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Business Lessons from Blacklist’s Raymond Reddington

Raymond Reddington is a former U.S Navy officer turned high-profile criminal who voluntarily surrenders to the FBI after eluding capture for decades. He tells them that he has a list of the most dangerous criminals in the world that he has compiled over the years and is willing to inform on their operations in exchange for immunity from prosecution. 

A special task force is set up to go after this “blacklist”. Now there are many more twists and turns to it, so go watch it.

The point is Reddington is as much a criminal as he is helping justice. He is as selfish as he gives away. He is cunning, resourceful, trigger happy when required and does not shy from any job however dirty, insane, illegal it might be as long as it helps his agenda.

So what can we learn from such a guy? Actually, loads.

Here are 7 Business Lessons that could help you transform your business.

Know Your Network of Customers

The story’s central figure is Raymond Reddington, a former intelligence officer who dropped off the grid and into the world of international criminal syndicates, mercenaries, and other shadowy figures. He has now returned to partner with the FBI, providing them with The Blacklist.

To the government, Reddington’s Blacklist is a who‘s who of the nation’s most wanted criminals. To Reddington, it is a list of former customers. The list comes complete with names, numbers, and vital stats about their wants, needs, abilities, and connections.

The list has proven to be an exceptional starting point for this action drama series. A similar customer list is an equally exceptional was for any business to engage in their own actionable intelligence.

Master Storytelling (Sales)

Red’s a master storyteller. He pulls you in by telling his terrific stories. Whether it is recalling a scene from a movie he loved or time spent with a friend, he’s very detailed and dramatic. He makes you want to hang on every word.

Have a Sense of Urgency

Like any TV drama, The Blacklist has a recurring theme of urgency. Urgency creates action and it also creates actionable intelligence. If you build a strong sense of urgency around your data and insights, it is likely to propel your organization to act.

False urgency can be a problem. If you go too far, you run the risk of turning your business into its own form of drama. But when the data is good, most organizations are more inclined to move too slow. A little urgency can go a long way.

Build Trust

Another recurring theme of The Blacklistis trust. It is truly one of the more brilliant elements and Raymond presents a very polarizing figure. On one hand his intentions are questioned regularly and rightly so (he clearly has a second agenda). On the other hand, his credibility when it comes to insight, knowledge, and understanding of his former clients is without a doubt.

The former makes a great drama, the latter a good example of a necessary step in generating actionable insights. Doubt kills action. For Raymond, this was settled in a way most companies can leverage, with a proof of concept.

In episode one, Raymond’s credibility was questioned. Perhaps some doubt lingered for a few episodes more. But project after project, his insights proved too valuable, the outcomes too reliable, and trust ruled. In the latest seasons, Reddington provides the insights and the team reacts. Action!

Never Give Away your Trade Secrets

No matter what your profession or career, you always want to have an ace up your sleeve if you can. Always try to stay a bit ahead of the curve. Maybe you don’t have the contingency plan of a suitcase full of half a million dollars and a surgical team at your disposal like Reddington, but keep abreast of changes in your field. Never allow yourself to become complacent.

Recruit a Great Team

Next on Raymond’s list of accomplishments is his personal team of top caliber talent. His team ranges from body guards to lawyers, accountants to programmers, and includes plenty of other specialists. They give Reddington a tremendous amount of leverage and capability.

Just as important as their talent is their loyalty. Raymond’s team does not waste time questioning motives or second guessing intention. This does not imply mindless obedience, but it helps them move quickly and confidently.

Raymond’s team is a model for any business unit, but especially one looking to convert insights into actions. Their diversity, their talent, and their loyalty serve to give them the leverage and speed to get things done.

Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource

One final theme or twist that The Blacklist story line offers to would-be intelligence teams, never be afraid to outsource. One of the most intriguing parts of The Blacklist is Raymond’s ability to get the US Government to do his work for him.

Many teams would be well served to model his example. Focus your time on building your network of information, create urgency, build trust, recruit a great internal team, then leave the dirty work to someone else.

If you want more business lessons, check out these resources;

1. Business Lessons from Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League Victory

2. Business Lessons from Money Heist