How to Rule the School like Frank Underwood

5 Steps to Rule the School like Frank Underwood

House of Cards and High School Politics

By Dominick Cooper, Founder and Director of Launch Academy Tutoring Company, University Guest Speaker on Education, and 2013 Nominee for Tulsa’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Okay, you ready for some crazy House of Cards Statistics.  Here we go:

  • House of Cards is Netflix’s Most Watched Program (source)
  • For one Internet Provider, 1 out of 6 users watched at least one episode (source)
  • Four times as many subscribers binge-watched the entire second season when compared to Season 1.  Probably even more this season (source)
  • House of Cards is the most streamed piece of content in the US and 40 other countries (source)
  • President Obama watches House of Cards (source – maybe)


It’s absolutely crazy!

If you’re a fan of the show (and also student), here is the how to guide to rule your school like Frank “I’m a boss” Underwood would.


(Warning! Spoilers of Season 1 & 2 ahead)

house-of-cards-quotes-10-what-house-of-cards-frank-underwood-taught-me-about-success1. Use Backward Reasoning

In episode 1, Frank Underwood was turned down for the position of Secretary of State.  It was in that moment that he made up his mind – He was going to become the President of the United States of America. From that moment, every interaction, every handshake, and every ubiquitous camera monologue played part towards that ultimate goal?  How did he know what to do? Easy – Backward Reasoning.  Backward Reasoning is starting from the end and working backwards to find what actions will lead you there.  In his case, it started like this:

  • Become the President of the United States
    • The President must die or resign and the Vice President would be president
      • Become the Vice-President
        • Set yourself up as a VP Candidate
          • Push forward a bill that almost everyone can support (education)
          • Attend charity events (his wife’s charity)
          • Present yourself in a positive light to the public, while defaming your competition (Zoey Barnes)
        • Have the current VP resign
          • Have him return to becoming Governor
            • Have Russo make a fool of himself in the race, forcing the VP to step in
            • Make the VP feel like he is undervalued

And the list could go on to more complex and concise details, but you get the point – Start the end and work it backwards to an action that you can start TODAY. And then, continue onward.

2. Focus on the prizeimages (2)

Frank and Claire faced a lot of opposition in their pursuit of the position of POTUS.  Just to name a few:

  • Claire got sued by her former business partner
  • Frank wasn’t given the Secretary of State position
  • Frank’s VP position depended on the president’s best friend
  • Frank had reporters snooping in to him constantly
  • Claire had a risque photo slandered across the media
  • Claire had been raped by a high-ranking government official
  • Frank and Claire both had marital issues

But, in spite of all of these crazy (and usually illegal) setbacks, they both kept forging ahead.  John D. Rockefeller said “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” And he’s not a fictional character.  In school, you will probably get some bad grades and even a bad reputation – but you can’t let that stop you.  Regroup, change your plan, and push forward.

3. Have a strong best friend and confidantfrank-underwood-quotes-wallpaper-2

Claire Underwood is not only Frank’s wife but also his best friend.  One important characteristic of hers is that she and Frank are on the same page and pursuing the same goal – in her case, being First Lady.  If you can find someone who has a mutual goal, your chances of succeeding grow exponentially.  Napoleon Hill refers to this as the Mastermind Principle in “Think and Grow Rich.”

Another important characteristic of Claire is her No-nonsense  attitude with Frank.  In life, I guarantee you will need someone like that.  And she was that way from episode 1:

Francis Underwood: I know what I have to do.
Claire Underwood: Good.
Francis Underwood: We’ll have a lot of nights like this- Making plans, very little sleep.
Claire Underwood: I expected that. It doesn’t worry me.
Francis Underwood: I better get to work.

You will need someone to kick your butt and keep you accountable because it is human nature to become distracted.  Don’t let that happen.  Find a friend who challenges you to be more than you are.


4. Work more. Sleep less.

Several times in the series, Frank alludes to loathing sleep.  This is actually something many teenagers are well acquainted with.  In a national sleep study, they found that only 20% of teenagers sleep at least 8.5 hours (the recommend number) per night.  However, what do they spend those non-sleeping hours doing? What you would expect – Snapchat, Far Cry 4, Destiny,  Instagram, Trivia Crack, and whatever else is the latest app or game.  But what about homework?  In a 1994 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, researchers found that 39% of 17-year-olds said they did at least one hour of homework each day. That means 61% aren’t even doing that!  And we’re not even talking about binge-sleeping over the weekend.

The bottom line is this – 40 hours of work per week will not make you successful.  You need to work harder AND smarter than everyone else.  Only then will you be the victor.

House of Cards -- Pictured: Robin Wrightimage5. ALWAYS look sharp

The Underwoods share several common personality traits but one stands out – they always look impeccable! Frank wears a suit, unless he’s jogging. Claire is nearly the same (minus the tie).  Here are 4 staples to dressing like an Underwood:

  1. Your clothes must be tailored – What?! But how am I supposed to get a t-shirt tailored? Easy – stop wearing t-shirts.  If you want to be better than everybody else, you have to start by dressing better than everybody else.  And, by having tailored clothes (which usually only ranges from $7-$25 per clothing item), your clothes will make you appear slimmer and more put together.  It always looks better to have tailored, inexpensive clothes than the other way around.
  2. Be proud of your neutral colors – I’m sorry but you’ll have to burn all your old Ed Hardy clothes.  And probably your Native-American inspired patterns too. There is a whole slew of research done on color psychology and solid colors or simple patterns are visually translated to power and stability.
  3. Modest is Hottest – Claire hardly ever shows cleavage or wears skirts above the knee cap.  Frank isn’t walking around with his sleeves rolled up trying to show off his guns.  He also doesn’t walk around the with the top 2 buttons undone on his shirt, trying to look like a 70s disco star.  Further more, while their clothes are tailored, they are not “form-fitting.” The means no leggings, no jeggings, no tanks, and no morph suits.
  4. Don’t neglect hygiene for fashion – Any outfit, no matter how great, can immediately fall apart if the rest of your look doesn’t compliment it.  That means a sharp suit = a clean-shaven face (or at least groomed facial hair).  Style your hair every morning and bath regularly.  Your cologne/perfume should only be a hint – not a flood of aromatics.

This short list doesn’t begin to cover all the power moves The Underwoods pull in the series. Do you have other suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!



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