Updated: Aug 12, 2019
As most of you have figured out by now, this is the third installment of the "Change The Way You Run Your Business For The Better!" series. I didn't plan on doing a three part series, but it became a popular subject and the readers asked for it, so here we are.
In case you'd prefer to catch up on the first two chapters before reading this, you can click below:
I think it's important to lay down some ground rules for the T.V. shows that I have put on this list. There are plenty of other blogs that have explored this topic, where you will find such shows as "Shark Tank", "The Profit", "Restaurant Start-Up", etc. These shows are very entertaining but I see them as networks either exploiting sub-par entrepreneurs seeking money to buy their way out of trouble, or putting legit entrepreneurs in a situation to beg for capital on air for ratings. Besides, when it comes to the possibility of ever getting on a show like that, you probably have a better shot at "Dancing With The Stars".
As far as the real world application of such shows, if you need serious capital to start your business, your best bet is to write a damn good business plan and get a loan from a financial institution. If you're not comfortable with putting together your own business plan to secure the financing you need, or you just don't have the time to write your own, CLICK HERE.
And the last thing I will say before we get into the list of the 3 best T.V. shows for business/entrepreneurs to watch is, there will be zero shows mentioned from cable news channels or their affiliates. Most of what you will find on those channels is politically motivated, and if you have been following me here, you know how I feel about mixing politics with your small business if you don't have to.
This show is the ultimate example of how important it is to know and understand not only the people you work with, but your competition and potential competition.
The show is built around the main character Bobby Axelrod (played by Damian Lewis), who is a multi-billionaire hedge fund guru.
The main focus is entertainment value so they have done a wonderful job of creating dialogue around the hedge fund industry, that the average person who may not be as familiar with the lingo can understand. This terrific balancing act is why the show is so popular with so many people.
Much like in Chapter 2 of this series when we were talking about movies, I'm not going to give away too much of the show in case you haven't seen it. It is excellent and I highly recommend it regardless of the reason. That being said, Axelrod (Axe) is the best at what he does in the show for many reasons, but there is one that stands out above the rest.
The biggest thing that sets Axe apart from his competition is that he can see, plan for, and create favorable consequences for his company in further in advance than others can. In addition, he knows the people around him (friends and enemies) so well that he can dictate their actions and reactions to create such consequences. Very rarely do you find Axe "reacting"!
Much of what we are talking about here will come with experience in whatever your business is. Whether that experience started before you found yourself in the position you're in now, or will happen as you go, it will certainly come. It is impossible not to because there will never be a day in the future where you aren't making decisions that affect that future.
That being said, there are ways to increase the speed of that learning curve. Some people think that instincts can't be learned, and maybe that is true, but unless you were handed everything (and have ruined everything) in your life to this point, you didn't get to here and now without having those instincts.
While Bobby Axelrod is a genius, that didn't make him pay attention to small details about his business and the people around him that, time and again, give him a leg up. Paying attention to the things that others ignore does not require being a genius.
It was a serious toss up for me on whether Suits or Billions was actually my number one for this list. I settled on Billions in the top spot but it might be more accurate to label Suits 1-b.
If you follow this blog, or any of my social media pages, you have seen me quote Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) quite a few times. Harvey is a high powered name partner at a highly feared law firm, and is known as the best closer in the city.
What jumps out about Harvey at first is his confidence (but if in your opinion it was more cockiness and arrogance you wouldn't be wrong). Someone who talks and acts like Harvey in real life better have one hell of a resume, and can back it up. One of the best parts of the show however, is that he not only backs it up by winning, but they do an amazing job of showing how he does it every time!
If you have watched Suits before, or plan on doing so after reading this, let's keep in mind that it's still just a television show........ When you are running a business of ANY size, everything is not always going to be a win. And that is for the best, I promise you, because you will learn at least twice as much from your losses as you do your wins!
With out giving away to much of the show, I also have to mention the character Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams). Mike quickly becomes Harvey's right hand man as he leaps through the ranks at the firm. He is a genius who lands at the firm by pure happenstance (you'll see 😉), and has every bit as big of a story line as Harvey.
For a long time Harvey remains better than Mike, despite Mike's incredible intelligence and ability to learn quickly. It is a terrific character evolution watching Mike learn from Harvey and realize that the only thing he is missing is Harvey's confidence and will to win.
