5 career lessons from the TV show Suits
If you haven’t seen the show Suits, here’s a brief synopsis: a suave, fast-talking lawyer named Harvey Specter hires Mike Ross, an upstart with a photographic memory, to be his new associate. The only problem? Mike never went to law school and can be found out at any time.
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.
And on the eve of its season premiere, we’ve put together five career tips from Suits.
Always dress for success
Shockingly, our first lesson from a show called Suits is to make sure you always dress for success. 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.
Many industries and offices have gone the more casual route with regards to dress codes, but Harvey might have a point. 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.
Network within your office
Networking is helpful when trying to land a gig, but it can be even more important within your own office. If nothing else, Suits makes it clear just how important it is to develop relationships with your co-workers. Despite their ups and downs, Harvey and Mike will be there for each other when needed, illustrating how important it is to have a strong support network.
Whether it’s helping you complete a big project or navigate office politics, the right ally can be a life saver. The good thing is that it’s never too late. Whether you’re new on the job or celebrating your fifth anniversary, you can always connect (or re-connect) with a co-worker. Seek out expertise, even if it’s in different departments, and offer to help where you can. The connections you make will not only help you in the short term at your current job, they might also open doors should you ever want to move on.
Make your own luck
If there’s something that both Harvey and Mike demonstrate, it’s that you have to be good to be lucky. While neither are exactly paragons of virtue and honesty, they’re always able to back up their bravado with hard work and talent.
The takeaway here is to focus on the basics: hard work, discipline, and most importantly, self-belief. If you keep working towards your goals, you will create your own lucky breaks.
Love what you do
It’s hard to find someone who loves what they do more than Louis Litt. This guy lives and breathes the firm he works at, and takes great pride in his job. When someone needs something done fast and done right, they turn to Louis.
If you are truly passionate about something, it shows in your work. Be the person who doesn’t complain when they have to work late or come in on a day off. Plus, when you really love what you do, it often doesn’t even feel like you’re at work.
Find a mentor
We recently wrote about how George Lucas learned a lot from his mentor, Francis Ford Coppola. Harvey and Mike have a similar bond in Suits. Sure, it’s a relationship based on self-interest (Harvey needs Mike’s abilities, and Mike needs Harvey to keep him out of trouble), but it’s still an undeniable mentorship.
Being able to consult with someone who has been there before can be a real benefit, in any industry. It might feel awkward to reach out to people who are more knowledgeable and experienced than you, but it can be very beneficial. Don’t be shy. Just on your best suit and make your own luck!
Taylor Shold is the Founder of Shold Media Group, a networking group aimed at helping inspire and educate the next generation of young professionals. Follow him @tshold.