Why you should be like Chelsea Handler
Talk show host Chelsea Handler, in November 2011. / DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
COMMENTARY There's a feeling you get around really talented people like you're just a character in their world. Steve Jobs' "reality distortion field" was like that. It's common to think of entrepreneurs and executives that way, but not entertainers.
Honestly, I don't know why.
The qualities and attributes that generate that sort of aura are the same among all innovative people. They have more to do with their drive and other intrinsic characteristics than their specific "talent."
Personally, I think Howard Stern is one of those really talented people. As a radio talk show pioneer whose show was syndicated in hundreds of markets before he helped to put satellite radio on the map, a best-selling author, and the star of a hit movie about his life, "Private Parts," he definitely fits the mold.
The reason that Stern is so innovative is that he has certain qualities that allow him to create a unique and genuine connection with millions of people. And he's prolific because he's so driven. That's not very different from the way Jobs was able to create one product after another that millions of people wanted to buy.
Today, we're seeing the rise of another entertainer with breakout potential, Chelsea Handler. Besides her late night talk show, "Chelsea Lately," two more TV shows and tours that sell out nationwide, the standup comedian has three number one bestselling books.
The reason these entertainers and many more like them are so innovative and successful is because they share certain qualities that I've also seen in an increasingly rare number of entrepreneurs, executives, and individual contributors.
Why increasingly rare? I think the problem is that the pressure to conform to the status quo, be politically correct, and become a mindless gadget drone is sucking the uniqueness and innovativeness out of us. So, if you want to stand out and have a stellar career, I think you should be more like Handler.
No, I don't think you have to insult little people like Handler's sidekick Chuy and drink Belvedere Vodka -- you can insult anyone and drink any brand you like. Regardless, these five qualities will help you stand out from the crowd and boost your career.
Driven. A consistent theme among Handler, Stern, and every successful entrepreneur I've ever met is that they literally never give up, even when everyone is telling them they're losers or their ideas are crazy. They're out there everyday trying to prove something to somebody and I don't think it matters what they're trying to prove or to whom.
Genuine. Like Stern, Handler sometimes plays a role, but no matter what she's doing, the genuine person comes through. Handler's the real deal. She knows herself and she's true to herself. She lets everyone see the genuine person within. It's ironic that just being yourself can make you special, but it's such a rare quality that it does.
Fearless. We often talk about qualities without understanding that the underlying emotions are what make them real and consistent parts of our character. Handler does what she thinks is right, even when it flies in the face of conventional wisdom and the status quo. It's scary to do that, but she does it anyway. That makes her fearless.
Non-PC. Personally, I think political correctness and entitlement mentality go hand in hand and inhibit our ability to think differently and be our genuine selves. How can anyone possibly be creative and innovative when they're constantly afraid that they might do something wrong or offend someone? Handler says what's on her mind and is unapologetic about it.
Loyal. Like Stern, Handler has a team -- essentially her extended family -- that's been with her since the beginning. That sort of loyalty is sadly lacking in corporate America but not among a short list of successful entrepreneurs and leaders. They may not trust others easily, but once they do, they're loyal.
Bottom line: Handler's brand of humor or talent may not be to your liking, but there's no denying that what she's selling, people are buying. The same is true of Stern. The same was true of Jobs. Their innovation comes from having the courage and strength to be their genuine selves, to be different, to stand up to the status quo. Try it. It works.
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