Career Insights from Don Draper

ZipRecruiter, MADMEN Edition

The sixth season of Mad Men kicks off this Sunday. In preparation, let’s revisit some of the best quotes by the show’s leading man, Don Draper.

3 Career Insights From MADMEN

#1: Disappointment

“Listen, Pete, I need you to go get a cardboard box. Put your things in it. Okay?”
Don Draper – Season 1, Episode 4: “New Amsterdam”

We’ve all been there. Maybe not in a situation quite as disappointing as packing a cardboard box and leaving work with a final paycheck, but we’ve experienced disappointing events in our careers. Think about a time when you’ve been passed up for a promotion. It sucks. Those times when your great ideas are shot down. And exceptionally disappointing, the moment you realize you hate your job.

In many cases, disappointment spurs a necessary next step in your career. If you don’t like your job, find a new one. If your ideas are squelched and you’ve gone as far as you can go, maybe its time to find a new direction? If you’ve found yourself in the same position as Pete Campbell from the quote above, don’t sweat it. The step out the door might be a step in the right direction.

#2: Change

“Change is neither good or bad, it simply is.”
Don Draper – Season 3, Episode 2: “Love Among the Ruins”

Inherently, change does not come with a value of good or bad. It’s just something that takes place. Don further explains, “It can be greeted with terror or joy. A tantrum that says, ‘I want it the way it was,’ or a dance that says, ‘Look. It’s something new.'” For Don, change is a “blank slate,” an opportunity to build upon something new.

Many changes take place in the course of a career. The result can be positive or negative, but its how we choose to move forward after change occurs that defines us.

#3: Ambition

“Even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary. You get hungry even though you’ve just eaten […] But what is happiness? It’s the moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50% of anything. I want 100%.”
Don Draper – Season 5, Episode 12: “Commissions and Fees”

Don is the epitome of ambition. His insatiable desire for “better” is very well summed up in the quote above. He’s not satisfied with attaining a goal that was previously out of reach. He has to have more.

Please remember to balance this in your career. You have to take time in the present to realize and appreciate your accomplishments before moving on to the things just out of reach. Too many times I beat myself up about my work not being good enough, failing to really see the results of that work. It’s good to have ambition, but stop and smell the roses sometimes.

Share your favorite Don Draper quotes with us below, then tune into the two-hour season premiere this Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.

Written by

More Articles by Blake Crosley