5 Career Lessons From Bill Nye the Science Guy
Children of the ’90s remember Bill Nye as the bow-tied host of “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” an educational TV show that aired on PBS from 1993 to 1998, but he’s also written several books, appeared on TV shows as diverse as “Back to the Future: The Animated Series” and “Dancing With the Stars,” and now — somewhat inadvertently — he’s going to help you manage your career better.
(Photo Credit: eschipul)
Inadvertently? Well, it’s unlikely that when Nye and his staffers wrote the “Rules of the Road” for his popular television show, they were thinking specifically about helping us with our jobs. But a quick peek at the transcript (hosted at News Genius, and excerpted at io9) demonstrates a few ways to make sure your work is more than just a way to pay the bills.
1. Aim big.
It’s always a good idea to have an organizing principle for any big project, but few people go as big as Bill Nye and company. The objective of their show? No less than “change the world.”
We’re not necessarily suggesting that you put “change the world” at the top of your resume. But when you’re thinking about your career in its context with your life, don’t be afraid to dream. You might have to settle for a job that just pays the bills in the short term, but that doesn’t mean it should be your long-term goal.
2. Be authentic.
“All of the science has to be real science. No fictional ‘molecular resynthesizer’ machines that perform magic tricks, for example. …Science Guy is always himself. He could play another character as the Science Guy playing another character. He wears a lab coat and safety glasses for a reason. If he takes them off, it’s for a reason.”
Are you an introvert? Don’t try to cram yourself into a sales position. A creative thinker? Target companies that won’t force you to churn out endless reports. Of course, all jobs have some less-than-thrilling aspects to them. But if you know yourself, you can pick a job that will minimize the worse parts of working for a living.
3. But don’t be afraid to draw in your audience with razzle-dazzle.
“The show is entertainment first; curriculum content and presentation of specific facts come later.”
Don’t lie on your resume, obviously, but don’t be afraid to be selective, and to sell yourself and your skills. Sometimes, what we think of as modesty can come across as lack of conviction.
4. Be respectful.
“Host interacts with guests, kids, other scientists, and celebrities as peers.”
Be as nice to the interns as you would be to the CEO. It’s more than just good manners; you never know where life will lead you, or which former peon will become the next boss.
5. Make your own rules.
“Science Guy’s reality is television. He can jump from place to place the way a viewer would expect anyone on television to be able to do. There is no need for something like the ‘Way-Back’ machine or the ‘Transporter’ or the ‘Door to Anywhere.’ However, the ‘monitor in the field’ can show us supplementary video, e.g. condensation after the walk-in freezer sequence in the pilot.”
Your career is unique, because you are unique, and all the things you’ve done and experienced have been processed through that lens. Just because someone else takes X number of years to reach Y position doesn’t mean that you’ll do the same — or that a different path or pace is more or less successful.
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