What A Daughter Learned From Her Dad About Working in a “Mad Men” World

by Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.

Today is Take Our Daughters to Work Day, which I thought was a lost day but apparently has been re-branded to the more gender-neutral “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.”  Upon discovering that I happened to select this day for one of my blogposts during the year my dad retires, this post seemed destined for something a little different.  I hope you’ll indulge me.

When I am downtown Minneapolis, I am often reminded about dad & daughter days at the office – and there were many more visits other than just the fourth Thursday in April.

For much of the time, “dad’s office” was one of Minneapolis’ “Mad Men” agencies in the 1980s & 1990s. There were lavish parties (even for us kids), a classic Porsche installed in the office lobby with a crane before the building was finished, free fountain soda(!), free magazine subscriptions, typewriters where I would practice my keystrokes on envelopes for Kelly and Marti – and incredibly talented people proudly doing creative for a really spectacular list of clients.  The picture below is from an Adweek story in 1992 (I’m credited simply as “daughter”), and it is one of my favorite pictures of me and my hipster, bike-commuting father.   The gavel on the legal pad also is an eerie foreshadowing of “collaborations in creativity and the law.”

Friends routinely ask me if I watch Mad Men, and they often draw parallels between the show and their perceptions about scotch-drinking lawyers.  My answer is “I did at first, but it hits a little too close to home.”  From a young age, I saw the fast-paced, cutthroat environment of the ad agency world.  In real life, these are people who say things like “it’s not enough to be the winner, there also has to be a loser,” as if they are in a court battle. I watched and overheard stories about people who lived the Mad Men lifestyle, and I saw the real consequences of that life.  If my dad were not the man that he is, my life easily could have been much different, as Mad Men reminds me. I am grateful for the experiences of observing my dad at work. Dad taught me a lot about working in a fast-paced, “Mad Men” world – without being Don Draper. Here are a few things that I’ve learned:

  • Family always comes first.  
    Whenever my sister or I would call my dad’s office and my dad was in a meeting, apparently my dad would abruptly end the meeting to call us back and then reconvene.
  • Anytime you put your brand on something, it should be done thoughtfully, with purpose, and without editing.  
    My dad has been known to be a bit of a “logo cop.”  He ensures brands are used consistently and demands excellence in effort.  It takes years of effort to build a strong brand, and one small misstep to set it back.  This goes not only for your client’s brand, but for your company and your own personal brand.
  • Never sacrifice your principles for your paycheck.  
    One of the things that I admire about my dad is his integrity and his willingness to always do what he believes is in the best interest of the company or others, even if it is unpopular.  My dad once told his boss that he would never work on campaigns for cigarettes or for gambling (at least that’s how I remember it – maybe this was really a lesson in disguise about how to avoid being grounded for life).  I’m not sure whether Don Draper really had any principles to sacrifice, and he certainly needed the Lucky Strike campaign.
  • Understand that you and those you work with probably have been “raised by wolves” at some point. 
    My dad is fond of saying that he was “raised by wolves,” for instance after leaving the fast-paced ad agency lifestyle for a marketing director position on Main Street in Red Wing.  We are all products of our experiences, and inevitably in a high pressure work environment like the creative world or the legal one, you pick up certain “skills.”  You know, like not wanting to use a seemingly dead language in every brief.  That prior training may lead to some conversations that may not be well received, or some decisions that may make more less than others.  Understanding that they may have been raised by wolves, you can move past the puffery and get to real solutions.

In a few weeks, the only office of my dad’s that I will be visiting will be his office in the basement at my parents’ home (well, and Target Field) — but maybe we’ll soon have to create a Take Our Dad to Work Day.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.

Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.