Singer, actress, and entrepreneur Adrienne Houghton has held many jobs since starting her career at 14. She knows that to succeed in the entertainment industry, you need to be flexible and open to the unexpected.
Houghton rose to fame as the lead singer in the platinum-selling girl group 3LW and had roles on popular television shows like Disney Channel's "That's So Raven." But after her record label shut down her dream of a solo music career, Houghton had to seek out new opportunities and redefine her goals.
"I truly believe that if you are authentic to who you are, the right opportunities and paths will be apparent," she told Create & Cultivate, a career site for women.
Today, Houghton is a co-host of the Emmy-winning Fox daytime talk show "The Real." She also runs a lifestyle vlog on her YouTube channel, All Things Adrienne, and has founded a jewelry line, XIXI. For Houghton, changing course has required "business savvy" and an "understanding of how to market yourself."
A career pivot can be daunting but also rewarding. Here are three takeaways from Houghton about how flexibility, hard work, and confidence can serve you, no matter where your career goes, and how to be open to new and different opportunities.
Houghton turned down the lead role in the 2008 film "Another Cinderella Story" for fear of being typecast. What turned out to be a breakout role went to singer and actress Selena Gomez instead.
Houghton considers turning down the role "a learning experience" and has realized "you should never pass up a job because you're too cool," she told Create & Cultivate. "If an opportunity aligns with your morals, then it should be seriously considered. It's worth a shot."
Though she started out in the music business, Houghton's dream of becoming a solo artist never panned out. Instead of seeing this setback as a failure, though, Houghton believes it set her on a new and exciting course: "I had to walk away from my dream. It was really hard, but that loss really fueled my career as a host and forced my other strengths and passions to be realized."
By being adaptable, she found new ways to use her talents.
"Flexibility," Houghton said, is "the ability to pivot and understand the importance of reinvention, innovation, and evolution while still staying true to yourself and your vision."
Believing in your vision, even if you lack experience, can make a difference as you build your career.
Dolapo Sangokoya had zero production experience when she started her career in media but by age 26, she was able to achieve her goal of being a senior producer and hosting her own show. She credits her success to her ability to be vulnerable in new situations in order to learn and develop.
"I've always known what I wanted to do, and I had a confidence in my ability, even when I didn't know how to do it or didn't have the tools to do it," she recently told Grow.
Houghton agrees: "Authenticity is key," she told Create & Cultivate. "You need to establish yourself and your brand. There isn't a blueprint that you can follow to succeed. You have to be yourself, you have to create your own lane."
Houghton said she's most "inspired and driven" when she takes time to "reconnect" with herself. "My ability to prioritize is key in managing my projects and maintaining balance in my personal life," she said.
Your personal well-being doesn't have to come at the expense of professional success. Try managing your workflow so you're sprinkling in periods of productivity with periods of rest. Setting small goals and making to-do lists can help you reach your larger goals. And remember that there are plenty of ways to unwind that won't break the bank like exercising and meditating.
"Spending time with my family has always been and is increasingly my top priority," Houghton said, "so maintaining efficiency and taking a 'work smarter, not harder' approach is huge for me on a daily basis."
Switching gears, staying balanced, and thriving in your career isn't easy, but Houghton says being "grateful for your opportunities" can help, and can give you more courage when dealing with self-doubt. Ultimately, feeling appreciative of what comes your way can set you up to "accept your successes as valuable, real, and deserved."
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