Shep Draper Header.jpg

Shep Gordon or Don Draper?

At first glance, Shep Gordon might remind you of your weird uncle—the joker that no one understands. But spend a little time with him, and you might realize that he might be a real-life Don Draper (minus the chiseled jawline and coifed hair).

What some perceive as great qualities in Don Draper are Gordon’s creed and every day practices. As a band manager for greats like Alice Cooper all the way to Emeril Lagasse, Gordon is a menagerie of compassion and profit that makes his clients adore him as a person and respect him as a businessman.

In Shirli Kopelman’s book, Negotiating Genuinely: Being Yourself in Business, she explains that clients find value and are more willing to accept a business proposition when the deliverer combines compassion and strategic relationships. It is the combination of both that delivers value; unfortunately most people are either genuinely compassionate or highly strategic, but the combination of the two will answer the most important client question: “Why should I work with you?”

Gordon is an excellent example of both. He says that what is really important to him is “[doing] compassionate business.” Not only does Gordon infuse passion into his work, but he is also highly creative, innovative and strategic. How else could he turn Alice Cooper’s concerts into genius PR moves, skyrocketing Cooper into stardom, and fueling a revolution of rebellious teenagers?

That same innovation can be seen in Mad Men’s Don Draper. He is a man that caters to his clients’ specific needs and never tries to fit a square peg in a round hole. Both Don and Shep understand the meaning of being a leader in their fields, allowing them to propel their clients toward great success.

In an interview with Michael Douglas, Gordon shared his top five life lessons. See how Don Draper might chime in below.

5. Where your career starts is NOT where it has to end.

In a later season of Mad Men, Draper tells a parting employee to “learn from your failures and create new paths.”

4. Alice Cooper used to be a track star and the famous chicken was a pawn.

People’s perception of you can be anything that you create. Nothing screams Don Draper more than this attitude.

3. Being called a “Mensch” is one of the highest compliments one can receive.

Gordon describes a “mensch” as someone who is “fiercely loyal to his friends and family.” Draper may not be fiercely loyal to his friends and family, but he is to his work. Whether he’s delivering a groundbreaking speech or defending his choices, his business is his life.

2. Guilt by association isn’t always a bad thing.

Gordon’s very purposeful gathering of the Hollywood Vampires at Anne Murray’s show at the Troubador was a major catalyst for the singer’s fame. Draper used similar tactics when he paired with an advertising peer and adversary to win a national client.


1. Don’t put happiness on the back burner.

Draper’s realization of this idea came at the meeting of his second wife; Gordon felt similarly when he realized later in his life that he longed for a baby and a family of his own.

So, is Shep Gordon a real-life Don Draper? Both men are icons, whether symbolically or not, and both are characters to learn from. At Red Fan, we strive to approach each client with the same passion and innovation as Shep and Don. Learn more about our approach and how we can help you let your message unfold.

How we do it


Launching a company or product? Get the checklist we use to ensure success.

Client Success Stories


Get an inside look at our strategic insights, receive exclusive event invitations and establish meaningful connections with other Austin influencers!

© Red Fan Communications. All Rights Reserved.

  • Office number: (512) 551-9253
  • Red line for urgent requests: (512) 217-6352