Michael Phelps listened to Lil’ Wayne before races during his record-setting 2008 Olympics. Coaches will show clips of Rudy and Hoosiers and NFL Hall of Famer John Randle liked to get slapped in the face as hard as possible by an equipment manager. There are many ways to hype yourself up for the job, to get yourself in the right mental state to do the things you need to do to succeed. Sometimes all you got is a vague and abstract determination somewhere deep inside you and sometimes that’s all you need.
What I like to do is watch movies or shows. See, I’m the type of guy that if I watch a movie about astronaut cowboys, then I get a weird inspiration to become one (thanks, Space Cowboys). It usually works pretty well, but it does have some strange repercussions when I watch movies about serial killers or drug addicts.
And this is what I did many times for jobs I’ve had. Like when I used to work in sales, I would watch Boiler Room before a big sales trip. Or if I were doing something borderline illegal or at least wholly scary, I would watch Blow – there are few things better than Johnny Depp’s classic mantra “F– it” to help you get over the fear of doing something.
But as I was starting my internship at 160over90 and getting in to the swing of things, I realized that I didn’t have my three-fingers of Mad Men to get me motivated for the day. There was no Don Draper to keep me from being satisfied with my work. There was no Peggy Olsen to show me an assistant (or intern) could become a legitimate copywriter. And there was definitely no Joanie Bradford to find reasons to talk to.
All because of contract disputes and egos? How could money be important when there are thousands upon thousands of young agency workers who need to vicariously live through this fictional set of characters because they realize the ad industry’s glory days have passed. And I don’t mean glory as in quality of work, that would be like comparing new Hip Hop to old-school Hip Hop – sure it was good and pure back in the day, but you can’t discount 30 years of progression.
I’m talking about glory days in terms of company bars, long lunches and indoor smoking. I’m talking about when secretaries were trained secretaries, not just failed creatives who couldn’t hack it. Basically I’m talking about an ideal that a certain breed of ad person still misses, even if they weren’t born until 20 years after the era. And without Mad Men to keep me tuned in to what the best of our industry was, I just don’t have the maximum motivation I need to write that copy for Menken’s Department Store, Playtex, or Mohawk Airlines.
You see, we need Mad Men for the same reasons that the New York Yankees of the 1980’s needed to know the history of the pinstripes. Because although your team, your company, your industry may not be in the glory days anymore, you need to be reminded of the legacy you’re carrying on. A legacy that you hope to bring back one day. And without Mad Men, I’m starting to think this is the best it gets. We may have Beer Fridays at 160over90, but I think I’d rather have Whiskey Weekdays.