14 lessons employees can learn from Mindy Kaling’s ‘Late Night’ movie

Amazon Studios

Mindy Kaling is no stranger to the writing room. From “The Office” to “The Mindy Project” to “Champions,” she frequented the television writing room ever since her early career days. On June 7, Kaling’s writing finally made it to the big screen with the new movie, “Late Night.”

Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) in “Late Night” rivals Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in “The Devil Wears Prada” for the worst boss award, but Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling) is just as compelled as Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) was to win her boss’s praise and affection. Although Molly tries her best, she makes some big blunders with her boss along the way.

Ladders attended an advanced “Late Night” screening, hosted by Natalie Zfat, and rounded up 14 lessons to learn from Molly Patel so you don’t make these mistakes yourself.


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14 lessons from the “Late Night” movie

  1. Stand up for yourself against demeaning comments. Oftentimes people make comments that promote stereotypes or challenge your legitimacy in the workplace. Sometimes these people mean no harm and sometimes they do. Regardless, letting these comments slide won’t be good for you or any minority person that comes to the workplace after you. “If someone is calling you out…you have to stand up against that kind of stuff, you can’t just let somebody bulldoze you and make those comments because you’re a woman or because you’re a person of color,” Zfat said. “You have to stand up and educate.”
  2. Demand the respect your work deserves.[‘Late Night’] did a good job of portraying what women go through in the workplace in terms of systematically being undermined and having to work twice as hard to get half the respect,” Zfat said. “I’ve certainly felt that in my career.”
  3. Even if you can’t get your boss to like you, make them need you. This crucial piece of advice actually came from Katherine Newbury’s husband, Walter (John Lithgow). Many employees spend extreme time and effort trying to get their boss to like them. The reality is that in the professional world your boss doesn’t need to like you, she just needs to need you. Making yourself an indispensable player on the team is much more important than being the most well-liked employee.
  4. Don’t go into a job with big criticisms and no big solutions. If you’re going to criticize the way things are done, the way your boss manages, or the work people are creating, be sure you have well-thought-out suggestions on how to fix those problems.
  5. You can bring lessons from your past job, but don’t act like you know it all. Bringing new ideas from your old job can be helpful. After all, your manager hired you, a fresh mind, for a reason. But a new employee that only talks about the way things were done at their old job can get repetitive and annoying.
  6. Don’t just talk, prove yourself through your work. We all have that coworker that is always talking about big ideas but can never actually put pen to paper and get things done. Be the person that your boss knows she can count on by proving yourself over and over again.
  7. Learn from your coworkers, but don’t believe everything they say. Healthy competition is one thing, but don’t be fooled by coworkers who want to fool you into being friends with them. Be careful about the advice you take and the stories you share with certain coworkers.
  8. Apply for the job even if you don’t think you’re totally qualified. Never miss out on an opportunity for fear of being rejected from it. For all you know, you might just be exactly what the hiring manager is looking for.
  9. Just because you get a job through luck, timing, or a connection doesn’t mean you’re stupid enough to lose it. No matter how you got your job, the true test is being able to keep it. If it’s a job you love, you need to learn all you can, take risks, and make yourself an essential part of the team.
  10. Don’t sleep with your coworkers. Coworker relationships are already complicated, there’s no need to add in all the complications that come with an intimate relationship.
  11. Don’t correct your boss at a time when it doesn’t matter. If you correct your boss at a time when it saves them from making a big mistake, you’ll get a big thank you. If you correct your boss at a time when their mistake doesn’t matter, you’ll most likely get a big glare at the very least.
  12. Don’t stop working just because your boss isn’t around, you never know when she’ll come back. If you need a break from your computer, go take a walk. Don’t goof off just because you think your boss left the office. You never know when she’ll be back.
  13. Successful people are suspicious of people who over compliment them. This piece of advice is a direct line from Katherine Newbury herself. Complimenting is one way to flatter people, but successful people don’t need you to inflate their heads. Your boss can see right through insincere compliments that are only meant to make her like you more.
  14. One on one time with your boss can be useful for building a relationship. While most employee-boss relationships shouldn’t get too personal, getting to know who your boss is outside of work can be helpful in strengthening your work relationship with her.

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