Five Business Lessons I’ve Learned From TV Series Suits
Have you ever thought about learning business lessons from a TV show? If not, Suits should be on top of your list. The USA Network TV show Suits provides business lessons for everyone to use while exploring the world of corporate lawyers and their legal endeavors. While the program is set in a fictional law firm setting, I realized that each episode offers some insight into effective business acumen. Let us try to delve into some of the business lessons that one can learn from Suits.
We learn through imitation. We take certain aspects and traits from our role models and mold them to our own personalities.
As leaders, we take lessons from both real and fictional role models who we aspire to be like to better ourselves. Just like a good book, a good TV show help you to improve yourself. Improve the way you think, observe and proceed life. The physical demonstration of various lessons compiled in one episode helps you to learn something new with each episode all along the season.
Many people who have given up at some point in their life might learn a useful lesson from how a dropout associate lawyer is hired to solve problems by his senior.
Suits is an American legal drama about a top lawyer hiring a college dropout who impresses him over an unplanned interview while the latter is running away from the cops with a bag full of drugs. Its corporate setting seems too superficial at times but it delivers lessons that one can take-away and reflect upon.
Life is a game, play to win.
These are more than just words of wisdom from Harvey Specter, it’s also a life philosophy for the main characters in the hit TV series Suits. The legal and personal games they play have made the show a smash that has lasted for 7 seasons.
The love for Suits is undeniable and the entire series with amazing characters is irresistible. If you haven’t seen suits series yet, you will want to as you read on!
Even if you’re not a fan of legal dramas, or fast-talking lawyers, the show does offer some valuable lessons for career development and office survival. Here are some lessons that Suits has taught me, which I feel is applicable to both business and entrepreneurial life.
Lesson #1: Appearance Matters a Lot
One thing Suits certainly drives home is how gosh darn sexy being dressed to the nines is. The grooming of everyone in the office is completely on point, and while we ogle their outfits, we also have a whole bunch more respect for what they are saying because of it. We all must have heard the common quote that a man is judged by his clothes. Well, of course, every one of us will agree to this fact.
The way you present yourself has a deep impact on the other person which also helps in winning their trust eventually.
Getting a new suit is also one of the first things Harvey ask Mike to do. Mike finds this confusing. Why does the brand or look of his suit matter? For Harvey, however, the way you present yourself to the world says a lot about your character, your professional status, and your ambition. From his point of view, your appearance (and specifically the clothes you choose to wear) has a direct impact on your likelihood for success, one way or the other, so why not make an effort? After all, there are worst things in life than being known as a nice dresser.
There is evidence that what you wear can influence your thinking, negotiating, hormone levels, and heart rate.
The expression “dress for the job you want” does exist for a reason. Dress sloppy, and you’re thoughts are unclear and misleading. Dress sharp, and your mindset will be clear and precise. They say you only have once chance to make a good first opinion. Your appearance is crucial to your success. The way you present yourself has a direct correlation to the way people perceive you. Do you want people to respect and take you seriously? Then you need to first respect yourself, and dress to your standards of your self worth. A good place to start is with a classy timepiece. Whether its standing out with a skeleton timepiece, or a classic quartz.
Decide on how you want people to perceive you, and dress accordingly.
In the workplace, people tend to make judgments based on appearances, and it would do to dress for the impression that one wants to make. An office worker who piles on the jewelry, makeup, and teeters in high heels will often give the wrong impression, and someone who looks as if he or she just rolled out of bed will appear to not care about work at all. If you take the time, effort and pride into dressing sharp, you will undoubtedly radiate an image of self-respect and self-worth. People will see you and think positively of you as it’s clear you respect yourself. Furthermore, a sharply dressed man will radiate a sense of worth. People will see you in your clean, fitted clothing and they will start to think that you are worthy of their time and company.
Dressing to impress gives you a competitive edge. Not just for finding a job, it can also help you drum up new business or help close on a potential sale.
