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Career Strategy from the Life of Miss Piggy: Branding and Poise Will Get You Everywhere

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Miss Piggy: she was a icon for many of us in childhood, and now, she’s a role model for independent self-assured women everywhere. Like many celebrities of her caliber, her hair, makeup, and look have changed a little with the times, but the strength of her character remains the same. Beyond her looks, she has perfected a brand around her confidence, style, and ability to stand out. Like all of us, she’s faced criticism– Miss Piggy has even been questioned in the press on her usage of Botox!-and stood fast in her path in an exemplary way every time.

Here are few of Miss Piggy’s best lessons for us in the workplace:

Confidence: Being a Diva

“This style maven [Miss Piggy] is living proof that confidence – and a whole lot of it – can get you everywhere.”

-Ariel Foxman, Managing Editor of InStyle

A recent Accenture study revealed that when it comes to their own careers, Gen Y women are less likely to speak up than their male counterparts, citing data in which only 45% of Gen Y women asked for a raise vs. 61% of Gen Y men. The importance of being confident when speaking with interviewers or clients goes without saying (but here it is anyway): if you don’t believe in you, why would others?

In the workplace, we’re great at selling our companies and products to clients and consumers, so why do we fall short in selling ourselves? Miss Piggy’s brand is Miss Piggy. She is a great role model on the topic of confidence simply because she is unapologetic about selling herself. How does this translate from being a Muppet to being a Gen Y career woman? The best start is just to approach, develop and present ourselves as a personal brand that offers a valuable skill set to our employers and use our accomplishments as case examples of our worth. The key words are valuable and worth.

On the topic of overconfidence, when discussing Dallas Mavericks player Jason Terry prematurely tattooing a championship trophy on his body before going on to actually win the championship, John Oliver (of Comedy Central fame) raises a good point on the matter – Terry actually ended up winning the trophy. Without advocating the predicative nature of tattoos, there’s something to be read between the lines: confidence may not take you all the way, but it’s definitely a start.

In sports, as in life, we recognize the best players and the best teams. Our eyes dart to spot extremes rather than focusing on a cluster of points in the middle of the pack. While Miss Piggy may be an extreme example of confidence, it’s easier to notice that about her because she is so aggressively confident. There’s an obvious difference between an appropriate grasp of confidence in your abilities and what you bring to the table vs. true diva-like behavior, hubris, etc. The main takeaway here is to be capable, confident, and keep your eye on the ball.

Style: Not Just Hair, Makeup and (Piggy-Sized) Pumps

“I didn’t want to dress Miss Piggy in anything that would take away from her bold personality…”

- Prabal Gurung

Often appearing in the media to discuss style and fashion, Miss Piggy recently appeared on the Anderson Cooper show with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Sanjay Gupta. The topic unintentionally veered dangerously from sunscreen tips for healthy skin to pig valves being used in heart surgery. Both Cooper and Gupta paused and nervously awaited Miss Piggy’s reaction. Characteristically known for her temper, Miss Piggy used the awkward silence to structure a shockingly calm, cool, and collected response, confirming that pigs are indeed saving lives and that she herself is an organ donor. While it’s easy to play up to personality strengths, it’s important to recognize and work on areas for growth and improvement. Managing her temper, Miss Piggy gracefully, humbly, and humorously navigated a challenging situation with style.

Miss Piggy seemingly always has a carefully curated ensemble and, more importantly, something to say. By example, she reflects the prudence of being polished and reminds us that personal style consists of both content and presentation. Miss Piggy’s personality is 99% of who she is. Why does this matter to you? If personality wasn’t important, countless companies wouldn’t incorporate personality and behavioral questions into their interviewing process.

Single Ladies: Standing on Your Own and Standing Out

“I am a pig, and as a pig, I have always stood out.”

- Miss Piggy

In the most recent Muppets movie, Miss Piggy and Kermit break up, and Miss Piggy branches out as a successful career woman, working her way up to probably the highest echelon imaginable for a porcine fashionista -editor of French Vogue. As life often imitates art, to promote the release of the film, Miss Piggy proved herself as a fashion icon in garnering amazing promotional partnerships, including headlining Opening Ceremony’s Fashion Night Out event, collaborating with MAC Cosmetics, and appearing as a guest judge on Project Runway.

Blurring the lines between the roles played in movies and the persona of the “real life” Muppet, how has Miss Piggy built a brand behind her winning personality and gotten retailers, press, and fans behind her?

For one, she’s worked her rump roast off. lists 94 film credits to her name. That’s nothing to shake a pig’s tail at.

Miss Piggy is fine with not being just like all of her friends (i.e. the Muppets). It’s not completely surprising that she ends up working at Vogue. Let’s face it – she’s always been different. Besides being the (only) female lead in The Muppets, her personality and interests set her slightly apart from the other Muppets. She’s been talking about hair, makeup, and photo shoots for years; why can’t she develop her interests into a career at Vogue?

Miss Piggy has done something we all must do in our careers to be successful: she’s figured out what she’s good at and has made it work for her. Her personal branding is built around strengths, capabilities, and specialization (i.e. it’s almost believable to have a stylish pig with perfect hair talk about beauty tips).

Another cue we could all take from Miss Piggy – she goes after what she wants, whether it’s Kermit the Frog or the job of her dreams.

So push the envelope. A Muppet can do it. Miss Piggy has framed her persona, her product, and her punch lines around capturing an audience and making people wonder what she’s going to say or do next. It’s a little strange that Miss Piggy is on a panel with Sanjay Gupta fielding questions from Anderson Cooper. It’s then unfathomable that these two men, who are so widely regarded as leaders in their respective fields, pause to hear what Miss Piggy is going to say. In that respect, couldn’t we all challenge ourselves to be a little bit more like Miss Piggy?

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