Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Interview with Courtney Hazlett


I’m delighted to have an interview with Courtney Hazlett, columnist and Celebrity Correspondent for MSNBC, for my Embracing SUCCESS series. Courtney covers media and pop culture as a columnist and on-air personality for MSNBC and MSNBC.com She is a regular contributor to “Morning Joe,” MSNBC dayside programming, and frequently appears on “Today “and “Access Hollywood.” I was impressed with Courtney when I met her and after the interview, I’m really inspired. She’s a woman who believes in pursuing your passions and living by them.

When you were in school, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a doctor. About halfway through college, it became painfully obvious that I was terrible at chemistry. I decided to head in a direction that played off my strengths—reading and writing. I majored in philosophy.

What was your first job out of school? I was a sailing coach and then became an editorial assistant at Boating magazine. I had no formal journalism experience in college so I realized I had to parlay my hobbies into a job.

How did you swing into what you do now? I made it up to senior editor at Yachting magazine, at which point I realized I liked journalism and media but didn’t want to get pigeon-holed. The only way to calibrate and reset was to go to journalism school. I went to Columbia and started focusing on getting more into pop culture. It was another one of my interests.

How did you learn to be so good at what you do? I dive into subjects, love them, become an expert, and be very good at the craft. I worked the whole time I was in school. I was at the Smoking Gun. By the time I graduated (it took me 2 years since I was going part time) I was at People magazine.

Did being a woman ever hinder you? I often have days when I feel like I’m in a man’s business. When you look at the management at the top, it’s mostly men. The majority take me for what my accomplishments and talents are. From time to time I get approached by someone in a position to further my career who says, “I hear you’re actually kind of smart.” (laughs) Would they say that to a man? I don’t think so. I’ve never felt that if I was a man I’d get a free pass or get away with something but I do think a woman has to come out of the gate a little bit stronger. I kind of only know one speed, which may be a blessing in disguise.

How do you handle criticism? I have fairly thick skin, which is essential in this business. There’s somebody out there who starts their day posting what’s wrong with my column, along the lines of “I can eat pen and paper and puke up a better column.” I just think go for it! But it can start to get to you. There’s this nasty thing called the Internet that provides a forum for people to say things that they’d never say to your face. I think that’s unfortunate, a misuse of the medium and I wish people would use their time in a more productive way. But it is what it is. You have to just move forward and past it. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Have you experienced problems with celebrities you’ve reported on where the news was negative? No. There are times a publicist asks if I have to run that or can I kill it. But I’m not in the business of killing things because I like you. If it’s fair, it’s fair. I get pegged as a gossip columnist, which I sort of loathe. At the end of the day, I have sources and my columns go through the legal department and several editors and are well vetted.

What gives you satisfaction? I get a lot of satisfaction when I devote a lot of time to something that doesn’t have an immediate payoff and then it does. I love the idea of becoming an expert in a new subject every week. That’s not to say I don’t know what I’m talking about. For example, right now we’re going into upfronts so I thought I need to know a little more about advertising. It’s narrowing a focus and makes you see everything differently. I call I doing homework. That’s a very satisfying part of my job. I like taking some of my time away from 30 Rock to do homework and see that pay out over the course of time.

What’s the favorite part of your career? I like being on the leading edge, getting information and having the responsibility to put it out there in a way that interests people. I think right now more than ever is proof that you can put really god information out but if nobody is reading it, it doesn’t matter.

What qualities do you think helped you advance in your career? The idea that I never had a playbook helped me out. I didn’t feel I had to follow an A then B timeline. I was able to go full steam ahead. If I wanted something, I went after it. I guess I have this warped sense that everything will work out.

How do you separate your job from who you are? I don’t. What you see is what you get with me!

How would you describe yourself to someone who doesn’t know you? I’m a journalist who puts my work out there through every medium possible. I’m on television; I have a column online; I still do print pieces from time to time. I started doing some radio. I think now you can’t put all your eggs in one communications basket. I always had a sense when I was growing up that I would end up with a job that doesn’t have an exact job description, even when I went into medicine.

