Music mogul Beyoncé is more than just a pretty voice, as her diehard fans — also known as the “Beyhive” — are quick to point out. Since coming into her own as a solo artist, Beyoncé has made a concerted effort to give back to the community and shine a light on important issues. Scholars have taken notice of her contributions to the racial and gender inequality dialogue; the University of Denmark, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Rutgers and Arizona State University have all offered Beyoncé-related courses to students.
But what’s a new graduate to learn from the showstopping diva? As it turns out, Beyoncé has a lot of important career advice to share, too. She knows a thing or two about bringing home a paycheck — thanks to her music career, fashion line, acting and other business ventures, her net worth is currently an impressive $500 million. Keep reading to discover how advice from Beyoncé’s hit songs can help you get your career in “formation.”
'Run the World (Girls)'
“Run the World (Girls)” is Beyoncé’s hyper-feminist anthem, celebrating women’s strength in every area of their lives — including the workplace. The singer acknowledges that raising a family and having a career can sometimes feel like an impossibility, and yet, women across the world still manage to do it.
How we’re smart enough/
To make these millions/
Strong enough to bear the children/Then get back to business.
Lesson: You Can Have It All
According to a study conducted by assistant professor and researcher Kate Weisshaar, many employers have a “mommy gap bias” — i.e., they tend to overlook women who have taken time off to care for their children and are trying to re-enter the workforce. Weisshaar found that employers even preferred those who had been previously laid off to stay-at-home parents, because they perceived stay-at-home mothers to be less reliable, less committed and — perhaps worst of all — less deserving of a job.
Despite the discouraging statistics, there are options out there. Companies such as Goldman Sachs have created “returnships,” programs that offer valuable training and networking opportunities for people who have been out of the workplace for an extended period of time. Career sites like Reboot, iRelaunch, The Mom Project, Werk and Inkwell are also great resources for moms looking to get back into the game.
If you aren’t interested in working for someone else, you could always take a page out of Queen Bey’s book and become a “mompreneur.” Being a mother gives you valuable skills and can, in some cases, make you more qualified than those without children. So, don’t feel inadequate and certainly don’t feel guilty for being a working mother. If you want a family and a career, you can have it all, just like Beyoncé.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are careers. Queen Bey’s “Formation” is a reminder for those who might think otherwise:
I dream it, I work hard/
I grind till I own it/
Get what’s mine, take what’s mine/
I’m a star, I’m a star/
‘Cause I slay, slay.
Lesson: Results Come With Hard Work
Beyoncé didn’t get to where she is today by accident. She has been working since she was old enough to hold a microphone, landing a record deal at just 16 years old. After achieving success with her group Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé struck out on her own and has seen hit after hit with each new album — the singer currently has 22 Grammy awards under her belt. She also parlayed her vocals into a lucrative movie career, performing in films like “Dreamgirls,” “Cadillac Records” and the upcoming live-action adaptation of “The Lion King.” She has a clothing line, a fragrance line and an entertainment management company, too.
The diva’s message is clear: If you want success, you have to put in the work.
The Key to Success: How to Set Career and Financial Goals You’ll Actually Achieve
Beyoncé borrowed from the TED Talk of another boss lady, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for an integral part of “***Flawless”:
We teach girls to shrink themselves/
To make themselves smaller/
We say to girls/
“You can have ambition/
But not too much/
You should aim to be successful/
But not too successful/
Otherwise you will threaten the man.”
Lesson: It's OK to Be Ambitious
Although ambition is celebrated in men — having it is one of the best ways to climb the corporate career ladder — it is often an “ugly” attribute in women. Having ambition as a woman means being known as “bossy,” an “ice queen” or worse. Beyoncé, using Ngozi Adichie’s lecture, illuminates this inequality and, in doing so, encourages women to embrace their personal and professional ambitions.
The most effective way to be both ambitious and likable is to “find a balance between being nurturing and giving clear direction and holding people accountable,” according to a piece on career site FairyGodboss by executive coach Bonnie Marcus
“You don’t need to sacrifice your ambition to be likeable (sic),” Marcus said. “But you do, unfortunately, need to be sensitive to the gender stereotypes and culture of your organization. Because it’s only by being aware of these nuances that we can mitigate their impact.”
