5 Shows That Taught Us Business Life Lessons

We’re fortunate to be living in the golden age of television. The stories we see play out on our screens each week are more dynamic and layered than ever before. While many shows have life lessons to impart upon their viewers, business advice is a little more uncommon. Still, many of the most beloved TV shows have storylines illustrating the fundamentals of running a business. Kickoff your next binge-watching session with these five favorites:

Lesson 1: Think Big with Parks and Recreation

In each episode of this NBC classic, Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson and the gang at the Pawnee Department of Parks and Recreation celebrate the unsung work carried out by local government employees. Private enterprise is highlighted, too, through the many madcap ideas of Tom Haverford and his business partner, Jean-Ralphio Saperstein.

Tom and Jean-Ralphio’s entrepreneurial efforts are the subject of many a goofy plotline. From their high-end liquor “Snake Juice” (which a colleague acknowledges is “basically poison”) to their bespoke children’s clothing line, the men are never afraid to think big. While we’re not advising you to hand out free iPads to every guest that walks through your door, as Tom and Jean-Ralphio did in their Entertainment 720 days, it’s worth channeling a little of their confidence when brainstorming.

MAP Moment – Think big by offering round-the-clock customer support for your callers with our 24-hour call center service.

Lesson 2: Stay Open-Minded with Mad Men

In the 1960s, men like Don Draper ruled the world. Captains of Industry didn’t need to listen to the advice or ideas of younger, female employees. For much of Mad Men, Don disregarded the contributions of Peggy and Joan because of their gender. Once he opened his mind up to the idea that women could be just as creative, intelligent and productive as men, though, Don was able to leverage the ideas of his entire team – not just the men.

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While it’s hard to imagine this level of discrimination happening in modern workplaces, close-mindedness about ideas still runs rampant. Even the most socially aware person can have mental blocks about trying new things. Whether you’re fresh on the scene or have years of experience in your industry, it’s worth taking an honest evaluation of your blind spots so you can stay as open-minded as you can to new possibilities.

MAP Moment – Facilitate a work environment free of discrimination to encourage open-mindedness with a whistleblower hotline.

Lesson 3: It’s All About Relationships with The Office

Michael Scott might be TVs cringiest boss, but he’s an incredibly effective salesman. Watch him in any scene that features actual wheeling and dealing, and you’ll see a man who is knowledgeable, confident, and above all else, empathetic. Rather than treating clients like a safe that must be cracked open, Michael extends the kind of honesty and kindness he’d like to receive himself.

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By getting to know your clients, you build real, lasting relationships that will keep people returning to you for years to come. In competitive markets, these relationships are often all we have. It takes time to build rapport – there’s no immediate gratification with this particular piece of advice. Still, when it comes to creating repeat business and customer loyalty, there’s nothing that tops quality relationships.

MAP Moment – Build quality client relationships are forged each time someone calls your company with a customer support call center solution.

Lesson 4: Marketing is Everything with Breaking Bad

Walter White is nobody’s idea of a threat – at least not at the beginning of AMC’s Breaking Bad. The middle-aged high school chemistry teacher is broke, depressed and has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In a matter of a few episodes, though, Walt has evolved from middle-class father to notorious drug kingpin. He does this through manipulation, violence and quality product development, but Walt’s primary tool for business is marketing.

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Rebranding himself as the mysterious Heisenberg, Walt sheds the trappings of suburbia to emerge as a dangerous and morally dubious meth mastermind. While we’d never argue that Walt was a moral man, his commitment to marketing is commendable. Breaking Bad is, if nothing else, an excellent illustration of the way mystique can appeal to your customers.

MAP Moment – Many small businesses use our remote receptionist service to make their company seem bigger and more credible.

Lesson Five: Offer Something Unique with Nathan for You

Though less iconic than the aforementioned shows, Comedy Central’s Nathan for You is perhaps the program from which we can learn the most. For the unfamiliar, Nathan for You is a Borat-esque comedy that features real business owners consulting with host Nathan Fielder – in character as a bumbling “expert” – about ways to improve. The suggestions are always ridiculous to the point of surreality, which makes for laugh-a-minute television.

Throughout virtually every episode, Nathan approaches businesses with ideas to help them stand out from the crowd. Take the episode with the California realtor, for instance. In order to carve out her niche in a crowded market, Nathan recommends a unique selling point: ghost-free homes. While the subsequent attempts to put the idea into practice are less than effective, the lesson is clear: without something special, it’s downright impossible to stand out from the pack.

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If you’re hoping to take anything away from Nathan for You, it’s the importance of individuality. Throughout each episode, Nathan hones in on the things that make a business special, that no other competitor in town can say they have. Whether it’s alligators in an electronics store (to guard the great prices) or an in-store meet and greet with a Bill Gates impersonator, the businesses leave indelible marks on their customers.

MAP Moment – Consider differentiating your organization by offering a bilingual answering service to help you cater to new market segments.

The Most Important Lesson of All

So what do Leslie Knope, Walter White, and Michael Scott all have in common? These characters know that successful endeavors are based on trust. That is why we are so honored to be the trusted call center partner for many great businesses across the nation. We customize our affordable live answering service plans to the specifications of each client. Contact us today to see what we can do for your organization and ask about a free trial of our award-winning services!