Television is a guilty pleasure. Yes, I admit it. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, you’ve heard all the warnings. Too much TV will rot your brain. Television is a distraction from designing your best life. Television isn’t productive, it makes you fat and lazy. (No comment on the fat part.)
However, I’m a firm believer in the idea that television (in moderation of course, snicker, snicker) can be a great tool for ideas. You can learn at least one good nugget from almost anything you might flick a channel to, that can then be modified and applied to your own life. Same goes for movies, books, and music.
Whether you apply those little nuggets to your personal life or your business life is entirely up to you. I think you can do both with great success, if you really take some time to analyze the things that you watch and find ways to break it down into usable information that satisfies your needs.
One show that I love to hate is ABC’s Scandal, which happens to be returning for season five tonight. Creator Shonda Rhimes just has a gift of writing storylines that suck you in, shake you up, and then dump you on a street corner, heaving your guts up and leaving you stranded. (Grey’s Anatomy anyone? McDreamy? Dead?!)
Scandal loves to do exactly that, but even with all the illicit activities, murder, and political maneuvering, there several lessons we can learn from professional fixer Olivia Pope and her ragtag band of media Gladiators that can help us improve our business and achieve our goals.
Lesson 1: Everyone Fails at Some Point
Yes, even the sharp and dogged Olivia Pope. There will come a day when all of your efforts, no matter how heroic they may be, will fail.
You will lose that client contract you worked so hard to obtain, you will commit some terrible faux pas that alienates your potential clients, or you will drop the ball and trip up on that big project you have your entire life savings tied up in (ouch, don’t do that).
Or maybe it will just be very simple… you will fail to meet your own personal goals and deadlines, and it will bring you down and make you feel like a slack butt. Everyone knows slack butts get nothing done. Slackers for life and all that. Or something to that effect.
Lesson 2: Quitting is Not an Option
When that dark day of failure comes, remind yourself of who you are and all that you’ve accomplished. When Cyrus was ready to throw in the towel and quit his life, Olivia had to remind him (harshly too, I might add) of just who he was. He’d forgotten himself and all that he’d achieved. He’d given up, and was wallowing in self-pity.
His life overwhelmed him, and his instinct was to quit. But to be successful with anything in life, you cannot be a quitter. Quitters gain nothing. Winners take all. Sometimes we need a swift kick in the rear to remind ourselves of that, and to put back on our belts of victory.
On that note, I leave you with Olivia’s famous words to Cyrus when she delivered his swift kick… “Who are you Cyrus? So you’re not a b$!@% baby?”
Lesson 3: Surround Yourself with Experts
None of us can excel at everything. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Smart entrepreneurs recognize that and surround themselves with a team of experts to shore up their weak areas. Olivia Pope did the same thing.
She had her legal eagles, her muscle, her sleuths. She surrounded herself with people who knew how to get things done, and who, when paired with her own unique skills and fearlessness, made her a formidable opponent, even to the White House and Mr. President himself.
Lesson 4: Reputation is Everything
How did Olivia wield her team of experts to maximum effect? She understood that reputation was everything. Not only when it came to her clients and protecting their good name, but also when it came to her own reputation as well as the reputation of the leader of the free world.
Granted, obviously there was some iffy behaviors involved all across the board, but let those serve as an example. Protect your reputation, because someone is always watching.
The best way to do that is to operate from a place of honesty and integrity at all times. Treat your clients and customers with the respect they are due, and don’t deceive them.
Deliver on your promises, and if for some reason you can’t… own up to it, admit to your mistake, and make amends.
Lesson 5: Always Have a Back Up Plan
Another vitally important lesson. Remember the old cliche, don’t put all your eggs in one basket? This holds true even today. Businesses fail, clients go elsewhere, income streams dry up.
Always have a back up plan in place, because it’s a given that the moment you don’t have a plan B, you’ll be crying to the heavens and wishing you did!
Obviously in the world of Olivia Pope there is absolutely nothing that is guaranteed, including her place of honor in the White House. But she never let that get in her way, there was always a contingency plan in her back pocket.
Lesson 6: Due Diligence People!
If there is one thing Olivia and her team knew how to do and do well, it was research the heck out of whatever problem they were facing, consider all the angles, and know exactly what they were up against.
In business, we often face challenges, or questions we don’t have the answers to. But it’s your job to find those answers and meet those challenges. Whether it’s thoroughly researching your latest client in order to pitch them an offer they can’t refuse, or researching a niche to launch a new product, putting together the proper paperwork for your new venture, you must do your due diligence. You can’t rely on someone else to do your work for you, not if you want to excel.
Lesson 7: Fake It to Make It
Olivia Pope is bold. She is fearless. She does not cower down to anyone or anything. Even when she’s terrified and seemingly defeated, she dredges up her last vestiges of courage and meets her fate head on.
Sometimes in business, we have to do that as well. We have to stretch ourselves to grow, and that means putting ourselves in situations that don’t always feel comfortable. Living and operating out of your comfort zone doesn’t promote growth and achievement.
You have to be willing to face challenges head on, to put yourself in situations that feel scary but offer huge opportunity, and take on projects that you may not feel qualified for. When you do that, you push yourself beyond the bounds of what you ‘thought’ was possible, and enter the realms of ‘true’ possibility, which is limitless.
The only limitation to your success is yourself. Get out of your own way, and be bold. Fake it if you have to, because you must start as you mean to go on. And if you mean to go on as a rock star, you gotta start rockin’.
Lesson 8: Be the Coolest Cucumber in the Bunch
They say that in almost any stressful or urgent situation, if you stop and force yourself to slow down, to allow your mind to work, to stay calm in the face of insanity, you can overcome the situation and act with a clear head.
Obviously you won’t be facing things like being kidnapped and ransomed to the President of the USA, or being stalked by Daddy’s assassin boy-toys, but you will find yourself at some point in a situation where the pressure is on.
When that happens, you’ll be okay, I promise. As humans, we are often refined under pressure. Sure there are always those one or two eggs who crack, but most of us harden and forge ahead like troopers.
Just like with diamonds, sometimes the only way true beauty can be revealed is through pressure. Stay calm, weigh all your options, and then act, don’t react.
Lesson 9: Problem Solve Like a Math Genius
Well, maybe not a math genius. Math makes my brain hurt. But problem-solving is a skill that will never go out of demand. Everyone looks for someone else to solve their problems, and as an entrepreneur, if problem-solving is your forte, that’s an opening for you to step in and be who and what your potential customers need.
We are built to serve, and one of the best ways to serve someone is to solve a problem for them. Olivia Pope built her life around solving other people’s problems. She became a pro at it, and when someone needed help, Olivia is who they called.
That’s exactly how you want your customers and clients to think of you. Be their problem-solver, and when they have a need, they will seek you out. Best marketing strategy ever.
Cori Padgett-Bukowski is a cheeky word wrangler-for-hire, professional blogger, and published fiction author under the pen name C.B. Stone. You can find her at Big Girl Branding, furiously polishing the words of her clients and sharing her thoughts on entrepreneurship with all and sundry as well as over at Salt, Light, and Faith, digging deep and sharing her thoughts on life. Elsewhere, you might find her sipping coffee, staring into space, and wool-gathering for her storytelling endeavors. Ps- wool-gathering is harder than it sounds. No lie.
*photo credit: whatculture.com*