3 Career Lessons From Weird Al Yankovic

It's Weird Al's world; the rest of us are just living in it. This week, his album Mandatory Fun hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, #8days8videos blew up on Twitter, and everyone's co-workers and Facebook friends began posting links to Tacky and Word Crimes. Speaking of which, it became apparent that Weird Al's goal might not purely be to amuse us. It's clear that there's a lot to learn from the man who started his career with Dr. Demento as a mentor.

Weird Al 

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

1. Look for your passion.

In a recent Kindle Singles interview with Mara Altman, Yankovic describes his experience studying architecture in college:

"I got burned out on it. It became obvious in about my third year of college that the people who were doing well were people who loved doing architecture. It really meant a lot to them and they lived and breathed it and it just wasn't that important to me. It wasn't my passion. My passion was comedy and music."

2. Get practical experience.

The hours he spent each week doing the Weird Al Show on local college radio were more satisfying, he said. In fact, he'd started his career in high school, without even knowing it, by entering a few of his songs into a contest on The Doctor Demento show. When his first songs got airplay, he was mostly excited that his classmates would hear him on the radio.

The lesson here? Don't limit your search for experience to traditional internships. Look for creative ways to get hands-on practice doing the things you love. And don't cut yourself off from possibilities, just because they seem like a stretch.

3. Don't feel the pressure to figure it all out right away.

In addition to being an entertainer, musician, and YouTube superstar, Yankovic is also an author. His children's book, When I Grow Up, features a character named Billy who dreams big, imagining jobs like giraffe milker and chocolate mousse sculptor -- much to his teacher's consternation.

Weird Al tells Altman that he empathizes with his hero.

"That was an important story for me to tell because a lot of kids feel pressure when they are very young to figure it out. 'What are you going to do? You got college coming up! You got to pick your major!' It's nice to have a plan, but it's also okay if you don't have a plan. There's lots of opportunities in life and you should never feel trapped or boxed in."

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