She’s an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She’s one of the best-selling musicians of all time, with over 27 million albums sold. Her achievements include 12 Guinness World Records, and six Grammy Awards. She’s Lady Gaga, and here’s my take on her Top 10 Rules for Success.
Lady Gaga’s Top 10 Rules For Business and Success
Rule #1: Be Yourself
I just always felt famous, that’s what my first album was really about, is that fame comes from inside of you, and it’s not something that you obtain. And I still feel that way, in a lot of ways. I like to know that I can define my fame, and define my beauty for myself.
Which is why I’m so vigilant and relentless about my image and my music is I will not allow, no matter how successful I become, for the public to define or indicate what it is that I create, or what it is that I believe is beautiful, or what I believe is a hit pop record. That’s who I am, and I will always be that way. Relentless and fearless and vicious.
Rule #2: Find Your Inspiration
I’m my own artist, I have my own vision. I suppose that there’s one interpretation of the female to sing a love song and look pretty and just, you know, I guess do what everyone thinks you should do.
But it’s just not what inspires me, and I’m inspired not just by what I see in terms of the future of music, or tech, or fashion, I see also my fans, and I think about what they want to experience, and they love to feel out of touch with reality for a moment.
So it might feel shocking, maybe, but I really think it’s just this sort of surreal fantasy that I take pleasure in creating for you.
Rule #3: Have Perspective
Someone asked once what they, or many times, I think what I thought it meant to be an artist, and I said, what I think an artist needs, essentially, more than discipline, or even talent, is a perspective. So if you are always changing what you do, based on what other people say, you completely lose yourself, and you become just, you know, something that’s constantly affected by what’s around you, as opposed to stable and your own, and autonomous in your identity.
Rule #4: Keep Going
I’ve been making music now with, you know, Tony Bennett for a couple of years, and Elton John is, you know, one of my closest friends, and his husband, David. They just have showed me that I’m a baby in my artistry. And I just have to keep making music and keep going.
So my focus, really, for this album is showing that, to to young girls, and to boys, that want to make music, that you don’t have to get lucky on the internet, it’s not a social media game, you don’t have to find the hot producer, and get the hot track to be a star.
You can just learn how to play an instrument and sit in your room, and practice, and write songs and poetry, and then you can go around the corner to the bar and meet other artists that do the same thing that you do, and you can hang out and talk about music and write songs, and then you can play at the spot around the corner, gain one fan, and then do it over and over and over again until you’re discovered.
Rule #5: Earn Applause
For me, you know, I did say in that skit that the other way to earn applause is to earn it. Hard work. And discipline, and rehearsal. That’s always the most thrilling way to earn applause. And everything that you’ve seen me do I’ve always rehearsed a lot for it. So, there’s a lot of passion that goes behind it.
Rule #6: Do Things Your Way
I was really blessed and lucky to get in. I got in very early, I was 17, and I was one of 20 people in America that got into the school early. And I was really happy and excited, and I just felt like all my dreams were coming true.
And it was a wonderful school, but, it was very factory-like, and not in the Warhol factory-like way, more like a sausage link factory, where everyone was taught the same sorts of things, and I think what I didn’t like about the school was I felt that they wanted us all to be the same and possess the same skills, and, I had something very different inside of me.
Interviewer: What did they say, your parents, when you left?
My parents, well my mother cried, and my father said, “You have one year, and you have to support yourself.” And I said, “Okay.” For me, I was never interested in anyone taking care of me. I even had a job when I was 15 years old, because I liked to be independent, I liked to do things on my own terms.
So, I left school and I got three different jobs, and my dad paid my rent for three months, and then, when the three months was up, I had to pay, and it was great. It was wonderfully liberating.
Rule #7: Shut Out The Noise
Oprah: Is it difficult now, with the pressure, I would feel, or think, that there would be pressure to continue to outdo yourself, or to continue to express yourself.
There’s always that pressure, but, the best thing about it, is it’s only a door away. It’s like you, you know, I’ve got the first album door, it was open, it’s great, door stays open, I see it like a hallway That sounds, do I sound crazy? It’s a hallway with wooden doors.
The first door’s open, that’s that album, you walk down, there’s another door, that’s the next album, and then, there’s one more door, and it’s coming up, right? And I’m banging on the walls, and I’m looking for hammers, I’m trying to figure out where the machine guns are, I just want to get to that frickin door.
Oprah: Door, right. But you know it’s there.
I know it’s there, but can I open it? It’s not the same as just writing a song. It’s writing the next, it’s writing the next chapter of whatever lobe is in my brain that’s waiting to be unlocked, and if people think that I sound narcissistic it’s fine, because you know, Oprah, it’s all I’ve got, is my creativity. So I walk down that hallway and, it happened recently.
Oprah: The door opened.
The door opened. It opened, it blast opened, and once it opens the light shoots right through and I’m in. And then I can relax, because I know I broke through the door.
Oprah: So then you can, is that when the words flow, the lyrics, the harmony.
It’s the journey.
Oprah: Ah, got it.
It’s the journey. It’s the new journey of all of us.
Oprah: And is there something that you can do to help the creative process, the doors, open more readily? Is there something you can do?
I have a couple things that I do. The newest thing that I do, I don’t read a damn thing. No press, no television, no if my mom calls and says, “Did you hear about.” I don’t want to know nothing, about anything, that is going on in relation to music.
