What I Learned About Being a Business Boss from Watching ‘Narcos’

Game of Thrones taught me tons about building an empire, forming alliances, and creating opportunities, so now I look for ways to keep learning from my chosen forms of entertainment

Photo: Unsplash/@molliesivaram

Photo: Unsplash/@molliesivaram

Game of Thrones taught me tons about building an empire, forming alliances, and creating opportunities, so now I look for ways to keep learning from my chosen forms of entertainment.

These days, I often turn to Netflix when I want to indulge in a little escapism. My latest obsession has been Narcos, a show that takes us back in time to revisit the cartel empires of Colombia from the 80s and 90s. Here’s what these cocaine cowboys have taught me.

Lesson #1: We need a team to thrive.

Whether it’s life or business, we are not alone and those who nurture a community, sisterhood, tribe, and/or family will find that their time on this planet is not only more enjoyable but meaningful as well. In seasons 1 and 2 of Narcos, we see Pablo Escobar with his devout group of “sicarios,” family members, and business associates. He did not build his empire by himself, nor did he do it overnight.

As an entrepreneur, I’m learning this lesson with my business and as a shy introvert I am also learning this lesson in my personal life. There is power in numbers and when you have the right people in your circle, the sky’s the limit, until someone snitches which brings me to the next lesson.


Lesson #2: Loyalty is a gray area.

Loyalty lasts as long as it benefits both parties. Whether it was an informant who turned or a police officer who was on the take, loyalty exists to fill a need. That need could be financial, emotional, career related, or as part of one’s survival skills. Loyalty is described as a strong feeling of support.

Whether it was Escobar or the Cali Cartel, they commanded loyalty when it was convenient to maintain their power. Once the “plata” ran out, loyalty was either shifted or withdrawn altogether.


Lesson #3: Trust is everything.

In episode 9 of season 3, David, the son of a Cali cartel leader, says “There’s plenty of people I don’t like but still trust.” In business and life, trust is the root of all relationships. Whether you’re a narco on the run or a DEA agent meeting with an informant, trust is what binds you to your fate. Without it, there’s no business empire and no job promotion.


Lesson #4: We are the sum of our associates.

There’s a popular saying in Spanish, “Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.” Roughly translated it means, “Show me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who are you.” When you hang out with go-getters, you’ll be the next one. When you hang out with rockstars, you’ll be living the rockstar life. Essentially, elevating your status quo is more than just changing your habits, it’s also aligning yourself with the people who will elevate you to the next level.


Lesson #5: Think ahead.

In episode 2 of season 2, we see Pablo’s underground tunnel which he used to evade authorities. Thinking ahead is planning for all different scenarios. If you’re an entrepreneur do you have an exit strategy? If you’re at a job, do you have enough savings in case you get laid off? Planning for “what if” is not paranoia, it’s being proactive and smart.

Along with lessons are also cautionary tales which makes these shows all the more intriguing. I tuned into Narcos because a coworker had recommended it two years ago and quite frankly, I stayed because any show with Oberyn Martell (aka Pedro Pascal) is totally worth watching over and over again.

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