For the first installment of Ask Alicia in the New Year, I felt it only right to pass on words of wisdom from some of the people who inspire me and have helped guide/influence my career. I call those who mentor and give back, my earth angels. So many of you ask me in person, on Twitter, Facebook and via Instagram for advice, so I'm happy to share insight from some of the best in the industry about everything from love to business to friendship. This wisdom was given directly to me to share with you. Enjoy:
Katie Couric "It's kind of hackneyed but, 'To thine own self be true.' It's important to adhere to your core values and beliefs, and not change in order to please other people because that's an impossible task. Trust your gut and instincts. If you please everyone, you stand for nothing."
Ryan Seacrest "Follow up. Most people fail to check-in: whether it's for interviews or just to say thank you. If you put in the work to follow up, you have a much better chance of getting what you need."
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson: "The greatest fear people have is that of being themselves. They want to be 50 Cent or someone else. They do what everyone else does even if it doesn't fit where and who they are. But you get nowhere that way; your energy is weak and no one pays attention to you. You're running away from the one thing that you own—what makes you different. I lost that fear. And once I felt that power that I had by showing the world I didn't care about being like other people, I could never go back."
Hoda Kotb "This Mark Twain quote sums it up best: 'The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.' Often times you are moving at a fast pace, not riding the wave, but fighting it. Once you've figured out your purpose in life, you can enjoy the journey."
Trisha Yearwood (speaking about maintaining true friendships with such a hectic schedule: mother, wife, country music star, cooking empire): "Like anything, where there's a will there's a way. Since we still have one daughter in high school, right now we are home a lot more than we're gone. We make it a priority to stay connected with our friends. I think it helps that we are very low-key at home, so our friends know that if they come over, my house won't be spotless, and I will probably be dressed in sweats!"
Rebecca Minkoff: "The single most important piece of data in starting a career or passion is the ability to persist on a given course. No matter the obstacle or barrier. It's getting back up and keeping going that will ensure success."
Al Roker "Never send a thank you email. Always send a handwritten note. Let's face it, they sent you a real gift, so send them a real thank you note."
Jennifer Hudson "Give blessings with your blessings." Jennifer put words into action when she bought her assistant a house for Christmas. This video is worth watching over and over: http://tinyurl.com/ohrgxrt
Melanie Bromley, Senior Managing Correspondent, E! News: "Be specific with your goals. Easy manageable steps: whether in your personal life or in your career. Want to work for E! News? Plan out specific steps to get there: Get journalism training, contact people so you can get experience in a local newsroom, become an expert at something."
Jonathan Adler: "One of the questions people ask me the most, is, 'I'm redecorating. What are the design rules I should follow?' There is no correct way to decorate - just intriguing ways to dwell in style, craft, and joy. Sure there are traditional rules about symmetry, proportion, and scale but, we are fortunate to live in an anything-goes era. There is no right or wrong way to live, just new ways of life to ponder. Remember: If you love it, it will work."
Diem Brown: (two-time ovarian cancer survivor, founder of Medgift.com and one of my best friends) "If you don't put your health first the rest is meaningless...Honestly think about it. Don't be scared of 2014, I'm excited to jump feet first in love, head first into my career and soul first into building stronger friendships and strengthening family bonds."
Jesse Giddings, Correspondent, E! News: "Let's redefine what success is in our lives this year. Success in life is the combination of liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking who you do it with. Forget about stressing about minor details and focus on the major: family, friends and anything else that makes you happy. Here's to a year full of what matters most."
Kevin Jonas "Cherish each other. I know it can sometimes be cliché, but even just sitting down and watching TV. Just turn off the TV for a second and take the time to talk."
Kristina Guerrero, Correspondent, E! News: "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? In 2014, live like you have nothing to lose. Be bold in asking the universe for what you want—then go faithfully forward to make it happen! Each time I've made a leap of faith, the rewards have been far greater than I'd ever dreamt! Go get it!!"
Troian Bellisario: "Don't wait for your life to begin. Start looking around and seeing the people that you have in your life and (appreciate) your health, and start celebrating it. Don't wait for your promotion, or the next project that you are going to do, or all of these things, or when you go to college. Start loving your life now and being happy now."
Ending this piece with advice my father gave me back when I ran track in high school. It's always served me well, and I hope it resonates with you: Run your race. As a sprinter, it was drilled into me not to look to the right or the left, only the finish line. Looking at how your competitors are doing only slows you down. The same is true in business. In other words, do you. Don't worry about what the next person is accomplishing, unless it is to be happy for them, not hate. What is meant for you is for you.