6 Memorable Career Lessons from HBO’s Silicon Valley

With the second season now wrapped up and the third on the way, we at Simply Hired took a look at HBO’s Silicon Valley to determine what career advice the show’s characters can offer.

In preparing this article we first had to decide if we thought the characters were actually good employees or at least potentially good employees. While there are plenty of reasons to avoid being like the characters on this show at all, they also have admirable qualities. With that in mind, here’s what to take from Richard, Gilfoyle, Dinesh, Jared, Monica, and Erlich.


Richard Hendrix: Be a visionary

Innovation isn’t easy. We live at a time when mankind has accomplished so much; some argue that no new ideas are coming along. But while it may seem harder than ever to think outside of the box, it is still done. Richard Hendrix wonderfully illustrates this point. When Richard’s compression algorithm exceeds a theoretical compression limit, he doesn’t believe that it’s real. He didn’t even realize what he’d created. But that’s nothing new. Listerine was developed as a surgical antiseptic, Coca-Cola was an alternative to morphine, and Play-Doh was a wallpaper cleaner.

Keep cranking away and trying new things, and you’ll come up with a fresh idea.

Gilfoyle&DineshGilfoyle & Denish: Develop supportive office relationships

While on the surface these two seem completely at odds with one another, upon closer inspection you’ll notice that their friendly competition brings out the best in both of them. Sure they spend a lot of time exchanging insults, but they are also quick to support each other’s work, double-check their work and lead a helping hand.

These type of relationship can be hugely beneficial in the office and in your career. It’s not fun to go it alone all the time and not have anyone in your corner, especially at work. Things come up and you need someone to have your back. So in your office, make a point to reaching out and developing supportive relationships.

When a coworker needs a hand, lend it. You never know when you’ll need a favor.


Jared Dunn: Remember that management matters

Although there’s always the negative connotation around managers, when it comes to increasing productivity they have a tremendous effect on businesses. Whether it’s scrum, SWOT analysis or otherwise, managers have a host of great methods for making sure employees are efficient and productive. While they may not necessarily be the most popular position to hold in an organization, as they may not seem “part of the gang”, management can help bring out the best in workers.

When managers offer advice, listen to them, most of the time they know what they are talking about.


Monica Hall: Be a true believer

Companies have missions and visions. These are an effort to build a unified company culture around a set of core beliefs. But if you have a staff full of people who don’t buy in and don’t believe in the product, those company culture elements are basically useless. Monica shows just how valuable people who believe in a company are to the company’s success. When times are trying you want people who believe in what the company is doing.

Make sure you are one of the believers. If you don’t believe in a company, product or mission, then recognize that as a red flag and avoid the company.

ErlichSVErlich Bachman: Know how to express yourself

Erlich might be the most profane and boorish character on Silicon Valley, but he’s also one of the most successful. He’s had an app he built acquired and started an incubator that churned out a compression algorithm that may change the world. Repeatedly we see that Erlich is able to think on his feet and express his thoughts and ideas. He’ll often say that he’s the Steve Jobs to Richard’s Steve Wozniak, but the truth is Erlich is both. A programmer who knows how to communicate his ideas.

If you want to see your ideas come to full fruition, don’t hesitate to share them. Speak for yourself; don’t let others speak for you.

While a show like Silicon Valley may seem just a comedy and a bit silly, there are real career lessons to take from it. There’s a reason the characters on the show are successful. Try to keep them in mind in your our own career.