Tina Fey Gives Tips on Being the Boss (no, she’s not talking about being Bruce Springsteen)
Tina Fey is the funny, bespectacled woman on NBC. You might know her as Liz Lemon on 30 Rock, as the previous librarian newscaster for SNL’s Weekend Update or even as the lady who looks more like Sarah Palin than Sarah Palin.
Tina is famous for her self-deprecating humor and her personal quest to champion nerdom. It’s ok if you aren’t familiar with her work – you’ll still enjoy her latest book, Bossypants. Besides being hilarious, Bossypants provides advice for anyone working towards a goal through the lens of a shy, awkward, unlikely heroine. The book chronicles Tina’s rise to success in a male-dominated comedy world and discusses what it means to be the boss, and how to be effective at it.
Hire good people and then get out of their way – Throughout the book, Tina attributes much of her success to the talent with which she has surrounded herself. She values their contributions and understands that to be effective, you have to trust the people you have hired and let them do what they do best without micro-managing them along the way. Be confident they will perform well, even if the path to success was not quite how you would have done it.
Lead by example to gain respect as the head honcho – “Being the boss almost never involves marching around, waving your arms, and chanting, ‘I am the boss! I am the boss!’” Instead of simply telling people to do what she says because she signs their paychecks, Tina is in the trenches with them. She gives numerous examples in her book of hashing out scripts with writers, personally inspecting a set before Oprah guest-starred and handing out flyers to attract attendees to a comedy show. Respect is hard earned. Showing your staff that you are dedicated, hard-working and have their success in mind will go a long way in establishing respect from your employees. In turn, they will feel personally invested in the success of your business because they know you are right there with them fighting for the company.
Don’t let naysayers knock you down – Comedy is a male-driven space. Tina is obviously a woman and had to push through the pre-conceived notion that women aren’t funny. Her advice for overcoming ageism, sexism, or any “ism” in the workplace is to ask yourself if that person is between you and your goal. If not, don’t worry about it. If so, use the Sesame Street strategy of “Over! Under! Through!” Instead of tackling these naysayers head on, work around them to achieve your goals. “…don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. ‘Go Over! Under! Through!’ and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares?”