Guest Posting:
How ABC’s Scandal
Is Helping Me Run My Business


Executive producer Shonda Rhimes has been instrumental in changing the way we watch and interact with television. She created Scandal, which airs on Thursday nights on ABC, and the show has made its mark on millions of TV viewers. The fervor, excitement and water cooler buzz centered on this show is – refreshing.


I watch this show for a different reason than I suppose most do. I am a female business owner with a small group of employees and subcontractors. I have had my share of hiring challenges over the years and finding that right mix, that perfect recipe for successful hiring or the right team has presented tremendous opportunities for assessment and change.  As an employer, I am always searching for loyalty, dedication, commitment and independent thinking. Is that too much to ask for from an employee?

Scandal’s Gladiators in Suits investigate, incriminate and humiliate some of the trickiest criminals known to mankind.  Which Gladiator is going to fold, which is going to take charge or which is going to make me want to throw something at my television?  They each have a unique talent, gift, skill and characteristic that they use to create a team that is undeniably intoxicating and addictive to watch. However, after analyzing my own team I thought to myself, what’s missing in my company? “You have to understand what it is you need from the talent you hire,” states Jim Del Rosario, Head of Global Talent Acquisition for Sonos in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

So, I took a look at each of the show’s Gladiators to try to understand what each character/characteristic brings to my table.

  • Harrison is the blindly loyal and enigmatic fast talker who always remembers why the Gladiators are there – to support their leader no matter the circumstance or personal sacrifice required.
  • Huck is the fiercely obedient and cunning mercenary who will solve the most complex or technical problems with carnal focus and delivers insight from global experiences. (My place is to not always know how he got the job done but to appreciate the fact that he did.)
  • Quinn is the innocuous, yet inquisitive follower who will question everything but creates a reason for the team to think twice. She’s eager to learn, craves understanding and is disconnected from her real family which forces her to transfer all of her emotion into her new family, her fellow Gladiators.
  • Abby is the beguiling firecracker that can charm a man right out of his socks without ever saying a word. That team member who’s close enough to the edge but doesn’t lose sight of the main goal; albeit she may hate herself the next day. She keeps her eye on the prize for the sake of the team and the mission.

What is the key to the success of Scandal’s team where individual gifts and talents come together for the common good? The key is in the organization’s leadership. Elizabeth Moffitt, President of Christopher Quinn Group, a Human Resource Consulting firm in Dallas, TX,  states, “Olivia gives them [Gladiators] the satisfaction of being able to do what they love to do.”

As I analyze the episodes, assess the dynamics of the team members and compare it to the way I manage, I noticed two common factors as to why the Gladiators are fiercely loyal to their leader. Olivia Pope, played by Kerri Washington, creates an environment where the Gladiators have the freedom to operate and to do what they do best without reprisal or oversight; after all they are capable adults. There is no micro-managing at Pope and Associates because there is no time. But, also she has freed them from their worst nightmares and horrific pasts.  “There’s a trust that has been built which removes distractions and increases productivity,” states Del Rosario. This trust is the magic bullet.

Building the right team takes time, requires a strategy and an understanding of the internal gaps your organization has today. “You don’t want five people who are just like you on your team, if you had a whole group of yourself…you wouldn’t be as productive,” states Moffitt.

I wonder if today’s entrepreneurs were to find the right combination of Gladiators in Suits just how much further would our companies be tomorrow. I guess we’ll keep tweeting and watching Scandal to find out. But as Scandal has taught us, sometimes the unconventional methods become the conventional success stories.

Where have you found unconventional wisdom to run your business?  Do you have Gladiators that you can call on?  Let us know!

More from GEM:

Ask Rene: My Daughter Is Lying About Being Abused!

Something Wonderful: Step One In Building A Dream

School Scandal: What Were These Officials Thinking


Cynthia E. Nevels is a certified financial educator and certified entrepreneurship instructor. Cynthia is the Managing Director of, a business management and marketing consulting firm founded in 2002. She’s the host of the popular business and technology radio program The C-Radio Show, as well as a contributing writer in Dallas and Houston.