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By Diana Clarke
September 09, 2014
By Diana Clarke
September 09, 2014

Forget Dora the Explorer and Blues Clues. The most educational program on television is the New York based lawyer drama, Suits. Created by Aaron Korsch, Suits is one of those rare phenomena that starts off slow with a niche fan base, and then suddenly has the whole world addicted. The show has revolutionised the perception of lawyers worldwide, from the typical boring white collar stereotype, to bad-ass billionaire businessmen who dominate the city that never sleeps. Once you’ve had a taste of the ultimate bromance, mentor-mentee (is this a thing?) relationship between the high-ranking Senior Partner Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and the degree-less, lowly yet brilliant Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) you’ll happily sign up to the cult that is Suits, and for good reason.

In the same way that Mike Ross didn’t need to attend University to climb his way to the top of the prestigious law firm Pearson Hardman and acclimatise to a life of luxury, I argue that us mere mortals need not educate ourselves on the wide world through any medium other than the more-addictive-than-crack hit show about the boys (and a few girls) who have taken the corporate world and television screens alike, by storm. So here, my friends, are the top ten life lessons one can learn from Suits.

1. First Impressions Count

“First impressions last. You start behind the eight ball, you’ll never get in front.”

You know the saying. The one that your Mum comforted your upset five-year-old self with when you spilt your juice box all over yourself on your first day of school, thus forcing you walk around looking like you’d wet yourself all day. You went home crying, but Mum told you not to worry, because first impressions never last. Well given the fact that you were labelled as "pant-wetter" for the remainder of your schooling, perhaps we should turn to Suits for more accurate advice than Mum could ever give. In season one, Mike Ross attempts to leave the office for the day but is reprimanded by Harvey Specter for doing so too early (it is 6:30pm). He stands up to Harvey, accusing him of  coming and going from the office as he pleases whilst Mike himself is forced to put in gruelling hours at the firm. Harvey responds with one of the wises phrases you’ll ever hear, and one that is worth remembering in the workplace. He informs Mike that the freedom that he has is hard earned, based on his flawless track record and his legendary performance status. Every step, especially the first one, adds to the way your colleagues perceive you, and every step counts towards the amount of respect you muster up, and the distance you’ll go in your work. Thanks Harvey. No thanks to you, Mum.

2. Dress to Impress

“People respond to how you dress; so like it or not this is what you have to do.”

The show is called Suits. You knew this was coming. Once again those old proverbs point us in the wrong direction, with the age old quip “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The issue at hand is that people always have - and always will - judge others by their appearance. So rather than rebel the aesthetics obsession that dominates human nature, why not make life easier for yourself and just go with it? Harvey wears a designer three-piece tailored suit. Always. Your attire is a projection of yourself, and it is all that strangers can judge you on. If you want to be taken seriously at Pearson Hardman, and in the world, you’ve got to dress to impress. Or at least fake it. And don’t wear skinny ties. Just don’t.

3. Apologise

“Let’s just say that actions have consequences."

We screw up. Hell, even Harvey Specter screws up sometimes, although he usually does it in some utterly bad-ass, sly way which is considerably more awesome than the ways in which us average samaritans screw up. Daniel Hardman seems to be a decent bloke, despite the fact that he is a total hard-ball. And, as one of the senior partners of the firm, you'd expect him to be a stand up guy, but boy does he screw up (you'll have to watch the show to find out what he does,) and he turns out to be a pretty shady dude. But you’ve got to hand it to the guy, he owns up to his mistakes and takes each and every one on the shoulder like an absolute champ. When he returns to Pearson Hardman after his slight hiatus he immediately comes clean to the staff, apologises briefly but sincerely and pushes on. If he wasn't such a grade A a-hole I would definitely respect the guy.

4. Take Responsibility

”When you screwed up, I didn't put that on you, I took it on myself because that’s my job.”

Everyone’s been in those situations where it would’ve just been easier to palm off the responsibility and cruise on as though we were never a part of the problem. Whether it is as trivial as that time you came home drunk and ate the casserole that your mum had prepared for your sick Grandma and blamed it on your brother, or as heavy as the time you jokingingly told your cousin that your ankle deep pool was in fact an Olympic depth diving pool (guess what happened there...) it is always better just to assume full responsibility at the time, or things tend to get messy. When he took Mike on as his protege, Harvey also took on a whole lot of responsibility. It was his decision to bring Mike, an entirely inexperienced and unqualified lawyer, into a prestigious firm, knowing that the law school dropout was inevitably going to make a few bad calls. But when those bad calls come back to bite them,  Harvey willingly shares every consequence with Mike, and takes full responsibility for Mike’s naivety in the corporate world.

