I enjoy watching this series on TV called "Suits". It follows a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Harvey Specter (played by Gabriel Macht), one of the best lawyers in the city, gives valuable lessons to his associate, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams), the lawyer without the law degree. I find myself taking notes (and tweeting them) as I watch the different episodes.
While waiting for the July 1 premiere of the second season of Suits on Jack TV, I list down the top ten lessons that I gleaned from watching the first season of series. It's not surprising that many of them came from the great Harvey Specter. There are few things in there that came from Mike and Harvey's arch-nemesis, Louis Litt (played by Rick Hoffman), as well.
NOTE: if these sound like a lecture, it's because these are notes I write to myself for when I need them... and to whoever is reading this list.
Here we go:
Here we go:
1. "First impressions last. Start behind the eight ball and you'll never get in front." -- Harvey Specter
Always dress as good as (or better than) you are. If that means upgrading one's wardrobe to look like colleagues then do so. Lab rats, however, have limited work clothes choices thanks to safety rules in the lab. Therefore, the dressing up part comes in mainly during conferences. Thanks to Suits, I'm now particular with fabric and stitching details on clothes, even if only on the ones I wear in the lab.
2. "When you screwed up... I didn't put that on you, I took it on myself because that's my job." -- Harvey Specter
Yeah, yeah. That's command responsibility. Leaders have had complaints and grumbles hurled behind their backs all the time. And it sucks. Whenever I get negative feedback from the boss, I remember not to take it personally because just before I've been told off, my supervisor has most likely gone through more hostile territory.
3. "I know I'm a bit prickly. But we're a team. That means I can help." -- Louis Litt
Not all supervisors are made equal. They have different leadership styles and different personalities. Not liking these qualities in one's supervisor is not a reason to not ask for help when the situation calls for it.
4. "Don't access information that's none of your business. It can backfire." -- Mike Ross
While this was about information being transmitted via fax in one Suits episode, I think that this statement also encompasses reading someone else's emails on screen and eavesdropping on people's conversations. This is hard, even when not meaning to, because today's workspaces have shrunk into cramped cubicles. Lots more people can listen in on one's conversation, thanks to the lack of sound barriers. Computer monitors facing the corridors beam their contents to people walking by.
5. "He's never going to make partner... because he doesn't get it... Doing good work isn't the whole job. Part of 'getting it' is that things like the dinner actually matter even when you don't think they do." -- Harvey Specter
Thought that the dinner invitation is just a means to good and FREE food? Or joining an office activity after-hours makes me get home later than usual? While these may be true, these social events are good ways of knowing people outside one's department. There are times when work backlog or personal things get in the way, so I don't always get to attend these social activities. But when I do, I normally end up with interesting conversations.
<6. Find influential people.
In one of the training courses I've attended, students have been asked to list down influential people they personally know. By influential, these people have bargaining power and can help one get what he/she wants.
7. "People hear what they want to hear." -- Mike Ross
So next time you're presenting an idea or some scientific discovery, remember that people are always thinking about how this new information can help them. They'd filter out or paraphrase your spiel to fit their ideas or their needs. So why let them? These could lead to misunderstanding. Might as well highlight how your information can benefit them and watch them get animated because their curiosity is piqued... then sneak in the other important details.
8. "Win a no-win situation by rewriting the rules." -- Harvey Specter
I don't know how this is done, but I think this is more about thinking outside the box than really rewriting the rules. In one of the training activities I attended, the lecturer said that if the instructions don't say you can't do something, then you can. For example, in one party game, the instructions were to go find the "treasure" and the complete team that arrives at the finish line first wins. Nothing was said about how to go find the treasure, so one group went on foot and another drove around. The team that walked had left a slow walker behind; the team that drove picked up the straggler. The walkers got to the finish line first but their team was incomplete. The team with the car was complete when they arrived. But since the straggler was with them, the two teams were complete at the finish line at the same time. Therefore, the game ended in a tie. This game still keeps cropping up in coffee table discussions half a decade after it was played. No team game has topped it yet.
9. Signed documents are very important.
Gone were the days of verbal agreements. Handshake agreements are no longer honored; hence the arrival of signed paperwork. In places other than law offices, paper and email trails are considered as recorded documentation. Hmm... that means I need to think again before deleting an email conversation.
10. "Winners don't make excuses when the other side plays the game." -- Harvey Specter
No excuses. Period. So next time you feel that you're on the losing end of a game or an argument, don't start making excuses (of being exhausted, of being on the more difficult side of the debate, etc). That difficult. The voice that keeps talking louder as one feels more discouraged is hard to silence as the boat is increasingly tilted. Continue playing and listening wholeheartedly and with an open mind. The leverage needed might just show itself when we're not distracted by negative thoughts.