8 Important Career Lessons From The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada is one of my favorite movies. It's one of those films I watch on TV every time it airs, all the way through, without ever getting bored. From the mentions of fashion designers I admire to the brilliant performance by Meryl Streep as the iconic Miranda Priestley, it's truly a classic.
What I really love the most is the amount of life lessons you can take away from the movie. At some point or another, we've all been Andy Sachs, the rough around the edges post-grad with untapped potential desperately trying to find her way in the world, while struggling to simultaneously find herself.
While everyone isn't pursuing a career in fashion, or a traditional career at all, there are still plenty lessons we can all take and run with, inspired by the journeys of Andy and Miranda, and the symbolism showcased throughout the film.
Know who you are, with an elevator pitch to prove it.
In one of the first scenes of the movie, Andy gets interviewed by Miranda Priestly. And her introduction turned into a slight ramble about why she didn't even really want to be there in the first place. She lacked confidence in her career path and in her purpose. Unlike Andy, you should know how to answer the question, "who are you?" without going off on a potentially self-damaging rant. Have an elevator pitch already ingrained in your brain, so that no matter who you meet or where you meet them, you're already prepared to give them a rundown of everything they should know about you professionally.
Don't make people have to look for you.
There's an important lesson I learned when I was an intern that I'm sure plenty of other former interns can attest to: Don't make your boss have to find you. There's nothing worse than your boss needing you for something, and you're nowhere to be found. Being late or missing in action is the ultimate no-no. Even as a freelancer or entrepreneur, your clients are counting on you to be there when you're supposed to be. Sure, Miranda Priestly was terrifyingly demanding, but that's what Andy signed up for, and she's expected to deliver, both results and coffee.
Dare to be different.
It's probably one of every "The Devil Wears Prada" fans' favorite lines: "Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking." When presenting their ideas for the Spring issue of Runway, the designers went straight to florals — basic, boring, and cliché. If you want to stand out in your career or with your business, you have to take an atypical approach to everything. Break away from the crowd, and walk in the opposite direction. That's where personal branding comes in. Even though you may have the same skill set, professional background, or education level as a lot of your peers, your creativity and unique way of thinking will set you apart.
Get it done, by any means necessary.
Accomplishing the impossible makes you invaluable. If something seems too hard, figure out how to get it done anyway. Successful people are usually no smarter or more talented than their less successful counterparts; they just work harder and are less willing to give up. Had Andy given up on finding the twins the Harry Potter manuscript because she thought it'd be too hard, she would have lost her job. Take that same approach in your career or your business. Get it done, by any means necessary, as if your job depends on it.
Never ask what can be Google'd.
I read something the other day saying to "never ask your boss what you can Google yourself." We often look to bosses and leaders as our mentors, whom we want to soak up as much information from as possible. It's important to remember though that these people are busy, and they don't have the excess time or energy to answer questions you can easily look up on your own. Use your own research skills to learn what you need to know. You'll impress everyone with how smart you are, and you can impress your boss, business partner, or client with how resourceful you can be. Then you'll have more time to spend with them for issues actually that concern them.
Get up, get out, get going.
In the movie, Andy moved too slowly across the room for the fast-paced, come-on-with-it-already Miranda Priestly. While being physically expeditious is important, this idea of moving at "glacial pace" is also symbolic of life. Too often we spend so much time stuck — in the waiting phase, in the thinking phase, in the planning phase, our feet stuck in the mud, afraid to move forward. At some point, you have to jump and start making moves. Starting the business. Asking for the promotion. Launching that organization. Life is too short to move too slowly. Of course, you should be smart about your moves and not make hasty decisions, but don't let your hesitations keep you at a stand still for too long.
Keep your priorities in check.
Throughout the movie, Andy struggled with keeping her priorities in order — balancing her new job and the responsibilities that came with it, her relationship with her boyfriend, and her own happiness and purpose for her life. Mastering prioritization is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your career. Master daily prioritization, knowing which tasks need to be completed in which order. Master long-term prioritization, knowing which goals should be handled first and which to post-pone until a future date. Most importantly, master life prioritization, knowing which relationships should be put first, like your relationship with God, family, and friends.
Coco Chanel once said, "to be irreplaceable one must always be different." If it's one thing that Miranda Priestly was certain of, it was her power. At the end of the movie, we all thought Miranda would be blindsided by all of the changes happening behind her back. But she knew, even when we didn't, of her inability to be replaced. Find that special something inside of you, perfect that unique skill that no one can do quite like you can, and you'll never have to worry about being replaced. No one is you, and that is your power.