How do you see the current job market? Right now, people are looking at the difficult job market through the wrong lens. It’s a great time to get the job you want because you can walk in and if you have great ides, convince someone that it’s great. You can do things outside the box. Right now people want something different. Look at newspapers. They have great information but no one’s reading them or buying them. Take note of that. Think about “what can I do to set myself apart and make people interested?” This is a fantastic time!

What does success mean to you? I want to do well and be very good at what I do. I want to be respected in my field. That’s success to me. I love waking up every day at 4:45 and getting a run in before I go to work and those sorts of things. I’ve struck a good balance. It might not look like a balance on the outside, but for me it is.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? I have no idea! It will all work out. I didn’t think I’d be here three years
ago. I just kind of choose my interests and keep trying to do what I’m doing as best I can. And new opportunities pop up. I’m not afraid to go to somebody with a different idea and see where it takes me.

What gives you the balls to do those kind of things? Naivety? I just think what’s the worst that can happen? If someone says “no,” I’m not going to get fired for having an idea that doesn’t work. I just think why not? I guess I have a certain level of self-confidence that gets me to that place where you can knock on someone’s door, send that email or pick up the phone. I just don’t believe in having things happen to you. Life would be so boring. I prefer to make it happen.

How important is passion? It’s absolutely essential. I don’t believe in waking up in the morning If you’re not going do something you’re passionate about. Just do something you love! There’s nothing more unattractive to me in a person than someone who clearly hates their job. Do something else. I don’t mean to sound cavalier in saying this. But I truly believe that everybody has to have something they’re really interested in and there’s probably a way to make your life revolve around it.

What’s your best advice for someone who wants to follow their passion but is scared? Be inventive. I’m blessed with having had my upbringing. My parents were very nontraditional in getting to where they are. I was a sophomore in college before they were both out of school. I was really lucky to grow up with the example that you could have a family and a job on top of that and be really happy—busy but happy.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Law of Attraction in Action: Critical/Mean Thoughts

This is post 40 in my series on the Law of Attraction in Action. You CAN use your power to attract all that you need. I do it every day! Read the posts in this series to see how.

I’m a nice person and don’t want to be mean to anyone. But as I’ve become more conscious of my thoughts, I realize that I have some about others that aren’t nice. Did you ever see someone on the street and judge them? Maybe you wonder how she could leave her house wearing that outfit or doesn’t he know that his toupee looks silly? I do. It’s so easy to have critical thoughts that are silent. I used to think it didn’t matter since the person couldn’t hear them.

But I hear them and so does the Universe. I realized it’s not nice, no matter if they’re silent! Plus, it sets the wrong intentions into motion with the Law of Attraction.

I walk a lot. Living in NYC allows me to go almost everywhere by foot. That means a lot of walking and passing a lot of people. I love to people watch and observe different behavior. As a writer, it fascinates me. But I also notice things that make me think thoughts that are critical of some of the people I pass. It used to be fun. I’d wonder why she’s with that goofy looking guy or why he’s wearing that awful jacket.

Don’t they have eyes to see how awful they look?

I think that insecurity makes up pick on others, even if it’s silent. Finding their faults subconsciously makes you feel a little less bad about your own. Every one of us has some insecurity. No matter how good your self-esteem, there’s something you’d love to change if you could or a bad habit you can’t break. I love myself and feel great about who I am but would love to lose more weight if the fat fairy would oblige. I’m happy with my body but would still love to be more svelte. We all have things we’d change if a magic wand could be waved to oblige us.

Accepting our imperfections, especially things we can’t change—such as being what you perceive as too short or the big one, not being able to get younger instead of older—doesn’t mean we wouldn’t prefer to have what we lack. And we can’t help feeling a little envy when seeing someone who has what we don’t. You just need to keep these normal feelings in persepective and control your response to them. I’d love to be younger or thinner or have hair that doesn’t frizz in humidity, etc. What would you love to change if you could?

Criticism of others, even if just a passing thought, often reflects our own insecurity. But that doesn’t make it right!

