Blog Content

7 Times Michael Scott was GOOD at BUSINESS [The Office]

The Office’s Michael Scott may not be the most successful business leader, but there are a few occasions when he demonstrated sound business principles. Here are my favorite moments from the show and why they demonstrate good business practices.

Video Transcript

Michael Scott. You want to start a business? You need something to sell. Now, this could be anything. Who’s he? What? See? Or I’ll watch him. A college. Not really known for being the best business leader out there, but there are a few times when he really shined and did something right in business. So I’m going to share my favorite moments and explain the solid business principles behind them.

Be sure to watch all the way to the end where I share my favorite lesson from the show. Let’s get started.

Okay, so in this scene, Michael goes with Jan to Chili’s and is trying to land a potentially big client. Jan is just all of business while Michael is all relationship. Michael’s getting to know the guy. He’s ordering appetizers. I mean, we have an awesome blossom. Please. Laughing with him and. Oh, my baby, baby, baby, baby, baby back. I want my baby.

Having a good time isn’t till the very end of the night that he ends up talking about paper and lands the client. The principle here is to build a rapport by getting to know the prospect. It’s pretty difficult, actually, to close the deal without understanding the person you’re talking to and what their situation is. If you are listening to a sales rep and you believe they actually understand you and want what is best for you, you’re going to be a lot more open with that person sharing more information and look for ways to say yes instead of now, which is exactly what you see here.

Now, this is the closer. Here’s the thing about those discount suppliers. They don’t care. They come in, they undercut everything and they run us out of business. And then that’s all gone. Jack up the prices. I guess I could give you guys our business, but you have to meet me halfway, okay? Because they expect me to make cuts.

But when I go ballistic, it isn’t a good chance.

People love solving future problems that don’t exist yet. And here Michael posed a future problem by bringing up how big corporations like their competitor lowers prices temporarily to get rid of the competition, only to raise the prices after the competition is gone. This allowed the prospect to see what could happen by not going with Dunder Mifflin, and that ultimately sealed the deal and even impressed Jim in the process.

Next, the golden ticket idea. This was a Willy Wonka inspired campaign that Michael came up with where he printed five Golden tickets for 10% off their entire order. Three days ago, I slipped five pieces of gold paper into random paper shipments. This entitles the customer to 10% off of their total order. He split the tickets into random deliveries going to existing clients.

Now, unfortunately, all the tickets go to one of their biggest clients with no limit on how many can be claimed per customer, totaling 50% off of a massive order, causing a huge financial burden for Dunder Mifflin. How do you not spread out the tickets into different shipments? I thought I did, so. Okay. Well, no, I’m going to go corporate to make sure that they know I didn’t lose out on my sales.

But the client loved the idea so much that they decided to buy exclusively through them, making it a huge success. So the principle here is to find creative ways to market to existing customers. I just want to say that this golden ticket idea is one of most brilliant signs of initiative I’ve ever seen at this company, because it is almost always more profitable to get business from them than it is going out and looking for new customers.

Since you are not having to spend any money on acquisition now, when you do have that golden ticket idea, just remember to put some fine print on there so you don’t end up like Michael did. Okay. So the next one is when Michael Scott starts and sells his own paper company. Before we go any further. If you don’t know who I am, my name is Steven Records, and I’m the owner of, where we help businesses and content creators maximize their reach and effectiveness of their content.

Now, let’s keep going. Okay, so Michael goes out on his own and brings Pam and Ryan with him to start the Michael Scott paper Company. Michael who? Michael Scott. Oh, yes, I know him. What does he sell? Paper. Does he alibi himself? No. He has company. They start taking clients left and right from Dunder Mifflin by undercutting their prices, not realizing that the rates were so low that they were hemorrhaging money.

Dunder Mifflin is trying to figure out what to do about the clients they lost and decides it may be best to buy out the Michael Scott Paper Company during negotiation. Michael Scott says this. I’ll see your situation and I’ll raise you a situation. Your company is losing clients left and right. You have a stockholder meeting coming up and you are going to have to explain to them why your most profitable branch is bleeding.

This shows that Michael really understands the position that Dunder Mifflin is in and uses that as leverage to increase their offer. When you’re negotiating, using empathy is among the strongest things that you can use. It enables you to see clearly from their point of view, which ultimately makes creating a deal that both of you can agree on much, much, much easier.

Now, instead of taking a cash only offer, he looks to secure jobs for the three of them. I want my old job back. I want my old parking space back. Okay, then I want Pam back in. Ryan. Now, this is actually pretty great because often the employees are the ones left high and dry in a buyout. Also, since their future prospects look pretty grim.

The employment really was the best option. Okay, so here Jan and Michael go to a trade show while Jan is focused on getting new clients. Michael is going to all the boosts and having the time of his life. He meets a rep at Hammer Mill and invites him to an after party where he listens to Hammer Mill’s pitch and secures a deal to carry their products.

