Women have come a long way in the world of business, they used to be secretaries and receptionists and the idea of being a success in the business world was unheard of. The Award Winning show Mad Men, based in the 1950s and created by Matthew Weiner, decided to capture this struggle with the character of Peggy Olson. But what they decided to do with this character is show how to succeed. Within the first season, she advances from a receptionist to a junior copy-editor. After the first season her character continues to strive, along the way giving us important pieces of advice on what it means to succeed.
Professionalism is key
Peggy Olson isn’t perfect, she makes mistakes. She ends up having an affair with one of her bosses who happens to be married. She is, however very determined that it not get in the way of her work life. What her character tells us is that no matter what goes on behind closed doors or in your personal life, professionalism is, indeed key. In order to succeed you need to make sure that at work you’re working, that you have your mind focused and you present yourself to your clients and colleagues as nothing but professional.
Don’t be afraid to demand more
When Peggy’s idea is taken on board and they give her the title of Junior Copy Editor she’s nothing less than elated but she knows that she deserves to be taken seriously. Thus, Peggy asks for her own office and an advance in her salary. She gets it. What she tells us is that demanding – in a very coherent and well-thought manner – is not something to be afraid of. She also shows us that to get what you want you have to be persistent yet tactful.
Going back and working on things doesn’t mean it was a bad idea
Peggy comes up with a number of ideas, a lot of which are shot down and she’s told to go and work on it again. This doesn’t mean she’s bad, it means she needs to work harder. She doesn’t lose her position of Copy Editor because her ideas aren’t consistently successful. What this tells us is that in order to succeed you have to accept rejection, understand it doesn’t mean you’re a failure and just go back and work on things. To continue working - and working hard - is the route to success but also understanding that you can't give up in the face of rejection.
Ambition is a rare thing and should be embraced
There’s no question that Peggy is an ambitious young woman and it’s her ambition that gets her where she is. Along the way, others around her are angry, out shadowed and jealous of her success. Peggy can feel this but she doesn’t let it ruin her ambition. What this tells us is that to be ambitious may sometimes make you lose friends; it may make those who you trusted and cared about you become very jealous but that’s their problem, not yours. Ambition is rare and when you have it embrace it. Ambition leads to success.
There you have it: the inquisitive and helpful advice from Mad Men’s Peggy Olson – an ambitious woman who uses that ambition to succeed. She doesn’t let things get in her way, she doesn’t allow others to beat her down and she has that one goal throughout her career. The goal of success.