When I finally caught myself, I became more aware that I don’t like that kind of criticism directed at me. Even if I don’t hear it, it’s a yucky feeling. Yet I was doing it to others! I needed to stop. Consciousness became my guide. Once I noticed this bad habit, I was shocked to realize how often I have negative thoughts about people. I used to think it was harmless. But no negative is harmless!

The Law of Attraction returns our thoughts. I didn’t want to attract negativity by being negative and had to stop!

So I’ve created a sort of self-warning system of consciousness and am still a work in progress. Breaking old habits takes time. But that’s okay since it’s better than not breaking them at all. And the process has been good for me! My awareness is very heightened now. When I notice someone I’d normally rag on mentally, I can stop myself mid-rag now. Sometimes sooner. The important thing is making the effort to stop myself.

When I notice something and begin a critical thought, I interrupt it by telling myself that isn’t nice and I must stop. And I do. I often say “I’m sorry” too.

Each time I put the brakes on a negative feels good to me now. I used to get a kick out of making fun of someone in my head. Now I enjoy being able to stop myself. It’s a great feeling of control. Each time I stop a negative thought about someone, usually a stranger, I applaud myself for breaking my habit of being silently mean. Mean is mean. I don’t want to attract that into my world!

While the person I’m making fun of in my head doesn’t know I’m doing it, I know, and so does the Law of Attraction.

I feel more in control since I’ve been working on stopping my habit. But I intend to break it entirely with practice. All habits can be broken with time and consciousness! Pay attention to your thoughts. Do you judge people in a harsh light in your head? Do you really want to do that? It seemed like a funny thing to me until I began studying the LOA. Now I know that it’s not right, and can attract what I don’t want. Thinking kinder thoughts about others attracts much better stuff. When you do think kinder thoughts, you attract more kindness and compliments.

See all the Law of Attraction in Action Series..

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Watching Your Time

I’m very time-deprived these days. Many people complain to me about this problem. That’s why I’m so delighted to have Dave Crenshaw today as my guest. He’s the foremost expert in helping you get time, and has helped students worldwide get more time for everything they love most in life.

Beware Time Liabilities
By Dave Crenshaw

Are you surrounded by Time Liabilities? I define a Time Liability as:

a) anything that consumes time unnecessarily or
b) anything that causes you to spend time in activities that are less profitable than your most profitable activity.

If your filing system causes you to spend extra time doing $9 per hour ?clerical work, trying to find that important document you misplaced,? then you have a Time Liability. If your workspace is so uncomfortable ?that you have to spend time at a chiropractor every month to correct? your spine alignment problems, you definitely have a Time Liability!

Over a year ago I was working with a business owner who was in severe? time debt. He was working in the ballpark of 90 to 100 hours per week,? and both his business and family were suffering. We started by ?calculating his per-hour worth. When doing his most profitable ?activities, he was worth $500 an hour or more. Yet we found that he was? spending approximately half of his time, 45 hours or more per week,? performing $25/hour, $10/hr, and even minimum wage type work! Why? A? huge factor was that he was surrounded by Time Liabilities.

At one point during our training he needed to punch holes in some paper? for a three ring binder. Yet when he went to punch the paper, his paper ?puncher clearly wasn’t up for the job. He had bought a cheap model that? had was basically broken after a month of use. I watched as this? business owner kept turning his stack of papers around twice to punch.? Most often he kept misaligning the punch and ruining the stack.

Next, he stood up from his desk, walked out of his office, marched down ?the hall to someone else’s office, searched for their high-quality? paper puncher, punched the holes in his stack, came back to the office? and finally inserted them in the planner. While he went through this? long process, I timed him without him knowing. It took about 6 minutes.

I ?asked the question, “How many times per week do you repeat that ?activity of having to use someone else’s hole puncher?” He replied, “I ?don’t know. Maybe 3 or 4.” I responded, “So, you’re losing more than ?an hour per month simply because you didn’t spend the extra $20 to get ?a quality 3 hole puncher?” His response, “I didn’t think of it like ?that at the time!” His cheap 3-hole puncher was potentially costing him ?nearly $500 per month…and that was just one Time Liability holding him? back!

