So you wanna be a boss. Netflix and
chill will yourself to get off the couch already. How to Be a Boss (According to Your Favorite Shows) is your excuse to binge all the TV you want. It’s career inspiration, right? As for me, chain-watching teen dramas now qualifies as research to bring you this informative series. We all win.
I’ve had day jobs that felt like prison sentences: cells (windowless cubicles), solitary confinement (no perks), wardens (terrible bosses). But I could rage-quit any time I pleased—the trundle bed in my parents’ basement is still a step up from a prison bunk. There’s no quitting in actual prison, though. That’s the point.
It’s no wonder the inmates of Litchfield Prison—the setting of Netflix’s dramedy series, Orange Is the New Black—have to find creative means to get the things they want. The result: a pretty impressive bartering ecosystem. The underground network runs the gamut from contraband cell phones to skimming panties from a sewing production line. Inadvertently, the women are learning valuable leadership skills in spite of the abysmal education program.
What they experience though, as they vie for power and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, isn’t all that unlike being your own boss on the outside. Resources are limited. Competition is fierce. And the power struggle is real. Here are 16 lessons about being a boss, according to the inmates—and staff—of Litchfield:1. Find a trustworthy business partner, even if she’s the one who got you into this mess in the first place. 2. ...or the one who sold you out for a reduced sentence. 3. Your first business attempt may not be your best, but we all have to start somewhere. 4. Test your idea with a focus group. What else do they have going on? 5. Stop working for The Man. Or the two angry women you used to date. 6. ...and try out consulting for a while. 7. Seek professional advice. 8. Don’t underestimate your competition…and deal with them swiftly. 9. Find a community group of entrepreneur types. Like the mobile phone–peddling gang in C-Block. 10. Get your message out through all channels available (even if the only one is a make-work jailhouse radio station). 11. …and remember that word of mouth marketing is free (commissary credit is better spent on Kit Kats and instant ramen). 12. Find a quiet place to work out your ideas. 13. Celebrate your little wins. 14. Dress the part. How will anyone take you seriously in an orange jumpsuit? 15. Make an entrance at your next pitch. A cast says, “I mean business.” 16. And finally, embrace failure. You’ve already hit rock bottom—it’s all up from here, sis. Feature image by Niall McClelland