College for the average undergraduate is a time to sit through lectures, go on weekend excursions, and memorize a bunch of stuff that probably won’t count for much in your first job. But for the rare breed, it’s a time spent prepping for their first startup. This rare breed of entrepreneurs can be spotted right away, with their crazy ideas and prototypes, often buried in the library or scoring points at whatever part-time job they can find to build capital for their first investment. Think about Mark Zuckerberg who launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room!
But winning entrepreneurs are not necessarily born that way. Most people can cultivate that streak of success. And it is not restricted to part time jobs, books, or exercises in extroversion. The movies and TV shows you follow can also be a platform to expand your horizons, while also not boring you to death. Here are some shows that we think could really give you an edge:
The Apprentice is sure to get any aspiring entrepreneur’s blood pumping. You’re likely to be shouting at the screen telling contestants what to do or say in order to win as if it were a baseball match. The Apprentice is a show where people with exciting ideas battle it out in tough tasks testing both their willpower and mental agility. The winner secures an investment in their idea from business magnate, Alan Sugar. Now we don’t want you to get too attached to the contestants and watch this as just another staged reality series, but to try to see how business acumen is exhibited in a competitive environment. Chances are, as the founder of a startup, you’re going to have to look for an investor to fund your idea and maybe a few iterations. Convincing people that you have what it takes and then living up to the expectations you willingly accept takes skill!
Taking The Apprentice’s adrenaline boost higher, Shark Tank gets more than one investor to come and hear pitches from contestants. The one-hour pitch is edited to a 10-minute dramatic segment of TV, but it gives you a pretty decent idea about what an investor looks for. The Sharks, as the investors are called, get paid to come to the show, but if they like a contestant’s pitch, they put their own money into the project as an investment. There are several investors on the panel who can invest in your idea, but you go home empty handed if none of them do so. Shark Tank, along with the design of your sales pitch, is also great if you want to learn how to handle rejection, time bound situations, and the stress of it all.
Yes, a comedy show can teach you a lot about how to get on in a professional environment. Parks and Recreation can show you a lot of what happens in a government setting, with a much welcome tone of humor. Managing all your goals on a limited budget, dealing with explosive people, managing your work politics and keeping yourself from falling into a rut are all skills we can learn from the show.
Okay, we all recognize the MasterChef Australia series by the crazy expectations the judges have of the contestant and the challenging tasks. But that’s what entrepreneurship is often about! You race against time to deliver an exceptional product or service. You are called upon to make something magical out on something you didn’t know existed until half an hour before. You need to work in a team composed of people you might not share a lot in common with. The attitude you adopt in such situations, the strategizing and the scramble to maintain your goals and policies is something you can always take an idea about from this show.
Looking for a nice house might be tough but it is the other side of the deal you need to look at. The end you’re likely to profit from as a budding entrepreneur is the side of the property dealers. Your client wants a Jacuzzi and a sparkling new kitchen in $10000? You’re going to have to negotiate with them to loosen those purse strings. You need to make a profit out of the deal to feed your family, without ripping off the client. How exactly do you do that? It’s a complex art. You better get your brain working right away, and this show is among the most useful assets.
Suits, specifically Season One, has a lot you can learn about organizational politics. Keeping your ducks in a row is a major task in an organization, and it becomes pretty difficult when your ducks are extra boisterous. Harvey has to hire an associate educated in law from Harvard, and Mike needs the job to keep his terminally ill grandmother in the nursing home. He narrowly escapes being indicted in a sting operation on a drug dealer who happens to be his best friend. To add to the drama, despite Mike’s apparent aptitude for law thanks to his eidetic memory, he has never even attended college! How to keep potentially disastrous facts hidden and work to keep your position and ability to pursue your dream is something this season on Suits can teach you pretty effectively.
Dirty politics is sort of a given whenever you’re dealing with people in power. If Parks and Recreation taught you about dealing with government mechanisms, House of Cards can show you how ugly these mechanisms can become when tempered with high degrees of power. The series is heavily dramatized, but it remains a good standard for a worst-case scenario which you can guard against from the very beginning. It’s a great template to learn how lavishing someone with power can backfire for them as well as for those working with/under them.
There are many free apps for watching these TV shows online. They won’t charge you a penny! Here are the best five of them:
There’s a lot of places you can develop business skills and your TV is no exception. Keep an eye out for people and situations which teach you a lesson or two, and then commit them all to your being. Get out there; the world is waiting for you!