A strong first impression leaves a lasting impression. When you dress well, it shows that you are taking care of yourself, and now, you are ready to take care of your customers. It’s easy to become comfortable wearing sport trousers and a t-shirt, however, once you are in your comfort zone that is when you’re the laziest. But when you are dressed to impress, you look well, feel good and you’ll be more motivated to get things done and in turn be more productive. If there’s a big day ahead of you then why not dress sharply, you won’t be able to help yourself from getting out and showing off.
Lesson #2: Try the Unexpected Angle
The best approach isn’t always the obvious one. Mike has a real knack for tackling the problems he encounters in cases through creative means. He will look for exceptions in the law, examples in other cases that he can line up to his benefit or witness testimonies no one else would have considered. Sometimes before you take the first solution to a problem, circle back around and see if there aren’t any other angles. Then you also take your opponent with the element of surprise.
If you don’t dare to go beyond the rules, you won’t think outside the box and won’t get anywhere. Always be on a lookout for possibilities.
It’s a common misconception that the most frequently used approach is the best way to solve a given problem. Sometimes, we still try the front approach even when the sides or the back are completely open. Just like fighter Anderson Silva proves in MMA, one of the abilities that can make you excel is to attack from angles nobody else would have thought to try. This goes for any problem in any area of life. Mike repeatedly shows how to tackle a problem from an unexpected angle. He finds exceptions and creative angles on laws, witness testimonials and other situations. He finds openings to problems that seemed to not have had solutions beforehand.
Rules are man made. Once you realize that someone, no smarter then you have made them, it opens up a world of possibility.
Don’t break the law. But rules…well you can bend them to get what you want out of your life. Rules in your job or in social situations, are guidelines. Maybe you’re taking a business prospect out to lunch to discuss a contract. Your work rule says your budget is $100 for food and drinks. But this prospect wants to stay for a few more scotches and you think you can close the deal. What’s more important? Going over the budget, or signing this client? Break or bend the rules when you need to.
The lesson is clear: being in a bad position doesn’t mean you’re out of the game completely. Just think outside the box and find a way around the obstacles.
Harvey isn’t one to give up, no matter how many obstacles are put in his way. Whenever it seems like he’s backed into a corner without any means of escape, Harvey manages to find a way to turn the tables. He gets creative and finds a way to take down any limitations placed upon him. We always use the quote ‘Solving our obstacles’, ‘Overcoming our hurdles’, and ‘Figuring out our problems’. Well, Harvey thinks the other way. As per his theory, whenever you are restricted for doing something or bounded or confined to any edges, you ought to break it down. Creativity is always hindered by the limitations it is kept under.
Nothing stops Harvey, not even a lead lined brick wall.
You might think that you have to overcome challenges in your way or solve problems. Harvey in the TV show Suits just boulders right through them. Harvey Specter doesn’t like things that limit him, so when something restricts him, he breaks it down, and down it goes in a blaze of glory. He doesn’t let anything stand in the way of his smart and creative approaches to problem solving. So next time you’re backed into a corner, turn around and make your own emergency exit out of there, the Specter way.
Lesson #3: Mistakes Are Fine
Everybody makes mistakes! They’re par for the course, but it’s how you handle those mistakes that make the world of difference. Let’s take Mike Ross from the TV show Suits for example. He makes mistakes all the time. First thing you’ll notice is that he doesn’t point fingers and play the blame game. He acknowledges that he screwed up and then he goes about fixing the problem.
We are living in a time where we believe we need to be perfect, and mistakes are frowned upon instead of being a learning curve.
Throughout history, highly intelligent people have made the most ridiculous mistakes. Like the time Russia sold Alaska to the US for 2cents an acre thinking it was useless tundra or how about 12 publishing houses turning down JK Rowling’s Harry Potter? Like author, keynote speaker, angel investor and entrepreneur Tim Fargo said, “Success is normally found in a pile of mistakes.” For instance, many people think about breaking even or cutting their losses in order to avoid them. But this might lead to losing opportunities at time which would have been very much helpful in escalating someone’s career. Therefore, one should try to seize opportunities whenever possible and not try to calculate losses in the first go.
Nobody’s perfect and Mike Ross perfectly exemplifies it. He makes mistakes.
