Paula Froelich, reporter for The New York Post's "Page Six," says anyone can make it to the top of the "A" list if they follow "the rules." She gives readers those rules and also lets them in on the secrets of top publicists, fashion designers, moguls, entertainers and others.
You can read an excerpt from "it!" below.
Excerpted From Chapter One: The Rules of Fame (and How They Can Make You a Success)
Admit it. You have at least once in your life fantasized about being that intriguing, charismatic person with that ineffable star quality who walks into a room and all heads turn. The "it" person.
For many, this is a dream that begins and ends in junior high school. For others, it is a daydream that gets honed through high school and college, and then after, into an actual ambition, a goal. But often it doesn't get translated into a plan, mainly because the daydreamer doesn't know how to move from dream to reality. If you are stopped in your tracks at that point of paralysis, knowing you have the goods to make it, to achieve success, fame, stardom -- it's time to take action.
Very few people are simply born with some innate "it" quality that is unattainable to the rest of us. Trust me. If that's what you believe from watching too many "E! True Hollywood Stories" or reading too many issues of People magazine, I am here to tell you that you have been misled. Stars, whether in show business or in any other walk of life, are made, not born.
As a reporter on the nationally renowned New York Post "Page Six" gossip column for the past five years, I have seen fame come and go, the famous rise and fall. I have seen how some people know how to work it and some don't, and as a result, I have learned what works and what doesn't and am about to pass on what I've learned to you.
The truth is that with a modicum of talent and a lot of hard work, virtually anyone (guided by some good advice) can move beyond their drab, no-name universe into that cherished inner circle known as the A list.
These rules are valuable not only for those who seek fame, celebrity, and to have their name in lights, but also for anyone who wants to achieve a dream, launch a business, or get their ideal job. If you don't believe me, look at Donald Trump, who in the early nineties, just after proclaiming himself a billionaire for the first time, turned to his then-wife Marla Maples as they passed a bum on the street and said, "That guy has more money than I do." But Donald knows that what he is selling is a dream, a brand -- himself! There are thousands upon thousands of examples, on a grander or lesser scale, of individuals who have learned how to harness the techniques of the best PR people (who are, after all, largely responsible for making the famous famous), learned how to use the media, learned how to transform themselves into stars.
So ask yourself: Are you bored with your humdrum life? Have you begun to achieve success in your field, but are at a loss as to how to rise to the very top of it? Are you itching to be fabulous, famous -- to be "it"? No worries. Just read on, honey, and think HOT.
Rule #1: Find whatever it is you are good at, and do it!
One of the most powerful publicists in New York, who has launched (not to mention saved) the careers of many celebs, including Britney Spears, Sean "Puffy" Combs, and Jennifer Lopez, is Dan Klores. Klores is a congenial man of fifty with salt and pepper hair and beard to match, along with piercing eyes that don't miss a thing. He spent many years living and working down South preparing for the big time before heading home basically to rule New York. I always take his calls.
Over lunch at the sublime DB Bistro Moderne in midtown Manhattan I asked Klores about Donald Trump's re-emergence as the poster boy for success. Klores was Trump's publicist for many years. "I've seen Donald Trump build his brand name brilliantly," Klores observed. "His father was just a builder, but Donald always understood the importance of building a brand name and having an ego. The genius is," Klores continued, "what real talent did he have? Well, his talent was how to negotiate, and how to add the new numbers in. He instinctively knew people, he really did."
Along with the gaudy high rises that dot Manhattan's skyline, Trump was so successful at building his own name -- mainly through his appearances in the gossip columns and the publication of books like The Art of the Deal -- that no one really cared that he had no money. He has been so good at maintaining his personal profile that when his bonds went junk, no one blinked an eye. When I was jumping through hoops to get a mortgage for my small house in the Catskills, my mortgage broker, Seth, told me, "Somebody will always lend to him because he is Donald Trump. His name is worth even more than his buildings." Seth made this observation even before Trump's monster television hit, The Apprentice, which is perhaps the best example of brand extension I've ever witnessed.
In other words, Donald Trump was able to identify his own talent (not spend a lot of time on projects that didn't best utilize his skills) and carve out an empire by doing it. Do you want to become the "Donald Trump" of your profession, whether you are a realtor, a baker, an antiques store-owner, or a caterer? Use his career as a road map!
Or take me as an example.
