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SOMEHOW I MANAGE. dot dot dot. Business School Talk by Michael G. Scott

Here we go again. good to see you :)

Welcome back to the weekly series where i (we) analyze the business situations encountered by possibly one of the greatest bosses ever

This week we’ll be reviewing how Michael Scott is preparing for a lecture, how he delivers a lecture, and of course, what can we learn from him/it.

Episode recap “Business School” s03e16:

Michael is invited by Ryan (the temp) to be a guest speaker in his emerging enterprise class (and not professor emeritus as he so understood). Yes, technically its in the business school building on campus, but it’s more of a Q&A (great questions asked there, more on that and a confession later on) with the students.

Watch the episode here.

Since a good speaker needs to be captivating and Michael is certainly a captivating character on TV, let’s analyze freely how michael prepares for a talk and how serious he takes it.

“Today is a special day”

Micheal is very dramatic about anything, and of course he will be when its about business and/or sales. This excitement makes him prepare with notes, topics, flow, and some key messages he wishes the audience to remember, are you preparing for every speaking engagement you have? let alone a public one.  I admire the excitement Michael has and the effort he tried to make preparing for the talk, any talk i’ve given (1000+) was carefully prepared to the level of anticipating what the audience may ask, while Michael did a terrible job preparing for the actual topic of the talk, it is highly crucial to anticipate what the audience might ask or specific topics or messages you need to make sure are clear:

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” — Benjamin Franklin

You have so many chances of audience beforehand that it really is stupid if you don’t. Ryan even gives Michael one more chance to figure it out by saying” You do realize, no one is graduating right?!” and i see this as an illustration of just how much it easy to figure theses kinds of things out if you PREPARE, because what michael did to get Ryan to say that was a practice run he did on him in the car on the way there, another great example, practice until you get there and and assume you won’t have time once you’re there.

Student questions

I love audience questions! honestly, i think questions (even the snarky ones) are the best indication of audience participation or curiosity. Michael does the worst thing you can ever do when answering a question from the audience and that is — disregarding the question.

You see there’s always this game between the person speaking and the entire audience, one team is the audience and they (subconsciously even) will try to test or figure the speaker out, it’s ok and it’s respectful at most times, but being aware of that means that you should know that when discouraging people (the audience) from engaging with you, it makes them harder to convince it’s worth listening to you.

with that said, remember, dont be like michael here — if you dont know or understand the question, say it.

Rip out your text books!

Michael means well here and it is based on one of the grandest teacher inspiration scenes of all times, yet it is very cool to start a talk or a lecture with something the audience would not expect or see coming, most common trick is the poll and ‘show of hands’ — those are good and will do the trick but let’s learn from michael and try to tone it down just a tad. And if you’re scared to bomb the way michael did remember you will prepare and prepare before actually doing it so… do it.

There are 4 types of businesses

yes, there sure are only 4.5 types of business out there!! :) Michael had 4 and on the spot he thought of a few more. what i take from this is accepting the fact that you will not be able to know everything or have an answer to any question. The thing you don’t want to do is make up stuff on the fly, because the audience will catch you, maybe not to your face but will eventually will catch you.

“Real business is done on paper”

again, a great statement from the man, whether it’s true or not i will not argue here, but i will mention how, even after michael shamed himself but not answering any questions and avoiding and re-explaining things, after all that — he still was able to make them write down what he said.  Yes, they are students and thats what most do, type when told, but based on my speaking experience i can definitely say that you need to “control” the audience and at times remind them who’s running the show, respectfully of course.

Your own employee calculation

one of the students asks michael how he plans to compete with the 5 giants of office supplies and their online dominance, and mentions that by Ryan’s calculation (apparently as part of the class) Dunder Mifflin will not be here is 5 years, to that Michael is so amazed and shocked that Ryan wold say that about Dunder Mifflin that he couldn’t even fathom a proper reply.  That part always hurts me to see Michael so disappointed by the fact that his own team dont believe in the company’s future. Of course Michael needs to relax because it is not his company, he just works there, but that moment of disappointment is something i try every day to avoid with every team i work with, spirit is important.

Don’t be an idiot — changed my life

one of the best advises i’ve ever heard because it the advise that is applicable to anything you do — dont be an idiot. dont. also, dont be as asshole.


the students’ questions for michael are some damn good ones, and i have taken the time to learn how to to best respond when i get similar questions.

one of the questions was “what do you say to a customer who wants to leave you?” Michael responds by saying “i will say you will miss our service” a great reminder about the strengths you have when you’re small. keep in mind just how much Michael believes that business is the most personal thing in the world, he actually says that in this very episode!

another questions was how can you compete with a nation wide chain? a questions small businesses hear all the time — how do you respond to that? it differs obviously from company to company but it’s a very relevant questions to prepare for.

the last but defintely one of the coolest things i learned from the students’ quesiotns was how much has Dunder Mifflin’s Herfindahl-Hirschman Index has has declined since the merger, i didnt know what it was when i frist saw it, nut it made go and learn and even bring it up whenever neccesary :)


In the end, Michael is so disappointed with Ryan thinking Dunder Mifflin will go bust in 5–10 years, he tells on the car ride back to the office to pack his things. When they get to the offie Ryan tries to reason with Michael but he has another thing coming for Ryan, he will move to sit in the annex, and says:

Good manager doesn't fire people, he hires people and inspires people

have a great weekend, i’ll see you next week

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