5. Be Yourself

“I’m sorry I don’t have a photographic memory, but my brain is busy being awesome.”

I know. Yawn. Cliche, and whatnot. But this is one of the hardest rules to learn in real life. It is much easier to copy others and just sheep around in the big wide world, so lets turn to Suits for a little insight. It comes as no surprise that a few times during the Suits seasons, Mike attempts a Harvey-transformation. To be honest, I think viewers are kind of expecting a caterpillar-come-butterfly-esque evolution where Mike becomes the new and improved Harvey. And I respect the writers for not giving in to this audience whim. Sure, Mike is the awkward nerd to Harvey’s conniving badass, but I like it that way, and I think Mike should rock the whole nerd thing. Every time Mike attempts to Harvey-ise himself, by donning a wide tie, a sharp tongue and an air of swagger, he ends up having a bad time. But when he relaxes into himself and lets his inner geek shine through, the guy actually becomes his own breed of badass.

6. Know Your Shit

“I refuse to answer that on the grounds that I don’t want to.”

Obviously super important for lawyers, since all they’ve got going for them in the courtroom is knowing all their facts and figures, but knowing your shit is pretty important for the average joe too. Mike has an eidetic memory which lets him cheat at this rule. It is considerably easier for him to know his shit than for those of us whose memories are more like a handee-towel than a sponge when it comes to absorption capabilities. But if you can back up every statement you make, it adds to your creditability and reliability as a person. Also people will think you’re super smart.

7. Enjoy the Ride

"Life is this. I like this."

I feel like Harvey and Mike enjoy the ride a whole lot more lavishly than is possibly for us kiwi kids. They have New York City and the rest of the world at their fingertips, and near bottomless pockets with which to make it rain. The pair of them put in the hard yards when working on a case, but after a victory, my god do they know how to celebrate. Their parties are so insane and their lives so luxurious that I often find myself drooling over their antics and grinning like a total nutjob. That is, until i realise that it is them yachting around the Bahamas with unlimited champagne and a fully stocked lobster buffet, whilst I sit in front of my laptop screen with a ham sandwich and a diet coke.

8. Loyalty Trumps

"I know I’m a bit prickly. But we’re a team."

Mostly Harvey and Mike win their cases. But there is the odd occasion (no spoilers here) when the dream team crash and burn. Harvey loses his temper and Mike bitches and moans for a bit, then the two bicker and quarrel in true bromantic fashion. But they man up and get over themselves pretty quickly. Then they hug it out and and become the ultimate power couple once more. It is sickeningly adorable.

9. Have Goals

“I don’t have dreams, I have goals.”

This is awesome. Mostly because we get fed a whole heap of stuff about “dreaming big” and “reaching for the stars” when we are sitting cross legged during mat-time. We are always encouraged to imagine ourselves living out these impressive scenarios, but we are never informed on how to make these dreams a reality. Well guess what, Harvey Spector knows. He takes those dreams and labels them as goals instead. Harvey dreams of sailing a ten foot yacht? Harvey re-labels that dream as a goal. Harvey buys himself a ten foot yacht, a couple of sailing lessons, and away he goes. Ba-da-bing, ba-da boom.

10. Go All In

“You wanna lose small, I wanna win big.”

Basically Harvey know what he wants. And he gets it. He is always the driver behind the wheel of his vehicle of life, with his final destination being becoming senior partner and seeing his name etched into that iconic silver plaque on his office door. Harvey knows full well that the only way to earn that success is by taking risks and reaping their rewards. He takes on massive cases not knowing whether he will win or lose. Sure he works his arse off to give himself the best possible odds, but when it comes down to it the courtroom is a casino, and Harvey risks it all every time, with nothing but a healthy dose of confidence in his own abilities up his sleeve. It might be the worst advice for a poorly prepared lawyer, but if you’ve put in the hard yards (or if you’re as awesome as Harvey,) the majority of the times you risk it all, you’re going to come out on top.

If you feel like you might benefit from the life lessons taught by Suits, you can catch every season of the show on Lightbox now - you get a 30 day free trial and no ads.

This post is was made possible thanks to Lightbox.

Published on September 09, 2014 by Diana Clarke


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