Entrepreneurial Lessons Learned From Watching House Of Cards, Continued

February 19, 2014

5:45 pm

In my last post I waxed poetic about the many lessons I learned from watching House of Cards on Netflix.  The post was so well received that I decided to do a part 2 and consider my poignant insights / potty humor for the benefit of all.

Without further ado, I present you MORE lessons learned from watching House of Cards Season 2:

Be deliberate in everything that you do.

Around Chapters 23 and 24, Vice President Underwood’s brilliance hits an all-time high (or low). His balls may have also swelled to epic proportions. Francis makes the most veteran of moves in strategically playing the President of the United States like a goddamn fiddle.

The Veep, a true Maestro, manages to persuade the President via dissuasion. He consistently convinces the President to do exactly what Francis wishes by attempting to get him to do the complete opposite. It’s like opposite day in kindergarten on weed (I went to a very forward-thinking kindergarten).

Business takeaway – know what you want to achieve and then be deliberate in how you achieve it. Formulate a strategy and then execute like mad. As General Patton once said: “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

Be willing to cross party lines.

In the beginning of the season, Francis Underwood attempts to rally both House Republicans as well as Democrats in order to avoid a government shutdown. Can you freaking imagine? Obviously, this is where the show veers sharply into fantasy.

Frank has to barter, beg, borrow and steal in order to accomplish this crazy utopian dream of “making politicians act like fucking humans.” Again: pure fantasy, House of Cards. Why don’t you just CGI in some fucking dragons?

In true Orwellian fashion, Underwood is forced to steep to such lows as finding common ground with Republicans, drinking with Republicans, interacting with the Tea Party without showering immediately afterward, and other unspeakable atrocities I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies (Sarah Palin and the cast of Duck Dynasty). Hashtag “Murica.”

The lesson I learned here is that the Tea Party sucks (true), drinking hard liquor helps (totally true), and sometimes you simply have to attempt to connect with those across the business aisle (also true, actually). If this seems like a difficult thing to stomach, I recommend starting with the hard liquor. You had me at bourbon, Frankie Underwood.

Choose your bedmates carefully.

Whether it’s Francis and Claire making an Agent Meacham sandwich or the more figurative bedmates in the form of Congresswoman Sharp, billionaire Raymond Tusk, the First Lady, and Claire’s poor ex-boyfriend, one thing that House of Cards teaches us is that your high school Sex Ed class was right: your bedmates matter.

Plus there’s the inconvenient fact that herpes is the gift that keeps on giving: who you associate with, much less partner with, bears a consequence on you. It shapes the perception people hold of you. It can shape your life for better or for worse. Do not be careless. And if you are going to consort with someone who may reflect negatively on you down the road, make sure you keep it “under wraps” (condom joke).

You can be passionate, but not at the sake of logic.

In House of Cards, as in real life D.C., the stakes are very high. We would not be humans without passion, but goddamn man, have some logic. Take, for example, the case of Remy Danton and Congresswoman Jackie Sharp. For fuck’s sake, Remy: you played it tight all series only to go out like that?

Remy is the antagonist throughout the show. The former Underwood protégé-turned-partner at a powerful K Street lobby. 50-inch screen, money-green leather sofa. Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur.

Paid in the shade.

Unfortunately he fucks it all up to get laid.

The business lesson here is that your life, as in your business, should be filled with your passions. However, never at the expense of at least some logic. Be happy, be driven, be motivated, but most importantly:

Try and be at least a little smart.

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Danny Boice is the CTO of Speek - a 500 Startups-funded startup that lets users do conference calls with a simple link (speek.com/YourName) rather than using phone numbers and PINs. A serial startup/technology entrepreneur and executive, Danny started his career as a software engineer working for startups like Network Solutions and MusicMaker.com in the 90′s. You can find Danny on Twitter @DannyBoice.

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