Being a working woman is never easy, but if you happen to juggle motherhood, a demanding job, and the pressure to be “on” at all times, then at least you have the benefit of Tina Fey to guide you.
The actor/producer/comedian sat down with late-night legend David Letterman to discuss being awarded The Hollywood Reporter’s Sherry Lansing Leadership Award. And amidst the topics of Trump’s feud with Alec Baldwin and the anxiety of parenting, we mined some inspiring career advice from the funny woman.
Here are 5 life lessons from Tina Fey that’ll inspire you throughout the workweek:
1. Juggling the demands of work-life balance can be crappy but it's worth it.
“[Children] augment your life and your perspective. And they wear you out. There's a Stephen Sondheim song, 'Being Alive.' It's about how people you love just wear you out and irritate you and sit in your chair and make you lose sleep. But it's what life is.”
2. Praise and recognition can be uncomfortable and necessary.
“This one makes me a little nervous. Have I really done enough to warrant this? Sometimes I tell myself, 'Well, what would a guy do? He'd take it.' They wanted to give me that Mark Twain Prize [for humor] in 2009, and I said, 'I don't think this is appropriate.' And Lorne Michaels said to me, 'Just take it while your parents are alive,' which is very smart.”
3. Find a mentor you can discuss the major life (and career) questions with.
Fey not only has worked for SNL creator Lorne Michaels, she also calls him to contemplate life.“[I ask him] big-picture things of how should I live my life, how to handle this person, jobs to take or not take, ways of managing people.”
4. You need a sisterhood or a brotherhood to call when the chips are down.
“I have a group of women that I worked with at SNL — Maya Rudolph, Emily Spivey, Paula Pell, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch — and we talk as a group through the computer every single day. Dozens of times a day. And it's very nice. It's something we've come to in our 40s. It was easy when we worked at SNL: You're on top of each other 60 hours a week. So it's nice that we are maintaining this friendship.”
5. Failure is unavoidable and not easy to get over. So what?! It's O.K.
During the interview, Letterman asked Fey, "Did you ever participate on SNL when something just bombed?" Instead of playing it cool, Fey was honest. "Oh, for sure. I was in a couple of sketches that were pretty bad. If I was in a sketch, that was already a red flag. But that can almost be fun in its own way. Rachel Dratch and I have that relationship, going back to Second City, of just locking eyes while bombing — and it's as close as I'll get to feeling what it's like to jump out of a plane. Just that free-fall of, 'Well, this is terrible. But the parachute will probably come out.'"
Fey continues, "I don't know about you, but I find any little thing I do, if it doesn't go well, I just carry that bomb juice on me for days. I had to do something the other night at a charity thing, and I was promised I didn't have to write any jokes, and every year I forget that when I introduce the band, it takes them two-and-a-half minutes to bring the banjos out and stuff. And so it was like, 'I'm here. I have nothing.' And I'm dying. And I don't even have the wherewithal to improvise anymore. I just stood there. And then for three days, I was in a bad mood because I bombed."
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