Listening to the Wisdom of Don Draper

Photo credit: Frank Ockenfels, AMCMad Men fans recently learned that season 7 of the show won’t start until spring 2014—here’s a feminist compilation of Peggy scenes from past seasons to hold you over—nevertheless, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned over the years from Don Draper.(Or, I’m trying to think about a catchy hook because many of us are tired of talking about how much the world needs women’s leadership and voices, aren’t we? We should be past this by now and just have equal representation… But Don Draper is interesting. We’re curious about Draper’s heart, right? We have energy for him, don’t we?)Draper is a flawed human being. We know this. But he is right about a few things. And my favorite Draper-ism, which I’m sure a few people have said before, is this: If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.So, as we get ready for Mad Men season 5, here are a few people and organizations who are out there in real life changing the conversation (and generally kicking ass) either on behalf of women, in support of women’s leadership, or about something else important and timely in the world.Arikia Millikan Launches LadyBits on MediumLadyBits, which launched in May, is a collection of well-curated “literary musings about technology, science, business, culture, sex, and politics” over at the collaborative journalism platform, Medium. There, you’ll find whip-smart pieces like these by Adrienne LaFrance, “A New Wave of Women’s Pages” and “I Analyzed a Year of My Reporting for Gender Bias and Here Is What I Found,” among others.The Omega Institute Hosts Conversations on InterdependenceMany folks know Omega for their annual Women & Power conference, a fantastic gathering of women leaders and activists across all ages and backgrounds (I was able to attend a five years ago thanks to their scholarship program). Earlier this month Omega hosted a conference on interdependence called Where Do We Go From Here, keynoted by Bill Clinton. Talks included “The Department of Home Town Security” by urban revitalization strategist and environmental justice activist Majora Carter and “Biomimicry: Learning from a Competent Earth” by natural sciences writer and innovation consultant Janine Benyus. (The fact that we have a former president keynoting a conference on resilience thinking is REALLY exciting). View the conference livestream now through December 5th.Janani Balasubramanian Expands Our Thinking On Introverts versus ExtravertsSome conversations never seem to go away. They just keep coming up again and again because we don’t know how to take them further, so we just cycle through them like fashion trends. This is how I feel about the whole introvert/extravert conversation. It’s tired, it needs new energy, and Janani has done just this with “Introverts, Extraverts, and Power (Oh My!)” over at Black Girl Dangerous, reminding us:“Basically, the ways we make ourselves accessible (or not) to other people and the time we take for ourselves are political. The space we take up in conversations, about politics and otherwise, is political. The slowness and silence (or lack thereof) with which we can and do approach the world is also political. These are not conditions that are separable from all the other positions we occupy, and it’s not just a ‘personality thing’.”Read the whole piece here.The Op-Ed Project Takes Their Work to Another LevelThe team over at The Op-Ed Project continues to amplify women writers/thinkers’ voices by helping women get their voices in print, in major newspapers and magazines. And they’ve recently announced a new level II workshop for core seminar alums, “Generating Good Ideas,” a one day program based on time-tested transformational models of learning, aimed at “connecting the dots between disparate ideas, fields, geographies, and time periods.”Who else is taking the lead by changing the conversation in their community, field, or on the national/global stage? Let us know in the comments!


Read more posts by Lex Schroeder.