How to be a ‘lady boss’? This seemed like a useful skill to have as a blogger and photographer. Stuck in my January blues I decided to give myself a crash course in bossy-ness by reading the book ‘Bossypants’ from Tina Fey. In case you’ve never heard of Tina Fey; she is an actress, comedian, writer and producer. Mostly known for impersonating Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Life and writing/producing tv-shows like 30Rock. In her book Bossypants she gives a very honest and funny insight into her struggles of being a boss, working with one and dealing with creative challenges. Besides laughing out loud while reading, I found her tips quite handy, even if you don’t work in Hollywood. Here are some of my top picks of Tina Fey’s advice on how to run a writing staff, how to survive a photo shoot and how to deal with unsolicited advice.
1. “When hiring, mix Harvard nerds with Chicago improvisers and stir. (…) Harvard is Classical Military Theory, Improv is Vietnam.”
Bonus points for the military reference. Although the supply of Harvard nerds and Chicago improvisers might be a little thin outside of the US, this is actually good advice. Book smart people = brilliant analysis, not much action. Street smart people = think fast, act faster, lose direction. Mental note: don’t rely on just books for necessary business savviness.
2. “Television is a visual medium.” “This basically means: ‘go to bed, you look tired’. Your street cred won’t help anybody if you look like a cadaver on camera.”
Fortunately my screen time on television is zero, but I can certainly relate. When studying at the New York Film Academy photography program, my classmates and I had to model frequently for each other to practice. Let me tell you: there is nothing more scary than seeing a picture of myself on a giant plasma screen after I spent the previous night editing until 02:00h and travelling the urban subway jungle in the morning. I really get the cadaver comparison.
3. On photoshoots. “You must not look in the mirror at your doughy legs and flat feet , for today is about dreams and illusions, and unfiltered natural daylight is the enemy of dreams.”
This also applies to any singing or dance class. Never, ever look in the mirror. Never! Mirrors and harsh light are the enemies of dreams. It doesn’t look as cool as you think it does.
4.“When the photographer asks what kind of music you want to play during the shoot, remember that whatever you choose will be blasted through the hipster loft. Just murmur something like ‘hip-hop’ and act superior.”
Why can’t Motown and Queen just be cool in all occasions? In my studio all guilty pleasure music will be allowed.
5. “Sometimes they ask if you want to hook up your iPhone for background music. Do not do this. It’s a trap. They’ll put it on shuffle and no matter how much (…) really cool and up-to-date stuff you have on there, the following four tracks will play in a row: ‘We’d like to thank you Herbert Hoover’ from Annie, ‘Hold on’ from Wilson Phillips, ‘That’s what friends are for’ by Various Artists and ‘We’d like to thank you Herbert Hoover’ all over again.”
In my case you would hear “The lonely goatherd” from The Sound of Music, “The Inspector Gadget theme song”, “My way” by Frank Sinatra and “Wipe Out”. Totally appropriate songs for loud singing in a car or shower, but not exactly the ultra cool vibe I’ll be going for in public.
6. “When people say: ‘You really, really must” do something , it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says: ‘You really, really must deliver a baby during labor’. When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”
This one will get an honorary post-it attached to my computer. Next time when somebody forces the ‘You really, really must do this” line on me, I will smile and remember: when it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.
That’s it. My six top picks from Bossypants on how to become a lady boss Tina Fey style.