My only real specific talents are writing and being able to talk to a brick in the wall -- for hours, if necessary. Within the first thirty minutes I will have gotten that brick's entire life story, have categorized alphabetically its likes and dislikes, and have gleaned the details of its love life (which usually occupies at least another half hour -- love is never easy!). But I didn't always know how to translate this "skill," my "gift of gab," into a career.
In all honesty, I would currently be a doctor or lawyer, if not both simultaneously, if my parents had had their way. But during my sophomore year at Emory University in Atlanta, having already completed the majority of my political science major requirements, I had a nervous breakdown of sorts. (Read: I locked myself in my dorm room for over a week, with only the pie-faced pizza delivery boy dropping by at regular intervals to feed me.) During that time, I imagined myself wearing nondescript Jones of New York gray suits for the rest of my life and getting rapists acquitted of their crimes. I began obsessively plucking my leg hairs. I know. It wasn't pretty.
After a week of semi-insanity, I finally worked up the courage to tell my parents that I would not be fulfilling my destiny as they saw it. After making a brief speech about the importance of 401ks, Roth IRAs, and whatnot, they actually accepted my decision, which to them also meant I would end up living at home with them forever. But before my mother could start getting my room ready, I joined the staff of the school newspaper, and knew right away I had found my calling.
I figured out that to be a journalist, one must know how to write (though not always -- just ask any editor!), and one must be able to chat up anyone, anytime, and wring their life story out of them without their ever knowing what is happening. Perfect for me, right?
During my career I have written for the women's pages of a national newspaper in England, written lifestyle pieces for men's magazines, gotten a comprehensive financial education from Wall Street traders during my stint as an over-the-counter derivatives reporter (don't ask -- I'm still trying to explain it to my mother), and finally, gotten the scoop on the biggest celebrities, the hottest events, or just the juiciest dirt -- all because I have a talent for making people comfortable enough to open up to me, and an instinct for what's news. I also had a frontrow seat as I watched agents, managers, PR people, stylists, and others create stars.
Had I ultimately decided to go to law school, I'm certain I would have made it through somehow, but I would no doubt have become an absolutely miserable person, and probably not a very good lawyer, slogging away in a back office somewhere, contemplating stabbing myself in the eye with a fork. Which leads me to rule #2.
Rule #2: Don't try to fake a talent you really don't have!
You know what I'm talking about. How many times have you seen someone struggling to be something they're not? It may work for a short while, sometimes even for an entire life. But it will never make you happy, and for the most part, people end up spotting you as a fake.
Let's say you want to be a television news anchor, but you can't read a teleprompter no matter how much you practice, you have an awful public-speaking voice, and you don't connect with audiences. Or, like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News, you just start sweating buckets as soon as the red light comes on. It's true the first two things can be somewhat overcome via continued practice and voice training, but you will still be left with the fact that you leave your audience cold (and the sweat thing). But say you tried the anchor thing for a while and in the process discovered you have a talent for news writing or for knowing how to recognize a big story. Don't cling to the anchor dream just because that's what you always thought you would be. Adapt, rethink, and become the best damned news producer in the business. Believe me, you will be more satisfied and more successful.
This syndrome is evident all over, but perhaps nowhere so much as with the "stars" of the reality television shows. After selling themselves (and I do mean selling themselves) on such shows as The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Survivor, etc., the hapless "winners" always seem to give up their previous professions to try and break into show business, rather than simply accepting that they got lucky once, and going back to what they had before. Zora, the schoolteacher who captured the heart of Evan on the show Joe Millionaire, followed up her triumph by getting herself a manager and announcing she would take the sitcom and Home Shopping Network worlds by storm. Sadly, I have yet to see Zora on the tube or any of her "products" she was supposed to be hawking. She got caught up in something that isn't real, isn't authentic, and ditched her true self for a mirage. She should have settled for her fifteen minutes and then returned to planet earth -- and her day job.
Speaking of planets, Matthew Rich, whose company is called Planet PR, is a tall, lean, impeccably mannered man who among other things helps the Miss USA pageant groom its winners for entry into public life. He says: "I tell my clients -- you have to stay true to yourself. If you don't, it will come through in your presentation."
The media can be ruthless to people who are found to be inauthentic. Steven Gaines is one of the most formidable society journalists out there and has often noted the ability of society to chew people up and spit them out after they are revealed to be something other than they appear. Steven is perhaps the leading expert on Hamptons society and even wrote a book about it, Philistines at the Hedgerow. He observes that it is essential, for those who attain fame or notoriety, to "have the goods to back it up." "Tabloid life is very brief," he told me. "It burns bright and hot and then it's over -- kind of like those old flashbulbs." If you have faked your way to fame, you're soon going to disappear.