'Independent Women, Pt. 1'
This career lesson comes from Beyoncé’s Destiny’s Child days. The song “Independent Women, Pt. 1” was featured in the film “Charlie’s Angels,” which is fittingly about strong women taking care of business:
Depend on no-one else to give you what you want/
The shoes on my feet, I bought it/
The clothes I’m wearing, I bought it/
The rock I’m rocking, I bought it/
‘Cause I depend on me if I want it.
Lesson: Don't Rely on Others to Do Your Work
Just as you can’t rely on others to pay your bills, you shouldn’t rely on anyone to do your work. If you want that promotion, you’re going to have to get it yourself. No one should have to pick up your slack or do you any favors for you to climb the career ladder.
There are two benefits to relying solely on yourself to succeed. First, you can’t be let down by anyone. Second, you’ll gain confidence in your own abilities, and any advancement at work will be all the more rewarding.
Supporting women who speak their minds is necessary because it’s rarely seen — particularly in the workplace. The self-titled “Diva” praises women who vocalize their thoughts:
Where my ladies up in here that like to talk back? (That like to talk back)/
I wanna see her (I wanna see her)/
I’d like to meet ya (I’d like to meet her).
Lesson: Don't Be Afraid to Own Your Voice
Even the most qualified and competent women tend to struggle to find their voice, especially in group situations. It makes sense — it’s difficult to even get invited to important meetings, let alone speak up once you’re there.
There are small ways you can go about finding your own voice and owning it, however. First, do your homework. If you’ve done the research and know the material, you’ll be more confident in your ability to contribute to the conversation. Second, find an ally. It can be invaluable to have a friend or mentor in the room who redirects attention to you or asks others to let you finish without interruption. Third, your body language can either help or hinder you. Make sure you aren’t slouching or looking at the ground when you speak. You deserve to be there — so act like it.
'I Was Here'
Famed novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky once said, “Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.” Though the author might have made an overstatement, it turns out he isn’t alone in this idea. Beyoncé expressed a similar sentiment in her song “I Was Here”:
I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time/
Know there was something that meant something that I left behind/
When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets/
Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget/
The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave/
That I made a difference, and this world will see.
Lesson: Meaningful Work Is Important
Although salary and security tend to win out when it comes to careers, feeling like work isn’t meaningful — or worse yet, unethical or amoral — can weigh heavily on some people. In a recent GOBankingRates survey, a little over 7 percent of respondents said that they had switched jobs due to a lack of meaningful work. It might seem like a small percentage, but if you consider that 28 percent of respondents in the same survey expressed dissatisfaction and yet haven’t made a job switch, the number of unfulfilled individuals is greater.
Feeling like you are meant to do something more and not exploring that potential can eat away at your mental health and cause burnout at your current job. You spend over 2,000 hours of your life at work each year; it’s up to you to decide if you’re content punching the clock or if you would like to do something more meaningful with that time.
'Feeling Myself (ft. Beyoncé)'
Although this is technically a Nicki Minaj song, Beyoncé’s contribution shouldn’t be overlooked. The verse about her record-breaking self-titled album, in particular, contains poignant career advice:
Changed the game with that digital drop/
Know where you was when that digital popped/
I stopped the world/
Male or female, it make no difference/
I stop the world, world stop.
Lesson: Success Isn't Determined by Your Gender
Success, or at least how we’ve traditionally recognized it, has long been male-dominated. When it comes to work outside the home, this makes sense in some ways — men got the jump on women because they were the only ones who brought home the bacon for centuries. But, despite women being in the workforce for decades now, that bacon continues to be a far fattier cut for men. Females still get just 49 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, and they’re often marginalized in the workplace, from being passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified male candidates to getting told that they’re too “sensitive,” “illogical” or “uptight.”
Fortunately, as Beyoncé recognizes, success no longer belongs solely to either sex — it’s egalitarian. There’s evidence to suggest that the perfect CEO could be a woman, and that women can in fact do some things far better than men — like investing. It’s important to remember that when you’re good at something, you’re good — your gender has nothing to do with it. Ladies might have to jump over more hurdles than the boys to get there, but that makes victory all the sweeter.
This power anthem is all about Beyoncé’s self-made success. Not only does the singer boast about how much money she makes and what she buys with it, but she also gives valuable insight into how she has gotten to this point in her career:
I ignored a lot of calls (click, click)/
You ain’t talkin’ ’bout nothin’, I ain’t got no time/
Got that dinero on my mind.
