Earlier this year I finally committed to doing something I had consistently put on the back burner: I decided I would finally watch Mad Men.
What first world problems, right?
I only like to watch one series at a time…mostly because I become obsessed with it and don’t want anything else to interrupt my viewing flow. Knowing this show had season after season had me skeptical about adding it to my rotation because I just wasn’t positive I wanted to invest that kind of a time commitment.I also questioned if it was the kind of show I would like. Luckily Kyle was also interested in watching it, so we decided we would watch it together and hoped we would like it.
Like it? I freaking loved it!
Beyond the fact that I am obsessed with clothing from that era, the show was actually really good. I have very few complaints about it other than the casting of a few characters who really annoyed me (Hello, you could’ve cast someone way better than who you chose for Megan).
Besides walking away from the season finale with a severe case of the sads (it happens whenever a series ends for me), I actually walked away with some lessons that are very applicable to my own life and yours, too.
Here are a few things I learned from Don Draper and the cast of Mad Men.
1. Dress for the job you want and how you want to be addressed.
The wardrobe for this show was absolutely impeccable. I can honestly say I have not seen a wardrobe this on point since Sex and the City ended years ago. Every last detail was thought of and took this show to another level.
It didn’t matter who we are referring to on the show….they knew that how they dressed would play into how they were viewed within the advertising agency. Even on casual days Don Draper was decked out and looked more professional that most, but 95% of the time he was wearing a suit that was very well put together. If you are working somewhere where you sincerely believe you could do more and be more, dress like it. No one will take you seriously if you are dressed in clothing that you could also wear on the weekend or around the house. Understand that how you are dressed is a reflection of who you are.
2. Sometimes the quiet riot is a better way to go.
A lot of people (guys and gals) think that being the loud and obnoxious type will draw people and attention to you. Don Draper was a perfect example of how quiet confidence can help you, not only in your career, but in the dating world, too. Clearly it worked for him if you noticed how many chicks it landed him throughout the series. His demeanor combined charisma and refinement with a quiet, mild tone of voice that usually gave him the upper hand.
3. Everyone is fighting a battle.
It is so important to understand this statement, especially this time of year. On the outside people may seem to really have it all together, but on the inside they may be battling demons or dealing with sadness or turmoil. Don’t assume you are the only one with problems. Don Draper was a great example of this…..on the outside he looked like a classy, successful man who didn’t have a problem in the world. On the inside he was dealing with identity issues, family issues, and sadness. Looks are deceiving. Be kind to everyone, as you may not know what they are going through.
4. Ask yourself, “What would Don Draper do?”
Despite the fact that he was an alcoholic cheater in his personal life, I loved how he presented himself career wise. When a stressful situation arose, he kept his composure and (most of the time) did not let his emotions get in the way of finding a viable solution. He spent a great amount of his time researching his clients and knowing things about them so he could have a strong and lasting relationship with them. Above all, he was direct with those he dealt with and didn’t beat around the bush. I like that in a person.
5. Money does not equate happiness. Don Draper was extremely wealthy and was able to buy his way out of pretty much anything. However, as we know, through most of the series he was unhappy. He had failed relationships and marriages, issues with his children, and the inability to find true happiness for a long time. He masked his problems by working, working, and working to make more money, causing him to miss out on moments that could bring him true happiness in life. Don never was content with what he had; he always wanted more.
6. An RBF never goes out of style.
Don’s wife Betty had an incredible RBF (Resting Bitch Face) and had the power to throw a side eye that spoke volumes. Sometimes a strong facial expression is more powerful than hurtful words, as she demonstrated consistently throughout the series.
7. Be the Joan.
Joan was, by far, my favorite character for a bazillion reasons. In my opinion, she demonstrates the perfect hybrid of a classy woman and complete badass, especially when you take into consideration the time frame this show took place in. Joan possessed intelligence, grace, quick wit, and a sharp tongue.
However, the thing that I like best about Joan is that she went through a great transformation during the series. In the beginning I saw her as a judgmental individual who didn’t want success for others. By the end of the series we had watched her transform into an independent girl boss who spoke her mind freely and made tough decisions that, at the time, were often frowned upon by society. I’m not saying she was perfect…we all know she did make some unsavory choices, but her work ethic and ability to be who she is regardless of what others said is something to be admired.
8. Appreciate the Rogers in your life.
Roger was a close second to Joan when it came to my favorites. I was fortunate enough to meet John Slattery on the streets of Tribeca several years ago when he was walking his dog and was pleased to know that he was just as kind and funny in real life as the media had made him out to be. When I was able to watch him in the role of Roger Sterling, I instantly fell in love with the zingers and one liners that I came to expect from him. We all have someone in our lives who fills the role of Roger. Appreciate their zany sense of humor and the one liners that always seem to surface at the perfect time.
9. You CAN break stereotypes and do whatever you want in life. Peggy Olsen is a great example of this. She went from being a secretary to one of the most creative advertising execs out there. It took hard work and a thick skin, but she loved being creative and had a dream. She wasn’t going to let a society who thought women belonged as secretaries and nothing else to hold her back.
10. Don’t Sh*t where you sleep. If there is one thing this show should tell you it is to NEVER get involved in a romantic relationship with someone at work. Every single person on this show did it at some point or another (some more than once), and it always ended in disaster. If you are going to engage in an interoffice romance, think about the consequences and how it could impact you and your livelihood should it not work out.
If you have Netflix and are looking to binge on a show, add this to your queue. I honestly didn’t think I could ever like a show about an advertising agency. Now it is one of my all time favorites. Watch it!
And when it comes to life and lessons and all that jazz, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the series….one that I think of daily.
In the words of Don Draper, “Make it Simple, but significant.”
I’ll leave you with some funny Rogerisms.