Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
A mixtape is defined as a compilation of music, typically from a variety of artists. It’s not dramatically different from a playlist, except that a playlist is typically digital, and a mixtape is a physical copy like a CD or old school cassette tape.
The reason I’m talking about mixtapes today is because I listened to RuPaul’s MasterClass on authenticity and self-expression, and he mentioned that his goal was for the MasterClass to become someone’s mixtape. I took that to mean bringing together a list of takeaways that you could use in the future. And honestly, I can say after hearing his MasterClass that my list of takeaways is something that I might like to have on a card or in a journal and refer to them frequently.
Just in case you’re not familiar with RuPaul, he is a drag queen and produces, hosts, and judges the reality competition RuPaul’s Drag Race. The show has won 12 Emmy Awards, 3 GLAAD Media Awards, a Critics’ Choice Award, 2 Billboard Music Awards, and a Tony Award. In addition to his work on Drag Race, RuPaul is an active supporter of voter registration and started an initiative called Drag Out the Vote.
While RuPaul’s MasterClass was focused on authenticity and self-expression, I thought many of the key takeaways could relate to our careers. Then when I heard the comment about mixtape, it hit me that we should consider maybe having a career mixtape. Maybe not literally – although that could be fun – but figurately from the standpoint of constantly reminding ourselves to stay focused on what matters in our personal and professional lives.
Be true to yourself. RuPaul called it “finding your frequency”. I believe it can take time to figure out the many facets of ourselves. And once we do that, it doesn’t mean we won’t ever change. Being true to ourselves is a never-ending process. And part of career success is being able to stay true to ourselves in our work. Think of it like staying true to your values.
Take care of yourself. Some of this is tied to the previous takeaway (be true to yourself). Don’t be afraid to prioritize your personal wellness and wellbeing. It does mean learning the best way to take care of you. For example, how much sleep do you need to be at your best? What’s your optimal morning routine? If you want to do your best work, you need to take care of yourself.
Find your supporters. You can call this group your personal board of directors or your network. Bottom-line? Find people who will support you. That doesn’t mean that the role of a supporter is to say “yes” to everything you do. Sometimes we need our supporters to say, “Are you sure you want to do that?”. Or “Maybe you should do some more research …”.
Figure out how to reground yourself. We all make mistakes and have setbacks – in both our personal and professional lives. Know what you need to do when that happens to get yourself back on track. Learn how to forgive yourself, take those lessons learned and apply them to the future. You will not be able to grow your career if you’re unable to manage your mistakes.
Find a mentor. Then be a mentor. One of the things that RuPaul talked about was the appreciation he had for the people who mentored him throughout his career. And because he had such great mentors that he felt it was important to mentor others. Whether you are a mentor or a mentee, mentoring can have a huge positive impact on your career.
Some of you might be wondering if RuPaul talked about drag and dressing in drag and wearing makeup. The answer is yes. What was fascinating to me about the conversation was the emphasis on practice. And we need to do that in our careers. If we want to stay relevant, we need to learn new things. And to learn new things, we need to practice.
Like Malala Yousafzai’s MasterClass, RuPaul had conversations with other people. He chatted with people that he has been working with for decades. Think about that in the context of your career. Are you building long-lasting professional relationships? Relationship building is a core competency for human resources professionals. Is it time to prioritize reaching out to our colleagues – not to ask for something – but to catch up and find out how they’re doing?
In addition, while RuPaul and his guests were chatting, it was also interesting to see how they weren’t always agreeing with each other. But they were laughing and talking about how what works for RuPaul is good for him and what works for someone else is good for them. It reminds me of the takeaway about finding your supporters.
As we’re approaching the New Year, does it make some sense to think about a list of career-related things you want to remember. I’m hesitant to say career goals, because it’s not about making resolutions. Sometimes we just need a reminder to focus and do something. Create a career mixtape for yourself and leave it in a familiar place so when you need to open that book it’s right there. And it keeps you focused.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby63