We all know her. In fact, we all pretty much grew up watching her antics on television. From guest appearances, games shows, sitcoms and countless commercial spots; who hasn’t had a laugh with Betty White? Her legacy of comedy is a testament for us all on how to remain fresh, relevant and employed way beyond our ‘golden years’.
Betty Marion White recently celebrated her 91st birthday in January 2013. Her career literally spans nine decades. Who else can you think of who’s consistently worked and succeeded for that long? From television to music, her imprint has been marked. Many don’t know she’s won seven Emmy Awards and even a Grammy. Dating back to 1951, Betty has been racking up nominations and winning the affection of fans all around the world. She’s celebrated by folks of all age groups. My daughter, who is only sixteen even, asked me if I knew who Betty White was.
As with any person, I want to be successful in whatever I decide to take on. I spend a great deal of time researching the lives of industry icons because I believe that success always leaves clues. And if you’re smart, you will pick up the patterns quickly. Imagine my shock while watching a documentary on Betty as I discovered a longstanding pattern of diligence on her part. I mean after all, she has been a television staple since before I was even born. I want to share a few pointers I discovered from Mrs. White:
• Who says a depression is ‘Great’? White’s family moved to Los Angeles in the 30’s during the Great Depression. That in itself is not amazing. What is amazing is the fact that her father, a successful traveling salesman arranged for her to be educated at Horace Mann School in Beverly Hills as well as Beverly Hills High. Many thought the young girl from Illinois didn’t quite fit in at their school. But Betty, a born entertainer, refused to be limited by labels and quickly became a school writer and penned a graduation play. In other words, she defined her season, not the news casters.
• When You Know You’re Hot, You’re Hot: Betty once told her family she’d be a star. Most cautioned her to be more realistic. As with us, our family and friends aren’t necessarily against our dreams, they just fear us getting crushed. I wonder how surprised they were to learn that Betty landed her first paid acting job only three months after graduating high school. From there she moved into modeling and radio. Her bubbly, upbeat personality is what many say kept her working. By 1950, White had won her first of many Emmy Awards. Remember, life changes when we become confident about ourselves.
• Success Is A Journey, Not A Race: In 1985, at 63 years old, Betty White stepped into her most defining role. Casted by NBC as Rose Nylund, the terminally naïve friend. While many are settling down for retirement, social security and AARP benefits, White was once again heating up her career. This shows us how powerful our perception is. As long as we allow others to think and see for us, we negate the ability to keep on evolving and gaining momentum in life. Every day presents another opportunity to WOW ourselves.
Most T.V. insiders boast that White’s career from the early 2000’s until now has been nothing short of a revival of popularity. She has garnered a cult-like following of all ages. From quirky teenagers to older people, Betty is an icon. I would like to add a new genre to the mix. As business owners, leaders and innovators, we have before us a unique model of success that has been untapped. When we consider the powerhouse business icons, White can stand toe to toe with the best of them. She’s been consistently profitable since the 1940’s and just as popular. Take these simple principles from Betty White’s life and career and let them translate into your own personal success story.