Most of you who have seen this person in action would probably agree that Michael Scott, Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton, is one of the top business minds of our generation. But you might not immediately think of him as one who embodies many of the traits of successful entrepreneurship. I am writing to show you that at least to me, he is a fantastic entrepreneur role model. Here are the top 5 Entrepreneurial Lessons that I have learned from Michael Scott:
- Love your customers – there is an old saying about business: “Love your customers, not your customers’ money.” Michael Scott shows a consistent focus on his customers over the years. For example, he routinely remembers small details about his customers’ personal lives eg. a daughter’s allergy or a story about a fish that a client caught. If you look at the success that great customer-centric companies such as Zappos have had, much of it can be traced back to their obsession on customer satisfaction. In fact, the company that recently acquired Zappos, Amazon, has long had as their key company mantra, “To be the best customer service company in the world.” That just gives me chills :)
- Love your employees – Michael Scott sincerely loves his team. With respect to team building in a startup, there are tons of schools of thought ranging from “if they don’t hit their numbers, shoot ‘em!” to “this is a family and we’re in it together forever”. There are certainly tough decisions to be made along the way as a company grows and evolves, and making changes is hard. But keeping employees best interests at the center of your evolution as much as possible will help keep the culture and the vibe right. Just ask Michael Scott.
- Love your company – how many of us love our companies as much as Michael Scott? The guy is a frickin zealot for Dunder Mifflin! When he served as a guest lecturer at evil Ryan’s business school class, he left the room after saying in response to a doubter of Dunder Mifflin’s viability, “Dunder Mifflin is the future!” His passion and loyalty to Dunder Mifflin is something to sincerely admire.
- Have a sense of humor – If Michael Scott were not regional manager, he would most likely have had a successful career in standup comedy. The guy is a comedic genius. From his use of the words “nebulos” and “prodigal” to him saying that he wants to donate hospital wings someday and be known as a great “philanderer”, Michael shows us that it is critical to not take things too seriously (or to study too hard in school). I don’t know of an environment that is more cause for roller coasters of emotion than the startup world. Humor can help take the edge off and Michael certainly tries to keep it light.
And last but not least, especially since in a startup, an entrepreneur (in my opinion) has in fact many bosses, ranging from your board members to your investors to your customers to your team members, the most important lesson that I have learned from Michael Scott is:
- Don’t sleep with your boss
See, Michael Scott is a fantastic entrepreneurial mentor. This goes to show that you can learn something from anyone and from any situation