Over the course of my career, I feel like I’ve lived many lives. While I’d be lying if I said it was all planned and I just followed a magic formula, there are definitely some guidelines that I’ve followed over the years. So as 2020 takes hold and we start working on our goals for the New Year, here are the five rules that have helped me, and I hope they help turbocharge your career, too.
1. Own it. Rock it.
You’ve got to own what’s unique about you and amp it up. Looking back at my career, I’ve rarely had times where I conformed to those around me or didn’t stay true to who I was as an individual. Sure, this came at a cost of being seen as the ‘other’, as being ‘different’ and at times being alienated from the rest, but I wasn’t willing to compromise my identity for anyone or anything. In fact, I grew to actually enjoy carving out my own space in the world. I’m a big fan of American singer Lizzo for this exact reason. Despite the stereotypes about what women should look and act like in the music industry, she’s embraced her unique body shape, communicated a strong message of body positivity, and has become a powerful spokesperson for women and men everywhere by being willing to embrace who she is.
2. Overexpose yourself
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my work with YouTube and social-media stars, it’s that people relate to real and unfiltered emotions and want to know your innermost thoughts and feelings. So keep it real. Don’t just share your successes, but your setbacks too. The more awkward your disclosure feels, the more authentic and relatable you’ll be. I believe that telling your truth – even if it’s not what others want to hear – will build trust among those around you. If you start feeling really vulnerable and are tempted to back out, imagine the situation through another person’s eyes. Remember, uncomfortable moments are human moments.
3. It's all about you
Don’t let other people’s judgement of you stop you from living your authentic life. Be honest about who you are and what you really want in life, and then go for it. Knowing what you want and what makes you happy is half the battle won! If you want to quit it all to be the next Huda Kattan, that’s okay too. I have a life policy that has worked relatively well for me. It’s called ‘absolutely no regrets’. Would I have pursued a different career path or written my book earlier had I not gone to Oxford and Harvard? Who knows, and more importantly, who cares? All of our experiences bring us to a certain point when we are finally ready to take the plunge. What’s important is that you don’t hesitate if you’re at that point. Take the plunge and don’t look back.
4. Find the perfections in your imperfections
Okay, so I’m still working on this one but deep down, I know it’s true. I’m a big believer that embracing your flaws helps to humanise you, make you more vulnerable and more relatable to others. It can also help you build trust and differentiate yourself from your competition. No one is perfect, which makes it senseless for us to strive for perfection. Instead, we should be willing to recognise our flaws and embrace them as an important part of who we are. I loved the late Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, for this exact reason. She was unafraid to embrace her mental health problems at a time when society viewed mental health issues as stigmatising. Her willingness to explore mental health and other taboo topics helped to propel her to huge success as an author, and her story resonated with millions of people who faced similar struggles.
5. Love your haters
It doesn’t matter if you work in the public eye or not, we all have haters – today especially, thanks to social media – those who critise, vilify and demonise us for our life choices because they might well be different from their own. As I said in my book, The Kim Kardashian Principle, communities come together around both love and hate, so I don’t dismiss my haters but welcome them and empower them to continue to have a voice. Even today, I use my haters as a way of motivating me to work even harder.
So what’s my bottom line to you all? Believe in yourself, even if no one else does. Be the biggest advocate for your own ideas and show how much you believe in them. I know this can be scary at first because we’ve all been conditioned for years to accept critique over admiration. And in pursuit of your 2020 goals, don’t forget to live in the moment and be fully engaged and present. No experience is too small to be meaningful today, and memories can last for a second or for a lifetime.
• Don’t miss Jeetendr Sehdev’s talk about The Kim Kardashian Principle on Thursday 6 February, from 7.30pm to 8.30pm at InterContinental, Dubai Festival City as part of Emirates Festival of Literature. Tickets are Dhs59. Visit emirateslitfest.com to book
Illustration: Kazvare Made It