The best piece of business advice, from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ director


As a podcast host, I have the privilege of interviewing some really fascinating people. So Money is a show that dissects guests’ financial and business perspectives. Since 2015, I’ve had breakthrough conversations with over 600 people at the top of their games. This includes celebrities, athletes, inventors, entrepreneurs, and millionaires next door.

On many occasions, a piece of advice will drop that completely transforms the lens through which I view my work.

My favorite piece of career wisdom was from the award-winning director Kari Skogland, known for her work on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Walking Dead,” “The Americans,” and “House of Cards.” She was named by Hollywood Reporter as one of “Ten Directors to Watch.”

Skogland stopped by my show and offered a simple — but powerful — message for anyone seeking more clarity or fulfillment in their work. And as someone who’s had her fair share of challenges as a female director in the entertainment industry, Skogland spoke from experience.

“The most important thing,” she said, “is to work with elegant people.”

Kari Skogland, director.
David Leyes

That’s it.

It’s not about the size of your paycheck or the grandeur of your title. (Although those are very nice things.)

It’s mainly about the quality of the people with whom you spend your time.

Do you actually like and respect the people on your team?

To the extent that it’s possible (and Skogland recognizes that it’s not always possible), choose to align with people who are respectful, honest, and constructive. And follow through on their commitments.

It may sound basic, but pay attention to the people who say “please” and “thank you,” and who are sincere and kind. Toxic workers, at least one study finds, are a financial disaster for an organization. Their actions can lead to legal troubles for the company. They can also alienate coworkers, crush morale, and reduce productivity across teams.

While it hasn’t always been the case, I’ve been fortunate in my career to be in the company of some incredibly talented and supportive individuals to whom I give immense credit for shaping my success. Elegance is Adam Kirschner, my manager, who always shares honest feedback. It’s the hard-working and generous Susie Moore, my co-host of our media workshop, Pitch Please. It’s my podcast team at AdLarge Media who model kindness and patience — even when I’m racing to publish my podcast at the last minute.

Skogland’s advice is an important reminder for all — to not only choose to surround ourselves with elegant people — but to lead by example.

Personally, this pays off down the road, more than if you accepted a lofty paycheck for a job that drove you nuts.

“If you take a project for the money but it tarnishes who you are, it may cost you more than it’s giving you in the long run … When you are doing something — even for a small paycheck — that you love to do and you’re working with people who you love to be around, you are so much more engaged with the planet, with your own future, who you are and what mountains you can move,” Skogland said. “That’s the calibration of every decision you have to make.”

Farnoosh Torabi is a financial expert, hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. She is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and television personality. Her podcast So Moneyhas been downloaded over 10 million times.



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