Tom Mandel: Talent — It’s What You Do With It
“I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and play with the Miami Heat.” — LeBron James
“Sometimes we don’t get to choose where our talents lie.” — Don Draper
Sunday afternoon was all about the Knicks, and Sunday night was all about Mad Men. At least for me. All day, I was overwhelmed with the amount of talent America was confronted with. Ball-handling talent, creative talent, 3-point talent, presentation talent, team talent, acting talent, you name it. We could look at the Knicks/Don and talk about talent going to waste. (Megan: “I’ve been working, thought you were too.” Don: “Nope.”) (Fire extinguisher: “You’ll get ‘em next time, Amar’e!” Amar’e: [punch]) Instead, let’s look at Megan and LeBron and what people choose to do with their talents.
It’s a really basic choice that most of us are confronted with at some point or another. Would I rather be good at something or happy doing something else? Megan is a talented copywriter. You heard right: I admit it. Girl’s got chops. She still hasn’t given us a “They’re Toasted” or “Carousel” moment, but Heinz and Cool-Whip are both perfectly palatable ideas. Unfortunately, Megan wants to be an actress. Emile Calvert said so, and his word is law. But she’s not as good at it (or hasn’t married the right guy yet, whatever. Details). She has a problem with her teeth, and she didn’t get the part. But she quits anyway. She said it herself: she’d rather be a failed actress than a successful copywriter.
Now let’s look at LeBron. He spent seven seasons in Cleveland, bringing home a whopping zero championship rings. He was a hometown hero, much beloved by the fans. Then he took his talents to South Beach to play with Dwayne Wade (the velociraptor tagged along). It seems clear what his goal was: to win. He hasn’t succeeded yet, but he’s got many years ahead of him.
I hate LeBron and was sad to see Megan go.
What’s interesting about it is that they’re both selfish, just in different ways. Wanting to win and wanting to be happy are both completely self-centered desires.
The difference is that success isn’t what makes Megan happy. Lying on the floor of some acting class while Don listens to the Beatles does. Success makes LeBron happy. So he’s really making a decision to be happy, too. Yup, I just reduced LeBron James and Megan Draper to the same person: a selfish happiness-seeker who has yet to achieve his/her goal. On second thought, fuck Megan!
BUT DOING THINGS BECAUSE THEY MAKE YOU HAPPY IS NOT WHAT MAD MEN IS ALL ABOUT. So LeBron isn’t on Mad Men (allegedly). But Megan is. How dare she do something to make herself happier? Has she met the rest of the cast? Pete? Betty? Peggy? DON? I rest my case. Next time, follow everybody else’s lead and keep your talents somewhere that leaves you in that happiness flux of great television.
No, I’m not going to venture what Mad Men is all about. Yet. Stay tuned.
PS: Don can’t smoke in the Cool-Whip labs, Ginsberg loves wardrobe details, Pete doesn’t appreciate Trudy, and “Pizza Haus!”
About Tom Mandel: Tom Mandel lives above a bar, loves that he lives above a bar, and never goes.