Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Would Don Draper Do?

I secretly (or maybe not so secretly if I am blogging about it) hate Facebook. I hate stupid quizzes, I don't want to keep in touch with everyone I went to high school with, and I don't give a damn that you just went to the gym. But I feel that if I'm not on Facebook I'm a nobody. Or too old to be hip. I'm afraid Facebook is the new phonebook and I want to be found.

Which brings me to Don Draper. This is one of the only Facebook quizzes I have ever participated in. The question was "What makes Mad Men’s Don Draper so cool?" I'm a huge Mad Men fan and Don Draper is fascinating, so I took the quiz. Here are the choices and the results (at least at the time I took it):

confidence 61% (my choice)
style 28%
womanizing 5% (please - these responses have been from men)
smoking 1% (these people clearly are insane)
drinking 1 % (ditto for these drunks)

This poll actually got me thinking about Don Draper and what really does make him cool. If you watch the show, you realize that Don Draper has style and confidence. He is also a womanizer and he does drink and smoke (as does every other character on the show). And he is undoubtedly perceived as one cool cat. But I would argue that what makes Don so cool is not one of these things. It is his complete unattachment to any outcome.

Don doesn't care if a woman wants him or not - and as a result, they all do. He doesn't care if a client likes his idea or not. He doesn't care if a client works with him or not. He can walk away from any deal. And, of course, everyone wants to work with him.

He's not a robot or perfect - there are times when we wonder what's going on in that handsome head of his, but you would never describe him as weak, emotional, or uncool. In the last episode he simply walked out of a meeting that was nonproductive (the use of office supplies was being discussed). He is unattached and is wildly independent and free. Being free is cool. But this is scary to many of the other characters.

It scares his wife to death who is trying to hang on to him by having another child. It scares his new bosses who don't know how to control him. It should teach us all some lessons:

1.) You can't control other people. And if you try to, you give all your freedom to them. (Don's wife still feels she doesn't have him and now she feels trapped by a third child.) Instead of just letting Don go to make a ton of money for the firm, the boss is trying to micromanage him. He's putting his sense of control before profits.

2.) If someone is causing you a great deal of pain, let them go. Don's wife should just let Don go - he's breaking her. Or she's going to have to make peace with who he is. This could be tricky because I'm not sure even Don knows who he is.

3.) He who is least attached to the outcome keeps his power. If a client leaves the agency, Don's response is complete coolness. He knows they'll get a better client. Coolness is a lot like a sense of peace. You know that although this relationship ends, you'll find another. And if you don't, that will be okay too.

4.) Know when to go with the flow. Sometimes Don just goes with the flow. He lets events play out, lets others speak. He remains still and quiet. He knows when a battle is worth fighting.

5.) Know when to walk away. Sometimes he just bails. The agency might be giving a presentation and the client is reacting badly. If Don knows the day is not winnable, he'll simply exit and let go. Don Draper would never beg - he knows when to walk away.

6.) Know when to fight. But when the cause is worthy, when the day can be won, Draper will win. He chooses his battles wisely, but even if he were to lose, he would calmly exit the arena. Don Draper will always live to fight another day.

My new mantra? WWDDD - What Would Don Draper Do?


Swervie said...

Don Draper is yummy

Denise Ryan said...

Swervie - I agree completely! ; )