Five Life Lessons from Hulu’s The Dropout

Five Life Lessons from Hulu’s The Dropout

The public seem to have a penchant for stories about falls from grace. We see companies with insane valuations of more than billion dollars, only to turn out to be either fraudulent or too good to be true. One famous example is Theranos, a bio-tech start-up company that was touted to be a game changer for the healthcare industry. The company’s controversial founder, Elizabeth Holmes, claimed that they came out with a home blood testing device that could determine a wide variety of illnesses using only a drop of blood. The concept was groundbreaking, but the idea was unfortunately too good to be true. It was only a matter of time before the truth was exposed. The expose created a media frenzy, and soon enough the different media outlets started to pick the story up to turn it into various content. One of it being the Hulu series, The Dropout, which had Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!), at the forefront of the show, as she portrayed the role of Holmes. Here are five life lessons from the series:

5. Success takes time

Holmes was in a rush to be somebody of importance that she was willing to take the easy way out and cut corners. She may have won the hearts of big-time investors at first, but the accolades and recognition turned moot once the truth behind the product was revealed. Holmes knew from the beginning that the device she created was erroneous and unsuccessful, yet she insisted on masking the truth and presenting it to be a groundbreaking innovation. Holmes’ rough childhood was no excuse for her fraudulent behavior. She had big dreams, but failed to realize that the execution was just as important as her pursuit. Good things take time, and are cultivated by consistency and hard work. Holmes’ impatience to be the next big thing did her more harm than good. She had what it took to be someone of importance, but she wasted this golden opportunity by cheating her way through.

4. A lie, no matter how big or small, could cost you everything

White lies can easily turn into major lies if left unexamined. In order to score major funding, Holmes had to demo her device to investors. This left her with limited time to make the device function seamlessly while making ends meet with the limited funding she had from the beginning. This pushed Holmes to take matters into her own hands and lie about the feasibility of her device in order to get on her investors good graces and score a substantial amount of funding. This was in no way a means to an end, as Holmes deceived her board members, employees, and investors. Holmes may have felt like she outsmarted them all at the beginning, but the truth became harder and harder to conceal towards the end. People were starting to notice the inconsistencies and brave souls started to speak out. Holmes’ lies caught up with her and entangled her into a web that she herself spun.

3. Ethics and morals are the two pillars of doing business

A business leader must have his moral compass pointed at the right direction. This makes for sound decision-making and honest business practices. Holmes’ moral compass has been askew from the early years of her start-up when she was willing to have cancer patients act like lab rats for her defective device. It was a heartless move that could only be done by an equally heartless person. A person can have all the talent and highest intelligence in the world, but running a business without ethics and morals feel like a train running of its tracks. It feels like waiting for a fatal crash that is bound to happen. Theranos turned from the hot new kid on the block to a huge disaster that went up in flames.

2. Contributing to society never has to be at the expense of others

At the beginning, Holmes must have intended the world to become a better place with her invention, but the fame and fortune that came with success might have gotten her drunk on the seeming unlimited power that was in her hands. This caused her to make a lot of ill-fated decisions that proved to be detrimental in many ways. Apart from putting ill people in harm, Holmes also mistreated her own employees. Their actions were strictly monitored and they were slammed with NDAs from every direction. This even pushed one of her long-time employees, biochemist Ian Gibbons, to take his own life. Holmes’ actions soon created a domino effect that led to her downfall.

1. Surround yourself with the right people

Holmes was greatly influenced by Sunny Balwani, the former president and chief operating officer of Theranos, who was later on revealed to be her secret boyfriend. Balwani’s firm grasp on Holmes made him very involved in her decision-making. He ran the company with an iron fist and was unapologetic in his ways. It was safe to say that he was a bad influence to Holmes and very much contributed to her change in character. It pays to be picky with the people you surround yourself with. Unfortunately, Holmes made the wrong decision of trusting Balwani. Their partnership may have ended together with the company, but its effects will last a lifetime.Mamma Mia!

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