"Talent" may seem like an intangible quality, but I like to think of it as something practical, a product a person knows how to sell, that has to be cultivated and effectively presented, and that in time will become something the public will clamor for. R. Couri Hay, a fixture in New York society and someone who has helped pave the way for the most prominent queen bees to take their places at the top of the social pecking order, advises, "You've got to have something to sell. You're a dermatologist, you're a decorator, you're a designer." He offers a warning, one that may seem obvious, but one which all too many people ignore: "If you're no good, people are going to know it. It's very hard to fake it for long."
Rule #3: Don't know what you're good at? Ask someone to help you figure it out.
This is tricky. What if you really have no idea what you're good at? Maybe you just haven't had the right sort of feedback or mentoring, you always went along with your father's desire that you become an engineer, but one day you woke up and realized you just can't do it anymore. Problem is, you've never spent any time figuring out what you do want to do, what your real talent is.
Gary Greenberg, a successful comic and author of Be Prepared, told me about what a pal of his (let's call him Jim) decided to do when he came to this crossroads. Jim was in banking, and on paper was doing well enough. But he was deeply unhappy, and the truth was, it showed in all sorts of ways. He performed all of his job responsibilities competently, but none particularly well. However, he had no idea how to make a change, or what he wanted to change into.
Then Jim had a brainstorm. He decided to send out a questionnaire to his closest friends and family members.
Jim knew he needed some perspective and some objectivity, and he decided to rely on those closest to him to help.
He was astounded by the similarity of the responses. Nearly all of his friends wrote back that they thought he was especially good at event planning. They said he was extremely good at picking the right people for the right places, at putting compatible groups of friends together. All felt that he intuitively knew the best, most appropriate venues for parties and other special occasions.
After mulling over the results for a brief time, Jim left banking and used his savings to start an events company. Today he runs one of the most lucrative events and catering companies in New Jersey, and is successful beyond his wildest dreams. He is also happy. So remember, sometimes the people closest to us know us better than we know ourselves!
Rule #4: Learn to enjoy the spotlight: Be the star of your own stage.
Not everyone likes being the center of attention. Some people would rather sit back and watch what's going on around them than participate. Unlike you, who, if you are reading this book, probably enjoy the limelight or want to learn how, they don't like it when all eyes in the room turn their way. But if what you really want is to climb the ladder, get to the top, see your name in lights, and you haven't yet gotten off your duff, are pretending to be modest, or are just shy, to those people I say the following: GET OVER IT. I don't care how you do it. Get a therapist. Practice speaking in front of a mirror or in front of your pals. But one way or another, get over it.
There is an old maxim whose basic message is that it is better to say little or nothing than to say a lot. I violently disagree with this. I think wallflowers are dull.
One of the things I have learned in my years of being a gossip columnist is that you don't necessarily need to be the smartest person in the room, or the most talented, in order to get ahead. Being a loudmouth can really help. I've noticed that when people say things loudly and strongly -- confidently enough (and have the information to back it up) -- people will listen. When it counts, try to command the room's attention, have faith in what you say, and say it with confidence. Use eye contact, a few well-chosen words, and your physical presence: how you dress, how you carry yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, who will?
When I first started at Page Six in the fall of 1999, one of the first parties I attended was for the premiere of the film "Any Given Sunday," starring Samuel L. Jackson. All sorts of Hollywood stars and agents were there, along with the movie's producers and directors. Everyone there was someone, but one corner of the room seemed to be generating the loudest, most excited buzz. I admit that I was one of those who gathered around to see who it was who was enjoying the limelight. I saw a petite, bleached blonde busily getting her picture taken and just eating up the attention. Who was it? Lizzie Grubman, who at the time was "just" a publicist (this was obviously before her infamous car accident in Southampton which would propel her to global notoriety or her new show Power Girls on MTV). But even back then she had a certain star quality, which was really just a belief in herself and her own fabulousness. She knew what to say and when to say it, and she said it just loudly enough so that everyone paid attention. And wow, did she know how to work the PR thing. Which brings me to Rule #5.
Rule #5: Educate yourself. Knowledge is power.
