Encouraging the entrepreneurial masses with snake oil is a booming industry, particularly in the Startup space. The number of reality shows, courses, books, seminars, coaches, accelerators, incubators and the sheer volume of media convincing entrepreneurs that success can be raised, bought or subscribed to is absolutely ridiculous. It’s an industry unto itself.
What sticks out the most is that nearly everything you hear, see and read is positive. ‘Do This…’ ‘Follow This…’ ‘Read This….’ ‘Buy This….’ and you too can be successful.
Anyone involved in any kind of new or small business venture knows it’s a long road to reward and the bumps along the way can be huge. Even when you do have a great product, service or model, growing a business is not without its challenges. But it’s rare to hear about them before you actually run into them. I guess there’s no money to be made in dragging people’s dreams back down to earth.
Interestingly, in my experience, I’ve found it’s actually fiction that provides the most truth. So, if you’re like me and only have an hour here or there and want to unwind - maybe learn a little at the same time - I can honestly recommend these shows as having genuinely influenced, validated or at the very least resonated with my experience over the last few years in the Startup world.
Maybe it’s a generational thing or maybe the influence that TV has on me is a concern in itself, but I can honestly say these shows have taught me lessons, raised questions and confirmed the existence of the recurring characters that one does tend to meet in the business world. They’ve taught be to be curious, cautious and realistic about success. To put it simply, they’ve done a sh!tload more to help me than any of the self-help books that people constantly try to ram down my throat. They’re my warm blanket.
I know this is crazy obvious and you probably already watch it, but Silicon Valley is hands down one of my favorite shows and a great parody of life in tech startups – for its brilliant writing, accuracy, acting, comedy and constant reminders that many of the people you’ll meet will only try to take from you - it never stops reminding you that failure is always just around the corner.
Want more? You can actually follow my favorite actor from the show on LinkedIn. Kumail Nanjiani recently started publishing some life lessons that, just like the show, are actually pretty useful! Give him a follow here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kumail-nanjiani/
Politics are a fact of life and not simply for politicians. Anyone in business knows that success can come down to your ability to navigate relationships and please others whilst balancing your own beliefs, values and needs. One of my favourite quotes of all time reads “We are not ourselves, we are manifold. We have as many ‘selves’ as there are groups to which we belong.” In the Startup world this rings true. Every day you wear a different hat.
House of Cards tells it like it is. Brutal, harsh and dirty. You might not be these things, but you’re going to come across plenty of people and situations that are. Let Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) be your guide and take notes. Understanding how to play the game is just as important as how well your product delivers.
Many of us get into the Startup space because we want to be our own boss, own our own business. Many of us also have exit strategies. If I’m being honest about my own plans, I’m trying to achieve certain types of freedom. Freedom to go about my work the way I want to and, ultimately, financial freedom. Vinyl basically chronicles the challenges a record label owner faces when the opportunity arrives to leap from one of those freedoms to the next. Richie Finestra (played by Bobby Cannavale) has the opportunity to secure the financial future of his record label, but will have to bring his vision and company’s culture under the umbrella of a large corporation - and he’s struggling with the pros and cons of doing this.
If you’re in a startup and talking to large firms about the promised land of acquisitions I can promise you this show will resonate. Plus it’s set to an amazing soundtrack, produced by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger… and there’s loads of action, parties and drama.
I’m in the creative agency world so Mad Men has to be on the list. It’s a great depiction of the moral, ethical and personal decisions and compromises we have to make as creatives. It teaches you about conflict of interest, the personal toll agency life can take and how to celebrate and mourn as the highs and lows of winning and losing big accounts wash over you every day. It’s a somewhat historical account of an industry that still functions in much the same way today, at least from a business point of view, and is a great show to drink whisky/ bourbon to at the end of a long day.
Because f*ck it, season 7 is about to start and you need more dragons in your life. Take some time out and enjoy a little fantasy.