If you’re looking to learn how to smile with your eyes, Tyra Banks can help. The supermodel’s new iPhone application, appropriately dubbed Smize Yourself!, teaches users how to strike Banks’s signature pose in just three simple steps.
“On America’s Top Model, I’ve always told my girls to smile with their eyes,” said Banks of her trademark look in an interview with USA TODAY‘s Jefferson Graham. “Over the years, it’s actually become part of pop culture.”
Banks decision to turn her trademark look into a money-making app is just one example of the supermodel’s business acumen.
Her talent for entrepreneurship isn’t surprising, either. Banks, now 39, has taken business classes at Harvard’s extension school and overseen 20 seasons of a successful reality television program — she was even named one of the “Most Influential Women in Media” by Forbes.
What is the secret to her fame, fortune and success?
Here are a few career lessons we’ve picked up from Tyra.
Tyra of all trades: Banks has been, among other things, a reality show host, talk show host, model, businesswoman and author.
1. Be prepared. (And, if you’re not prepared, be resourceful.)
In the fifth cycle of America’s Next Top Model, Banks issued an unusual challenge: take a fierce passport photo.
As an aspiring model, Banks once found herself unexpectedly seated next to a noted photographer during a plane ride. Unable to show him her portfolio, she demonstrated her modeling chops using the only thing she had available: her passport photo. She got the gig.
Let’s face it: for most of us, getting a job isn’t as easy as flashing a photo ID. That being said, Tyra’s advice isn’t unique to modeling: always be prepared.
After all, you never know who you’ll bump into at the airport or grocery store. Tyra teaches us that five minutes of strategic small talk can turn into the interview that lands you the internship or job you’ve been dreaming of. With a little bit of creativity — and a whole lot of confidence — you can use the tools around you to demonstrate your professionalism and competence to potential employers in “surprise interview” situations.
2. Control your destiny.
In one of Top Model‘s most dramatic moments, Banks has strong words for an eliminated contestant.
After seeing the just-ousted Tiffany laugh and joke with the other girls, Banks worries that Tiffany failed to take the competition seriously, resigning herself to failure after a difficult challenge. (“Part of me did give up,” Tiffany later conceded.)
Though the ensuing lecture is harsh (and loud), it’s filled with great advice for college students and recent graduates.
“If you were sick of being disappointed, you would stand up and you would take control of your destiny,” Tyra yelled.
“Nobody’s going to take responsibility for you,” she continued. “You have no idea what I’ve been through, but I’m not a victim. I grow from it and I learn.”
3. Try new things.
Tyra Banks is a jack of all trades: she’s been, among other things, a reality show host, talk show host, model, businesswoman and author.
Take a page from Tyra’s book and try new things. College is all about experimenting with different academic and professional possibilities. Use an elective course or an externship to experiment with that one career path you’ve always wondered about — you might discover an aptitude or talent that would otherwise remain hidden.
4. Embrace your “flawsomeness.”
In an essay on the Daily Beast, Banks lauded Vogue editors worldwide for their decision to stop employing models who show signs of disordered eating. (“This calls for a toast over some barbecue and burgers!” she wrote.)
“I’ve been using the word ‘flawsome’ a lot,” Banks wrote. (For the uninitiated, flawsome is a portmanteau of “flaws” and “awesome.”)
“I have a big forehead, and I got made fun of all time,” Banks continued. “I’ve been teased my whole life, but I continue to rock it with pride.”
Borrow a tip from Banks and don’t overanalyze your flaws. Sure, not all of your bad traits are desirable, but not every potential employers will care that you got that nasty grade in calculus. Like Tyra, you’re the sum of your parts, so have faith in your talents and uniqueness. Looking past the small things will give you the confidence to put your best face forward and highlight your positive traits.
Have you learned any career tips from unlikely sources? Taken any professional cues from Top Model? Let us know in the comments below!
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