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15 Business Lessons from SUITS (The TV Show)

17 February 2021

Have You Ever Thought About Learning Business Lessons From a TV Show? If Not, Suits Should Be on Top of Your List.

The TV show Suits was like a box of chocolates. You had your favourites and then the ones you loved too loath. Mike Ross, Harvey Specter, Rachel Zane, Louis Lit, Donna Paulson and Jessica Pearson made us believe that there is always “happily ever after.” Let’s see what else we learnt from the hit series.

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1

Don’t Raise Your Voice. Improve Your Argument

Harvey Specter has imparted some solid advice throughout his time on Suits.

One quote that is attributed to him is “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” This quote was originally said by Desmond Tutu. The quote continues with:

“Good sense does not always lie with the loudest shouters, nor can we say that a large, unruly crowd is always the best arbiter of what is right.”

Tutu was a South African Anglican archbishop, known for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa. He got a Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984 and it was his father that shared this beautiful advice.

The fact that it was quoted by Specter is amazing, because it means you remain conscious in your dealings or arguments with others and keep a cool head throughout.

2

There’s Always a Choice

Aluxers, there will come a time when you feel like you have run out of options. Where you can’t see the wood for the trees, and you don’t know which way is the right way.

Harvey Specter says, “when someone points a gun at your face, you take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or you call their bluff. Or you do any one of a hundred and forty-six other things.”

There are always options. It’s up to you to hustle to find them. Even if at that point you’re mowing the lawn next door to get some cash, get out there and do something. But only you can make that choice. And if you think doing something unethical is your only out, rethink things quickly and see how cr*p you’ll feel behind bars!

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3

Mistakes Are Fine

Everybody makes mistakes! They’re par for the course, but it’s how you handle those mistakes that make the world of difference. Let’s take Mike Ross from the TV show Suits for example. He makes mistakes all the time.

First thing you’ll notice is that he doesn’t point fingers and play the blame game. He acknowledges that he screwed up and then he goes about fixing the problem.

We are living in a time where we believe we need to be perfect, and mistakes are frowned upon instead of being a learning curve.

Throughout history, highly intelligent people have made the most ridiculous mistakes. Like the time Russia sold Alaska to the US for 2cents an acre thinking it was useless tundra or how about 12 publishing houses turning down JK Rowling’s Harry Potter?

Like author, keynote speaker, angel investor and entrepreneur Tim Fargo said, “Success is normally found in a pile of mistakes.”  

4

Anyone Can Do My Job, but No One Can Be Me

Aluxers, let’s be honest… anybody can do your job. Obviously if qualified; I mean we wouldn’t like to be sitting in restaurant eating a supposed gourmet meal prepared by someone who’s never set foot in a kitchen before.  

Your role in your job is replaceable. But you’re not. So, believe in yourself and know your worth. Bring your real self to the table and don’t change because you believe circumstances force you to. If that’s the case, you’re not where you need to be. 

5

Mentorship Is Important

We are led to believe that upon graduation we are ready for the working world, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, we have the book knowledge, and a little practical experience under severely controlled environments. But what we don’t have is real world working experience. And that’s when being an apprentice to a mentor like Harvey Spectre made all the difference to young Mike.

Thankfully, in law, mentorship is still alive and well, law graduates enter as associates before they have to handle cases on their own. However, take a page from the cheat notes of the TV show Suits and embrace mentorship no matter what career you’re in.

If you don’t know how to go about finding a mentor, don’t sweat it, we have a video just for you:

6

Appearance Matters a Lot

First impressions count, and even before you have opened your mouth to say something ground breakingly profound, most people have already decided whether you’re worth listening to or not.

And while you might not judge a book by its cover, every one of us makes subtle judgements based on outward appearances.

One thing Suits certainly drives home is how gosh darn sexy being dressed to the nines is. The grooming of everyone in the office is completely on point, and while we ogle their outfits, we also have a whole bunch more respect for what they are saying because of it.

Take it from Suits and win the respect of the room before you open your mouth. 

7

If You Do Something Unethical, It’s Always Going to Bite You in the Future

You might feel you got away with something right now, but somewhere down the line you can be sure your bad deed will come back to haunt you.

Sure, it’s not uncommon in high pressure competitive environments for people to take liberties when it comes to ethics. But that doesn’t mean they don’t lose sleep over it and are in constant fear that it is going to come out with the laundry.

