Mad Men had it right, do the work

By | July 13, 2015

I am Generation X and I am getting tired.  Getting tired of asking for permission to ask junior consultants to do work.  Tired of the fear of offending their sensibilities. Tired of doing the thinking.  Tired of trying to “charge them up, get them excited” about the work. Tired of pushing.  Frankly, we need more Don Draper. Frankly, we need more trusting, mentoring, brutal honesty and hard work.  Let’s hustle, win, and have fun.


1. Do the work.  As simple as this sounds, too many younger consultants need to hear this again.  Do the work.  Think about the problem in front of you, explore ways to solve the problem.  Structure it.  Use different methodologies, tools, processes, including those mentioned on this blog.

2. Yes, ask for clarification, but not the answers.  As you are discovering your way to the answer, think about potential answers.  Communicate and earn your credibility. Rely on your manager for wisdom, discernment, or decision-making.  If you are asking them for information, or background research or something you could google, you are wasting people’s time.   Make yourself invaluable.

3. Show initiative.  Be able to research quickly and show judgment.  People don’t give you detailed directions.  Need to be a bit of a mind-reader.  Don’t wait until called. Stand up, ask for work.  Have an immigrant mind-set.  Hustle wins the day 90% of the time. As Steve Jobs said (in a different context), be eager.   Stay hungry.

4. Structure some ideas.  Take very good notes.  Read for relevant news.  Provide an outline, something to react to.  Don’t make me do all the thinking.  Expand the scope of your work.  Make it easy for me to say yes.  Sell, sell, sell.  Sell yourself and your ideas. Put yourself out there and win the idea fight club.

5. Meet me halfway.  Do some of the work.  Put it on paper.  Start scoping it out.  Write down the top 3 questions you want to ask me.  Show rigor in your thought.  If I am thinking about the problem more than you. . . we have a problem.

6. Don’t set up a meeting to talk more about it?  Don’t regurgitate some files that I already have.  I don’t need a manager.  I am the manager.

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10 thoughts on “Mad Men had it right, do the work

  1. JM

    Your comments are especially interesting considering that your sample population likely represents the top 10% of academic & professional achievers. Imagine what that other 90% is like to work with or work for.

    1. consultantsmind Post author

      True. Either I am a jerk, getting lazy, or hiring the wrong people. Or all of the above. It’s interesting. Hustle, attitude count for a lot. Thanks for sharing in my managerial journey.

      Also, I am a big believer that any relationship is a two-people-thing. Ergo, part of this burden, part of this discontent, must be my fault too. Yes, 20+ years into my career, but still learning.

      1. Nurtan

        I love Don and Mad Men, but thought the show is more about Sex, drinking, party, innovation and creativity….:-)

        1. consultantsmind Post author

          Agreed. I wanted to focus more on the work ethic part. . . but then again, they did drink on the job a lot. . . which is not what consultants do. Hmm, good point. . .heh heh

  2. Tom

    The old wish – still true: I want to work with real professionals; only once for 5 to 10 mins… please….. 😉

  3. Matt

    Mad Men was great! I think we can glean a lot about real life management do’s and dont’s from the show. While some of what they depicted was “sign of times” and manufactured drama, other scenes seemed like the real deal. I’m learning that work can be about politics but usually it’s just the slow steady grind. As a millennial management consultant, this dialog between Don Draper and his direct stuck with me, and I had to laugh when I found this post. Great insight!

  4. Tomm

    in short: say hello to gen Y..
    Seriously I want to see how they’re going to shape the consulting industry, as (in general) their values contradicts to everything this industry stands for.
    Not saying it’s good or bad, it’s just unavoidable.
    Hope that senior partners will implement their great change management toolkit they’ve bragged about for years 🙂

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