04/11/2014 02:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

18 Ways To Be The Peggy Olson Of Your Workplace


Seven years ago, Peggy Olson walked into Sterling Cooper right out of secretarial school to answer the phone for Don Draper. At the end of "Mad Men's" sixth season, she'd landed in her former boss' throne as one of the most sought-after copywriters in the her field.

How did she do that?

As Willa Paskin pointed out in her New York magazine profile of actress Elizabeth Moss, Peggy has been the show's true protagonist all along. As an outsider unfamiliar with the bourbon-drenched, smoke-filled milieu of 1960s ad agencies, Peggy is the audience's window into this world.

The fictional Peggy Olson was kicking ass and taking names before Sheryl Sandberg could even say "lean in." Writers have never never idealized Peggy's life, and she has endured enough distinctly female professional and personal challenges that every one of her achievements was gratifying to watch. While not all of Peggy's actions are aspirational -- we'd advise against a litany of office affairs -- her professional triumphs and travails are always instructive.

As we embark upon the first half of the last season of "Mad Men" (and desperately hope for a Peggy Olson spin-off) on April 13, we reflect on some of Peggy's best moments, and the distinctly Olsonian skills employed to achieve them.

Here are 18 ways to be the Peggy Olson of your office:

1. Identify opportunities for growth and capitalize on them.

2. Don't let your gender get in the way, but use your distinctly female perspective to get an edge.

3. Stay loyal to those who have lifted you up, but know when it's time to move on.

4. Tap into the knowledge of other women in your office. Their advice might not be exactly what you want to hear, but it will be helpful.

5. Adapt to your office culture, but know where to draw the line.

6. Eventually, you'll beat them at their own game.

7. Get right to the point when you need something professionally.

8. Always offer your honest perspective, even if you work in male-dominated environment where critique from women isn't received particularly well.

9. If you're in a position to recruit new talent, don't settle.

10. Know what tasks are worth your time, and which aren't.

11. Don't let other people in your workplace's concerns impact your performance.

12. Demand a thorough explanation for any and all changes to your team.

13. Identify and encourage new talent, especially among women.

14. Know your value. And make sure it is reflected in your pay.

15. Call out male privilege when you encounter it.

16. Remember your mentor's best aphorisms.

17. Recognize that work-life balance is a process.

18. But take some time for yourself -- within reason -- whenever possible.

There you have it. Go forth, Olson disciples.



"Mad Men" Season 6 and 7