Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

5 Killer Things You Can Learn From Dexter Morgan About Professional Conduct

Dexter Morgan is the main character in Showtime’s hit series, Dexter. He is a serial killer just trying to get by in the normal world without landing in the electric chair. He’s a Blood Spatter Analyst for Miami Metro: Homicide by day, and a serial killer by night. Dexter’s adoptive father, Harry, noticed Dexter’s psychological issues and knew that he would become a serial killer, so he taught him a very strict code to adhere to (WARNING: this YouTube clip may contain graphic content not suitable for work or the faint of heart).

“There were so many lessons in the vaunted Code of Harry. Twisted commandments handed down from the only God I’ve ever worshiped. 1 through 10: Don’t get caught.”

While you may not be a serial killer trying to cover up your tracks, there are still quite a few things that you and your business can learn from Dexter and his code!

Channel Your Energy: Harry taught Dexter to channel his killer instincts into something positive – getting criminals off the streets. OK, maybe your company isn’t going to experience anything that drastic, but everyone has their off-days. If you and your colleagues are having a rough day at the office, try to figure out ways that you can channel your negative energy into something productive. Use your emotions as fuel for a productive work day.

Do Your Research: According to Harry’s code, Dexter only kills people who deserve it – people who slipped through the justice system. Dexter says, “My father taught me one thing above all others: be sure.” In order to be 100% positive that his victims deserve it, Dexter conducts a thorough background check and does some of his own detective work before he goes in for the kill. This rule can apply to your business in multiple ways. It is crucial to conduct thorough research on job applicants, to ensure that the candidate you hire is a good fit. You should gather evidence about your customers as well – this can be as simple as noticing customer cues or asking questions. Learning your customers’ interests can help you cater to their specific needs.

Don’t Make a Scene: Dexter is able to slide under the radar because he is never present or proactive in bar fights or drama at the station. But you don’t want your company to slip past the radar, and you can avoid that by following this same rule. Customers and employees want a peaceful experience with your company. Customers will be pushed away from rude service, and employees will be less productive in a stressful work environment. Try to keep everything that your company does cool, calm, and collected.

Be Neat and Organized: One of the reasons that Dexter is able to get away with so much is the fact that he is extremely organized – borderline OCD. He leaves not one drop of blood behind at any crime scene, and he follows a very specific pattern for each kill. It is crucial to keep your workspace, conference room, storefront, and even your website highly organized.  Customers will be turned off by scattered information and a sloppy presentation. If you want them to stick around make your space clean, enjoyable and simple to navigate.

Say What They Want to Hear: Harry taught Dexter at a young age to say what people want to hear. He taught him to always answer questions in a psychology test with the opposite of how he feels so that he wouldn’t get caught. Now, I’m not saying that you should be dishonest. But when a customer steps on your toes, it’s important to keep your cool. If you feel like screaming at them, do the opposite. Stay calm, say what the customer wants to hear, and you will keep them satisfied.

While Dexter uses his code to avoid getting caught, you want your brand to get caught by customers (for good things, of course). You can use Dexter’s code for the exact opposite purpose that it was intended for – by adhering to a general code for professional conduct your brand will stand out and grab customer attention.

What do you think? Would you do business with Dexter? Can we learn any other important lessons from him, besides the obvious: don’t be a serial killer?

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  1. JPorretto


    Another tip, don’t throw your trash in Bay Harbor…

    • Jenna

      Haha, Thanks Jeff!

      That’s definitely good advice. Plus, it’s already been done. You’ll need to get more creative than that! 😀

      • JPorretto

        Trying to find time
        For some creativity
        was hard today but…

        Good Dexter advice
        So many lessons to learn
        From a murderer

  2. Amanda

    Excellent post Jenna! =) I watched that clip, and I think I’d really like the show if I can stand the gore…..

