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TV Shows that Teach You Invaluable Lessons About Business & Leadership

Today, many people argue that TV shows are too idealistic and not at all realistic, but some classic TV shows were safe for the whole family to watch, offered positive messages, and taught real lessons.

If you pick the right shows, you’ll not only find some much-needed escapism; you might also get an inspiration boost to help you see things from a different angle.

Day by day as we sit down watching one TV show to the next, they occupy our hearts and minds with their brilliant story lines, characters and dialogues. Intentionally or unintentionally we do learn a lot and apply them to some extent in our leadership style or daily routine.

TV shows are quite a magical medium for conveying a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time.

There are many business-themed shows of both the infotainment and entertainment genres where business owners can pick up a few tips and tricks. If you’ve suddenly found yourself with a lot of free time at home, TV shows can be a great way to fill the extra hours. They can help you recharge and relax, and you might even learn a little something in the process.

Here we have some powerful lessons by some of the most famous TV shows ever made in the history of television.



The Sopranos

Life hasn’t been the same since the Soprano’s went off the air. Despite the over the top violence, and stereo-typical, negative profiles of Italians from NJ (OK maybe I’m just a touch sensitive here!), the HBO series was flat-out entertaining and set the standard for a drama series. It was a game-changer in the TV biz, like American Idol.

Besides the entertainment, there are real business & leadership lessons in each episodes, and scenes that make you think.

We can go back and forth for days debating whether the show’s main character, Mafia Boss Tony Soprano, is a hero or villain. However, what everyone can agree upon is that Tony Soprano is a true entrepreneur. Although his tactics for success certainly differ than other entrepreneurs we know, the end result is the same: Tony runs his own group of businesses.

No one can say that the characters of the Sopranos are a moral authority, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a great resource for some very insightful principles.

Tony Soprano maintains control of the organization by maneuvering through the landmines of hidden agendas that each player brings to the table, all while staying focused on his own desires. Incorporate these management lessons into your own leadership style and you can run the show like a Boss; you don’t have to wake up this morning and get yourself a gun!



Mad Men

Over the course of 7 seasons, Don Draper adhered to a strict code of business ethics although his personal life would lead you to believe otherwise. Through his journey on Mad Men, he was able to teach us some important business lessons along the way.

Part of the fun of watching AMC’s Mad Men is marveling at how much things have changed since the 1960s. Set in a fictional ad agency in New York City, the show is almost a time capsule of a lost way of life. But look beyond the huge typewriters, hair pomade and prodigious liquor supplies and you’ll find some pretty smart business lessons that are as relevant today as they were then.

A far cry from a comedy like The Office, Mad Men takes a hard look at the way our values, creativity, and talents are used for profit. Viewed through the lens of an entrepreneur, these lessons are certainly applicable to modern business.

No matter how you interpret Mad Men’s philosophies on office culture, there are lessons to be learned in virtually every episode! Whether you work in the advertising sector like Don Draper, are part of a law firm, or have a career in healthcare, Mad Men has crucial advice for professionals in every industry.

As different as the business world may seem today thanks to the Internet, there are many classic lessons that all businesses owners can still benefit from Mad Men if they take the time to listen and take action.

If you’re able to look past the omnipresent themes of alcoholism, sexism and general rambunctiousness that existed in a 1960’s New York City office building, there are time-tested business strategy lessons that shine through. No matter the era, there is always something to learn.


Breaking Bad

One of the most successful TV series ever, leading to one of the most successful spin-offs. 61 episodes in all, some among the highest-ratest episodes of any series ever. Tons of copycats. Breaking Bad did okay for itself. I’m obviously not condoning the illegal activity portrayed in the show, but this Emmy winner for Best Drama has some key business truths woven into its beautiful yet twisted set of storylines.

The popular TV series Breaking Bad can be a crash course for entrepreneurs.

Breaking Bad, to me, became less about Walter White and more about commercial strategy. And watching it has been eye-opening. We are living in the golden age of television, and Breaking Bad — along with Band of Brothers, True Detective, The Sopranos, and The Office — represents the very best of the art form. Try watching them through the lens of a business analogy.

If you have not watched any of the Breaking Bad episodes, I recommend you watch the show with your notebook and business plan ready. Consider it an extreme entrepreneurship makeover using dramatization hosted by Heisenberg.

Breaking Bad shows us as business owners what’s possible along with what’s definitely not optimal. As Walt said, “Chemistry is the study of transformation.” Of course, I’ve got to recognize that Walter White’s enterprise was vile and illegal. Nonetheless, lessons from this sordid saga can help you “break good” in business.

After all, in a very short period of time Walter White went from hating his job to growing a massive business!