Either learn to live with the stress of it or live above reprieve and don’t cross the line. We at Alux choose the latter personally and the TV show Suits can teach us just the same.

If you are thinking about brushing up on your workplace etiquettes, check out 15 Principles for an Excellent Work Ethic.

8

Sometimes, You Need to Try the Unexpected Angle

The best approach isn’t always the obvious one. Mike has a real knack for tackling the problems he encounters in cases through creative means. He will look for exceptions in the law, examples in other cases that he can line up to his benefit or witness testimonies no one else would have considered.

Sometimes before you take the first solution to a problem, circle back around and see if there aren’t any other angles.  Then you also take your opponent with the element of surprise.

9

When You Are Backed Against the Wall, Break the Goddamn Thing Down

Nothing stops Harvey, not even a lead lined brick wall. You might think that you have to overcome challenges in your way or solve problems. Harvey in the TV show Suits just boulders right through them.

Harvey Specter doesn’t like things that limit him, so when something restricts him, he breaks it down, and down it goes in a blaze of glory. He doesn’t let anything stand in the way of his smart and creative approaches to problem solving.

So next time you’re backed into a corner, turn around and make your own emergency exit out of there, the Specter way.

10

If You Cannot Convince, Provide Something Better

Sometimes success doesn’t mean having exactly what your customer is looking for. Sometimes it just means showing them that you understand their needs and that you are willing to find a solution that addresses their concerns.

Do your homework and find out what actually matters more to your client. You might assume that price is important, but in fact they would pay anything to get their problem resolved. Or perhaps you think that delivery time is critical when they will wait for quality.

Whatever it is, if you don’t know what they need, then you can’t help them. And once you know what they expect, you might be able to offer them so much more. Sometimes just the fact that you are willing to try to meet their needs is enough to win them over.

11

Just Go Out There and Act Like You Know What You’re Doing

We have addressed the topic recently on Alux, but “Fake it till you Make it” is still a real part of success. Anyone on the up and up will be a little out of their depth at times. And there will always be an element of “faking it”. No one epitomises this trait more than Mike. Without a formal law degree he continues to own it in and out the court room with his mix of zealous confidence and cool approach.

The truth reflected in the TV show Suits is with or without the degree, on the daily most of us have no idea what we’re doing, or what the next challenge is going to be. We’re all faking it for the most part and winging it for the rest.

12

Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride

We all have those moments when the overwhelm sets in and we can’t think of anything but the problems we’re facing. Draw inspiration here from Mike, he always sets out to win, losing isn’t an option. But however the chips fall he is still enjoying the journey.

He celebrates the victory but doesn’t bemoan the failures. There are defeats but he learns and moves on with the knowledge of how to do better next time. He gets that life is a balance of some easy, and some tough stuff, and enjoying it is what makes the process manageable.

13

Love Thyself

In the words of Harvey: “Ever Loved Someone So Much, You Would Do Anything For Them? Yeah, Well Make That Someone Yourself And Do Whatever The Hell You Want.”

In the TV show Suits, Harvey Specter is unashamedly numero uno to Harvey Specter. And there is really no shame in this kind of mentality. It doesn’t assume you will be selfish; it just assumes that with the right faith and confidence in yourself you can overcome any obstacle, and nothing can take that hunger away from you. That hunger might be just the thing that solves world hunger, or cures cancer so go forth and Harvey it up!

14

Screw Meetings; Just Go Find the Person

If Suits were based in your office, it would probably be the most boring show on earth because most of the communication would happen via email and instant messaging. Thank gawd it’s not, because the kick down the door approach that Mike, Harvey and the gang make it far more exciting.

The truth is that it’s actually a far better way of doing things. The Suits characters show no regard for the airs and graces of respecting people’s personal-time and space, but rather walk in and get to the point rather than schedule a meeting.

It leads to far more candid and robust discussions that actually get to a point compared with endless “group meetings” that seem to always require follow up emails to conclude.

Next time you need an answer maybe a little office ambush is worth a try. 

15

We Go Down Together

Loyalty is the number one theme in the Suits series. And no relationship shows this like the Mike-Harvey dynamic.

A betrayal to one is a betrayal to both, together they win, united they fall, and the loyalty is bound by their secret. Even if you don’t have some blood brother pact with your colleagues or a business partner, loyalty is key to success.

Question:

What business lesson have you taken away from Suits? Share yours with us in the comments below.