*What I'm about to say might be controversial in some circles these days, but I don't get paid to coddle the people who hire me, I get paid to make them more successful.*
If you ask 10 of the most successful people that you know to list five of their personal characteristics, I will bet you dollars to donuts that most of them put down "competitive". In the profit based real world of owning or running a business, there is no room for "participation trophy" culture, and if you don't have the will to win, you won't.
I will stop short of going on a rant about having a "killer instinct", but when you watch Suits you will see the level of commitment to winning that Harvey and have in order to be the best.
This show is a bit of a gear change from the likes of Billions and Suits. While the main character, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is the best crisis manager in Washington D.C. (and runs the best crisis management company in D.C.), the show is firmly based in politics.
That certainly takes nothing away from the lessons to be learned from Olivia about how to run a company. While watching Scandal it is easy to get caught up in the political drama that plays out, hence the name of the show. But if you are watching, it's also not exactly hard to take some very important lessons on how to keep amazing people around you once you've found them. The importance of reciprocal loyalties, and what a difference it can make regarding the company you keep in your organization is heavily on display.
In case you haven't seen the show, I won't give away all of the characters that I am talking about, who are invaluable to Olivia figuring ways out of the crises during each episode. However, the character that most exemplifies this quality is named Huck (Guillermo Díaz).
The story of how Olivia found Huck, and where he came from is fascinating. As you watch you will see crystal clear how important having people around you in your business like Huck actually is. More importantly, the show makes clear why Olivia is so loyal to him as her employee, and why she will do almost anything to keep him around.
It's no special secret that you need to surround yourself with the best people that you possibly can. In fact that is what everyone who runs a business better be doing anyway. However a big lesson that I learned from this show is not to be biased about where I find such people to surround myself with. Keep your eyes open at all times because you don't know when you are going to run into someone like Huck who can take your business to another level. It's not always going to be in an office interview situation.
These shows are terrific for the purposes we have discussed so far, they just don't make the top 3. And yes, I added 2 shows that I said I wouldn't in our opening, as I see them as exceptions to the rule!
- Ballers -
A superstar during his football playing days, Spencer Strasmore tries to find the same success as a financial manager for current players in sun-splashed Miami. Heeding his boss Joe's instruction to "monetize his friendships," Spencer builds a client base of young phenoms and veteran stars alike, but his role in their lives far exceeds money management as he struggles to help them navigate the many traps that come with life as big-time "ballers."
- Billion Dollar Buyer -
As chairman and CEO of hospitality company Landry's, Inc., Tilman Fertitta is in charge of a number of nationally known dining and entertainment brands, including Morton's The Steakhouse and Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos. With these and other businesses under his purview, he has tremendous buying power with an annual budget of $2 billion, and he's looking to use it to help American small businesses highlighted in this series. In each episode, he spends time with two small businesses, sampling their products and getting to know their owners. After sharing his expertise and pushing for improvements to the firms' products, Fertitta decides whether to place a significant purchase order with one of the companies, both or neither.
- Power -
It appears James "Ghost" St. Patrick has it all -- a drop-dead gorgeous wife, a stunning Manhattan penthouse, and the power and success that come with owning hot new nightclub Truth. But a closer look reveals a man living a double life. When Ghost isn't tending to his Fortune 500 business, he's catering to clients of another operation: a drug empire that serves only the rich and influential. While loyal sidekick Tommy protects the cash-cow narcotics venture at all costs, Ghost's new reality is using Truth as more than a front to launder money. It's a way out of the drug game and into a legitimate life with his family, even if everything he loves becomes unknowingly threatened.
- Undercover Boss -
High-level corporate execs leave the comfort of their offices and secretly take low-level jobs within their companies to find out how things really work and what their employees truly think of them. This Emmy-winning reality series utilizes hidden cameras to provide an authentic view of executives' journeys as they are immersed in the day-to-day operations of their organizations. In the process of this undercover mission, they learn of the perceptions about their companies, the spirit of their work forces and -- maybe -- something about themselves as well.
When it comes to this topic the truth is that in the end we are talking about television shows, designed to keep your attention and draw ratings. You are only going to get out of them what you want to.
The shows on this list are highly recommended regardless of whether I have compelled you to watch them for their business knowledge or not. If nothing else, they always get me a little fired up to take on my next day and push toward success, even when I don't originally feel like it.