Career Lessons I Learned from Katy Perry
Confession: I saw the Katy Perry movie.
Bigger confession: I LOVED IT.
I know this puts me somewhere in the realm of teenybopper, but I don’t care. In truth, Katy has a pretty powerful story and a very inspirational message. And yes, the costumes were fantastic, okay?! All around, it was a worthwhile way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Odd as it sounds, I actually took note of several important career lessons Katy demonstrates throughout the film. I’ll share a handful of them below but really, I encourage you to just go see the movie. Whether you’re a fan or not, I promise you’ll have fun. And you might even learn something along the way. Here’s what I picked up…
Don’t worry about being the next great anyone or anything. Worry about being the first great YOU.
When Katy first hit the Hollywood scene, record producers and agents kept telling her, “You’re going to be the next Brittany Spears! The next Avril Lavigne! The next Ashley Simpson!”
Katy’s response? “I’d rather be the first Katy Perry.” You tell ‘em girl!
Who’s shadow are YOU living under?
Doing what other people expect you to do is no guarantee of happiness. Create your own path, even if it’s hard for others to accept.
Did you know that Katy’s parents are very, VERY religious? Her father is a pastor and the family used to have a traveling ministry. Well, you can imagine that Katy’s first radio hit, “I Kissed a Girl,” didn’t exactly please them.
The truth is, Katy first tried to follow her family’s expectations. She was a gospel singer and a good one at that. Successful even. But it didn’t make her happy. She knew she wanted something different.
Early in the movie, you see an old home video of the family where Katy’s sister asks her mom if she’ll watch Katy on MTV should it ever happen in the future. Her mother answered, “Not if she doesn’t have any clothes on.”
One can only imagine the many difficult conversations that took place over the years as Katy’s fame grew and her image as a sexy young pop star became more and more well known.
And guess what? Her parents accepted and supported and continued to love her.
So many people fear that venturing off the “traditional” path will anger those around them. But if they really love you and want what’s best for you, they’ll understand. Even if they don’t necessarily agree. If you’re following your heart, the right people will follow right along with you.
It takes time to hit your groove, but don’t get discouraged. “Overnight success” typically takes years.
The funny thing is that a lot of people think Katy Perry was an overnight success. She popped up one day, out of nowhere, and was suddenly a star. But of course, that’s never the whole story.
Katy spent years working her buns off trying to hit her groove. She’s talented, yes. But, let’s be honest, she’s a pretty average looking gal. She’s not exactly the type to silence a room. It was really important for her to hone her style, her personality and—above all—her sound. But it took a long time to get all those pieces aligned. She went through several agents and producers and record contracts but nothing ever really panned out.
The somewhat bizarre thing is that she never once seemed ready to give up. She just kept working. It’s like she knew that, at some point, things would fall into place if she just kept at it.
Now, I recognize that there are times in life when giving up is indeed the right thing to do. But Katy was astute enough to know that this was NOT one of those times.
In your career, don’t get discouraged if things take a little longer than you think they should. Don’t compare yourself to others. This isn’t a race. If you know it’s the right path, stay on it. Give yourself the time and space to find your groove.
Even when it’s hard, people are still counting on you to do your job. The show must go on.
One of the most gut-wrenching scenes is when Katy, whose divorce from her brand new husband is now imminent, curls up in a ball backstage and sobs as concertgoers stream into the stadium for her concert. The promoters are ready to shut down the show—the biggest of the tour—and send the fans home. At that moment, it dawns on you, as an outsider looking in, just how much relies on this one person. This one, fragile young woman whose heart is currently breaking. Millions and millions of dollars go into these enormous productions. Thousands of excited teenyboppers scrape together their hard-earned cash to get there. And it’s all on her shoulders.
She does make it on stage that night and she brings the house down, as usual. But your heart aches for her every moment she’s out there. You know the feeling: When everything in the world is falling apart around you and all you want to do is curl up and cry, and yet…life must go on. In that moment, Katy is the picture of strength and grace and poise.
Sometimes we all have to do this. We have to put our personal crises on hold and get the job done. Maybe our circumstances aren’t quite as dramatic—or maybe they’re even more so. But we’ve all been there. And Katy is the perfect example of what we must do. The show must go on. Suck it up and work your butt off. Then go backstage and sob until there are no more tears left.