Avoid Repeating Mistakes in Business

May 28, 2013
Betty Draper, of Mad Men

This weekend was a good one for television and we needed all three of those days to absorb that drama. On a side note, it was refreshing that so much good programing was of the scripted variety; Mad Men was off the chain and the Netflix return of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” looks promising. This blog usually tries to tie in a business lesson learned from Mad Men, but any connection between Sunday’s soap operatic return to things and our theme of the importance of being humble are too big of a stretch for this writer. So instead we’ll discuss the importance of moving forward and avoiding regression. Why repeat something that did not work in the past when you already know the outcome?

Sunday’s episode of Mad Men brought is the unthinkable sexual reunion of Don and Betty. You could say that Don’s instincts were primal here or that maybe he sought refuge in a time where things at least had the appearance of stability. So much of my parents’ generation focused on appearance. You could argue in our confessional times that we share too much personal information. Betty’s intentions seemed to be more about gaining the upper-hand. Either way, this is a bad idea and could create problems for Don down the line. Roger tried to reconnect with Joan as Pete Campbell became reacquainted with Duck Phillips. The only pairing that makes sense here, sadly, is Roger and Joan, whose torrid early seasons affair seemed to demonstrate real mutual affection.

Business works differently. The advantage of longer-standing businesses is that over time, they’ve learned lessons and have case-studies from which direction can be given on future endeavors. Where to spend advertising dollars, what kinds of people to hire and how to engage and manage clients are largely learned behaviors. Mad Men took a step back into the past Sunday. Businesses should always have a healthy understanding of their history in order to be truly forward thinking. Netflix is a great example. They built a gangbuster business off of a simple premise, listen to customers and create a product that meets their needs.


Netflix deviated from their model, flirted with irrelevance and a ceaselessly dropping stock price until getting back to what made them successful in the first place.

Leave the dysfunction to Mad Men and appreciate the value of what you’re business has learned from your past.