Ever since Taylor Swift came crashing into the country music scene in 2006 with her self-titled debut album I will admit I have been a fan of her music. She has a great voice and wrote lyrics that any girl around her age could probably relate to...but that's where the positives ended for me. As a person I thought she was..."magoo." You know, that personality you can't really describe in any other way but how Jim Carey spot on describes his wife's new boyfriend, Fletcher, in the movie Liar, Liar.
She seemed awkward and dare I say even a little nerdy. You never saw her twerking or "turning down for what" and really anytime I saw her "dancing" it was difficult to watch. She seemed like an over the top nice girl that to be honest sometimes made me want to yak. Kind of like Sandra D in Grease, "I don't drink (no), or swear (no), I don't rat my hair (eew), I get ill from one cigarette (cough, cough, cough)."
Apparently, I was not the only one with these feelings because as she grew up in the music industry she received more than her fair share of criticism. And some of it was pretty intense. For example, at the 2009 VMAs Kanye West literally got on stage while she was accepting an award and said someone else deserved it more. I think when people are in the public eye, people forget celebrities are just people too. Taylor Swift was just a 20-year-old girl at the brunt of comments on everything from her outfits to her music. But, that is when I started to get back on team Taylor. Even as people ripped on her personality, clothes, lack of long term boyfriend, you name it -- she remained gracious and true to her values. Not only that, she continued to kickass and in a big way. Instead of letting haters bring her down she decided to shake them off.
She has gone on to set records and win a laundry list of professional accolades and awards. Her most recent album, 1989 has sold more copies in its opening week than any other album since 2012 and made her the first and only artist to have three albums sell more than one million copies in a week. She is the only female in history to replace herself and have both the number one and two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Shake it Off" and "Blank Space."
Her 2014 AMA performance of Blank Space was perfect. It would be impossible, regardless of your thoughts of her, to argue that she is an incredible performer. You can tell she puts her heart into every second on stage and in every word she sings. She put on an awesome and memorable performance while staying classy and imagine this...fully clothed! Later in the night she went on to win the first ever Dick Clark Award of Excellence where in true Taylor fashion she gave yet another incredibly gracious and thoughtful acceptance speech. Don't get me wrong -- there was still several shots of her awkwardly dancing with her friends Lorde and Selena Gomez throughout the show, but overall the good far outweighed the bad.
After watching the AMAs and reflecting on my love/hate relationship with Taylor Swift over the past several years (what else is there to do on a rainy Sunday night?) I realized that not only do I love her music, I have a large amount of respect for both her as an artist and as a person -- even the parts that are a bit quirky. Here are the top five lessons I learned from Taylor and that any person should consider to help them reach the top levels of success in their profession.
1- Stay true to who you are -- even when everyone is a critic.
2- Always put your fans (or customers) first and give them the recognition they deserve. You won't get to the top without them.
3- Be passionate about what you do -- it shows.
4- No matter how successful you become, be confident, but stay humble.
5- Work your ass off -- success doesn't happen by accident.
Overall, I guess my love/hate relationship with Taylor is more like love/respect relationship. True, she has her dorky side that can sometimes be a little cringe worthy -- but don't we all? She has faced adversity and millions of critics, but has still come out on top. She has stayed true to her values and has indisputably become an icon in the music industry. I suppose there is one more lesson I can begrudgingly admit that I learned from Taylor -- even if you can't dance -- do it anyway. Life is too short to be anything but happy.
I'd love to hear from you. Comment below or shoot me an email at Jenna@JennaAtkinsonConsulting.com to let me know what lessons you have learned from Taylor Swift or another celebrity. Who do you have a love/hate relationship with?
Jenna is the President of Jenna Atkinson Consulting, a firm that specializes in creating actionable strategies for organizations to develop and engage their emerging leaders. She was recognized as one of InBusiness magazine's 40 Under 40 in 2014. She speaks, trains and consults with a wide range of organizations to help their employees reach the next level of success. For more tips on success, check out JennaAtkinsonConsulting.com.