Jenna Lyons' Latest Career Advice is Definitely Not Traditional

Jessica Schiffer

When certain people who work in the fashion industry offer their two cents, everybody listens. Anna Wintour. Phoebe Philo. Cathy Horyn. Where they lead, we will gladly follow. Jenna Lyons is one of these wise-without-a-doubt ladies, and, lucky for us, she’s also one of the most forthcoming with advice.

We already knew that Lyons gave unexpected counsel on what to wear to work, so we should’ve known that her thoughts on “getting ahead” would be equally surprising. In fact, her advice goes totally against the traditional career advancement chatter that we’re used to hearing.

In a recent interview with Harper's Bazaar editor Laura Brown for Hearst's Master Class series, Lyons tackles how to get ahead by essentially telling us not to make that our mission. She explains:

“Don’t think about that stuff. Think about what you want to do and what you love. Because you will never be successful if you spend too much time thinking about how you’re going to get ahead. It doesn’t work that way. The way you get ahead is by doing something that you love and committing to yourself to do that, because then you’ll be happy, and you’ll work hard, and you’ll get noticed for that. If you’re trying to get somewhere because it’s important to you to get somewhere, those are often the people I don’t promote. People who are in my office asking for a raise, asking for a promotion, I’m not going to promote you first. I’m going to promote the person who is still there when I leave at 6:30, and is there when I come in the next morning, and instead of going home says, "Can I do anything else?" [Someone who] is so obsessed with what they’re doing, surprises me [and] helps other people. And I’m not saying it’s a bad question, just that I think our culture has created this scenario where it’s like ‘I have to climb,’ and I just feel like if you love what you do, you’ll get there and it’ll happen.”

It’s a bold statement that, initially, seems to leave a lot up to chance. But perhaps she has a point? Maybe all that energy spent dwelling on the future would be better spent on tightening up the here and now. And, well, if Jenna Lyons said it, it must be true.

What do you think of her advice? Let us know in the comments!

Explore: Jenna Lyons, J Crew

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