then there are initiatives such as Mission Media/Veterans Advisory Council, TWC’s Veterans and Military Page, and so on, which help the company to reach out to veterans who can be hired by the organization.

A highly supportive environment is essential for veterans to get acclimated to the civilian jobs. They find it difficult to translate their active duty skills to a civilian job. Moreover, after spending a few years in the military, the veterans cannot go back to formal education process such as school or college. Most of them have a family, and need money to support them. Therefore, they are left with no option but to find a job.

Jai Cotman is one of the vets that was originally hired through the program

Hundreds of veterans have found a very supportive employment opportunity with TWC. The job roles offered by the organization to the veterans do make use of their unique sets of skills and abilities. For instance, the soldiers were trained to perform a task or mission during their active duty. Similarly, cable technicians and customer support representatives are assigned daily tasks or conditions that they should fulfil by the end of the day. Thus, veterans are now able to concentrate on their job and perform them efficiently.

TWC’s efforts is not only extended to the veterans, but also to the reservists and members of the National Guard. Time Warner Cable has proved to be the one place where all the people who have served our country can find a supporting environment, and grow in life.

Dave Gouldner is another Vet that was hired by TWC, and now holds a great position at the company


What We Got Out of Kanye West’s ‘Life of Pablo’ Release

Kanye west released 'Life of Pablo" on Spotify

Life of Pablo is a much awaited album or at least it has been made so by Kanye West, who has called it ‘the best album of all time’. Well, that may or may not be true, what is true, though, is that this bet of being the best puts a lot of pressure on himself as well as on the people he is working with. When such a claim is made, everyone has to deliver their best, at least for the sake of it. On the other hand, it does come with its benefits. It makes people care more and talk more about his work. It creates a buzz that makes people want to see what the fuss is all about. Even if they want to criticize his work, they first have to go see his self-proclaimed greatest album yet.

The album has just now been released to the public for free under the Spotify platform, you can listen here:

So, at the core of everything is that album, which has taken years in the making. Kanye has not released a studio album in the last three years. This one too has gone through a lot of tweaking. The tracks on the album have gone through a lot of changes in the sequencing. Even the name of the album has gone through multiple changes. It was initially called Swift, which was later changed to Waves and then finally to The Life of Pablo.

The album has a total of eighteen songs that were first tweeted by Kanye himself. The list includes Ultra Light Beams, Freestyle 4, Father Stretch My Hands Pt1 Pt2, and Famous among others. Four of his earlier creations have also found a place in the album. Fans will find songs like No More Parties in L.A., Real Friends, Fade and Wave familiar.

Kanye has a lot of friends on the album. There is Kendrick Lamar in No More Parties in L.A., Real Friends features Ty Dolla $ign, who also appears in Fade along with Post Malone. Vic Mensa can be seen in the popular song, Wolves. Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, Rihanna, Chris Brown and The Weeknd, among others have also contributed to Kanye West’s latest album.

Kanye Makes a lot of statements through his performances, some say they are all over the place, others say he's a genius
Kanye Makes a lot of statements through his performances, some say they are all over the place, others say he’s a genius

In an innovative Kanye West style, the album was unveiled on February 11, 2016 in Madison Square Garden, with much fanfare and with 20,000 people in attendance. Different pop singers have different ways in which they make their albums popular. Some of them go on world tours to promote it, while some create an explosion of buzz by dropping their work online, unannounced. However, what Kanye did was risky, or was it? He is the king of creating a buzz, whether it is about himself or his album. This is true for most things today. Anyone and everyone, who can work up curiosity on the internet and capture the imagination of people, sells. That’s about it. Not only did he create a lot of curiosity and managed to generate interest in his album by calling it the best, but also made arrangements to maintain the grand status of it. While Kanye launched Life of Pablo live in New York, it was also simultaneously streamed in theaters across 20 countries, including Australia, Switzerland and Spain. This did give the album a much needed boost, but the actual event itself turned out to be disappointing.

Here is a little back story to understand what happened at the launch. It was not all about music, there was a fashion launch too. All this while, Kanye has also been working on his fashion line and he decided that the launch of his new album was the right time to showcase his fashion line at the Madison Square Garden. Vanessa Beecroft, the famous artist, choreographed the models, which stood the entire time the album was played. Many people think that the over-emphasis on the fashion brand made the music look secondary.

Rihanna has been featured in the track 'Famous'
Rihanna has been featured in the track ‘Famous’

The album indeed sounds a little distracted. At one time, Kanye had claimed that this was a gospel album, but the focus is just not there. The Life of Pablo has some really good tracks and some that are just disappointing. Also, the album feels like a mess at times, where Kanye has dropped his thoughts in between and the fans have to figure out how they fit in the story. These little nuggets are not bad poems; they are good pieces of writing. It felt like the star has tried to put together all the part of its life together, but there is a glue missing to hold them all together. They can just feel a little misplaced at times. It is not as well-structured as the earlier works of Kanye. It can be seen by some as a highly self-absorbed piece of work, touching the boundaries of delusion, and therefore, lacking perspective. This is a fragmented piece of music collection and maybe a little underwhelming to some or may sound like a masterpiece to others. Each to their own.

Kanye Dropped Lines from the song 'I Love Kanye' on SNL
Kanye Dropped Lines from the song ‘I Love Kanye’ on SNL

The critical response to the album has been mixed too. While some of the reviewers thought that it was a delightful piece of work, the others felt that it lacked focus.

