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career, job search

What I’ve learned from Aisha Tyler and “Girl on Guy” about managing your career

You probably know Aisha Tyler. She does nearly everything: Standup comedy. Played Ross’s girlfriend on “Friends” for a season. Currently on daytime TV as a host of “The Talk” and voices Lana Kane on the hilarious adult cartoon show “Archer”. Wrote and directed a short film. She is a contributor to Glamour and Entertainment Weekly and just finished her second book. She is also a hardcore gamer geek which endears her to an entirely different demographic. She voiced a character in Halo Reach and is a regular participant/presenter at geekfests Comicon and E3.

Aisha developed and hosts the #7 podcast on iTunes (with over 4 million listeners), Girl on Guy. Girl on Guy is an often hilarious 1:1 conversation with some of the most interesting guys in the entertainment industry (with a few women guests thrown in for good measure), hosted by a guy’s girl. I’m a religious listener because Aisha is extremely articulate, well-spoken, whip-smart, and the dialogue is almost always provocative. Aisha often walks her guest through their back story–how did they get where they are today?

As I listened to a recent episode, I realized that there at some constant themes that emerge from these dialogues:

  • Most of her guests didn’t have a clue how to get into their business (mainly TV, movies, or music). But they were always clear about their objectives.
  • They fail. A lot. It could be months or years between even small gigs. But they didn’t give up on their objective.
  • Many people were horribly naive about what it meant to work in TV/movies/music–at first. But they sought the advice of every industry vet they could to better understand how to succeed in what is a very difficult industry.
  • They work. All the time. They don’t turn work down. They aren’t too self-important to think they are above work–because if they turn it down, the work might dry up.
  • Most importantly–a universal theme is that her guests are always thinking about their work future. What will they do when this commercial or TV show ends? What are they learning/doing now that will give them another career path if/when they stop getting acting jobs?

These insights are directly applicable to managing your career.

  • You need to have goals and be relentless in how you work to pursue them. What are yours? And what are you doing, every day, to make them reality?
  • We all have failures. We don’t get jobs/promotions we want. We’re laid off. Sometimes even termed for cause (aka fired). But you can’t let them derail you. If you’ve had a recent career failure, what are you doing to pick yourself up and get focused?
  • Your work might not be roses and sunshine, but you have to double down on your work ethic and do what’s asked of you–and then some. Do you raise your hand when a new project is offered up?
  • You also have to manage your career–and what comes next. Learning at work is critical–but often that learning is going to happen beyond your 40 hour workweek and your daily job tasks. Creating a career future for yourself often requires choices of how much time and work you invest now–are you making the right ones?
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