Lizzie Grubman is not the best educated, most book-smart person in the universe. She dropped out of Boston University during her sophomore year to start promoting local nightclubs. Later, she moved back to New York, where her family is from, to work for a variety of public relations firms before starting her own company, Lizzie Grubman P.R. She has represented such individuals as Jay-Z, Damon Dash, and Jeff Kwatinetz, as well as companies such as Puma, Sony, and Roc-A-Fella Records. "I am not a book person," she freely admits, confessing to reading only Danielle Steele novels as far as literature is concerned. On the other hand, she devours four newspapers every single morning, and is up to date on all manner of current events, especially those involving the social world and Hollywood -- information that is crucial to her PR business.
Lizzie is also an expert on her own industry, tracking and monitoring the world of public relations -- she knows what everyone is doing and where they're doing it.
In the fall of 2002, when she uttered the words: "PR is dead; marketing is where it's at," everyone took notice. Love her or hate her, Lizzie always knows what she is talking about, and she was right -- everything today is about branding and building a franchise.
You know what I'm getting at. Whatever your field is, become the world's leading expert in it. Education in that area is your crucial hobby. This may mean going to night school, taking a class, or simply regularly reading certain trade periodicals or newspapers. Being knowledgeable in your field enables you to go anywhere and speak with confidence.
Rule #6: Formulate a flexible plan of attack, and stick to it.
So what do you do if you are not exactly where you want to be? Make a list. Make a plan. It doesn't have to be an instant thing. Make it a four-year plan -- even a ten-year plan. Just be sure it feels reasonable and that you can stick to it -- and then, stick to it!! Think of the plan as your committed partner, and realize that if the plan is going to work for you, you must also work for the plan. Remember that every step you take after laying out your plan is a step in the right direction -- even though it may be only one step. View every job you do, every chore you take on, as a valuable and important component of the plan.
Let me give you an example. Let's say you want to become the head copywriter at an advertising firm, but the only position available that you are currently qualified for is secretary for an advertising firm. Go for that job. Know that every memo you type for your boss reflects on your overall abilities. Talk to everyone, learn from things going on around you, volunteer for overtime or ask to do extra work in your field of choice. Nothing should be done halfway or with a bad attitude. Every company is always looking for its own success stories, looking to promote from within. People are always hoping to find team players who take initiative and who cover their jobs competently and cheerfully. "Luck" has very little to do with getting ahead. You can make your own luck!
Jillian Kogan is a producer for MTV in Los Angeles, and has seen dozens of wannabe musicians ascend from performing in the street to filling 60,000-seat arenas. She confirms that commitment and dedication are key to those successes. She says that "tenacity and having a whole bunch of want-to, as an old Texas football coach friend of mine always says, is important as well."
I love the example of fashion designer Randolph Duke.
Twenty years ago, Randolph was a struggling nobody. But he'd always dreamed of becoming a designer and making a (good) living out of it. He was good at networking, made some connections, and began to create beautiful gowns. He appeared to be well on his way to becoming a top couturier, which is unfortunately where his problems started. Matthew Rich, who handles PR for Duke, told me that as good as Randolph was at making gorgeous couture dresses, it was "costing him $22,000 to make a $20,000 dress." This is where having a plan, and staying focused on it, even when things don't unfold as you'd anticipated, is key. As Matthew put it, "Sometimes what you really, really love to do, and are very good at, won't make you money." In Randolph Duke's case, he almost went out of business. But instead of packing up his dream and going down in defeat, he did something he never imagined he could or would do: He started selling an inexpensive line of clothing on QVC, giving up expensive couture for cheaper, mass-merchandised material. "Sometimes you have to do other things to sustain you so you can also do the things you love," Rich observed. Thanks to a vision and a long-term view, Randolph Duke is now back in the black and making money hand over fist doing what he loved to do best -- that is, designing clothes.
I hate clichés, but in this case the old saying "patience is a virtue" really sums it up (and this is coming from someone who freaks out when she is five minutes late or has to wait ten minutes for a meal in a restaurant). When I say that your plan can be long-term, I mean it. Nothing good happens right away. Even if it did, chances are you wouldn't be ready to handle it. Plans help to initiate a process, and success requires that a certain process occur, which gives you the chance to develop perspective.
