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The Game-Changing Business Lessons You Can Take From Emmy Nominees “Ted Lasso,” “Ozark” and More

Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
Staff writer
business.com Staff
Updated Aug 18, 2022

If you're a business owner, business leader or even budding entrepreneur, you'll definitely want to check out these business lessons taught by your favorite Emmy-nominated TV shows.

Watching the latest hit television series can be a great way to relax, unwind and connect with others. But in the middle of your excitement, suspense or even horror, did you ever stop to think about what these shows can teach you in terms of business? Probably not, but that’s what we’re here for! Here are game-changing business lessons you can take from seven of the 2022 Emmy nominees. (Warning: Light spoilers ahead!)

“Better Call Saul” – Lead generation

If you were a fan of the popular show “Breaking Bad,” you probably went on to watch its prequel, “Better Call Saul,” to learn the backstory of the intense criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman (aka Jimmy McGill), you saw in the former show. Throughout “Better Call Saul,” you see Jimmy’s character develop in more ways than one. Alongside him, you probably learned a few valuable business lessons if you were paying close attention.

Jimmy often learned the hard way, but his gritty (yet well-intentioned) actions taught us a few things about lead generation. For example, not all sales leads are good leads. Remember when Jimmy worked with that group of student filmmakers to create a commercial to advertise his talents? He was overrun with new client inquiries, but many of them were of questionable taste and not exactly a good fit for his business.

Instead of trying to catch every lead possible, home in on your mission, identify your ideal client or customer and focus on trying to acquire that targeted group of lead prospects.

“Dopesick” – Sales strategy

The fascinating and sickening miniseries “Dopesick” is based on the opioid epidemic ravaging America, perpetuated by companies like Purdue Pharma. Now you may be wondering, what honest business lesson can be taken from a bunch of money-hungry liars trying to encourage the use of Oxycontin? Well, while we don’t condone the ethics (or lack thereof) of Purdue Pharma, we must admit it had an effective strategy in terms of sales.

The miniseries depicts how the company became so successful at selling Oxycontin in the first place, and it was in part due to how they trained and supported their salespeople. It provided extensive training via in-person classes and video lessons, and supplied pamphlets, charts, documentation and data that explained just how effective Oxycontin was at treating pain.

With several supporting resources, a lot of encouragement to sell, sell, sell (like the trips, bonuses and other incentives they offered to their top sales reps) and the freedom to try various methods to get appointments with B2B sales leads (e.g., local doctors), it’s easy to see how Oxycontin salespeople were so effective.

FYIFYI: We don’t subscribe to the “any means necessary” mentality for making a sale. But supplying your salespeople with all the right information, resources and training can increase your chances of successfully converting sales leads.

“The Dropout” – Patience and honesty

Based on a true story, “The Dropout” shows the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes as she built the medical diagnostic company Theranos. In this Hulu miniseries, it appears as though Holmes truly thought she could revolutionize the healthcare industry by creating a device that can detect various diseases with only one drop of blood. The business idea was there, but her execution taught us a few crucial lessons.

For one, your business idea might take longer than you hope to work, and that’s OK. In “The Dropout,” we see Holmes become obsessed with getting her technology fully operative, so much so that she convinced people her product worked even though it didn’t. This was ultimately the catalyst for her demise and led to the crash and burn of her business – and a prison sentence.

Success doesn’t typically come overnight, especially when it comes to revolutionizing a trillion-dollar industry like healthcare. If your business idea fails, try again. Ask for help when you need it, and always lead with honesty. If you misrepresent your product or launch too soon, it’ll come back to bite you.

“Inventing Anna” – Personal branding

In the Netflix show “Inventing Anna,” we come face-to-face with yet another young woman who lied and manipulated people in an attempt to become successful – yikes. Anna Sorokin, known to the world as Anna Delvey, convinced everyone that she was a German heiress with loads of money and a viable business idea for the “Anna Delvey Foundation.” She appeared to live a lavish lifestyle and eventually went on to defraud several financial institutions, banks, hotels and acquaintances.

Although she broke the law and intentionally deceived people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, there are a few good lessons entrepreneurs can take away from Delvey’s behavior. For example, she was exceptional at managing her personal brand. Her image, confidence and networking skills were what allowed her to get so far in the first place.

Personal branding can help your marketing efforts as long as you’re honest about that brand and what you have to offer.

TipTip: Effective personal branding can help you find investors, attract customers and increase sales.

“Ozark” – Business partnerships

When it comes to teaching us lessons about the importance of business partners, the American crime drama “Ozark” has it all. This series follows the Byrde family to the Ozarks to embark on a life of money laundering. Marty and his family were initially thrust into this world due to a poor business relationship on Marty’s part – his business partner tried ripping off the drug cartel, and Marty was forced to repay his debts.

As the show progresses, we see several other business partnerships emerge – some good, some bad. The entire Byrde family eventually gets in on the criminal action, and it results in the death of a family member. We know working with family can be tough, but dang. It’s enough to make you think twice before jumping into business with family.

One of the most notable business partnerships in the series was between Marty and local criminal Ruth Langmore. Although the two had their ups and downs, Ruth became a big part of Marty’s operations and was, at times, indispensable. Although the series finale didn’t give Ruth the justice her loyalty deserved, their working relationship throughout the series reinforces that same lesson we learned from Marty’s original business partner in the pilot: Think twice about who you’re going into business with. [Read related article: How to Dissolve a Partnership Agreement]

“Squid Game” – Strategy and creativity

When the South Korean drama series “Squid Game” was released on Netflix, it quickly rose to the top of the viewing rankings. While you were enthralled by the suspenseful, comedic and sometimes horrifying events that took place during a game of survival, you may have also picked up on a few vital business lessons. “Squid Game” teaches us the importance of strategy, planning and creativity in business.

At first glance, many of the “games” in the show seem obvious or chaotic, but as it goes on, you notice that the players who make it to the next round were strategic about how they played. For example, the game of Tug of War initially appeared to be a test in brute strength, but some players were able to come up with a plan to outsmart the brawn. Similarly, the honeycomb game originally seemed to be a game of luck and speed, but with a creative approach (like licking the honeycomb), many were able to succeed.

In business, it often pays off to be creative and think outside the box. Innovation can help you become more efficient, save money and even attract customers. Having a well-thought-out plan or strategy on how to implement your business idea is also crucial for measuring and achieving long-term success.

Did you know?Did you know? Kenan Thompson of “Saturday Night Live” will host the 2022 Emmys, airing on NBC on September 12. Other business-minded and work-focused series that scored nominations this year include “Severance,” “Succession” and “Abbott Elementary.”

“Ted Lasso” – Leadership

Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso” quickly won the hearts of viewers around the world. This heartfelt comedy series shows the leadership development of Ted Lasso, a fictional American collegiate football coach who somehow ends up coaching AFC Richmond, an English Premier League soccer team. Lasso is written off as clueless at first, but his determination and inspiring attitude eventually win over the team (and viewers). Lasso shows great leadership skills, emphasizing the importance of consistency, curiosity, teamwork, humility and optimism.

Every business leader will be faced with challenges, whether from employees, clients, customers, vendors or other sources. How you respond to those challenges and lead by example will determine what kind of leader you are – and successful leaders are in a better position to run successful companies.

Image Credit:

GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
business.com Staff
Skye Schooley is a staff writer at business.com and Business News Daily, where she has written more than 200 articles on B2B-focused topics including human resources operations, management leadership, and business technology. In addition to researching and analyzing products that help business owners launch and grow their business, Skye writes on topics aimed at building better professional culture, like protecting employee privacy, managing human capital, improving communication, and fostering workplace diversity and culture.