If you've ever watched a reality show on Bravo, chances are you've seen Andy Cohen. He's the host of Watch What Happens: Live, the executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise, and the producer of his own Sirius radio channel, Radio Andy.
So how did he get to the top and what can we learn from him?
1. Pick An Industry And Stick With It: In his recent memoir, Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture, Cohen talks about how he achieved his dream of working in front of the camera. A lifelong TV addict, Cohen went to work for CBS straight out of college, first as an intern, then as a news clerk. He took a job in his "dream industry" and never left. After leaving CBS he worked as an executive at Bravo for ten years, where he was responsible for hits such as Project Runway, Top Chef, and Shahs of Sunset, among a slew of others.
One of the biggest career mistakes people make is jumping from industry to industry.
Figure out what industry you want to be in and stick with it, even if you have to start at the bottom.
Penelope Trunk is the Founder and CEO of Quistic, an online learning platform for people who want stable, engaging careers. According to Trunk, “It's fine to explore career options when you're young but by the time you're 30 you need to have a specialty so you can compete with the 20-somethings. Employers don't like to hire people in their 30s who have no focus to their career, because it's unlikely the person will ever find focus. Additionally, a wide body of research shows peoples' earnings top out by age 40, so if you have not specialized by the time you're 30, your earning power will never reach it's potential before age 40.”
2. Build A Consistent Brand: Look at everything that Andy does. From his best selling books to his TV shows and social media, everything is consistent: everything is celebrity based. Andy doesn't veer from his brand identity and neither should you.
Look at the jobs you've had; they will tell a narrative. You might be an expert in pop culture but if you've been a successful accountant for the last 20 years, your brand is that of a trusted accountant. It's never too late to reinvent yourself, but you're going to have to get evidence (published articles, interviews, testimonials, etc.) that proves that you're an expert in your new field for people to take you seriously.
3. Believe In Yourself: When Andy started appearing on camera, there had never been an openly gay late-night TV personality. When he was an intern at CBS, a producer told him that his lazy eye would prevent him for any on-air position. But Andy’s dream was always to be as famous as the people that he interviewed on TV. It took him almost 20 years to get in front of the camera and become “famous” but he finally did it. Andy believed in himself and trudged the long road to television success.
If you have a talent in an industry that you're passionate about, keep swinging and believe in yourself. When Erin Moriarty of 48 Hours, a woman that he once interned for, interviewed him, she asked Andy if he has living the life that he always dreamed of living. Andy replied, “I am. One hundred percent. I mean, it's great. There couldn't be a more pure iteration of who I am than what I'm doing every night live at 11 o'clock. I am being 100 percent myself.”
Imagine what you could accomplish if you believed in yourself enough to be authentic.