Career Advice from Bossypants

By Lindsey Pollak

I just finished reading Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants, and I absolutely loved it.

Fey shares a fair amount of career advice in the book, especially for women in male-dominated industries like comedy, and I wanted to share one passage that particularly stood out to me as excellent advice for both women and men.

Fey tells the story of Amy Poehler, new to Saturday Night Live at the time, playing around in the SNL writers’ room and doing something vulgar and “unladylike” as a joke.

While most of the comedians and writers in the room are cracking up, Jimmy Fallon isn’t. “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it,” he says.

Poehler stops her routine cold and says, “I don’t #@&$ care if you like it.” And she goes right back to making everyone else laugh (which is her job, after all).

Fey describes witnessing this moment as a “cosmic shift” for her. While of course we often do have to worry what people think — bosses, clients, law school admissions officers, etc. — many times we don’t. We can trust our instincts and just do our jobs the best way we know how. How freeing not to care what most other people think, to ignore the haters!

Of course it’s not smart to blindly disregard all negative feedback, so if you find yourself in a situation where someone is criticizing your work (or anything else about you, for that matter), Fey advises you to ask this important question, “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?”

If the answer is yes, then it’s in your best interest to deal with the feedback constructively.

If the answer is no, which — let’s be honest — it often is, Fey’s advice is to simply ignore it and move on. Focus instead on the feedback and measures that do matter to your success, like sales data, formal reviews and promotions.

I know it can be hard to take criticism of any sort, and I know I’ve been guilty on more than a few occasions of being way too sensitive to disapproval. But Fey’s advice is so wise, and the younger you can learn this lesson, the more successful and happy you’ll be.

So, the next time a classmate, colleague, frenemy or even a total stranger criticizes you for doing what you think is right (“You’re such a grind. Stop studying so hard.” “Why are you becoming a kindergarten teacher when you could make more money working in a corporation?” “Stop getting so dressed up for work. It makes the rest of us look bad.”), do your very best to ignore it and move on.

Again, remember that it is in your best interest to care when the criticism is coming from someone who is actually formally assessing you. But in all other cases, channel Amy Poehler and say to yourself:

“I don’t #@&$ care if you like it.”

But, of course, I really hope you like this blog post. 🙂

 

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