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6 Career Lessons We Learned From Watching The Beyoncé Doc

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Feb. 17 2013, Published 2:46 p.m. ET

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If you’re like us and you appreciate a good inside look inside the mind, life, and career of a successful brand you were probably tuned in to HBO Saturday night to watch the Beyonce documentary. We typically don’t use celebrities, or singers to highlight our message of hard work and success since the media does so much of that already, but in the case of the Life is But A Dream documentary, it’s worth discussing.

While Beyonce is a celebrity who came of age with her image being handled and shaped by others, she’s now at a point where her story transcends her celebrity and the lessons can spread across industries and touch a chord in the lives of everyday ambitious and determined women. Through her story and her brand, we can gain some important lessons about our own lives and careers. So even though she may have spent years being controlled and molded as an artist, she now has control over her life and her brand. She owns her own company and her own image. The documentary that we watched, though it aired on HBO, it was directed by, produced by, and starred Beyonce. In fact, since 2005, she’s been recording herself constantly, and if an outlet wants to film her or use video footage of her, she has her videographer film it and lets them borrow that footage so that at the end of the day, she owns her image, not someone else. She is living her dream both professionally and personally on her terms. So after selling 75 million albums, becoming her own manager, signing a $50 million endorsement deal with Pepsi, and on top of it all getting married and starting a family, she lets us get an inside view of how that came all to be and the inner thoughts and vulnerability we are not used to seeing from her.

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Here are a few career lessons learned by watching Beyonce’s documentary “Life Is But A Dream”

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What do you want?
In the documentary, when Beyonce speaks about first taking control of her life and becoming her own manager she says the first decision she needed to make was figuring out what she wanted. What did she want from her career, what kind of artist did she want to be, what kind of music did she want to be known for? It’s a simple and important question. Before you move forward, before you achieve, before you create your master blueprint, you first have to be clear about what your goal is. What do you really want? And where do you see yourself? It’s the only way what you’re doing now will make sense to you in the long run.

Be scared. Allow it, release it. Move on.
Being in control is scary. While there are a lot of walls and ceilings women still have to break through, we live in a time where we have more opportunities than ever before. Quite frankly, that can be scary at times. While you’re out there making your way in the world, and living out your passion there will be times where you feel like you are in over your head or you may not be able to perform the role you were assigned to. In the documentary, we hear her say into her computer: “Stop pretending that I have it all together, and if I’m scared, be scared. Allow it. Release it. Move on.” Recognize that fear, don’t be afraid to tell someone, talk about it, but know that courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important than fear.

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Shut down, shut off go into home.
We live in a 24/7 always on, always working, digital world. Some of us have more than one phone, at least three email accounts, and a presence across multiple social networks. Our phones are part of us, usually always found in our hands. But, it’s important to unplug. To give yourself time to recuperate, and think and interact with real people and family. You do not have to always be accessible. Set boundaries in your life, lose the phone sometimes and you will gain peace of mind.

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Have a diary.
Whether it’s a written diary, digital, or even a video diary you need a way to get your thoughts out. What’s important about this? Keep it private. It helps to have a space where it’s no holds barred and you can get your thoughts out of your mind without fear of being judged or criticized. There may be a time in your life to publicly air out or release these private thoughts, or they may become something you hand down to your children in your old age.

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Business and polite don’t match.
In the documentary, Beyonce speaks about the importance of being firm when it comes to business. She specifically says: “I think I realized that business and being polite, doesn’t match. You can be fair but me being polite was not me being fair to myself.” Often in business, girls can suffer from the good girl syndrome, where they would rather be liked than respected. They feel if they are too firm, or are forced to demand the respect they deserve they may be disliked. When it comes to business and your brand, you cannot allow that fear to stop you from saying what you think and doing what you need to do to create the best end result. At times people may think you are mean, but as long as the product turns out how it needs, and the business succeeds, trust me they will not be upset for long.

There’s no trumpet or drum rolls that goes off when you the biggest decisions of your life.
There’s a moment where she says: “There’s no drum-roll or trumpet that goes off when you make the biggest decisions of your life. Sometimes you don’t know that you made em.” That is something they (they as in the older folks that were supposed to prepare you for this world we got thrown into) don’t tell you. You don’t get a prize every time you make a big decision. This is true even in the workplace. When you accomplish something, that you actually were hired to do, your boss is not under any obligation to acknowledge your success. It’s acknowledged by your paycheck and by you not getting fired. For decisions that may be big for you, there’s not always a big announcement or even an acknowledgment from friends or family. The prize, however, comes in creating a career and a life that ultimately works for you. You shouldn’t make decisions for your life based on anyone else anyway. It’s for you.

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And we couldn’t resist but share this quote though this is not a lesson learned, it’s interesting that she brought light to her struggle and frustrations with the inequalities women suffer.

“Women have to work so much harder to make it in this world. It really pisses me off that women don’t get the same opportunities men do. Or money, for that matter. Money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define our values and to define what’s sexy and what’s feminine—and that’s bullshit. At the end of the day, it’s not about equal rights, it’s about how we think. We have to step up as women and take the lead.”

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What did you think of the documentary?

What lessons did you takeaway from it that you could apply to your career?

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By: Rhonesha Byng

Rhonesha Byng is the founder and CEO of Her Agenda— a digital media platform bridging the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women. The site provides access to content and community that gives millennial women access to information and inspiration to help them get started or to move to the next level of their career. Rhonesha is an Emmy award-winning journalist and entrepreneur whose philosophy in life is established by her acronym of N.E.S.H.A. No one Ever Slows Her Agenda. This motto served as the inspiration for Her Agenda. Rhonesha was named to the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and ESSENCE magazine named her among 50 Founders To Watch. Rhonesha is also the co-founder of the newly formed nonprofit org The Black Owned Media Equity and Sustainability Institute (BOMESI).

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