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Four business lessons to learn from watching Billions

By | February 19, 2018

Altitude Advisory General Manager Kristen Buik is in love with the show Billions and she reckons we in business can learn a lot from the hit TV show.

I love this show. The characters are prodigious, the setting is great (its based in NYC and I love seeing places I have been which is fun), but mostly I love it for the scripting. It’s so freaking good. It’s filled with awesome one-liners and underscored with so many business, leadership and strategy lessons to keep me going until season three is out.

Billions in business

“You weren’t ready”

Axe (uber successful head of Axe Capital) is married to Lara. She’s entrepreneurial and having experienced executives living large, has decided to start a business in restorative IVs. After a knock-back from her first meeting, she asks uber successful Axe his opinion.

“Well, I tried to tell you,” Axe says later. “You weren’t ready, but you wouldn’t hear it from me.”

Lara asks why he feels that way. His response is golden, and the lesson.

“What is it you do that you’re the best in the world at? You offer a service you didn’t invent, a formula you didn’t invent, a delivery method you didn’t invent. Nothing about what you do is patentable or a unique user experience. You haven’t identified an isolated market segment, haven’t truly branded your concept. You need me to go on?”

“You have hands”

Chuck (U.S. Attorney for NYC) is leaving his apartment and he sees his neighbour (who is walking his dog) let his dog poop on the path and keep walking. He’s in the midst of having a bad day, this is the last straw for Chuck. He calls the neighbour back, and asks him to clean up after his dog (he is a reoffender by all accounts).

The guy says he can’t since he doesn’t have a bag. Not good enough for Chuck – he demands the guy use his hands to pick up the poop. He’s not interested in excuses or reasons or avoidance of one’s responsibility.

Lesson: Whatever the ‘thing’ is, it can be done, its might be inconvenient or hard or hurt like hell but it’s possible with effort. And the bonus lesson…. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

“You’re ignoring the quiet (voice) inside.”

Wendy is the psychologist employed to keep the traders in top form. A trader down on his luck and losing confidence gets the following advice.

“Everyone else is up double digits,” he says. “I’m down.”

“You’re just listening to the wrong voice,” she replies. “You’re tuned in to the one yelling at you over the loudspeaker that you’re f—ing stupid, and you’re ignoring the quiet one, inside, telling you where the alpha is. Now, that’s the voice that got you here.”

Lesson: we all lack self-confidence sometimes and not all of us have a psychologist on hand, but we can all take the time for a bit of positive self-talk.

Here’s a bonus lesson:

“You get one life, so do it all.”

No explanation required.

Looking for help with your business? Talk to Kristen or one of the Altitude Advisory team today. Click here to contact us.

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