Lesson: Ditch the Distractions
Beyoncé’s career advice is twofold. First, though you need to take mental breaks periodically, persistent distractions mean you are committing time theft from your employer, and it’s not likely to win you any praise. In fact, repeatedly running out for smoke breaks or being addicted to scrolling through your phone are habits that will cost you your next raise.
The second part of Beyoncé’s message has to do with “career FOMO,” or the feeling that you’re missing out on opportunities and growth, especially when you compare your career to others’. According to a LinkedIn survey, career FOMO is very common: 65 percent of Americans experience it. Given the prevalence of social media use, it’s easy to see why: You could be innocently scrolling through Facebook and read that Susie Someone just got a raise or Sally So-and-So gets paid to jet off to amazing, beautiful places regularly. You could start looking at your own job with bitterness as a result.
By focusing on what others are achieving, you’re robbing yourself of satisfaction and creating unnecessary anxiety. Think of work as a long-haul flight. Just like how you put your phone in airplane mode when you board your flight, you should put yourself in “work mode” when you enter the workplace. Focus on doing your job and doing it well, and not on anything — or anyone — else.
You’ve likely heard of the glass ceiling — an intangible barrier that keeps women or minorities from achieving high-ranking positions in a company. And, though it would be nice to think otherwise, the glass ceiling is still firmly intact today. Of the companies on the 2018 Fortune 500 list, only 24 CEOs were women — and only two of those were women of color.
Beyoncé is certainly not letting those statistics hold her back:
I can do anything (woo) yeah/
I ain’t never seen a ceiling in my whole life (uh-uh).
Lesson: Break Through Barriers
To be fair, shattering the glass ceiling is certainly easier if you have a billion-dollar voice and a face to match, but it’s not impossible for the average worker. You can turn your frustration with this injustice into action. Create networks of like-minded employees who help each other rise through the ranks. Meet with your manager or, if needed, an HR representative to discuss any biases that you perceive. Request feedback, specifically actionable tasks and quantifiable measures of success. Finally, take ownership of your development — if you aren’t seeing enough growth and opportunity, consider changing jobs.
Women are generally more likely than men to take a job offer without negotiating their starting salary, and they’re also more likely to stay at a lower-paying job. Some experts believe that it comes down to a lack of confidence or feeling that it’s rude to ask for more. Beyoncé, however, is well-aware of her talent and demands the pay that goes along with it:
Gimme my check, put some respek (sic.) on my check/
Or pay me in equity (pay me in equity).
Lesson: Know Your Worth and Demand It
Channel your inner diva by seeking the compensation that you deserve. You can do this in a number of ways:
- Take an inventory of your skills and experience, noting anything measurable. If your strategy led to the company making more money, write down how much.
- Do your research. Sites like Glassdoor will tell you the industry average for your position. Befriending recruiters and other industry insiders is also a great way to get a pulse on the average salary.
- Present your case. Whether you’re asking for a raise at work or negotiating your starting salary, know that it is not only normal but expected.
- Think about benefits other than pay. Salary is just one part of your life at a company — you can also negotiate more time off, a flexible work schedule and paid education opportunities.
There’s a reason why Beyoncé fans have appointed her as their queen. Not only does the star command a stage like royalty, but she also conveys her self-assurance through her lyrics:
Some call it arrogant/
I call it confident/
You decide when you find/
Out what I’m working with.
Lesson: Confidence Is Key
There are a number of ways the workplace can zap you of your confidence. Negative feedback from your boss, colleagues who talk over you and fear of failure are just a few of them. At worst, you can experience imposter syndrome, or the belief that you somehow lucked into your position and could be exposed as a complete fraud at any minute.
But confidence, as Queen Bey knows well, is key to success. It conveys your capabilities to others and, in turn, gives them confidence in you. If you want to boost your own “Ego,” start with the basics. Act the part, for starters: Make eye contact, shake hands, dress well, stand up straight, because these things will help you fake it until you make it. Next, ask questions. You need to be fully informed to do your job to the best of your abilities — especially if you’re starting a new job or position — and knowing your stuff makes you feel better prepared. And finally, though it seems counterintuitive, new research shows that you should actually stop asking for advice and start giving it.
Click through to discover the incredible cost of being Beyoncé.
More on Successful Celebrities
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- Barack Obama Net Worth: From President to Netflix Producer
- Lady Gaga’s Net Worth Rising With the Premiere of ‘A Star Is Born’
- Watch: How Much Beyoncé Is Worth on Her 37th Birthday
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