Don Draper Didn’t Work Eight-Hour Days

Don Draper, the protagonist of AMC’s Mad Men, perfectly embodies the successful businessman. He has money, power, and women; he drives a fancy car; and he always seems to get his way. Although it’s easy for Mad Men’s fans to focus on Draper’s alcoholism, womanizing or his checkered past, in order to truly comprehend Draper as a character, it is vital to examine his drive.

Don Draper is not afraid of hard work. In fact, he is rarely seen outside of Sterling/Cooper (or Sterling/Cooper/Draper/Price as it becomes known). It is implied that Draper regularly pulls 10-12-hour days—sometimes longer. Being that he lived through the Great Depression, it makes sense that he would be willing to do whatever it takes to climb the ladder and achieve his goals.

Those men who were part of the Greatest Generation, who endured the Depression in their childhood and the War as adults, understood the value of hard work.

The so-called “Millenials” have largely adopted an entitled attitude. Many of the Gen-Yers that I meet see work as  a necessary evil: a clock to be punched in order to facilitate the party. I think that our reduced attention spans have given way to an over- compartmentalization of personal and professional time—we work so that we can play.

Perhaps living through the Great Depression taught The Greatest Generation the value of sacrifice. Perhaps World War II taught them to delay gratification. I think it is important to realize that if one wishes to be successful, chances are it’ll involve a lot of hard work. It might be necessary to fully dedicate yourself to your career. If you wish to distinguish yourself from the other members of your generation and rise above them, it might take more than eight-hour days.

It may require days, nights and weekends but if you persevere, you just might be able to achieve success (and then work even harder to maintain it).

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About 2ndgreatestgeneration

I am a writer and musician from L.A. I enjoy fine cocktails, good food, and good cabernet. I like books--my favorite is Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. I love 60s British invasion and 70s Glam Rock. David Bowie, T. Rex, The Kinks, and The Velvet Underground rock my world.
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5 Responses to Don Draper Didn’t Work Eight-Hour Days

  1. Variety, Spice, Life says:

    A black man with Don Draper’s education and qualifications — and there were a good number of such men in NYC and other major cities, could have gotten three kinds of jobs in Draper’s building, running an elevator, being a janitor, or working in the mail room.

    One person’s nostalgia fantasy …

    • Variety, Spice, Life says:

      I do get your positive perspective. My point is that thousands have fallen prey to the argument that “It might take days, nights and weekends but if you persevere you just might be able to …” Yes things have changed since the ’50s, but count the numbers of women and minorities in positions of genuine authority in the top 1000 U.S. corporations.

  2. Agreed. That’s why this blog (in case you are new to it) is about taking the BEST parts of by-gone eras and leaving behind the shit (aka racism, sexism, etc.) Gen Y has the potential to be the next great generation. We can accomplish things that other generations never did. We can save the planet and push bigotry to the fringe where it belongs. It will take some work though.

  3. T.A. Sattler says:

    Repost from The Public’s Interest .

    Over at The (2nd) Greatest Generation, the glorification of figures like Don Draper (who I just noticed resembles John Boehner) from AMC’s Mad Men made me search for the line between a healthy work ethic and an obsession with one’s profession, and the role a job plays in the big picture.

    For most, the illusory correlation between success and satisfaction causes many to sacrifice what’s truly important for professional power. Yes, whether you’re referring to the arts, the sciences, or the world of business, persistence linked with critical and creative thinking is a commonly accepted formula for success, but it is easy to lose sight of this because the gratification is rarely immediate. Without foresight, the latency period between one’s hard work and the payoff creates a sort of internal injustice, which needless to say can be quite discouraging.

    While I haven’t gotten to watch nearly as much of the show as I would like, Don Draper’s professional obsession leaves much to be desired in the realm of personal fulfillment. Although he certainly attempts to fill the void through his various vices, these coping strategies provide more escapism than resolution for his deep-seeded issues. Sure, he may have money, power, and women, but is he happy?

    Especially early in one’s career, rarely does anyone feel truly fulfilled through their job, so one either deals with it by valuing the opportunities for personal development or upward mobility, or they look externally to provide meaning. Ultimately, balance must be sustained one way or another, and for true work-a-holics, they justify negligence of their personal life because they are striving for some long-term achievement. The obsession evolves into their identity, and addictions quickly consume humanity.

    So where is that line between a hard day’s work and a dangerous infatuation with one’s job? It depends. Am I sayin’ a 40 hour work week is perfect for everyone? Hell no, but variety is the spice of life, and our culture has increasing emphasized specialization and bureaucracies. Between our business models, standards-based education system, and the widespread availability of technology, the minds of American’s can comfortably live in a personalized bubble. We’re not pushed outside our comfort zone, we don’t readily dabble in new things, and a jack of all trades is punished if he hasn’t mastered any one skill. I’m not convinced that the human psyche has evolved (devolved?) to fit this mold since a range of interests and a diverse skill set provide the stabilized and balanced foundation that gives security if one piece falters while simultaneously quenching our inquisitive nature. When supplemented with American Individualism, we dream big and want huge returns on our investments, so if we put all our stock in a single entity without quality research and information, the risks are high.

    Hence why it may be time for most Americans to diversify their portfolios and spread their roots to create balance and stability for when the storms of life try and knock us down. Hopefully at some point we can all merge our interests and skills into a career, but until then, don’t settle for less.

    P.S. From now on, the story of Don Draper will forever be the lost history of our speaker of the house.

  4. Pingback: Gross National Happiness | The (2nd) Greatest Generation

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