13 Critical Business Lessons I’ve Learned From Watching Scandal
As I sit here anxiously awaiting tonight’s Scandal season finale, I started thinking. Just why am I so damn hooked on this show? It’s engaging sure. It’s got an awesome plot. But there’s more to it than that. Lots of shows have those, but this one will keep me up tomorrow night, throwing a tantrum that I have to go without Scandal for the next few months. So what gives?
AH yes. The fact that Olivia Pope is such a bad-ass in business. Her character is one that I inspire to be. And truth be told, I’ve learned a lot from her in these few short seasons that will forever change the way I do business.
When it comes to business, only the bold will win the game. You’ve got to take risks. You’ve got to shake things up. You can’t be like everyone else and still get noticed. And Olivia Pope is damn sure not like anyone else out there. Be unpredictable. Ask for what you want. And when it comes to price, ask for what you’re worth! Go ahead and drink red wine in white suits (a la Olivia). Have an affair with the President! Fair enough, don’t do that last one. But you get the point. Get out there and get exactly what you want and watch your business dominate!
I will admit, this one is still hard for me to do sometimes but this is definitely something I’ve learned is an important factor of running a successful business. Things not going your way in your personal life? Your customers don’t care. You’re overworked, stressed out, overwhelmed and need a vacation? Don’t sit around whining about it to anyone who has ears. Get yourself your vacation and get over it. You just gained 10 pounds and now you feel like a lazy slob? Get yourself a gym membership and get over yourself. You CANNOT let things affect your work because once you do, you will see your business slide downhill. Olivia Pope was having an affair with the President, was part of a conspiracy to get said President elected, and she had a hit out on her. Talk about a bad day. So look to Olivia for guidance. If you need to take some time off for personal matters, hire someone to fill in while you’re gone and do it! But if you’re going to show up at the office, you damn well better be ready to work.
Whatever it is, own it. Your business mantra. Your way of doing things. Your price. Your favorite bottle of Whiskey. The list could go on. Olivia Pope does this amazingly well. Her office, her rules and she won’t ever let you forget it. Now this isn’t to say she’s a cold hearted bitch. She loves her team and will do almost anything for them. BUT she owns her way of doing things and there’s nothing else to say on the matter.
You’ve got to be able to think on your feet and always have a Plan B (and C and D). In Olivia’s world, nothing is ever certain. People will surprise you. Leaks to the media will occur. You can plan for a lot of things but you can’t plan for everything. Know this and come up with a few other plans just in case.
NEGOTIATE LIKE A PRO!
You have GOT to hone your negotiation skills. Poor negotiation can cripple a business. Olivia is pretty great at this but Harrison really takes center stage for this critical business lesson. Seriously. Just check out this video of him doing his thing in a high pressure situation.
BUILD A TEAM!
Harrison, Abby, Quinn, Huck. Besides just being bad-ass at what they do, they are fiercely loyal to Olivia. She can depend on them when she tied up (with the President) and needs a helping hand. She can ALWAYS guarantee that they will do a superb job for her clients. And she knows that beyond a doubt, they will rally around her when it’s needed. You really need to analyze your team and make sure that you surround yourself with only the best. Not only are they an extension of you (and your reputation) in your business but you will get farther in business with a team than you ever would going it alone.
PROTECT YOUR REPUTATION!
Speaking of your reputation, it’s incredibly important in business. Think anyone will be trusting Bernie Madoff with their investments anytime soon? Olivia has an impeccable reputation. Through her years of successes and hard work, she has built a reputation of being excellent at what she does. Because of this, clients hunt HER down. Clients trust her with their deepest, darkest, secrets. And she can charge a premium price because of it.
HONE YOUR SKILLS!
Never stop learning. The business world changes in the blink of an eye and you need to be able to adapt or get left behind. In Olivia’s world, you can’t run out of options. You HAVE to find a way to fix the problem. The mYou’ve got to shake things up. You can’t be like everyone else and still get noticed. And Olivia Pope is damn sure not like anyone else out there. Be unpredictable. Ask for what you want. And when it comes to price, ask for what you’re worth! Go ahead and drink red wine in white suits (a la Olivia). Have an affair with the President! Fair enough, don’t do that last one. But you get the point. Get out there and get exactly what you want and watch your business dominate!
RESEARCH IS PARAMOUNT!
Once again, I can thank Olivia’s team for this one. Before every client, they do gobs of research. They need to know everything they can about their client, their client’s problem, and what the client isn’t telling them. This is exactly the same as it is in business. Research your target client. Research that client’s problem to validate the market and assist with marketing. Research what the client isn’t telling you. This is how you get inside their heads. This is how you make them buy. Your business’ success hinges on the amount of research you do.
TRUST YOUR GUT!
Okay, so Olivia’s gut isn’t always right, but she’s got a pretty good track record. From my own personal experience I can say that my gut is usually right too. If it’s a serious enough decision, always trust your gut.
OWN UP TO YOUR MISTAKES!
Every one makes mistakes, Olivia Pope included. Actually, an affair with the President ranks right up there with pretty bad decisions. But it’s what you do afterwards that will determine your success in business. Own up to it. Make amends. Do whatever you need to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. No one is perfect and your customers understand that. But you damn well better be trying your hardest to be a decent and fair business. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before you turn to dust.
Don’t promise an outcome that you can’t deliver. Olivia says this multiple times over the three seasons of Scandal and it’s so true. You will lose credibility. Your word is all you have in this world and if people start doubting your word, you aren’t taken seriously. You are reliable. People wonder if doing business with you will actually help them achieve what you’re promising them. When this happens, you lose sales. Never ever promise something you can’t deliver.
THE ART OF BAD-ASSERY!
You better be skilled in it. Olivia Pope is the epitome of a bad-ass. And she looks amazing while doing it. She will always be successful at anything she goes to do. In business, this skill is the best one to have. No matter what happens to the economy, your business, your team, etc if you are a bad-ass in everything you do, you will not only survive you will kick ass and take some damn names.
Television shows don’t always give a high return on time invested but Scandal is one of the exceptions. Take these 13 critical business lessons and show your competition who’s boss.
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Breathe. Live. Love. Dominate.
Lindsay Gattis – The Global Branding Gal.