When I worked for the British newspaper The Guardian, from 1995 to 1997, I learned an extremely valuable lesson in patience and experience from my boss, Clare Longrigg, who was then editor of the women's pages. I told Clare how frustrated I was that my career as a journalist wasn't taking off fast enough, and that I was thinking about quitting to enroll in the prestigious Columbia School of Journalism, which not only would have meant giving up my job but also incurring $40,000 or so in debt. I felt like maybe I needed that piece of paper, not to mention the contacts I would acquire by attending the school. I don't know if I expected a pat on the head or what, but her response was not what I'd anticipated. She looked at me sharply and declared, "Paula, it's not like journalism is brain surgery, which would require massive amounts of studying. It is a craft that needs to be learned by doing. Just do it and you will build yourself up and be successful by DOING it." She was right. All these years later I think of Clare and silently thank her. Because now I know that if by some act of fate British Vogue had called that day and offered me a job, I would have taken it -- and have been fired almost immediately. I wasn't yet ready for that level of job. Instead, I slogged my way through various journalism jobs, all the while taking on side jobs to pay the rent, and I learned my craft bit by bit. I'm glad I didn't peak too soon. A career takes time to mature and develop, just as a person does. Clare saved me $45,000 (one year's tuition at Columbia grad school) and steeled my resolve to keep working away at my dream instead of taking a costly detour.
If you don't believe me, think about the legions of child actors who become stars too early and then can't deal with their fame, money, and good fortune. They end up crashing and burning. Need I say Corey Feldman or, God forbid, Dana Plato? No one should have to be embarrassed by their E! True Hollywood Story or A&E Biography!
Work toward your goal. Don't be afraid to stumble, but always get back up and dust yourself off. Don't forget the game plan, and above all, be patient. You will become unstoppable!
Rule #7: If you want it enough, you can get it -- but don't sell yourself short.
When you want something badly, sometimes you get desperate. An offer comes your way and it's not quite what you want, but you take it anyway, because you're afraid that the thing you really want will never happen. That is called settling for second best, and it is a big mistake.
Julie Greenwald, a self-described "Jewish girl from the Catskills" who is now an executive at Warner Music, offered this advice in Elle magazine: "Never speak cryptically. Be straight with people. If you try to be too clever and roundabout, people will miss what you are saying. And communicate not just by the way you speak but with body language, by looking someone dead in the eye."
(Note: this is not a good thing to do while driving. Just ask my mother, who gets creeped out if she is talking to someone and they don't look her in the eye. Hence, four cars totaled in under two years.)
The bottom line is, the worst that can happen is that the answer will be no -- and then you can move on and get what you need elsewhere, or at least negotiate for the best consolation prize you can get!
Julie Greenwald did admit in Elle that she had told a white lie or two to get in the door of Island Def Jam's CEO Lyor Cohen's office. She said: "The first day I met Lyor I walked in and he says, 'Why should I hire you?' and I say, 'Because I'm smart, because I am a fast learner, and because I can type fifty-five words a minute.'" She was hired. About two months later, however, he noticed Julie couldn't type. He asked her why she lied. Her answer? "Dude -- who cares now? I'm a great assistant!"
Despite her tiny little dishonesty, in the end she had the goods to back it up. And while I'm not recommending that you lie to get in the door (no doubt about it -- this can backfire), Julie knew what she wanted, knew she could do the job, and she got it.
Rule #8: Never be mean to waiters -- what goes around comes around.
When I was a teenager and just beginning to date, my mother gave me a few choice pieces of advice. The first was "Never date a man with a van." What can I tell you?
She's a neurotic Jewish woman from Queens. In Queens, a van always meant stolen goods or rapists inside. In Ohio, where I grew up, it also meant sex in the back.
The second rule, even more important, was "Always notice how your date treats your waiter, because in the end, that's how he will treat you." I have used this rule over and over again in my life. The older I get, the more I realize it's a small world, and those you treat badly will come back to bite you!
It is well known in the gossip "community" that if you want to get some piece of information out there but don't want it to be traced back to you -- as that would be considered crass -- simply tell ten people you know who can't keep a secret (you know who you are). Those ten will tell another ten, and so on. Pretty soon, everyone will know everything. The point is, very few people can keep their mouths shut. Now, what if something annoying happened and you lost your temper and started screaming and carrying on? If just one person who can't keep his mouth shut sees you, the next day, everyone will know about it, whether you like it or not.
Always watch what you say. In the end, inevitably, you will be judged by your own words and actions. I also like to think of it this way: today's assistant could end up being tomorrow's boss!
Take Dina Wise, director of Special Events for Miramax Films, and my pal. She once had an assistant named Nicky Landow. Dina took Nicky under her wing, became her mentor. Nicky later moved to Los Angeles and got a great job in development for Fox. No matter what, Dina knows if she ever needs anything from Nicky, Nicky would do it instantly.
