Lessons For Success from The Newsroom (Pt. 2) - Elite Daily

by Ryan Babikian

Coinciding with our earlier article Lessons We Can Learn From The Newsroom, we at Elite Daily have decided to bring you more lessons – specifically, lessons for success – taken from HBO’s new hit TV show: The Newsroom.  

The Newsroom is the center of much controversy, hype and media coverage since its pilot premiered last Sunday. The show, which is the brainchild of The Social Network’s Aaron Sorkin, is without a doubt entertaining. But its real value, however, comes from the lessons of survival, success and competition that are ever-present in each on-screen moment. So the show definitely provides the Elite reader with precious advice on how to establish yourself amongst the best.

Here are the most predominant themes in The Newsroom that the Elite entrepreneur can learn from and use on the path to success:

Survival of the Fittest

The Newsroom’s main character is Will McAvoy, one of the most established and high-paid nightly news anchors on TV. The setting entirely takes place in the newsroom, where the crew prepares the show for McAvoy to present.

Each person has a duty, title and responsibility, which is no different than any large corporation or a startup. There is a hierarchy of producers, and at the top is Will McAvoy who answers only to the studio executive. This business environment is especially cutthroat, which is no surprise: whenever the stakes are high, the game will be played with extreme competition.

What we can learn from this is how to compete – and win – in such an environment. Cutthroat cultures, meritocracies, and the like all rely on you to deliver. Nothing else matters. Whether you are the guy in charge of McAvoy’s twitter account or if you are the new head producer running the first show live with no script or preparations, there is no room for error.

Generation-Y is not accustomed to such a “kill or be killed” environment because of the way we were raised, so in that sense, we are disadvantaged when entering a system like this for the first time.

The Newsroom shows us that you can never get comfortable – even at the top – because if you do, you will certainly be dethroned. It’s a world of no excuses and if you don’t deliver, you are irrelevant. And in the end, the goal is to not just be relevant, but relied upon, admired, and needed. Never forget this when trying to climb to the top in such a business.

Loyalty vs. Selfishness

In such a cutthroat system, it can be easy to forget why you were hired in the first place, which in every case, is always to better the company. While trying to look out for your own ass, you may overlook your responsibilities to the team you are a part of. In the newsroom (and every business), if teams do not function optimally, then the show falls to shit.

Be Loyal to your team. Be loyal to your boss. Be loyal to your company. When you do that you will be rewarded.

In the show, one of McAvoy’s producers is leaving to create his own show, and he is bringing more than half of McAvoy’s staff with him. Even though the leaving staff still has several weeks until they officially depart, McAvoy fires all of them that day.

Those that were loyal, choosing to stay with McAvoy over the promise of a better position at a new show, were rewarded with promotions and raises. This is realistic.  Choose loyalty over short-term reward 100% of the time and you will never regret it.

Getting your Big Break

Even once you get hired to your dream job, getting discovered by those in power is very difficult. It could take years before the big bosses even know your name in an elite business. This is one of the most frustrating positions to be in. Especially, if you feel as though you can deliver if given the chance, but instead you feel hindered by your current position.

This is the case for McAvoy’s secretary. Yet she uses the tools and resources at her disposal to elevate her standing in the company. Being as though she is the one answering phones for McAvoy, greeting those he is meeting with, etc, she is exposed to power players that normally she never would have a chance to speak with.

Eventually this exposure works to her benefit as the new producer who spends time with her while waiting for McAvoy recognizes her potential and promotes her on the spot to associate producer.

Again this is realistic: luck is only preparation coupled with opportunity. If opportunities come your way – regularly or irregularly – then makes sure you are prepared to showcase your potential. If done right, you will get our big break.

Fight for What you Want

McAvoy is disgusted with the studio’s decision to hire a new producer whom McAvoy has bad blood with. He wants her out because without authority of this new producer, he is sure that his career will suffer. He is told it is over and that there is nothing he can do.

McAvoy shrugs the doubter’s comments aside and walks right over to William Morris Endeavor (the largest talent agency in the world) and manages to renegotiate his contract to get producer approval. He doesn’t entirely get what he wants but he does obtain the ability to fire her at the end of every week in exchange for money off his salary.

The point of this story is: do not get walked over. If you feel bitched out, do something about it. Always fight for your integrity, for your respect, and for your livelihood. Even if that means walking away from the stability of your current job. You will always regret sacrificing your self-respect but never regret saving it.

Know your Own Value

In any business, you must always be self-aware in order to succeed. This is exactly the case with the new producer in McAvoy’s newsroom. Even though she knows McAvoy does not want her on the floor, she proves to him the value she brings to his show. And all of a sudden his view of her value changes just slightly.

To succeed, you must always know your strengths and weaknesses. And most of all, know what it is that you bring to the table. If you don’t know what you bring to the table, then find out – and fast – because if you don’t know, then your superiors certainly don’t know either.