Some people watch television shows to escape from reality—shows like Game of Thrones or Once Upon a Time take our minds off of our day-to-day responsibilities and immerse us in a fantasy world. Other people watch TV shows like The Bachelor or Survivor to experience a parallel reality. No matter the reason for watching your favorite TV show, there’s often an underlying, sometimes subtle, educational message you can learn from. For some of IMA’s thought leaders, their favorite TV shows also have provided them valuable career insights.
JEFF THOMSON, CMA, CAE, IMA president and CEO, observes that stepping outside of your comfort zone can help you grow in your career:
Well, I hope my being “vulnerable” on this question doesn’t result in a loss of confidence in my fierce leadership of IMA as president and CEO!
Seriously, one of my favorite TV shows is Dancing with the Stars. While it’s primarily entertaining, here’s what I learned from the show that carries forward into my professional career: First, always have the courage to “step into” a new opportunity outside of your comfort zone. I personally know nothing about dancing and would be terrified going on live TV with actual dance steps learned only a few days in advance. But these stars who have very little or no experience in the art of dancing take on the challenge as an opportunity to either put the spotlight on dancing as emotional therapy or even as a means to advance their own careers. Dancing on live TV requires hard work, perseverance, resilience, teamwork, and, of course, courage. These are all attributes of successful business professionals.
LINDA DEVONISH-MILLS, CMA, CPA, CAE, IMA director of technical accounting activities, says that TV can teach a lot about business, particularly soft skills:
My favorite TV show is Shark Tank, the show where entrepreneurs are looking for financial investments for their products, business, etc. It has taught me the importance of developing effective communication and presentation skills. The show also has taught me the importance of believing in yourself in order to be an effective and convincing speaker. I have seen entrepreneurs on the show present solid business plans to the “sharks” (investors). But if the plan is presented without passion, financial investments aren’t obtained from the sharks.
For RAEF LAWSON, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research and professor-in-residence, his favorite TV show proves that passion, hard work, and education really do pay off:
My favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory. While entertaining, it also contains some great nuggets of career advice. One of these is the idea that diversity is important: The show succeeds based on the interplay between people of very different backgrounds. So embrace different thoughts, people with different backgrounds, and even different career routes! Another takeaway is that it pays to work hard and study—you’ll succeed in the end. Finally, pursue your passions—it’s what leads to a fulfilling career and life.
What career advice have you learned from watching your favorite TV show? What genre is your favorite? And do the lessons translate into business?
“Are You Preparing for Leadership Opportunities?” –Strategic Finance
Shark Tank photo by Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images