My Favorite Lesson from Don Draper

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

By now, the recaps will have been published, the debates over the ending begun, and the glowing post-mortems of the groundbreaking television series Mad Men written. There is much to be gleaned from one of the greatest television dramas in recent years. From an HR perspective -  the need for Title VII legislation. From an entrepreneurial perspective - the scrappy never-say-die attitude of the gang from Sterling Cooper (and its many incarnations over the decade.) From a parenting perspective - the cautionary tale that is Betty Draper Francis.

My ode lies in its creative roots. Watching the creative process - with all its false starts, bad drafts, and constant fear that your last good idea was your last good idea - was an edifying experience.

In a bout of utter frustration, Don Draper's protege Peggy Olson once demanded, "show me how you do it. Show me how you think." To which he replied,

"First I abuse the people whose help I need. Then I take a nap. Then I start at the beginning again, and see if I end up in the same place."

In other words, think as hard as you can about your problem, then forget about it and let your subconscious do the work. That's where the "shower moments" come from. That's why you need a piece of paper on your nightstand at 3am. The answer is in there. Let your entire brain pitch in and do the work.

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