How much are your time liabilities costing you? at work? If you know what you are worth per hour, you can quickly? estimate the dollar-per hour impact of lost time. Any resource or? system or behaviors at work that keeps you away from your profitable ?activities is a Time Liability. Replace Time liabilities with Time ?Assets. The sooner you replace them, the sooner your profitability will? increase.

Are you surrounded by time liabilities? Consider the following questions:

* Are? the tools of your trade (computer, pens, stapler, etc) all within hand’s ?reach? (If you often have to get up from you chair to pull out the ?scissors you use often, then you have a time liability.)

* Do ?you have the tools you need or is something missing? (Have you been ?putting off going to the office supply or computer store?)

* Do ?they all work properly? (If you have to squint or lean forward to view? your computer screen, then it is likely a time liability…either that or? your glasses!)

* Are your tools of the? best working quality? (Remember the story of the three-hole puncher. Invest more to get better results and greater longevity from the “tools? of your trade”.)

By trading your Time Liabilities ?for Time Assets, you will save time, be more productive, and reduce ?stress in the long run.

——

Dave Crenshaw has appeared in TIME magazine, on XM and Sirius Radio, MSN Money, and been interviewed in radio and TV stations across North America. His book, The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done has been translated into six languages and is a time management best seller. He is the foremost expert in helping you get time, and has helped students worldwide get more time for everything they love most in life.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Law of Attraction in Action: Smiling

This is post 39 in my series on the Law of Attraction in Action. You CAN use your power to attract all that you need. I do it every day! Read the posts in this series to see how.

I don’t think that people smile enough. I always find it odd when people comment about how I’m smiling most of the time, like it’s unusual. I smiled a lot as a kid because I was very happy growing up. Loving parents, lots of friends, caring neighbors, doing well in school all contributed to my contentment. I smiled so much that teachers complained to my mom that it made them nervous!

Then I became an adult, and a DoorMat, and the smiling stopped.

Living for everyone but me gave me little to smile about. I passed time instead of living. Back then, happiness meant not feeling hurt by someone who let me down or missing things I wanted to do because I helped someone with their needs instead. Living to avoid pain or in fear of being alone if you don’t please everything doesn’t bring happiness, hence few smiles.

Not smiling doesn’t attract smiling people and reasons to smile.

When I began my journey out of DoorMatville, I remembered how to smile. The more I did for me, the more I smiled. Eventually I found the happy girl I used to be and became a deliriously happy woman. The more I loved me, the happier I became and the more I smiled. Now I wake up smiling every day. I also learned the benefits of sharing my smiles with others.

Smiling attracts more smiles and rewards that can make you smile more.

People in stores I go to regularly or other people I don’t know well began to call me Little Star or other names indicating they saw my smile as twinkling and liked it. Living in NYC, I tend to be a bit insular when I walk around, and I walk a lot. I occasionally get annoyed by men making comments about my body or just trying to talk me up when I don’t want the attention. So I began to walk with blinders on and ignore any talking at me. One day I was speed walking across town and passed a guy sitting on a stoop who said something to me. I ignored him. He quickly told me to smile, because he thought it would be a lovely one.

I slowed up, turned around, and smiled. He smiled brightly back. It warmed the rest of my day.

Now I try to smile more when I’m in public places. I passed an older lady using a walker and smiled at her. The smile she gave me back expressed gratitude and joy. I was on the subway this week when a grungy looking man came on and announced he was hungry and could anyone spare a few cents. As I walked to the door at my station, I gave him a dollar. He muttered thanks. Then I looked him straight in the eye and smiled.

I can still feel his joy radiating. He gave me a huge happy smile. He got a dollar but I got a priceless gift. It put me into a great mood for that whole day.

Now I smile even more. When I do, I get more smiles back. They’re contagious. And the Law of Attraction attracts more. I didn’t see many smiles in my unsmiling DoorMat days. Now they’re all around me!

See all the Law of Attraction in Action Series..

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