The Red Carpet to Career Gold: Career Wisdom From the Oscars
There's more to be gotten from the Oscars than just gold statues. Career advice abounds.
The red carpet has been rolled up, the year’s most glamorous night is over and it’s back to every day life. But there’s more to be gathered from this yearly ritual that all of us working folk can use in our own careers. CDC Coordinator and Marketing Manager, Ananda Dillon, gleaned some great career wisdom from Sunday night to share with all of you.
Mentorship & Support Is Invaluable
The Oscars kicked off, as they always do, with the first award being given for Best Supporting Actor. This year Jared Leto took home the honors for his work in Dallas Buyers Club and he began his speech by speaking of his mother, who has inspired and encouraged him throughout his career. Leto was only the first person of the evening to pay tribute to someone whose encouragement helped lead them to that eventual red carpet. The lesson here is simple, no one gets to the top without help. A support team and mentor are critical in anyone’s career. Do you have people behind you who encourage you and support your dreams? Is there a professional you respect who can offer sage advice? Maintaining both these things throughout your career is critical to success.
Collaboration Is Key
Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for her work in Blue Jasmine and proved her elegance with a lovely speech. In addition to her comments about women in film and the antiquated idea that audiences don’t want to see female leads (a notion that could easily be applied to most professional fields), she also said “…to the extraordinary cast of Blue Jasmine. I don’t know how to do this without other actors and this I share with you.” Granted, acceptance speeches are all about thanking people, but I appreciate that Cate went further than just thanking her fellow cast and instead acknowledged that she literally wouldn’t know what to do without them. In your professional life do you have collaborators? Someone to bounce ideas off of and to dream big with. Someone who can tell you if you need to keep working, take a break or even start over? A co-worker you can rely on for feedback will bring your work to the next level and add to your overall career satisfaction. Just don’t forget to acknowledge them when the kudos come rolling in.
You’ve Got To Take An Occasional Risk
This year’s breakout performance was from newcomer and complete unknown Barkhad Abdi, who garnered a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as a pirate in the Tom Hanks helmed film Captain Phillips. Abdi, a Somalia native living in Minneapolis, was working several jobs, including as a taxi driver, when he decided to attend the open casting call for the film. Abdi has been quoted as saying that it occurred to him trying couldn’t hurt. He took a risk, and it’s paid off in a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination and a BAFTA win for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, the Oscar equivalent in England, not to mention almost 30 other nominations for various film society and critics awards. In your career there will always be long shots; chances that only come once and have no guarantee of pay off. My advice, take those risks early and often. In the early years of your career especially, it’s common to be plagued by a lack of confidence in your own abilities -- you’ll find jobs that you just aren’t sure you are qualified for. Apply anyway. The worst that could happen is you don’t get the job. The best is that you do.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
In the highly competitive Best Actor category, this year picking a winner was truly difficult, but no one was discussed beforehand so much as Leonardo DiCaprio. Now five times a nominee, there was a lot of buzz around whether Leo would finally get his gold man. And alas, we now know it was not to be. His losses in no way diminish the extraordinary performances he has given us, or make him less of an actor. Nor do we expect Leo to stop playing great roles and eventually take home that Oscar. In your professional career there will be a project, a client, a promotion, or a job that you just want to land -- but it just doesn’t happen. You won’t always know the reason behind it. Don’t assume you were somehow lesser than whoever did get the offer and instead let the loss fuel you into your next endeavor. There are always more gold statues handed out next year.
The award for cutest acceptance speech this year clearly went to Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez who won Best Song for “Let It Go” from the Disney film Frozen. The duo accepted their Oscar with a lovely rhyming speech that covered everyone involved in the film and their family and left a memorable and touching impression on everyone who heard it. Aside from the sheer unexpectedness of receiving an Oscar, nominees have the added pressure of being forced to stand up suddenly in front of an audience of hundreds (and a telecast of millions) and hope they remember everyone’s names. So too in our careers are we often put on the spot and how we react can mean everything to our reputation or jobs. While preparing for a presentation or meeting should be a no brainer, do your best to also prepare for the unexpected. Whatever career you’ve chosen, take the time to think through scenarios and reactions. Know your boss may follow up early on something you are working on. Make sure you always have an update to give or a response that will buy you time. You never want to get caught looking like a deer in headlights.
Know People’s Names
John Travolta set the Internet abuzz by mispronouncing Idina Menzel’s name as Adele Dazeem. Whether he suffered from poor eyesight, dyslexia or maybe nerves, he may have avoided the embarrassment with a quick name refresher before going on stage. Whether you are introducing a speaker or meeting someone for the first time, there is no quicker way to annoy someone than to forget his or her name. Always take the time to do your research or repeat a new contact’s name to yourself three times in your head to make it stick.
Patience Is a Golden Virtue
This year’s top winner was Alfonso Cuaron’s visually stunning Gravity with a total of 7 awards, and earning its director the top honor of Best Director. For a film that took 4 years to make, no other director nominated earned it quite so thoroughly. Three of those four years were spent on the visual effects alone. Clearly Cuaron had to harbor a lot of patience to see this film to completion, a feat that assuredly makes his win that much sweeter. Coincidentally, the average millennial will also spend around four years at a job before looking to move on. However, it’s around the 2-year mark they start to feel that itch, which is right around when an employee starts to feel comfortable in their role. It can seem so tempting (especially in a recovering economy) to want to jump ship and find the next best thing, but follow-through is still an important asset to employers these days. You can’t know what more you are capable of unless you have the patience to see it through. Push yourself to see how far a project, idea, job, can go and you may find the reward is even greater than you imagined.
It’s An Honor To Be Nominated
Sure, sure. Everyone says this on the red carpet where it’s easy to be humble and yet still hopeful of a win. It’s the truly humble who can say this the day after the awards and really mean it. Of the thousands of performances in the hundreds of movies that are released each year, only 20 nominations are given to lead and supporting actors at the Oscars. With those odds, it truly is amazing to be nominated. Whether you land that dream job, get that raise, win the client, make the most sales, win that award… or not, always remember to accept with grace the acknowledgement you DO get. Remember that the work you’ve done got you noticed, and that’s the first step, on that symbolic red carpet, to taking on the professional world.
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