When I picture my ideal future, I imagine it with a career something like Amy Poehler’s; comedy sketch artist, three-time Golden Globes host and writer and lead actress for my favorite TV show, Parks and Recreation. I basically envision myself as a non-blonde Amy Poehler (of course, you can argue that that’s Tina Fey, so I’ll totally settle for being their adopted child/heir to their throne). With that said, I was eager to crack open a copy of her book, Yes Please and soak in all the wisdom she has to offer on becoming a kick-ass, hard-working woman in Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of tips to note – with gems such as “short people do not like to be picked up!” and “Time travel is real!” – but here are the lessons I’ve found to be a bit more applicable in day-to-day life for aspiring Amys and others.
1. Tell your brain to shut up every once in a while.
Poehler is an adamant believer that sometimes your brain is the worst thing to have around when figuring things out – especially when writing a book. Your brain makes you second-guess your decisions, hold on to your ego and make up some pretty lame, excuse-laden apologies (but more on those, later). Poehler figured out that the best way to get any writing done was to stick your brain in a drawer and put your hand on your heart, letting it decide if “what you wrote feels true.” Sometimes, you think more clearly when you turn your brain off.
2. Know how and when to say sorry.
Poehler knows that it’s a lot harder than it looks, especially as a woman navigating a professional environment. She hits the nail on the head in saying that “it takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.” Running late? Say sorry. Sharing your idea? Don’t say sorry. Uncomfortable with something? Don’t say sorry. And when the time does come to say sorry, Poehler says that a good apology is one that’s clear, honest and without excuses.
3. Know what you don’t want to do.
In Poehler’s college years, she didn’t know what kind of actor she wanted to be or where she wanted her career to go. What she did know was that she did not want to get stuck in one place, or get married and have children within the next 10 years. It’s a lot less daunting to answer the question “what do you not want to do with your life?” and figure things out from there.
4. Get by with a little help from your friends.
Between writing and filming the final season of Parks and Rec, prepping for the Golden Globes and taking care of her two sons, Amy Poehler is a busy lady. Writing a book is hard – but Yes Please shows you that friends will help you reach your page count (Saturday Night Live buddy Seth Meyers lends a hand for a couple of pages) and return your manuscript to you when you lose it at the airport (Thanks to Sharita of LAX!) Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and good friends will come through for you.
5. Find what you’re good at, accept what you’re not.
Poehler knew from early on that her ticket to Hollywood was not going to be her looks, and resolved that her currency lay in being “a plain girl with tons of personality.” It turns out, her plain face ended up being a perfect canvas with which to play other people. What is considered your weakness can become your strength.
There you have it! Pick up a copy of Yes Please to get all the other tidbits that didn’t make the list (including advice from Poehler’s more scandalous sections, including “world famous sex advice” and “lessons I learned on mushrooms”)!