Cookie Lyon Can Teach Women Entrepreneurs A Thing Or Two About Running An Empire

Cookie Lyon is television's latest head lioness in charge. She brings the drama, but she also brings the skills to teach women entrepreneurs how to lead.

Fox’s hit show Empire continues to rock television screens every Wednesday night. With a talented cast that blows us away with their acting and musical ability, Cookie Lyon, played by actress Taraji P. Henson, continues to be a formidable player in the Empire dynasty.

So what can women entrepreneurs take away from this tell it like it is, win by any means necessary business woman? Here is how Cookie Lyon Can Teach Women Entrepreneurs A Thing Or Two About Running An Empire:

Cookie Delivers Positive Reinforcement


If you’re a regular viewer you know Cookie’s relationship with her son Jamal is precious. Even though the duo have been bumping heads lately in Season 2, even Jamal admitted that he can’t quite make music the way he’d like to without her around. Why? Because Cookie supports his efforts, recognizes his talents, lends an ear but gives honest feedback. Not a bad way to treat your staff if you ask us. We know that employees thrive when they feel valued. Never hesitate to bring that to your office atmosphere.

She Handles Problems Right Away


Cookie is the queen of comebacks. She does not shy away from confrontation nor let things simmer until she’s ready to combust. As soon as something ugly rears its head, she faces it head on. As entrepreneurs we are so passionate about our startups that sometimes we don’t want to recognize when things aren’t working. But like the Lean Startup Method teaches, when you see what’s not working early on, it gives you the opportunity to pivot and try something else before it turns into a complete disaster.

She’s Not Afraid To Get What Belongs To Her

owe me

Cookie reminds Lucious that she is still owed what’s coming to her in almost every episode. She never allows him to forget that there is still a debt in the air. Collections is one of the hardest things to do in a business, yet it is a necessity to your cash flow. If you’re not good at it, find someone who is. Past due invoices come with the territory but someone has to be out there fighting to get your doe. It wouldn’t hurt to have a Cookie-esque queen on your team to get it.

She Knows How To Own A Room


When Cookie arrives, everyone takes notice. She knows how to make a grand entrance and how to make people pay attention. This is a valuable skill when you need to lead board of directors in the right direction, sway investors or keynote an event. Learn what people respond to about your personality and when and how to turn the dial up to 10. It’s often what separates good speakers from GREAT speakers.

Cookie Celebrates The Small Victories


Whether it’s fine tuning an artist’s song or cleverly getting under Lucious’ skin, she never lets the opportunity to get a laugh or a victory dance go by. As the leaders of our companies we are always worried about the bottom line or what needs to be executed next, and rightfully so. But for peace of mind and for employee morale, it’s important to set aside time to celebrate milestones. As entrepreneurs we live for the successes, and because it’s a lifestyle that has plenty of ups and downs, we deserve to shout from the rooftops when things go our way.

She Won’t Be Silenced

shut up

She can over talk the best of them when they try to quiet her. This woman puts her opinions and ideas on front street and doesn’t care who likes it. As women we are a little less likely to speak out in opposition, and when we do it tends to start out with diluting words like, “I’m sorry, but …” or “Well, I think …” We don’t have to soften the blow our of our opinions. Of course, we’re not saying to go completely off-the-rails by adding in curse words or name calling, but it would serve you well to say what you mean and mean what you say. In order to be a leader … umm … you have to lead.

She Knows When To Play Nice


The art of compromise can get you very far. There are certain arenas (like salaries, pricing, manufacturing) that required hard, strict guidelines. However, when there are places that allow for a little wiggle room, do just that. One of the top things employees value is workplace flexibility – especially for those who are parents. If some positions can be handled remotely, there is personal time available or employees can come in a little late in exchange for working a little later, it get can cause your company to quickly rise to one of the best places to work at in your city.

She Keeps Her Image On Point


Did you guys see that episode where Cookie came out at the concert in a cage? Whoa. The woman knows how to get tongues wagging. She’s always interested in making her move with the public at the right time. She was able to work Empire into the larger conversation about Black males and incarceration. You should take heed. What are some killer marketing strategies you have in the pipeline? Your marketing and PR team (or you if you’re a woman one show) should always be thinking of innovative ways to keep your audience interested and to get on the radar of new potential customers. It doesn’t have to be a gimmick or some flash-in-the-pan idea. Do some snooping and see what your audience is chatting about on social media and then find cool ways to jump into their conversation and redirect them to your product or service. No matter the topic, be sincere and make sure it aligns with your brand and its message.

She Knows How To Delegate


Her trusty assistant Porsha is never far away. Whether she’s telling her to reroute business calls or, as she does so eloquently here, tells her to get her damn shoe. Cookie has no qualms about delegation. What was the last important thing you asked someone to take care of? Maybe you’re like the rest of us and falsely think all of the really, really important things need to be handled by you, and you alone. If you’ve gone through the tedious task of hiring qualified individuals, then you need to woman up and let them do what you pay them to do. Employees can’t soar to great heights if you never challenge them.

Cookie Gets Results


She doesn’t hope an artist makes a fabulous record or has an amazing performance, she demands it. Cookie is dropping in on studio sessions, dance rehearsals and meetings unannounced. Your employees should know what’s expected of them and be held accountable for their work. You’re not paying them for nothing. Your presence and leadership should be felt in every way by driving the energy of the workplace. Don’t schedule every single meeting. Swing by desks or the lunchroom to see how things are going, what projects employees are working on, what cute shoes the latest office fashionista is rocking. It’s not about invoking fear. It’s about being accessible. When employees know that you’re around and that you care, they are far more likely to work to the best of their ability and do so willingly.

She Knows How To Hustle


Cookie has an ear for knowing what a song needs, how to start a business from the ground up and how to make those around her rise to the occasion. Remember all of that delegating we told you to do above? Well it’s to free up your time, so you can do what you do best. Every founder’s role is different within a company. Some become CEO, others CFO or CMO. Know your business in and out so that you can fulfill your role with excellence. Keep an ear to the street to know what’s trending in your industry and where your business falls within that scope. Utilize your team and their know-how so you can provide a supreme product/service to your customers, grow your revenue streams and, ultimately, your Empire.

What other Cookie-like behavior would you add to the list? Tell us some of your favorite Cookie moments in the comment section below.

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