8 Life Lessons Learned from Mad Men's Don Draper

It's easy to assume that Mad Men can't teach you anything. Yet the show is rife with lessons, and not just for white guys who secretly wish that all men still wore hats. Here are some small tips, from Esquire's Tom Chiarella:

Always keep a stack of clean dress shirts on hand.

(And take some damn good advice: Here's what you should be wearing for your post-summer return to the office.)

Brylcreem is acceptable, since that stuff signifies sincerity.

(But in case you're looking for something more modern, find out how to duplicate the haircut of your favorite celebrity.)

The way you deal with an ashtray is as important as the way you hold a cigarette.

(And if you're not a smoker, well, hey, it's never too late to learn how.)

Wearing a bathrobe signifies the absolute absence of work.

(A great suit, however, signifies pure business. Find the right one for you.)

A glare has more influence than a smile.

(And silence carries the most influence of all.)

There are large lessons, too:

Don't befriend the people who work below you. There is power in distance.

(There's also power in learning how to tell them "no.")

Don't befriend the people who work above you. That way they will want you more than you need them.

(Don't out-dress your boss, either: Seven ways you should act in the office.)

Don't ever tell anyone everything.

(But there are a few dating secrets you could learn from some of Hollywood's luckiest trophy husbands.)

The real lesson, of course, is that it's fun to think of the past as a set of hyperboles nestled inside troubling behaviors we recognize in ourselves even now. It's tempting to think we're less screwed up than our direct forebearers. Some people, Don Draper chief among them, would have you believe the past is the past. But someday it catches up to us, even if it is only on Sunday on AMC.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.