When the facts he obtains from his eidetic memory don’t allow him to forecast bad surprises, or when he wants to compromise his or Harvey’s winning position in order to help someone, he sometimes screws up. This happens to all of us in life. However, when Mike makes a mistake, he always finds ways to recover and come out on top. Naturally, just like in the real world, this isn’t always possible. In today’s world, where we always strive for perfection and don’t cut ourselves any slack, Mike’s character teaches us a valuable lesson: It’s not all over just because you made a mistake. Learn from it; grow stronger; become better.
When what we are attempting is not working, we look for a new solution, which enables us to think outside the box.
Without mistakes, we lose chances of experiencing the creative side of ourselves. Making mistakes is one of the most effective ways to gain new ideas. Our mistakes force us to push limits and find new things that inspire us. We get to understand that adversity is needed to overcome challenges in life. We know then that being flexible is important, as we can’t move forward if we stay in the same place. Without making mistakes, we would stay in our comfort zone, which leads us to inflexibility when things don’t work the way we want them to.
Everyone makes mistakes. What’s more, trillions of people experienced the same gaffes before you. It’s easy to imagine you’re the first to be unsuccessful, but you’re not alone.
Some of the most successful people I know made huge mistakes on their journey to achievement. Several earned, and then lost, massive amounts of money before regaining their losses, or made other blunders. You will meet setbacks and make errors just because you are on a voyage of discovery. Recognize accomplished people screw up too. Your mistakes are not proof you won’t make it. Focus, not on failure, but on progress, and see mistakes as helpful. Remember, every blunder is useful. It shows you what not to do next time and urges you to try a new angle that might work. Carry on, and you’ll find a way forward.
Lesson #4: Be the Cocky One Out There
It is completely okay to behave in a cocky manner when it comes to business. Yes, you heard it right. There are times when you need to pretend that you know everything and showcase your confidence in a bold way. If you know something then there is no problem in showing it off to others at times.
It’s not bragging if it’s true.
This is a totally unique quote as we often misunderstand the word ‘bragging’. An instance of boastful talk, exhibiting self-importance and blustering is what we consider as a self-centric thing. But, what if those things are 100% true? Think. It’s not bragging, then. Everything is not as it appears. Thus, it proves ‘Harvey Specter is not a conceited and self-centered person.’ When you are confident, you are an inspiration to others. Especially when you are a leader. That said, being confident without becoming arrogant is a challenge that needs to be kept on our agenda all the time.
All of us are marketing ourselves in every stage of life, and confidence is the currency we use to get the job, the girl, or the discount.
The thing that stood out about Harvey was that he was confident in his skills and ability that, even on days when he wasn’t at his best (there were hardly any), the people around him still believed he was in his element and treated him as such. Confidence, therefore, is an inner muscle that gets us through the door. How we stay on the other side is entirely dependent on character. A person who knows their strengths, who knows what they are good at, will devote most of their time to that activity, this way improving their skills and becoming more confident in their capabilities.
Being confident is really important in life. If you want a new job, if you want a raise, or even if you want to run your own business then you need to really believe in yourself.
The point is, Harvey and other successful people are confident because they’ve accomplished something. I’ve learned that when you accomplish something, no matter how small, it adds to your self esteem. It could just be starting your blog or getting out of debt or even landing a promotion/raise. Eventually success will be contagious and you’ll be able to walk into a room like you own it! Learning how to be more confident is not always easy, but it’s necessary to succeed in life. If you have low self esteem, it’ll be really hard to accomplish your goals (trust me, I’ve been there).
There is one thing that you will never see Harvey Specter do. This is to slouch.
He always holds himself up high, even when he faces disappointment. This posture helps Harvey to stay confident in the face of adversity. Your body language determines how you feel. If you hold yourself up in a confident way. Then you will feel confident. Keep your back straight, chin up and shoulders squared. This way, you will become as confident as Harvey and possibly even beyond. Body language is highly important when you are standing and walking. It is also crucial when you are sitting. Harvey always makes a point of sitting comfortably. He leans back in the chair and keeps his arms forward and shoulders squared. Even if he is in an uncomfortable discussion, he will maintain this posture and look cool throughout. He only leans forward if he is going to make an offer or he is defending his position.