Or take my boss, Richard Johnson. He wields a lot of power, and perhaps a lesser man wouldn't have wielded it so kindly. Richard has always mentored the people who work for him. He recognizes that if he trains someone well, even if they end up leaving to work somewhere else, if they look good, so will he. And trust me, there is nothing like being trained by or having worked with Richard Johnson to give you instant credibility in New York. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has a bad word to say about Richard. People trust him, and so he gets great stories. By being a gentleman and having good manners, Richard has ended up increasing his power tenfold.
Couri Hay, who has witnessed a lot of rises and falls, quotes the old adage, Be nice to people on the way up, because you never know when you're going to need them on the way down.
A less well known example of this phenomenon is Peggy Siegal, who in the nineties was one of the most powerful PR people in the movie business. She single-handedly got to decide who would and wouldn't walk the red carpet, and she spent most of her time currying favor with the rich and powerful. She lived in New York but had a lot of clout in L.A. too. Her Rolodex was filled with the biggest names in the business. There wasn't anyone she couldn't get on the phone. But she made a fatal mistake in that she was never very nice to her underlings, people she deemed not useful, or anyone she arbitrarily decided didn't matter. Unfortunately, Peggy was rude to one too many people who really did matter, despite her lack of recognition.
Today, her business is a shadow of what it once was in its heyday. Karma is a bitch, and in the end, she will always come to collect from you.
Rule #9: People are going to hate you, so have a hide like a rhino -- and above all, don't give them a reason to bring you down!
Let me just get this out of the way: if you do drugs, drink to excess, or are addicted to anything that's not good for you, STOP. NOW. And cut out of your life like a cancer people who drink to excess, do drugs, gamble, or do other detrimental things.
Take the sad story of Maggie Rizer as an example. She was once one of the top supermodels, earning millions. She made the mistake of entrusting her finances to her stepfather, a chronic gambler who bet away her fortune. In 2002, she found out she was totally broke, which meant that instead of resting on her laurels, she had to get back out there at precisely the time a model's career is just about over.
To be successful, you have to look over your shoulder a little bit and stay away from the things and people that are going to bring you down. And keep an eye on where you came from, but don't let that define or rule you either.
I remember talking to Russell Simmons several years ago during Sean "Puffy" Combs's trial for gun possession. Puffy had been in a nightclub with his then girlfriend J.Lo and a protégé called Shine. There had been a fight. There were gunshots.
Russell, the founder of Def Jam and billionaire owner of Phat Farm and other companies, observed that he too, like Puffy, grew up in the ghetto, but had worked long and hard to get out. He told me, "I don't need to prove my street cred by hanging out with thugs. I have moved on."
If something in your life threatens to tarnish or even ruin you, don't be afraid to cut it loose and move on.
Howard Karren used to be an editor at New York magazine and now works at the magazine Premiere. He has witnessed the rise and fall of a celebrity or two, and says this about fame: "There is a price to pay. If you are 'It,' other people aren't, and that means they are going to be angry. You have to be secure in your own sense of accomplishment, because other people are going to hate you for it. You gotta be able to defend that, to put up certain walls, borders. I've seen young actors and actresses starting off in the media, that tend to be honest in the beginning. They learn to lie. They learn to say nothing about things they don't want to talk about, and to find something entertaining to distract people from topics they want to avoid. They learn to encapsulate their feelings in very simple ways that are clearly expressed. All these things happen over time."
Rule #10: If you aren't going to do something -- stop bitching and stay home.
Woody Allen once said, "Ninety-nine percent of success is just showing up."
Sometimes the hardest thing is taking the first step.
I was often miserable in college. I wanted to take a year off. Go to Europe. Do anything other than what I was doing. But I stayed in college, and I'm glad I did. Still, once I graduated, I was stuck. What was next? I still wanted to go to Europe, but I was anxiety ridden. My parents weren't wealthy and college had been expensive. The most practical thing was to stay home and work. Even when some friends decided to go to London and asked me to come, I hesitated. I was paralyzed with fear. But I decided to go, and you know what? It was easy! Within a month I had scored a job at The Guardian. And the only thing that made me mad was how easy it had ended up being, and the realization that I almost hadn't gone because some people had told me I couldn't or shouldn't. I had almost not gone out of fear.
To me, "I can't" is the most annoying phrase in the English language. Not only can you but you will -- you must! If anyone tells you you can't, drop them like a hot potato. There is no room in anyone's life for naysayers.
So get out there already!
Excerpted from "it!: 9 Secrets of the Rich and Famous That Will Take You to the Top," by Paula Froelich. Copyright © 2005 by Paula Froelich. Published by Miramax Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.