A friend recently told me that I remind her of an aspiring Olivia Pope. I didn’t jump on the Scandal bandwagon when it debuted in 2012 so, of course, I did what any woman would do; I downloaded season one and two on iTunes and devoured them in an unhealthy amount of time. Now completely up to date with Scandal I have to admit I’m a die-hard fan of Olivia Pope, and actually wish my life read more like a page from the Pope playbook.
Over the course of watching this show (the entire two days), I can’t help but watch the show from the perspective of an aspiring business owner. Olivia Pope is more than just a multilayered character on a popular TV show; she is an example of a great entrepreneur. Here are a few things I believe businesswomen can learn from Olivia:
Olivia has no doubt about her abilities. She is bold, a risk-taker and able to take charge of high-stress situations. Her confidence in her abilities enables her to communicate effectively with her clients and to lead her team. She also always has the last word and when needed, can deliver epic verbal smackdowns that include lines like this: “There is a reason that we’re not in Vermont. That we don’t’ have kids, and that you are not the mayor. There is a reason we are not happy. It’s so you can be president. It’s so nothing is beyond your control. That’s the point. You bring him back.”
Understanding the importance of dressing for success, Olivia’s style is iconic. Her sharp, sleek and chic wardrobe exudes an undeniable aura of confidence, power and control. Olivia uses the color white, bold silhouettes and not only wears the pants metaphorically, but literally. She rarely wears anything but pants, except in flashbacks, but then again, with her distinct stride, big steps and fast pace, anything else would just slow her down. Also a point to note, Olivia is always prepared for company. You’ll never catch her hanging out in her college sweats, hair in a giant messy bun, drinking cheap wine and eating a sleeve of Oreos. Instead, she spends her private time watching CNN in silk, sipping a large glass of red and eating popcorn, like a lady.
Recruiting skilled, loyal and committed team members is something that is vital for any business. Employing the right people is critical to the success of your company. Olivia’s team is comprised of a diverse group of experts who she can trust to get their jobs done right, and on time. Let’s face it, Olivia has some powerful contacts but one of her closest confidants also happens to be kind of scary. It’s important to have a diverse group surrounding you in case you find yourself in a sticky situation. While I don’t recommend hiring a professional trained assassin or moving dead bodies, you still need a loyal team that is willing to go to bat for you.
Dating a co-worker is dicey. Dating your married boss or client is even dicier. It’s best to avoid office relationships, especially if you’re the boss. This is also applicable to clients, especially married ones. Skip the messy heartache and potential enemies you’re making and date someone unrelated to your field/business.
Olivia Pope and Associates specializes in the very specific field of crisis management. They are well known among DC’s political elite, and are the first call in the face of trouble. Developing a highly-defined focus for your company takes a lot of discipline and work, but ultimately being an expert at something will increase the probability of your long-term success.
Through years of successes and hard work, Olivia has built a reputation of being excellent at what she does. As business owners, it is not enough to have a niche. You must be excellent at what you do to excel within your sector. This takes time, perseverance and the ability to build great relationships with your clients who are likely to become your best source of referrals.