There are countless books on the market about managing your career, getting started in the working world or finding a job. Most of them are as dry as burnt toast. However, there is a new book out that I just read on these very topics which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s “How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying, Lessons from a Life in Comedy” by Carol Leifer.
I must admit I love comedy and wanted to read this memoir to learn more about the author, whom I have always admired. Carol Leifer is a perennial comedy All-Star and a trailblazer for women in comedy. In her 40 years in the business, she has written and/or produced for such hits as Seinfeld, SNL, The Larry Sanders Show, Ellen, and Modern Family in addition to her stellar work as a standup comedian.
People think of Leifer as interesting, talented and, of course, funny, but what they typically overlook is her level of success in one of the toughest businesses in the world. I think this gives her an interesting and valid perspective on how to make your way through the business world. Granted she’s really only ever been in one industry, but that never stopped the Chairman of some investment bank from writing a book on business. Leifer’s observations are just as valid, but she serves them up with a tasty side of self-deprecating humor. Her observations are also not from 40,000 feet the way a Titan of Industry’s would be.
Leifer gives some great advice and provides examples from her amazing career to back them up. She hits the obligatory interview points like showing up on time, minding your personal hygiene and being nice on interviews, even to the receptionist. But she also hits on points one doesn’t always hear discussed and she does so in a refreshing and fun way. Her anecdote about taking a soda from a fridge after an interview is a classic life lesson learned. We all have a few of those, no doubt.
Tenacity is also a big part of the reason for her success and she tells a great story of how letting the right people know how excited you are about what they are doing, even if there is nothing for you to gain at that moment, can eventually pay big dividends. Hey, it might even get you on a private jet with Jennifer Aniston!
My favorite thing about this book is how she keeps coming back to the theme of rejection. In her line of work, rejection is a daily occurrence. The concept of being willing to try and fail is so important to being successful in business. She looks at it retrospectively through her career and, wow, has she been rejected and failed a lot! But like most successful people she took these punches, learned from them and kept pushing forward. She is better off for it and she encourages the readers to believe they will be, too.
So I recommend you pick up this book for a quick and enjoyable read with good advice for anyone who is either just starting out in business or is in mid-career. You will laugh and you will learn something, which is like eating a great dessert and then finding out it was also high in fiber!