    • Jenna

      Thanks, Amanda!
      You should definitely watch it. The suspense and twists in the show are totally worth the gore. In fact, you get used to it! 🙂

  3. Joseph Giorgi

    I’ve only seen through Season 4, but I’ll probably dive into Season 5 when it’s out on DVD. I was a huge Dexter fan a few years ago, but so many other fantastic shows have popped up in the meantime that I’ve ended up with a lot to watch before I can get back to watching Miami’s finest Blood Spatter Analyst in action.

    This is a really cool post, with good advice throughout! I’m a particularly big fan of staying neat and organized, so I’m glad you mentioned that tidbit. A well kept work environment helps promote an efficient workflow. And I like that you made it a point to suggest keeping “conference rooms” highly organized. They do tend to get messy, don’t they? Especially when there’s large sheets consuming an entire corner of the room. 😉

    • Jenna

      Dexter is definitely my favorite show. I can’t wait for season 5 to come out on DVD. Hopefully that’s before they start airing season 6!

      Thanks, Joe! I agree, keeping things neat and organized seems so obvious, but it’s often overlooked by major retailers. I must admit that I have trouble keeping things tidy, but in a professional setting it is a must. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve walked into a store and promptly left because I couldn’t find things in my size quickly or things were all in a huge pile on a table. I don’t have the patience to sift through the whole store looking for what I want — everything should be laid out neatly and labeled clearly.

      Haha, conference rooms do tend to get a little messy. Especially with decapitated stress balls laying around — maybe our little plumber friend had a run-in with Dexter! 😀

  4. LK

    Great post!! I’ve only watched a few episodes of Dexter, but these are perfect examples of how a business can follow, essentially, the same code Dexter does.

    My favorite is probably the first one, “use your emotions as fuel for a productive work day”.
    It’s so easy to let a bad day get in the way of being productive, and using that anger/frustration you have to set a goal and finish it is a lot more beneficial than allowing yourself to get angry and not do anything!

    • Jenna

      Thanks, Lauren! Yeah, it is interesting how businesses can use Dexter’s code for the exact opposite purpose that Dexter uses it. In a business setting, Dexter knows all of the rules.

      It is so true that negative energy can be used as fuel for goal setting. I think I’m actually more productive when I’m in a bad mood, because I need to focus on something else to get my mind off of it! Plus, when I set a goal while I’m in a bad mood, accomplishing it makes me feel better!

  5. Jana Quinn

    Great tips from what seems to be a delightfully creepy source, Jenna!

    The only one that concerns me a little is telling customers what they want to hear. Although I definitely don’t think “tough love” is a generally successful sales strategy, it’s also easy to make promises you can’t keep.

    In a broader sense, maybe telling a customer what they want to hear is that you’ll solve their overall problem, not just provide some specific item for a certain cost. Recognizing that you’re a problem-solver in a larger scheme rather than an order taker can really enhance those professional relationships.

    • Jenna

      Thanks, Jana!

      I agree with you — I was a little hesitant about including that one. I was definitely going for the more general sense that you are getting at. Keeping a “the customer is always right” mentality. Of course saying what the customer wants to hear means following through with any promises that are made.

  6. Jill Tooley

    Bloody good post, Jenna! 😉

    Dexter is also one of my favorite shows – it’s funny, I put off watching it for a long time because it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would interest me, but I was hooked after the first episode. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t get into it sooner, seeing as how CSI: (the original one with William Petersen) is one of my TV obsessions. At any rate, I like what you’ve done with this post. It seems wrong to cite an infamous murderer, but there are many positives that can be taken away from Dexter. Your creativity has made for one kickass post!

    • Jenna

      I love Dexter. (Is it weird to find a serial killer attractive? Oh, it is? Oh well.) I recently just started re-watching season 1 after watching all 4 seasons. It is so weird watching it with all of the knowledge of the show I have now — and it’s even more fun to pick up on the more subtle details that I missed the first time around!

      Thanks, Jill! For a serial killer, Dexter has a pretty solid business model! 😀

  7. Chris

    Niice post. Agree with everything you said.

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