After the big ticket launch of the album on February 11 and its release on February 14, all the copies of the album were taken off. Fans were bewildered and it was then that Kanye came up with surprising news. On February 15, he announced that his beloved album will never be on Apple. He told his fans that the songs would only be available on the TIDAL platform. Kanye’s announcement did not end there. He also informed his fans about the 40 new songs with Kendrick and the other 40 with the Young Thud. All of these songs are also going to make their debut on the TIDAL platform as well.


Blood & Oil Portrays These Real Problems Happening Right Now in North Dakota

Blood & Oil on ABC networks still

If you have been a regular viewer of Blood and Oil, you will be privy to the general sense of lawlessness in North Dakota as portrayed by the show. The riches that oil brought apparently comes with its range of sin as well. The show Blood & Oil is more of a TV opera than a documentary. Even for a TV show, it doesn’t make much of an attempt to be on the realistic side of things. If anything, the showmakers have even tried to create the impossible. Things like beautiful snow-capped mountains pop up in the show, which are nowhere to be found in the region. Clearly, Blood & Oil is not even pretending be anything but a soap opera. Despite its “abhorrence” for reality, Blood & Oil has managed to capture some of the truths of everyday life in North Dakota. Learning which of the things were true might leave you shocked.

Deluge of People from Across the Country

Amber Valletta in Oil & Blood
Amber Valletta in Oil & Blood

The show itself is about a young couple, Billy and Cody LeFever. The two of them are high school sweethearts, who recently married and want to make it big. They move to the boomtowns of the Bakken Oil Field, where they had plans to open a chain of laundromats. There are many people like them, who have moved from all over the country to the oil fields. While the couple itself is not based on any real life couple or events, it is true that North Dakota had become an oasis in the desert that the US had turned out to be around the 2008, when there was a financial meltdown. While unemployment rates across the country were touching levels previously unseen by an entire generation, North Dakota had the highest employment ratio in the country.

Rodes Fishburne, writer of the show explains how the situation was at the height of the oil boom. In his own words, “You could see all 50 U.S. license plates in about 20 minutes”. While the entire nation was looking for ways to throw people out of their organizations, here was one place that beckoned for hardworking people, for their sheer ability to work.

Rampant Drug Problem

Chace Crawford stars in Blood & Oil
Chace Crawford stars in Blood & Oil

In one of the episodes, we see a guy selling drugs on a food cart. While this may seem a bit over the top, this is not quite far from the truth. In as recently as 2014, the FBI had to deal with a peculiar case. A man was attacked, beaten to a pulp with brass knuckles, slashed with razor blades, even shocked with a stun gun, and left to die away from town. This happened in a remote corner of Montana, which has been affected majorly by the oil boom in Bakken Fields. The guy manages to get himself to a nearby farmhouse for help. He survived. Turns out, he was part of a violent gang that was running a drug ring, and produced meth.

The drug ring was being run perfectly by the gang behind an innocent looking house. They packed a lot of ammunition too. One of the guys had 22 weapons. When they feared that a member of their gang might rat them out, they tried to kill him. This was the person, who survived and eventually brought FBI to the meth lab. Seven of the gang members chose to plead guilty. While this is a successful case, things are not always this lucky for law enforcement officials. Before the oil rigs stopped production, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and a host of other drugs, and a number of drug cartels had become quite the way of life in North Dakota. The small town police forces were hardly able to keep up with all this.

Easy Money

Don Johnson is Hap Briggs
Don Johnson is Hap Briggs

The fictional town of Rock Springs, where the show is based in, is actually based upon the real town of Williston. When the show’s writer first visited the place, it was abuzz with activity like nothing he had ever seen. In fact, McDonald’s was paying $40 an hour, because nobody wanted to work for them, when they could get paid much higher in the oil business. Thus, it is no surprise that drifters from across the country were flocking to North Dakota. This posed another unique problem, which leads us to the next point.

Crime Rate

Many people in North Dakota are under dangerous situations if working for the Oil industry
Many people in North Dakota are under dangerous situations if working for the Oil industry

Of course, drugs are just one part of the main problem. When there is so much easy money involved, there was bound to me some blood. Reports vary, but there is consensus that the crime rate doubled, and in some cases, tripled at the height of the oil boom. Abduction, murder, rape, and so on, had become a commonplace in these small towns, where these things used to be very rare. The hardest hit were those who were at the center of the Bakken Fields. Arrests increased by 564 percent during this time, compared to 2005, when there was no oil boom. At such high crime rate, the police Sheriffs did not have the resources nor the infrastructure to apprehend or to hold them.

The effect of all this was that North Dakota’s oil boom was becoming a problem for everyone, including the ones who were profiting from it. FBI eventually decided to add more agents into the area. But, they were hardly enough for what was happening. Every week, there would be a mother visiting the station registering a complaint about her missing son or daughter.

All of these issues continued for many years, until the global dip in oil prices shut the whole North Dakota business. However, the show is yet to reach there. Fishburne says the show is set 4-5 years in the past, which means that the show will catch up to this eventually, but not anytime soon. That is, if the show goes into season 2 production, which has not been confirmed so far. Since the ratings never improved, ABC may have wrapped up the show.

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