When Did Don Draper Lose His Magic?

By Darrell Minards, Head of Marketing and Communications, Xerox Europe

Many moons ago, Mad Men’s Don Draperwas a creative genius, but he seems to have lost his mojo in recent seasons and I have a theory as to why. Many will say it’s down to his changing relationships with people, alcohol,  and money, but I think it’s all down to his time on the sofa (couch for US-based readers). He used to spend hours with the office door shut, laid out on his sofa thinking deeply and undisturbed to find that gem of insight and creativity that would floor the client in the pitch.

When Did Don Draper Lose His Magic?
Photo Credit: AMC

In our world of open-plan, 24/7, constantly interruptible and online, the ability to let your mind actually “think” is being severely challenged. Everyone wants a piece of your time whether you like it or not and they expect to get hold of you and your answers in an instant. So when I need to clear my mind and find that piece of insight that can take us forward, I know it’s time to hit the sofa. Now, unlike Don, there aren’t many of us with our own spacious office complete with a three-piece suite, but this world of the cloud and mobile working can set us free if we just learn when to disconnect and focus.

Should we work from home all the time or adopt Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer’s strategy? As with everything, it’s a question of balance and judgment, but when you need to think, write, and create…fire up the tech, turn off the e-mail, let the voicemail take the strain and engage the sofa for some hardcore thinking time. Its where all my best ideas have hatched! Don, I hope you’ve been listening?

I guess we’ll see if he has with the return of Mad Men on April 7. Of course, I know where I’ll be.


Darrell  has a keen interest in all things marketing, car and cuisine related. You can follow him @DarrellMinards on Twitter.

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  1. Matthias Wagner April 5, 2013 - Reply

    Hi Darrell,
    as you maybe know, I am a great fan of Don as well and I really enjoyed the early seasons.
    As closer the story moves to the presence the more I see parallels to our way of working and it looses some of it’s magic.
    But at the end of the day it’s like always in life, the secret is the balance of things.
    Sometimes your are chained to agendas and have to work to tight deadlines and sometimes you need time outside the office and let things go but both styles can create wonderful results or ideas.
    To make a long story short, I am really happy to work in an environment which gives me the freedom to perform in the way I perform best.
    At least most of the time …

    Best Regards

  2. Linda - Kennesaw Business News Examiner April 5, 2013 - Reply

    Good morning,

    It’s is very hard to keep that “mojo” going.

    Sometimes along with everything else you mentioned, the key ingredient is not getting caught up in trying to make the next episode better than the one before it. I think everything you mention is “key,” you are right on the money.

    I do believe writers fall into a slump or a type of depressive state when realize\ing that our job is a constant challenge and the goals iare to make the next project produced more exciting and keeping readers/viewers interested.

    Exercise, reduced sedative state and disconnecting are key factors nonetheless, not getting caught up in one’s own head is also important.

    Letting the work flow helps and then editing, more editing and then again more editing. Some of us get so caught up in the excitement and the timeliness that we disregard that voice in our head, screaming – one more read through and edit, which will in most cases mold the best stories.

    Here’s to everyone keeping their mojo going! BTW, Great article!



  3. Darrell Minards April 5, 2013 - Reply

    Hi Matthias,
    I couldnt agree more. We dont stop thinking just because we are not sat at a desk and an idea can come from anywhere.

  4. Darrell Minards April 5, 2013 - Reply

    Thanks Linda, I’m glad it resonated for you. (and roll on the new season)

  5. Alan Jackson: Digital Marketing Manager, Xerox Europe April 5, 2013 - Reply

    “Thinking time” has never worked for me…. And working from home is a way for me to get some heavy duty tasks done without interruptions.

    I find I have to let the creativity come. But it doesn’t always come in the right context. Some of my best ‘work’ ideas have come while I’ve been hiking – almost literally out of the blue. On the other hand, I’ve had some decent musical ideas in the office.

    I may be the only person in marketing anywhere who’s never watched Mad Men, so I don’t know much about Don Draper. However, I recommend he gets a pair of hiking boots. They might not look good with his suit though.


  6. Darrell Minards April 5, 2013 - Reply

    Hi Alan, I think there are some very strong studies which show the value of walking towards creative thinking. So maybe it’ s a case of dont be a couch potato Don, and say “These boots are made for walking” instead!

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