Some of today’s best television shows offer lessons in business

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is our kind of professor.

Why go into debt with student loans when you can earn your TVMBA, boasting a 64-hour course load that can be absorbed in a half-daze while reclining on the couch?  If you’re going to spend four hours a day staring at a screen, you might as well earn an advanced degree in the process.

Risk Management

Syllabus: ‘Breaking Bad’ (all five seasons)
“Breaking Bad” leading man Walter White (Bryan Crans-ton) isn’t exactly a sterling example of an entrepreneur who minimizes risk. Still, as he went from a struggling science teacher in the first season to a successful meth manufacturer, then to a drug kingpin by Season 5, White grew his business by going for broke. Hopefully you’ll maintain a lower body count than Mr. White. Lesson: Just because your brother-in-law works for the DEA doesn’t mean you can’t deal drugs.

Microeconomics

Syllabus: ‘The Price is Right’ (any three episodes)
The study of how supply and demand affects the price and quantity of goods is on full display in this long-running game show. Pricing games, from Plinko to Cliff Hangers, may be frivolous fun, but having a handle on the costs of goods is the first step to managing a budget.  Pricing knowledge can also pay off big if you ever find yourself in the show’s studio audience and get the call to “come on down” to contestants row.  Lesson: When shopping, knowing the price is half the battle.

Entrepreneurship
Syllabus: ‘Weeds’ (all eight seasons)
Nancy Botwin, everybody’s favorite pot-dealing mom, is a shrewd self-starter who knows how to move product.  The entire Botwin clan is nothing if not resilient, surviving a litany of predatory competitors and operational restructurings during their tumultuous adventures in the bud trade. Middle son Shane’s street smarts extend well beyond the family biz. On a recent episode, the police academy cadet gets caught writing two of his classmates’ essays for them.  When his instructor asks him to fork over the cash he was paid, rather then succumb to authority, Shane senses an angle. “Can’t we work something out? This isn’t the last assignment you’re going to give, is it?” he asks. “Well, you’re going to do just fine in the NYPD, aren’t you?” the instructor responds conspiratorially. Lesson: Lurking behind every problem is an opportunity. 

Advertising

Syllabus: Season 1 of ‘Mad Men’
AMC’s award-winning series may take place in the 1960s, but the golden age of Madison Avenue’s mass-persuasion trade can still illuminate, and the show’s debut season was packed with nuggets. In “The Wheel,” Don Draper (Jon Hamm)?pitches Kodak by flipping through his own family photos on their slide projector. “This is not a spaceship, it’s a time machine,” he explains. “It goes backwards and forwards, and it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.  It’s not called ‘The Wheel. … It’s called ‘The Carousel.’ It lets us travel around and around and back home again.” Welling up with emotion, his colleague has to leave the room. Lesson: The best way to sell is by telling a great story.

Organizational Behavior
Syllabus: ‘The Office,’ Seasons 1-7
Organizational behavior boils down to getting the most out of your employees. A subset of that is keeping them happy and motivated.  The two are meant to go hand-in-hand, but during Michael Scott’s reign as Dunder Mifflin’s regional manager, he focused solely on the latter — often at the expense of the former. Despite his innumerable ineptitudes as a boss, Scott sincerely cares for the welfare of his team members. As a result, when push comes to shove, they will often rally behind him. Lesson:  Effective leadership can come from a very defective leader.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."