Some people can move back in with mom and dad if they have to, or at a minimum, crash on their aunt or sister’s couch until they get their priorities in order. That provides a cushion. But that was never a possibility for me.
I didn’t have a strong support system growing up. I always knew that if I ran into trouble while building my career, I might have to sleep in my crappy car with a broken windshield.
That never happened, thankfully, but the possibility was always in the background as I started my journey to becoming an entrepreneur and building Skinnygirl Liquor, which I sold for $100 million in 2011.
I had to be proactive, and I had to work hard. I believe that success is achievable for anyone who wants to put in old-school effort and hard work.
Here are some key mindsets that have helped me get to where I am today:
Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban actually used the expression “do the work” when I talked to him about what success means.
He told me, “People ask me: ‘Mark, what business should I start?’ And I say, ‘If you don’t know, I can’t tell you. But what I can tell you is that you have to do the work. You have to learn.’ One of the greatest assets you have is excitement about learning. It is the only constant in this life. Especially with all the changes we’re going through right now. There are new things to come and you can’t be ignorant to it. If you want to be successful you have to put in the time to learn.”
TV producer and host Andy Cohen embodies enthusiasm. I think it’s one of his secret ingredients to success.
His dream was to be in television news. After college, he moved to New York. “I thought, I’m going to wait tables until I can get a job. Something has to open up,” he told me. “Weirdly, a nighttime desk assistant left a morning show shortly after I moved to New York, and I got that job.”
He loved it.
“I was working 70 hours a week, but I didn’t care. I worked so hard and I felt so successful because I was getting checks that said CBS on them. I just thought I was the sh**. I thought I was amazing,” he said. “It’s such simple advice, but I always say to people that if you are passionate about something, you should be able to succeed because the passion will drive you.”
Don’t be the person who wants a promotion or raise just for showing up. That’s entitlement. Earn the elevation by working harder and smarter than everyone else. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at: If you’re working to succeed, you can’t rest on your laurels.
Today, I have a strong team, which I’ve worked diligently to curate. One of my assistants in particular will do amazing things in her career, because her work ethic is so strong. She’ll say to me: “I want you to feel supported, I will travel with you. What else can I do? How can I make this easier?”
That means everything to me. And because she approaches the job with such vigor, loyalty and enthusiasm, I’m careful about not letting herself burn out.
But I also see a lot of me in her, and I know that if she sustains this attitude toward work, she’ll be a success as she goes forward.
Understanding that you’re on your own in your efforts doesn’t mean you can do it all alone. I’ve never been shy about finding experts, asking questions, and getting my ideas to the right people.
Years ago, when I was working on my BethennyBakes business, I would watch Food Network shows and wait for the credits to roll at the end. I wrote down the names of production companies and producers, then try to find their contact information. Generally, companies are more than happy to provide the right phone numbers or email addresses.
I’d bake cookies, pack them up and send them to the producers and executives at their offices along with a handwritten note. I’d follow up with a phone call, and oftentimes, land a meeting with them. It didn’t result in a cooking show, but I built important connections that helped me along the way.
People ask me about being a woman in a man’s world all the time. But I don’t look at the world that way; I think about being strong and pushing through.
For instance, had I thought about the fact that I was a woman in a business that is dominated by men, where men are the power behind and in front of the brands, maybe I wouldn’t have gone into the spirits industry with my Skinnygirl margarita. It never occurred to me that some doors might be closed to me because I’m female.
Whatever I’ve wanted to do, I have just gone in and fought to do it. I’ve fought to be better than the men, better than the women, to just be better than.
Don’t get me wrong: Inequity does exist, and it’s a problem. But when I am doing something, I am focused on the task at hand. I’m not self-conscious. I believe that is the best way to reach goals.
I also believe that thinking of yourself in terms of your identity can hold you back. It can lead you to make assumptions about what other people may be thinking about you, like “he doesn’t want to work with me because I’m a woman” — but it’s sometimes not the case.
And even if it is, I don’t believe that focusing on that is not going to be helpful to you or your aspirations. That thinking is coming from a place of “no,” rather than from a place of “yes.”
Bethenny Frankel is an entrepreneur, TV producer, podcaster, and author of “Business is Personal: The Truth About What it Takes to Be Successful While Staying True to Yourself.” She is also the founder and CEO of Skinnygirl. Follow her on Instagram @bethennyfrankel.