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5 Things Mad Men taught me about life

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peggy_madmenI started watching Mad Men about one month ago. When I commute on BART I like to watch TV shows on my iPhone. I had watched all my standby shows and was looking for another program to watch when I decided to download one episode of Mad Men to see what all the hubbub was about.

And now I am hooked. I have watched seasons 1-3 and have a season pass for season 4. I think the show is very intelligent, the acting well done, but more than anything I love the historical and culture aspect of it. It is a unique peek back into a very interesting time in America.

The show leaves me contemplative and I like that. It is not always a pretty show with pretty people (well there are a lot of pretty people), the people aren’t all good and I like that. I was thinking about the show this past weekend and decided to write this post to share the 5 things that Mad Men has taught me about life (thus far).

[1] Always remember to be thankful to the previous generations of women. It’s the struggles of women like Peggy (and many others) that paved the way for me to have the fulfilling corporate career that I have today. I know that. But I didn’t realize it really until I started watching this show. The way women were viewed, treated and pigeon-holed is incredible to watch. Both at the office AND at home. Every time I watch the show I am grateful, so grateful for everything they went through that has allowed me to be where I am. I know that this is not the case for every woman in the world. A fact I became acutely aware of during a recent meal in which I was completely invisible, it was a sobering experience.

[2] Don’t be afraid to be good. Don Draper is damn good at what he does and is not afraid of that fact. He uses it. He is confident and not shy about his talent. So often we think we have to downplay our capabilities when we should be proud of them as well as use them to our advantage (except to exploit others). I believe this is harder for women to do, another reason why I love Peggy, as the show progresses she becomes more and more unapologetic about her skills. I think about how many times I have received a compliment on a item of clothing and my immediate reaction is to say, “This old thing, it’s nothing.” It seems impossible to just say, “thank you.” Extrapolate that to work and it’s even worse, it’s very hard to just say, “thanks” when complimented on my work.

[3]  Glamour is always in style. I know everyone loves the show’s style. Who wouldn’t? But you don’t have to go around dressed like the Mad Men crew to have a sense of style, although that would be fun! Just take pride and care in the way you dress. Follow a few of the French style secrets including buying classic clothes and mixing it up with a modern piece here and there. Buy good basics and they will last you a lifetime. The women’s clothing on the show is sublime, but all those undergarments…we’ve come a long way baby!

[4] Further to that, you don’t have to be a size 2 to be hot. There aren’t too many sticks on the show. There are plenty of normal size women and Joan…well, she is smoking. Sure there are episodes where the team are trying to come up with slogans, etc. for products that make women think they will be thinner or more beautiful, praying on the insecurities of women, but there are copiousness amount of regular gals getting plenty of attention on that show, most of them not a size 2.

[5]  Agency life hasn’t changed much in fifty years. Granted I have never worked at an agency, but in my work I have worked with plenty of them and have many friends who have worked in one. It is a great place to cut your teeth and get broad experience in a number of industries quickly. But it is competitive, there is a ton of churn, and expenses and what you can charge the client rule. Agency folks aren’t sitting around smoking cigs, sipping cocktails and taking naps, but a lot of the other dynamics that go on at Sterling Cooper (and Sterling Cooper Draper Price) still continue today.

Those were my takeaways. This season (4) is a lot darker and I am interested to see where it is going and what additional nuggets of knowledge I might pull from it.

How about you? Are there lessons you have learned from Mad Men?

J’adore #4
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