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10 TV Shows that Teach You Invaluable Lessons about Life

10 TV Shows that Teach You Invaluable Lessons about Life

Most of my childhood consisted of watching sitcoms and eating ice cream. In fact, during times of trouble, I often hear the voice of James Avery (Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) before my own father’s, and my first memory of Ted Danson was behind a bar, not a police desk.

While the wisdom of the ‘80s and ‘90s lives on in our hearts, there is still a wealth of great life advice in more recent TV shows. Here are 10 shows that teach you invaluable lessons about life. Included are quotes that sum up a great philosophy learned from each television series.

1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

“You can stand anything for 10 seconds… Then you just start on a new 10 seconds.”

Netflix’s favorite Indiana Mole Woman a.k.a. Kimmy (portrayed by Ellie Kemper) survived 15 years of imprisonment by the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm — yes, John Hamm) with her unending optimism and reliance on this quote. Kimmy retains her sanity by breaking down her daily struggles underground into manageable, ten-second bits. No matter if you’re turning a crank-operated generator or stuck on a horrible blind date, just take it “ten seconds at a time.”

2. Arrested Development

“She thinks I’m too critical. That’s another fault of hers.”

Lucille Bluth always tells it like it is. Any Arrested Development fan knows that she is no stranger to giving advice. Mother Bluth is brutally honest and knows she’s awesome – and so should you. Lucille has never once apologized for being herself. Put another olive in your martini, while perfecting your winky face, and celebrate you.

3. Friends

“She’s your lobster.”

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Besides the obvious lessons that we all need a solid group of friends in our life who accept us for you we are, one of the most touching lines in Friends is about find your lobster (a.k.a. the one you are meant to be with). So if you are still single at 30, don’t give up because your true love is out there. Note: After ten seasons, there are bound to be more examples, but so many episodes over the years means lots of content to go through. At least you can binge watch this on Netflix.

4. Grey’s Anatomy

“Just put one foot in front of the other. Just get through the day.”

Granted, this is probably the most generic piece of life advice there is, but that doesn’t make it any less true. No matter what kind of day you’re having, good or bad, tomorrow is a new one. Of course, these words seem to carry more weight when coming from a (TV) doctor.

5. Doctor Who

“There’s a considerable difference between courage and reckless stupidity.”

By all means, be brave. But before taking that stance whether physically or verbally—think it through!!

Bonus: “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”

Read! Never stop learning no matter how old or smart you get. Learning from other people’s mistakes, wisdom and experiences will be one of the best things you do for your life.

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6. Parks and Recreation

“Never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.”

Ron Swanson is not only master of meat and mustache, but also the wisest individual in all of Pawnee, Indiana. This particular quoted gem is at the foundation of his character. When Ron starts something, he finishes it; moreover, he puts all his energy into completing a given task. Even though taking on multiple responsibilities will make you seem more valuable to those around you, for most people the quality of the work is diminished – unless you’re Leslie Knope.

Ron Swanson is proof that there is still a point to be made for quality over quantity. As is a common saying in sports, “Go hard or go home.”

Bonus: “Treat yo’ self.”

This is less of a quote and more of a holiday frame of mind. On October 13, 2011, Parks and Rec aired an episode in which Donna and Tom spent the day “treating themselves” with lots of clothes, jewelry and food. Let’s face it, the stress work is unavoidable and sometimes you need a pick me up to get you through the day. Everyone “treats themselves” differently; some take days off, others buy things. Whatever you do, the point is to realize there are more important things in life than your job and to relax once in a while.

7. Smallville

“Clark, you’re so focused on what’s ahead that you’re starting to cut out the parts of your past that made you who you are.”

Martha Kent, adopted mother of Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, is another example of the important role supporting (non-super-powered) characters play in any superhero TV show or movie. Characters like Alfred in Batman and Uncle Ben Parker Spider-man serve as the connection to the “normal” world for their respective heroes.

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In addition to keeping them grounded, these individuals act as a support system. They are often the people the heroes treasure the most and are fighting to protect. The mere presence of Martha, Chloe and others like them are proof we are nothing without our friends and family.

In regards to the quote itself, planning for the future is a great practice, but it often results in tunnel-vision. Imagine the life of almost every famous actor, athlete or musician: humble beginnings, a brush with fame, followed by a whirlwind of drugs and overindulgence in the finer things, ending with rehab and a reality show. I don’t think Martha was referring to the price of fame, but rather to the larger point of holding fast to one’s foundational beliefs.

When we are given a new challenge, our first instinct is to “rise to the occasion.” Oftentimes, our core values are twisted to justify certain actions in order to meet a particular end, especially if it is through questionable means. Martha reminds us never to forget where we came from and be true to ourselves, because everyone has battles to fight – not just superheroes.

8. New Girl

“You can run away from your problems, but you’re just going to find new ones that pop up.”

Living is not for the weak.  The fact is life is hard and, more often than not, things will not go your way. Problems are daily, mostly unavoidable occurrences that need to be resolved. Unfortunately, running away from issues doesn’t make them go away. If anything, it makes them worse.  You can catch New Girl on FOX.

9. Game of Thrones

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.”

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

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No one is perfect. We all have are flaws and downfalls, but it’s what we do with those flaws and our attitude towards them that will make us into who we are. Tyrion is my favorite character; not just because of his witty comments, but also because he owns who he is. So if you are trying to be someone else, stop it. Just be yourself and embrace your flaws and use them to your advantage.

10. The IT Crowd

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Obviously, this isn’t the best advice … or is it? Restarting your computer will fix 99% of day-to-day computing issues and save you hours of time in the process. Seriously, when in doubt, restart.

You might recognize Chris O’Dowd from his roles in Bridesmaids and Dinner for Shmucks, but his breakout role was as Roy Trenneman on the BBC series The IT Crowd, a workplace comedy focused around the IT department at Reynholm Industries.

Featured photo credit: Global Panorama via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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