Nosibusiso Dulani sent a text telling me about a series she’d stumbled upon and was enjoying. “There is this American series you need to watch. The way they speak and behave, they reminded me of you; you’re going to love it”, her message went. I know many things about my dear friend, but that she has enviable psychic abilities, I did not know.
And she was spot on, I loved the show.
One of the things I took from the programme is a simple lesson. That absolutely great content gets the audience hooked. It’s not rocket science. But many a content creator often fall short when it comes to having their audience by the balls (in a good way, of course. I just Litt that sentence up, for emphasis’ sake).
One more thing about content is that over and above it being kick-ass, you’ve got to be able to present (design) it in a way that’s compelling. The introduction is important, and Harvey Specter’s first appearance triggers great expectations from the audience. Him presenting himself as ” The Best Closer in Town” tells you something about his self-esteem and character.
Anyway, I could rattle on to no end about content creation and design and the inherent lessons you can pick up from this awesome series to better your skills in that forte. But you’re more than your job in the communication space, and because I had numerous moments of holding back tears – of both joy and sadness – when watching the show, I figure it’s better I change direction.
So, here are some of my biggest take aways from Suits.
PEOPLE DESERVE CHANCES
Mike Ross stumbling into a lawyer’s office in one of the biggest law firms in New York is pure luck. It’s magical. They have interviews that afternoon, he doesn’t know, he bolts past the secretary and bursts right in an attempt to elude the guys chasing him. Wearing a suit that sits clumsily on him. It’s a suit anyway, so he pretends to be attending the interview. He blows the guy out of the water. How does a weed-selling guy do that, though? You wonder incredulously. He has special abilities, he can memorise everything he skims through.
So he challenges Harvey to a mental battle on the law, only he pretends to be using the laptop given to him. It’s blank. Relying on his memory, he goes toe-to-toe with an Ivy Leaguer and comes out on top.
Needless to say, he deserves the job. One problem, he has never attended any law school. Well, that’s arguable. He only attended Harvard University as the guy that helped students cheat their tests (for a fee, as he took the tests for them). He becomes a lawyer nonetheless — no one beats Harvey at anything, so Mike might as well be his protégé. The slippery slope of doctoring facts and covering things that follows the hire is a tale that keeps me glued to my screen as I genuinely wish Mike never gets exposed, while admiring Harvey’s smooth and nonchalant ways as he makes what he does seem easy. Mike is a fraud, but his brilliance forced Harvey to bend the law to have him work as a lawyer.
From this, I deduce one thing (and no, it’s not that breaking the law is okay). People deserve chances to prove themselves, immaterial of where they come from, the colour of their skin or whatever else. There’s often more than meets the eye — people aren’t one-dimensional.
FEELINGS MATTER AT WORK
An abrupt break-up with the love of his life, Sheila Sass (say the name out lout), sends Louis Litt on a downward spiral, and knocks him out. To a point he has no will to live. Perhaps you’ve felt like this, too, at some point in your life. Anyway, what he says to his associate had me rewind the part to internalise what he’d said:
“My heart is broken to a thousand million pieces and if I can’t put my heart to my work then I’m not gonna do any work at all!” My face Litt up from having heard that! How we’re socialised to believe that emotions have no place in business. But you do your best work when you pour your heart into it. Louis’ emotional nature helped drive this important insight home. Thanks Litt!
HAVE GUTS AND PUT UP A FUCKIN’ FIGHT
How Harvey Specter is able to pull off a bluff when he’s backed against the corner and has no ammunition is something that’s worthy of an ovation. We both know taking risks and living out of one’s comfort zone is one of the most difficult things we can ever do. But not for Harvey. He shows up even when the odds are stacked above-the-clouds up against him.
“You never complain when the other team plays the game”, he advises in one of the episodes.
HOW YOU LOOK IS AS IMPORTANT AS HOW YOU DO WHAT YOU DO
But wait! How Jessica Pearson, Donna (Harvey’s secretary) and Harvey Specter look, dress and even walk is a sight to behold. It’s absolute theatre. I concluded that the cast must have been taken to classes on body language and posture. Simply amazing to watch.
Let me contain my excitement. The point is simply this: it must have occurred to you that presentations with striking images linger in our memories, for example. We are visual as people. So, your image is as important as how you do what you do. Look the part.
BRACE YOURSELF, TOUGH TIMES ARE ON THEIR WAY
Pearson Hardman. Pearson Derby. Pearson Specter. No, it isn’t that Jessica is having a hard time settling down with one man in her life. Far from it. But, she is having a challenge keeping onboard a name partner that doesn’t at some point try and outsmart her. Daniel Hardman used the firm’s money to finance a side-chick’s lavish lifestyle. Derby had a lot of skeletons he didn’t reveal when named partner, putting Jessica in a compromising position and endangering her reputation in the messy process. She finally settled on Harvey as name partner.
These transitions were not without challenges. Actually, it’s hard to understand how she’s still standing tall (quite literally), and running one of the largest law firms in New York. It’s admirable.
The lesson here: whatever you do or plan on doing, it’s going to come with its challenges and at times, you’re going to wish you weren’t born. The wrath I tell ya! You’ve got to be mentally and emotionally strong.
For now, let me go and repeat the series. If I am honest, I’ve missed watching it.