I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was home for the holidays during my junior year of college. While it’s great to have a long break from classes and roommates and dining hall food and the endless snow (I went to Syracuse), by week two it can get a little boring. But I told myself I wouldn’t succumb to the trends, I refused. Then another few days went by, and my will started to give… so I did it. I picked up my very first Twilight book and bought my very first Taylor Swift CD. To this day, I have never looked back.
It all started with a few lyrics, “And I don’t know why, but with you I’d dance in a storm in my best dress. Fearless.” I can’t explain it, but these lyrics spoke to me, and I wanted to know more. It was like Swift was inside my own head, and had the ability to put my thoughts onto paper, into a song, and onto the radio for the whole world to hear. People who criticize her for immaturity clearly have never really thought about what goes on in their own heads. Yes, maybe 60-year-old men think she’s a little ridiculous. But for women in their 20s like myself? These lyrics are like a regular Friday night convo, with wine in hand, and some kind of cookie dough-flavored snack.
And it’s a little difficult to criticize someone that has accomplished more in 25 years than most people can dream of in 25 lifetimes. As of June 2014, she’s earned $64 million, and that doesn’t include earnings from her new album “1989,” which sold 1.287 million copies in the first week. She’s also the first women to replace herself at No. 1 in the history of the pop charts (“Shake if Off” was replaced by “Blank Space” on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart). Tallying up Swift’s real estate, music earnings, and endorsements, Vulture estimates that she’s worth a whopping $195.8 million. I will now pause so you can all bow down…
But why is she so successful? What’s her secret? Where can I find her never ending supply of high-waisted shorts? The questions are endless. And whether you like it or not, we can all learn a thing or two from Tswift–and it turns out some of these life lessons can help you with your career, too.
1. Don’t back down.
You might not know this, but it’s pretty rare for musicians to write all of their own music–let alone direct their own tours and music videos, too. But Swift does it all, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. As Millennials, we haven’t quite worked our way up the career ladder yet, which means that we have to get all our ideas approved by bosses and senior management. But take a cue from Swift and don’t back down. Have you thought of a new social media campaign? Did you come up with a new way to organize contacts? Share it. Own it. And convince everyone why it’s imperative to implement.
2. Attitude is everything.
Do you think Taylor Swift is oblivious to the fact that people make fun of her on a daily basis? Not even close. She’s so aware that she actually makes fun of herself so others don’t have to. In the office, there are going to be coworkers you don’t like, bosses that give you negative feedback, and you’re just going to have to learn how to cope. Keep your composure and do your job the best you can. And that’s why us common folk have someone like Swift at the touch of a button–so we can play “Shake if Off” on repeat until we feel better.
3. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
Taylor Swift turns 25 tomorrow, and she acts like it. I don’t think of her as immature or naive. But rather I look at her as a real person who’s still trying to figure things out. She’s someone I can relate to, and she’s not showing crazy cleavage or acting sloppy drunk in things she puts out into the world. I respect her for being herself and keeping a cool head in her ever-growing fame. I recently saw her on The Voice (yep, not afraid to say I watch that, too), and Carson Daly asked her in similar words, “What do you do when you’re not on tour or in the studio?” She said that a perfect day off consists of her sitting in bed all day, getting Seamless delivered as close to her bed as humanly possible, and playing with her cats that are also in her bed. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty awesome day to me.
4. Take your time.
If you’re working on a big project, you want it to be perfect. Take the time you need to do it right, and to make it something that you can be proud of. Then when you present it to your boss and team, your enthusiasm will show through. For “1989,” Taylor Swift took two years to make it–and all the time and hard work paid off. Even though she completely moved from her country roots, people still love it. From The New York Times review: “On this new stage, Ms. Swift is thriving.”
Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images