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3 Career Lessons From Hello Kitty

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Hello Kitty brings in 75 percent of Sanrio's annual $142 million profits, according to analysts, and she's cute as a button, to boot. But even with fame, wealth, and looks, Hello Kitty might not strike you as a model for your own career. (Unless you're Mariah Carey.) Here's what Sanrio's most popular character can teach you:

Hello Kitty brings in 75 percent of Sanrio’s annual $142 million profits, according to analysts, and she’s cute as a button, to boot. But even with fame, wealth, and looks, Hello Kitty might not strike you as a model for your own career. (Unless you’re Mariah Carey.) Here’s what Sanrio’s most popular character can teach you:

hello kitty 

(Photo Credit: tedeydan/Flickr)

1. Quality counts.

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“Quality control is a big deal” when it comes to Hello Kitty, writes Sophia Yan at CNN Money. “Details from the decor to the tableware at a Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong had to be approved by Sanrio, said owner Man Kwong. Company employees also tasted and critiqued every dish on offer, making sure Hello Kitty’s facial features were proportionally accurate on each dumpling. The food had to be decent, too – some dishes took seven tries before getting the green light.”

There’s a lot to learn from this, especially when you’re in job-hunting mode. While the tendency might be to see job seeking as purely a numbers game, carpet-bombing the job market with a generic resume likely won’t get you the same results as carefully tailoring your CV to a specific opening.

Even when you’re happily ensconced in a long-standing gig, getting the details right is the difference between someone who’s just punching a metaphorical clock and someone who’s building a career. Not every job can be your dream job, but every job can teach you something, if you’re willing to put in the time and pay attention to the little things.

2. You don’t have to do it all.

Yan mentions that Sanrio used to invest most of their efforts on making their own Hello Kitty products, only to realize that they’d be better off licensing their character to other manufacturers and reaping the profits with less risk.

While it’s always good to build your skillset, it’s important to know when you’re not quite an expert yet, whether it’s in giving presentations, using a tool or technology, or managing people. By all means, stretch yourself to the next level and seek new information – but don’t be afraid to delegate to a teammate who’s already where you’re trying to go.

3. Be yourself.

What could be less cool than an anthropomorphic cat, arrested in a perpetual state of kittenhood? Hello Kitty is proudly “kid stuff,” but that doesn’t stop adults, including pop stars like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, from embracing her as an icon. Don’t expect to see any Tween-Dora-the-Explorer style makeovers for Ms. Kitty. She knows who she is, and she’s staying that way.

We hear a lot about personal brand, and how important it is to establish your own, so that employers and clients can recognize what you’re offering (and hopefully pay top dollar to secure it). Sometimes lost in the chatter: the need for your personal brand to be an honest extension of your values and identity. Hello Kitty is whimsical, childlike, maybe even a bit silly – but she’s exactly herself.

If talking about a cartoon character like a sentient being is too creepy for you, think of it this way: Sanrio knows their product. You should know your product, too – especially because your product is you.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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