Career Lessons from House of Cards

I, like many, many other twenty-somethings, love House of Cards. The show is genius, both in its delivery and in its content, including the dialogue. Here are my favorite lines, interpreted as career advice, especially for the PR girl.

House of Cards Frank Underwood Career lessons

“Even Achilles was only as strong as his heel.”
This is so simple it’s astounding. Maybe you’re writing skills are not quite as good as you’d like them to be. Work on it! Seeing no results for all your pitching efforts? Improve them! Don’t let something you can easily work to improve bring you down.  

“The nature of promises, Linda, is that they remain immune to changing circumstances.”
Anyone who has ever worked with a client can attest to this. When a client is given a deliverable date, they expect that date to stick. For the most part, unless it’s worked in advance, that date might as well be set in stone.

“There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth.”
There’s no denying that the truth is the best way to back up your ideas and methods. If you’re pitching a client on a service or method and the client is a bit unsure of whether they’d benefit or if it would be worthwhile. Show them case studies, show them other clients your idea worked for, or present them with projected results with statistics and other data, if nothing else.

“I should have thought of this before. Appeal to the heart, not the brain.”
Logic only gets you so far. Everyone has emotions and a heart, even those who rarely seem to act upon their feelings. When you really want to get across to someone, make your appeal a heartfelt one and you will succeed.

“If we never did the things we shouldn’t do, we’d never feel good about doing the things we should.”
No, the things you have to do, like going to work every day, paying taxes, keeping up with the bills, and other grown up things are not fun. It’s important to make time for the things you love, or you’ll hate the things you have to do that much more.

“‘To improve is to change. To perfect is to change often.’”
Winston Churchill said it perfectly. No one ever got better at anything by sitting on his or her couch watching Netflix (but finish “House Of Cards” of course–that will take you places, my friend). Being static isn’t a way to achieve anything, so get up, keep working and keep changing.

“Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.”
Think of your reputation as power and fame as money. You can have them both but a well cared for and well-curated reputation will stand firm much longer than fame when tested. Take the time to build yourself and your career up, rather than a quick rush for money and notoriety, and you’ll be happy.

“Friends make the worst enemies.”
People don’t usually leave jobs because they loved it them, and sometimes its the people you work with that are what you don’t love about the job. As good as it may feel in the moment, it’s never a good idea to burn your bridges. There are few instances where it may be understandable.

“There are two types of vice presidents: doormats and matadors. Which do you think I intend to be?”
Replace “vice presidents” with whatever you aspire to be. It always rings true. To be the best at what you are, you can’t let people walk all over you and still expect to excel. Unless you aspire to be a welcome mat.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I wanted a shoulder to cry on.”
Don’t expect pity from anyone, especially as an entry-level or new employee. Everyone above you has paid his or her dues–that’s why they’re no longer sitting where you are–and all of your unemployed friends are just too tired of looking for work to listen to you complain about your job. Buck up and get on with it, but remember how bad it was when you’re sitting on the other side of the table.

“If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.”
It’s both a blessing & a curse to live & work in time when innovation is a good trait to have. PR in particular is a field that always looks for new & creative ways of achieving goals since old methods become worn & ineffective.

“For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.”
This is one of those rules mentioned above. If you don’t want to be thrown under the bus for things, you have to be the one on top. I’m not saying you have to be the one trampling over everyone else, but if the bear is only two steps behind, the best way to distract him is with fresh meat.

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