Lesson #5: Pursue Higher Things in Life
Pursue higher things in life is one of Harvey Specter’s quotes in the show where he explains that most people like to live an average life, while he wants to live a life higher than theirs. This reminds me of Steve Job’s famous quote, “When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. That’s a very limited life.”
Harvey Specter has always been open about who he is. He likes the finer things in life and he isn’t afraid to go after them.
When he first started at the firm, he worked like hell to prove his worth and make a name for himself. He became a lawyer and built a successful career because he knew what kind of life he wanted to lead. It is no secret that Harvey Specter will go to great lengths to win his cases. Bluffing, coercive persuasion, and calling in a favor or two have often been Harvey’s go-to methods. Winning is important to Harvey because, after all, there are only two types of lawyers — winners and losers, and Harvey knows which type he is. Harvey said this line in Season Two at the moment when his career was on the line, because even then he wasn’t about to throw in the towel and settle.
Successful people do not set low expectations and goals for themselves. Instead, they aim high, think big, and work hard to achieve the best possible outcome.
Despite his humble mailroom beginnings, Harvey Specter did not use where he was as an excuse to not elevate himself. If he wasn’t a lawyer, there is a chance that Harvey would have made it any other legitimate way. This was seen through a conversation with Mike, where he said, “You couldn’t make money any other way? Bull**** Life is this [uses his palm to show a low level], I like this[ uses the same palm to show a higher level].” To achieve your goals, you must be strategic; you need to look at your life from a bird’s eye view and determine what is truly important. Then, you need to set goals and objectives for yourself that are more achievable to measure your success.
Whether it is in business, the arts or building a house, starting a venture requires vision, usually of the big kind.
It requires an individual to see an end that they will achieve through their means. Thinking big also allows individuals to plan each step of the way at achieving their goals. It allows people to anticipate problems or obstacles along the way that may or may not occur. In addition, thinking big keeps people motivated to continue working hard and overcoming any challenges along the way. Think success, not failure. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are. Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.
Thinking big expands your world. Thinking big forces you to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
It forces you to do things you’re not comfortable doing. Your world expands when you become comfortable with things that used to make you feel uncomfortable. It’s easy to think like a mediocre and be like everyone else, but the real challenge comes when we decide that we don’t want to be like everyone else and we want to be different. In order to think big, we should start thinking of things that are not common and things that not a lot of people do. This automatically separates from the rest of the pack. The person who follows the crowd will go no further than the crowd.
Although, there were many lessons I learnt from Suits. But only mentioned those that I liked the most and if you get offended by any of these above mentioned, then calm down guys. These are from my personal perspective. And if you have not watched Suits, then you’re seriously missing it. Start today with the first episode, you will come back thanking me.
The final business lesson I learned from Suits is to always have a solid exit strategy.
The days of people staying with the same company or organization until their retirement are over. Due to economic transitions as well as changes in the work environment, some people work at their current jobs for 2 to 5 years before moving on to another career option. They do this to stay competitive, take on new challenges, promotions as well as lead new endeavors. Still others may leave because they finished the work they started and there are no new challenges left to complete.
Don’t live a life where you limit yourself.
If you believe that you can influence the industry through your company, then take that belief and pursue it. You are called to live better than the average life. People often experience setbacks which cause them to give up on their dreams, but Suits proves that with some creativity and persistence, anything is possible. Make a way to make your dreams a reality, because only you will have to power to do so.
Stop telling others that you don’t have such potential to make it happen, bluff it first until you find a better way to do it.
Stop telling yourself that you cannot do something even if you’re not capable of doing it. If you will worry about tiny troubles then there is no way you will open the gates to success. You can only win big when you are easygoing enough to let go of the small. If one learns to take calculated risks from time to time, they will not only receive something beneficial, but their professions will also become a lot more exciting.
The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary. To your success, guys!
The series brought with itself a lot of entertainment and lessons as we see here, but personally, it also got me to believe that when one has the right attitude towards learning and a passion for a field of study, one will find ways to do so in everything they come across. What business lessons have you taken away from TV series Suits? Share yours with me in the comments below.
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.