Team Rebecca: Three Career Lessons from Ms. Black

The Opportunities Project is on Team Rebecca Black.

This past Friday (how appropriate), I finally made a point to find out who Rebecca Black is and why everyone is talking about her on Twitter, Gawker and Jezebel. For those of you who haven’t heard about Rebecca, she’s the 13-year-old California girl who recorded a song and video called “Friday.” It was a vanity project that her parents paid for, though they say much of the cost was associated with retaining the rights to the song because Rebecca co-wrote it. Rebecca and the production company, The Ark Factory, uploaded the video to You Tube and Facebook, mostly to share it with friends and family. The video went viral and in a week, the video had 17 million views and is now ranked 32 on the ITunes Singles Chart. She sold more singles this week than Justin Bieber and Simon Cowell is her new biggest fan.

On the hateful side, people have left negative comments on her video and are tweeting what what an awful singer and dancer she is and even her appearance (“I hope you cut yourself and I hope you get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty.”). We know that the internet just has sucky people, but there are also relatively sane people contributing to the fire. People feel so personally offended that this girl is usurping some construct they’ve developed about the music industry’s rightful pecking order and outraged that a song that’s not pure “art” is becoming successful. Hmmm. Here is what I know and don’t know about Rebecca Black and “Friday.”

  • I know that the song is completely ridiculous, especially that part in the middle where she recites the days of the week. But most party anthems are ridiculous- Party in the USA anyone?
  • I know that “Friday” is extremely catchy- it has not left my head since I first heard it.
  • I know that she had a lot of fun filming the video- her smile is addictive. For people who thought the video was an elaborate joke, remember that this is a song and a video about a 13-year-old girl.
  • I don’t know if Rebecca is talented because the producers at Ark Factory Music overused auto-tune. She sounds a lot like Kesha and that is not a compliment.
  • I know that in 2011, Rebecca will likely make a lot of money because she did a project that she liked and “shipped.

Not liking the song and video seems fair, but attacking Rebecca Black doesn’t. I read some of the media interviews with Rebecca and I think there are lessons that the adults can learn and apply to their personal and career development.

Lesson One: If you want it, take a calculated risk- invest in yourself and put yourself out there.

In addition to questions about her talent, many people seem upset that Rebecca’s family paid the studio to produce the video because they’re uncomfortable with the notion that she may have bought her way to fame. Her family’s take is that they paid the studio for work they did on the video and people don’t work for free. The price for the song and video was in their budget, and there was potential for it make money, so they felt that it was worth the investment for them and Rebecca’s dream. Seems logical to me.

What are you doing to investing in yourself? I’m a huge fan of Dan Miller and his podcast. He constantly receives emails from people who want to become writers, but say they can’t afford to spend a few hundred dollars for writing classes. He tells them if you don’t want it enough to save, invest, and even *gasp* take out a small amount of short-term debt to do that, he can’t help them. His point is that your beliefs and how you spend your money are entwined and you must see that.

It’s estimated that Rebecca’s family spent $2,000 on the video. That may be a lot of money for you- it would be for me right now as an entrepreneur. But what can you do that is in your price range this week to invest in yourself? Buy a $15 book on goal setting? Take a $25 workshop on marketing that you found on Eventbrite?

I also agree with this Chicago blogger’s thoughts: In America, we are so quick to jump to the defense of young people who are victimized, but we go out of our way to take down the ones who show strength and put themselves out there to win. What does that say about us?

Lesson Two: Stay in your own life.

“At first, when I first saw all these nasty comments, I did cry. I felt like this was my fault. And I shouldn’t have done this, and this is all because of me. And now I don’t feel that way.” After an hour of self-doubt and sorrow, Rebecca wiped away her tears and went to find her mom. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of making me take it down.’ ‘No, this is going to work out. I just want to let it go. Let it do its thing.'”

Too often, we spend our mental energy concerned with how other people are going to judge us. I’ve been working on a future blog post on the ego and how it gets in the way of success for 90% of job seekers I meet. It makes them go to great lengths to protect themselves so they don’t pursue opportunities, or when they hear something they don’t like, they spend all of their emotional energy defending themselves to confirm their place in the world. You can’t control how the outside world is going to perceive you. The only thing you can do is let that go and focus on what you can control- your own desires and how you develop yourself to achieve them

Also, self-doubt and sorrow are important emotions. Make a commitment to feel them when they approach. The important part is to shed them quickly the way Rebecca did.

Lesson Three: Practice resilience.

“This is my time to show them how strong I am,” Rebecca says. “That I’m a lot stronger than them. So say what you want, it’s not going to stop me. You’re entitled to your opinion. But I believe in myself.”

I’m working with clients who are setting long-term goals and my favorite book on this topic is Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. It’s a powerful book and I just re-read parts to find ways I can better serve these clients. I came up with many insights during my re-read, but one that seems applicable here is remembering that being positive and proactive are different things. It takes great courage to face the kind of public criticism that Rebecca faced. Some of us can do that, and even let it go. Real resilience is when you do those two steps and then continue on your path because it’s yours and you want it.

And for all the people who are claiming that “Friday” is the worst music video ever made, you’re wrong. This is the absolute worst music video ever made and I get great joy from watching it over and over. Steve Perry, if they gave Oscars for music videos, you’d be a contender.

(8TF7GRQ6DFG8)

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog