Don Draper

Don Draper Offers A Lesson in the Art of the Deal [VIDEO BREAKDOWN]

Danny Tanner isn’t the only one serving up life lessons in the comfort of your own living room. Go ahead and chock it up to a case of art imitates life, but there’s a good chance your favorite TV and movie characters are dropping knowledge bombs on your sorry ass on the reg. Whether you’re main-lining House of Cards like Amy Winehouse did opiates or ignoring friend’s phone calls to crush 3 seasons of Mad Men over a long weekend, there are career lessons to be had.

I’ll be your John Madden as I break down EVERY. SINGLE. PLAY. It’s time for some X’s and O’s … let’s get to the tape.

First up …

Don Draper Offers A Lesson in the Art of the Deal



:23 [Everyone coughs when the client does]: The team offers a textbook clinic in reading a room. Roll with the punches and adapt accordingly.


:44 “Certain fatal diseases”: It’s all about word choice, my friends. Don’t get your tongue twisted and always be prepared with a more palatable cachet of buzzwords to drop in the place of “cancer” or “massive year over year loss.” Let em down easy.


1:15 through 1:45 I’m not actually sure why Don is more nervous than a whore in church but if my casual viewership of Mad Men taught me anything, it’s that it probably has to do with him engaging in scotch-fueled extra-marital relations the previous night. So, try not to do that.


1:15 [Don thumbs through papers when prompted to speak]: Don’t do this. Do anything but this. Fumbling awkwardly about screams “I am so fucking unprepared it’s not even funny and am currently buying time.” The best option here is to punt on 1st down. Send it back over to a colleague or say that you’ll have to follow up.


1:50 [Peter chimes in to help Don] Don’t be a hero. Falling on the sword is for two kinds of people: martyrs and those who can’t steal the sword from their opponent and send them to their untimely death. Do everything in your power to not be either: martyrs lay down and die  … and you should always be able to masterfully overcome having your back against the wall.


2:43 Peter offers an important lesson. Put yourself in the stakeholder’s shoes. Earlier in the sequence, the Marlboro Man across the table shared his fears that people are convinced cigarettes are bad (mmmkay). Why in the literal fuck would you pitch “death by cigarette?”


3:15 When you get that “COME TO JESUS MOMENT.” First let’s be clear YOU ARE NO DON DRAPER. But when you have this moment of clarity … when that little cartoon light bulb illuminates above your head and angels are singing in your ears, make sure to take a second to think about the novel idea you are about to blurt out.


3:28 through the end

This is where the real magic begins. If this video clip was of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” variety, this exact moment would be the chapter titled “And Now … Don Fucks Shit Up”. Immediately Don fires off a compliment, letting the client know they were right and softening the sting of Peter’s boneheaded pitch. This is a textbook case of buttering someone’s bread. You find me a person in corporate America who doesn’t like being right and I’ll show you a good Nicolas Cage movie.

As Don moves father into his savant-like diatribe, he lands a perfectly executed Marketing 101 technique: let the stakeholder answer their own question. He asks the client the right questions until they come up with a solution on their own. This is a win-win … you do less work and the client thinks you’re on some Mrs. Cleo shit. Sometimes being a psychologist is more important than being a man of commerce.

And for dessert, we’ll be having the sweet, smooth spoken word of Don Draper. Like icing on the cake, Mr. Draper pours it on heavy with a story that ties the pitch up in a nice little bow. His finishing move is a story that evokes all the feels and gets the client imagining his customer’s downing cigarette after cigarette.

Bravo, maestro.