Jan Reilly with a rep from Hammer Mill, their exclusive with Staples used to make Avon. I’ll call you in the morning to work out the details. We can now sell hammer mill products. Yes. Oh, Michael, I underestimated you. Yeah, well, maybe next time you will estimate me. A lot of times at trade shows, the focus is purely on getting new clients from your base.

So potential partners get ignored. A partnership is when you establish a business relationship with another company that is mutually beneficial. This can be a company that supplies you with new products or services, or a relationship where you send each other leads. Now, conventions, building relationships with partners is often super easy because they’re already there at their booth and you can just walk up and start a conversation.

Now, another thing to point out here is that you can often create opportunities you never thought possible just by being more open to hearing from people, even if you’re not sure where the conversation will go. Okay, so here Jan tells Michael that they are going to close the Scranton branch and he can’t help but tell everyone on his team and then drive out to David Wallace’s house to try and convince him to keep the branch open.

Meanwhile, Jan is working out the details of the merger with the Sanford branch that is absorbing Scranton, where she finds out that Josh used the restructuring as leverage to get a high level position at Staples. As of today, I have accepted a senior management position at Staples. This flips the whole thing on its head, and then the Sanford branch gets merged into Scranton.

Although here, technically, Michael didn’t do anything to contribute to the outcome, there are some things worth pointing out. Instead of going off and thinking of himself, he thought of his team and fought for their jobs. This sort of selfless trait is exactly what you want in a leader, whereas Josh just put the company and his team in a horrible situation to advance his career.

Say what you will about Michael Scott. But he would never do that. Something that unfortunately, society often applauds and says that that’s just the price of getting ahead. But I think a lot of business owners and team members would have a hard time trusting him, knowing that he did that in the past. It sort of reminds me of this quote Don’t let your talent take you where your character can’t keep you.

We also find out later that the merger was ultimately successful on paper as well. When Michael interviewed for a promotion. Bravo, Michael. Your brands have been doing great lately and your sales staff is reporting very strong numbers, outperforming last year, in fact. Utica, Albany, all the other branches are struggling, but your branch is reporting strong numbers. Speaking of that interview, Michael is convinced that he is a shoo in for the promotion.

And so he is looking for his replacement. He decides to take the whole staff out to the beach to compete in a competition. Today, we are not just spending a day at the beach. We are all participating in mandatory fun activities. Ultimately, he’s using the game to make the decision on who will take over as the new regional manager of Dunder Mifflin.

Now, this obviously isn’t a good idea. You don’t want to base a decision on who’s the best at some silly game, right? Sort of. After working with a lot of CEOs and executives over the years, I have noticed that a lot of them will pay attention to details most people will overlook and will even go as far to put people in unusual environments or situations so they can observe what they do to get insight into who they really are.

This can look like taking you and your spouse out to dinner to ask questions and see how you treat them and see how your spouse reacts to what you’re saying. Or it could be something as simple as observing your body language when they ask you an unexpected question. Now, Michael puts entirely too much weight of the decision on the results of the games, but executives are privy to paying attention to who has leadership potential when group activities and outings take place.

All right, so this one’s my favorite and it comes from the very last episode of the entire show. The minister just told me that it’s tradition for the best mensch to be older than the groom. Right. I can’t be there for you. I’m sorry. For me, one of the biggest measures of success as a leader is how happy your employees are to see you even after you no longer work together.

You can see here that Dwight is touched in Thrilled to see Michael. And so is Pam. Michael, this speaks volumes to the relationships that he built at Dunder Mifflin. He deeply cared about his employees and continued to be a part of their lives even after he had moved on from the company. Ultimately, you can see that this is true just by their reaction to seeing him.

While you don’t have to be everybody’s best friend, the truth is that people are far more likely to stay with the company and give their best work if their boss actually cares about them and treats them like a human and not just a cog in the wheel. Michael demonstrates this throughout the show. Even when everyone else saw this as a bad management style.

Yes, it’s important to get work done to challenge people, to hold people accountable. But this should be done with grace and from a position of thoughtfulness, empathy and a desire to help them grow and thrive. When you do that, everybody wins. If I was to sum up what we could learn from Michael, it would be to have empathy and to care for the people around you.

Because businesses are more about relationships than people realize. People say, I am the best boss. I think that pretty much sums it up. I found this on Amazon. Well, that’s all I have for you in this one. If you want to see more, don’t forget to like, subscribe and check out the next video. See you there.


Subscribe for more insights!

Receive exclusive content to grow your audience and business.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

A 15 min call could change your business forever.

Don’t go another day getting less traffic and revenue than your content deserves. Take the first step today!