Are you a Peggy?

April 24, 2013

I love Mad Men. The wildly popular American TV series takes viewers back in time and gives an idealized glimpse into the early advertising agency days of the 1960’s. The show takes place on Madison Avenue in New York City where the industry remains entrenched (but very different) today. If you watch the show, you know Peggy, but if even if you’ve never heard of the series, you’ve met Peggy in your own office. Maybe she’s you...

Peggy begins the series as the not-so-politically-correct “new girl” in the secretary pool. After all, it’s 1960, and there aren’t many choices for women in the workplace, and Peggy eagerly accepts that foot in the door. Despite those challenges and a ton of alcohol-fueled sexual harassment, we hope and cheer for Peggy as she navigates her way around a deeply misogynistic office, which seems to prefer ladies stick with “coffee, tea or me”.

Unlike most of her peers who do not need chains to bind them to their typewriters as they happily “hunt and peck” their way to a husband, Peggy has dreams. She wants a career. She doesn’t want kids, at least not now. Peggy just wants to make it in the big city and she’s creative enough to get there, but for one problem: Peggy.

There’s a Peggy in every office. She’s the sweet wide-eyed young lady at the end of the hall who’s barely noticed as she works her fingers to the bone for the company every day, and while her contributions are appreciated, she’s often taken for granted. Peggy wants so badly to please the company that she forgets to please her self.

At first, we feel bad for Peggy because she’s obviously abused. But after a while we realize that Peggy is so wrapped up in her dreams and so martyred in her tireless work that she’s become blind to the bigger picture. She asks for a promotion when the company loses its biggest account, and when she’s told to be more firm with clients, she pushes them out the door because she’s never done these things before.

Peggy is the lifeblood of every company out there but she can’t live off of gold stars. She needs to grow up if she’s going to get what she wants. Peggy needs to hone her craft with clients and co-workers. She should dress for the job she wants (not the job she has) and act the part. She needs to open her eyes to the company and like a chessboard, see the advantages and disadvantages of the steps and possibilities, and get smart about timing.

Are you a Peggy or does she sound familiar to you? If you have a fire in your belly and you want to grow in your career, you can’t just do good work. You have to be mature enough to know what you want and how to get there. Take a step out of yourself and see the company as a living entity and determine where you can provide the most value. Know how and when to advocate for yourself. Don’t be a Peggy.

Tisha Dore
VP of Marketing & Sales, U.S.

Sincerely, Tisha Dore
VP of Marketing & Sales, Tiger-Consulting

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