Last month, Netflix released a new tv show that caught our entrepreneurial eye. It’s called “Inventing Anna” and it’s worth every minute spent watching it.
To quickly summarize, it talks about the con artist Anna Sorokin, better known as Anna Delvey, a fake German heiress, with caviar dreams and champagne taste who managed to get into every checkbook of New York’s elite, making them believe that she had a $60 million trust fund (spoiler alert: she didn’t).
Even though the show depicts the “completely true, except for the parts that are totally made up” story of a criminal and all the crimes she committed, the truth is, as ironic as it may sound, there are some key lessons for every entrepreneur out there. Curious? Let’s go through each one of them:
1. You must have the right relationships. And here's why:
Excellent work is fundamental to getting ahead, but the next step is to have the right relationships, because you want to do business with people you know, like and trust. Most importantly this has to be reciprocated. Only this way can your ambitions and dreams evolve into something bigger.
We know that it may be difficult to know who the right people are, but once you know how you can grow your network, you’re set. The key is to build genuine relationships that result in people liking you and trusting you enough to want to do business with you or mention your name in important conversations.
2. Mentorship and sponsorship:
Throughout the show, Anna managed to get Nora’s attention to take her as her protege and introduce Anna to her high powered connections to get her all the help she could have to start up her Foundation (The Anna Delvey Foundation, or ADF, as she called it). Only through Nora’s connection, was Anna able to get her project underway. However, she managed this through manipulating and taking advantage of her mentor’s goodwill, by wracking up all kinds of bills and then leaving her.
Another important character here is Alan Reed, the lawyer who vouches for Anna and helps her to access funds from the banks for her project. He was her sponsor (who was willing to put his image and reputation on the line for her, supposedly genuine ambitions and work). Alan introduced her to many high powered banking officials and helped her open new doors that, otherwise, wouldn’t be open. But, just like it happened with Nora, Anna misled him.
So, if there is one thing we want you to take away from this is: make sure that you let your convictions and ambitions about a project and your excellent work be such that people take notice and willingly want to help you with further processes on your journey.
3. Stable and clear plans to achieve your goals:
As devious as her intentions were, the truth is that Anna had a mapped out plan of how everything had to go in order to get what she wanted. She knew exactly who she needed to have around her to help her make it happen and how she should go about her plan. You, too, must have a clear plan to achieve exactly what you want, except yours should not land you in jail.
4. Business is a “girls’ playground” too:
Now, more than ever, we see women taking the lead in the business world and founding their own companies. However, women-owned businesses are still a minority and the barriers that these women face are still vast. Anna is no exception. The first barrier she faced was her age. Because she was a young woman wanting to fund her own business, she was not taken seriously. In addition, harassment is also portrayed in the series as one of the challenges women face in the business world. For example, business dinners are a pretext for conversations and actions to take unwanted turns, which, according to Anna, would not happen if she were a man. Another thing that struck us was the constant presence of the statement “Business is a boys’ playground”. This phrase is said several times by both Anna and Nora, during conversations about ambitions and business plans, showing that women are aware that it is still difficult to find space for them in this "playground".
Fortunately, the scenario in Portugal is brighter. Although it can still improve, our country is in the top three countries with the most female inventors in the world and there are several initiatives such as the EIT Food EWA , the Portuguese Women In Tech, and the Professional Women’s Network Lisbon (PWN Lisbon) ensuring that women's ideas reach the market and that both men and women have the same business opportunities.
5. Dream BIG:
We know this one may sound like a cliché, but, really, this is great advice - and a great reminder to each one of us. Whether you have a dream of creating the next big multinational company in Silicon Valley, or founding a new startup that will revolutionize how we use Internet technology, for example, don’t be afraid to dream big. For Anna, her big dream was to set up the Anna Delvey Foundation, an elite social club about modern art, at a prestigious New York location ( 281 Park Avenue, to be exact). That’s how BIG her dreams were. However, as we know, she didn’t have any money - she just pretended to have it. But that was never an impediment for her to dream big.
So, another lesson to be learned here is that, whatever obstacles you may face, don’t let them be the reason you give up on your dreams.
While these are good takeaways from the series “Inventing Anna”, the truth is that she was a criminal con-artist and managed to get what she wanted in devious ways and her intentions were far from being true and genuine. So, if you, too, want to achieve your goals, pursue your dreams and be successful, we urge you to believe in yourself, but most importantly, you need to be down-to-earth, genuine and honest with yourself and those around you. That’s the most important thing you can do for yourself, your business and everyone around you.
Also read: Why are Podcasts gaining more popularity?