Suits can teach us so much about how to run a successful business and market yourself professionally. The show is filled with amazing quotes and metaphors for business which any budding entrepreneur or businessperson can easily apply to their own business ambitions.

Countless individuals and businesses all got to where they are today through hard work, perseverance and an unrelenting passion for what they do.

Suits can teach us so much about how to apply ourselves in the world of business, believe in ourselves and never stop learning. If you aspire for perfection, clients will come flocking towards your brand knowing full well that it is one of the best in its industry. The famous characters on Suits imparted some vital business lessons while solving cases and entertaining us. Its based on a fictional law firm located in New York. The characters in the TV series continuously deal with difficult situations and most of the time come on the top.

Beneath a swaggering walk and talk drama glistening with hyperbole it presents a reflection of basic human instincts at workplace.

On one hand while it idolizes a brazen take on individual achievement, personal success, lust for individual name and fame, on the other, it stands for all forms of collective action-cooperation and collaboration at all levels. In many ways, it is a symbol of everyday life in business.

If you really want to make it big in your life, play the bigger games rather than just thinking of the small losses.

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House of Cards

House of Cards can be considered as one of the most successful TV shows of the last decade. And with good reason. It was the first online-streaming show to receive multiple accolades, upsetting a lot of the established TV show production houses such as HBO. The story revolves around a U.S. Congressman named Francis Underwood, who goes through extreme measures to ascend to the U.S. Presidency.

Whether you love him or love to hate him, Frank Underwood is an effective leader, a great manipulator, and strategist. He knows what he wants and exactly how to get it.

Just like you shouldn’t believe everything you read, it’s wise to not try and emulate everything you see on television. But let’s be honest: the small screen is packed with some real gems when it comes to effective leadership lessons. Behind many great shows is a boss or mastermind. Many of us think that Frank Underwood is a villainous character but none of us will deny the fact that he is a true leader and has those leadership skills which always pulls him back from difficult situations.

You may not consider yourself to be a leader yet, but now is the best time to start preparing to be one.

Since many of us watch several hours of TV every week, the least we can do is glean a few strategies from these types of shows. Leadership is about having a clear vision and executing a series of tasks to achieve it. The sooner you adopt this mentality, the sooner you can position yourself to be in a role where people are undeniably relying on you for guidance — an ironclad trait of any leader. 


Silicon Valley

If you are remotely interested in the IT sector then we highly recommend HBO’s Silicon Valley ­– a TV show which captures the journey of the painfully awkward Richard and his start-up tech business Pied Piper.

It’s about a small team of developers at an Internet startup called Pied Piper. You watch them struggle to figure out their strategy, build their product, raise money, and take on Hooli, the tech giant that bears an obvious but superficial resemblance to Google or Microsoft.

If you really want to understand how Silicon Valley works today, you should watch the HBO series Silicon Valley.

The show is a parody, so it exaggerates things, but like all great parodies it captures a lot of truths. Most of the different personality types you see in the show feel very familiar to me. The programmers are smart, super-competitive even with their friends, and a bit clueless when it comes to social cues. Maybe you may identify yourself with Richard, the founder of Pied Piper, who is a great programmer but has to learn some hard lessons about managing people.

While a show like Silicon Valley may seem just a comedy and a bit silly, there are real business lessons to take from it. There’s a reason the characters on the show are successful. Try to keep them in mind in your our own journey.


Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica (BSG) is one of the most popular and beloved shows ever created because of its strong focus on character development and its intricate and ever surprising storyline of love, loss, war, religion, politics, relationships and mythology, all set among the cosmos. At its core, it is really a story about leadership and teamwork, and how each side succeeded or failed objectives depending on the quality of the leaders or team members.

Leadership, team building, and teamwork are critical to success in the modern workplace, and Battlestar Galactica characters can still teach us some lessons that are relevant today.

The people of Battlestar Galactica have lived through a recession you wouldn’t believe. With dwindling resources, a skeleton crew, enemies constantly lurking out of view, and a pervasive threat of annihilation, Admiral Adama navigates the vast unknown. Like any leader, he makes his share of mistakes–sometimes with devastating consequences. But regardless of the fate of that ragtag fleet, the tale of Galactica is rife with lessons that can benefit any business leader.

Heavy is the head upon which lies the responsibility of leadership.

Admiral Adama has all the traits that are perfect and sorely needed in a leader. He isn’t perfect by any means, but he is definitely the guy for the job since he could make the tough decisions more often than not and is able able to follow through with them. A good leader is the type that isn’t always going to follow procedure but will know when to toe the line and will do what is necessary and not always one hundred percent correct. But a good leader is also the type that will take into account the people under their command as well, and won’t be the type of vainglorious fool that will worry about his image all the time.

To be continued...