Obviously I want to know about the world. I shut it all off, and other than this interview, Oprah, I do not intend to speak to anyone for a very long time. This is my moment, for me, to experience a rebirth with my own music.
I have to shut it all out, the noise, you know the noise. The noise, it’s loud, you have to cancel out the noise. And remember that it’s your thoughts that matter.
Oprah: You’re so smart. You are very wise.
Well, you are wise.
Oprah: No, that’s how you do it. That is how you do it.
Rule #8: Find Balance
I just learned how much more wise I am now, and how much I’ve learned, and how important family is and friendship, and how your career and making it is important, but it’s not more important than keeping plans with your grandma and your dad, you know, and making sure that you are on time for your mom’s event that she’s doing.
Whatever it is that you’re working on, that’s what I’ve really learned going into my, you know, leaving my twenties, is that it was time to have more balance in my life.
Rule #9: Empower Others
How do I keep my ego in check? I am always conscious of empowering people around me. I want everyone in my team to know that they all play the same, equal part that I play. And making everything happen, that happens every day.
This is my family. They are my inspiration. I’m a loyal bitch. I make it a very strong effort, every second, to be the nicest person that I can be.
Rule #10: Be Provocative
Oprah: So let’s look at some of your headline-making outrageous outfits that you designed. Tell us about this one.
Oh yeah, well that’s Alexander McQueen, and I added the hat to it, it’s an archive, it’s the oldest archive in the McQueen collection, and it was meant to be a continuation of the VMA performance, so after, I, the princess, had been murdered by the paparazzi, the red lace was meant to symbolize, sort of, my eternal martyrdom.
Oprah: And this?
Oh, well that’s, you know, that’s Jean de Castelbajac outfit, and I don’t like to wear fur, so it was my way of making a comment about fur. Because it looks like a bunch of dead muppets.
Oprah: Like a bunch of dead muppets.
Oh, that’s the queen. Well, I kind of wanted to do an homage to the queen, so that was my Queen Elizabeth the first outfit, but it’s made out of latex, so it’s still Gaga.
Oprah: Still Gaga. So, do you spend a lot of time thinking about it, or does it just come? The outfits, the creative expression?
The inspiration comes naturally, but, I put a lot of time and effort into everything I do, to the point that I do nothing else. I wake up in the morning and I work creatively all day, and all future things that I’m doing.
Oprah: So what’s a day like? You’re thinking about?
I wake up in the morning and I get on my computer, and I have files, lists of references, and I have reference boards with all of my materials on them, and I basically call the House of Gaga all day, and argue with them about what I want to do, while they tell me, “You can’t do that.”
And I say, “Yes I can bleed to death on domestic television, if I want to.” For me, it’s all about being provocative is not just about getting people’s attention, it’s about releasing something that affects people in a real way, and in a positive way.
So, all the things that I do, in terms of the fame, and in terms of the fame monster, it’s meant to sort of make it a bit easier to swallow, this, kind of, horrific media world that we live in.
Thank you guys so much. I made this because Virginia Castillo asked me to. So if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it down in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do. I’d also love to know which of the rules had the biggest impact on you and why.
Leave it in the comments, I will join in the discussion. Finally, want to give a quick shout out to Paul Bungard. Paul, thank you so much for buying my book, it really means a lot to me. Thank you guys. Continue to believe, or whatever your one word is, and I’ll see you soon.
Interviewer: When she was little, and you know kids when they’re little are like, “I’m going to be a singer”. Or, “I’m going to be an astronaut”. Did you ever, for one moment, believe that she would grow up to be as big as she is right now?
Gaga’s Father: Actually, as a child, she was very childish to begin with.
Interviewer: : As a child, a very childish child, actually.
Gaga’s Father: But she was very determined, alright? And we could see it in her when she was four, you know.
Lady Gaga: Oh I’m so embarrassed.
Gaga’s Father: She would stand in front of the piano and just bang on the keys, and then she wrote her first song, I used to play “Money” by Pink Floyd, and she wrote her first song, it was called “Dollar Bill”.
Interviewer: I love that.
Gaga’s Father: And Cynthia, my wife, she still has it.
Interviewer: We should have that.
Gaga’s Father: Yeah, well.
Lady Gaga: It was because, you know, on that record they use, they use actual money, and the register as instruments, and I remember as a kid I was so fascinated by that. So my dad played me a lot of great music that made me really fall in love with that idea of making it.
Have A Role Model
My greatest influence in this house, for ten years, was Whitney.
Yes. And I used to stand at the top of that staircase, and sing “The Star Spangled Banner” every single day after school. I would play it over and over.
Oprah: Her version of “The Star Spangled Banner”.
And I used to stand up there, and I would study her, it’s so interesting that you brought that up, Mom. It’s like, I don’t forget about it, but I thanked her at the Grammy’s when I won that award, because she, for me, is the greatest of all time.
I need to say thank you tonight to Whitney Houston. I wanted to thank Whitney because, when I wrote “Born This Way”, I imagined she was singing it, because I wasn’t secure enough in myself to imagine I was a superstar, so Whitney, I imagined you were singing “Born This Way” when I wrote it, thank you.
Interviewer: Will you look under the rock, and will you search for tweets, and search for comments and see what people are saying?
Well, you know, I like to stay in contact with the fans, and I want to see how they’re doing and enjoying the music, and pick up on their little artistic nuances, the things that they create and that they say, but, I’m just in a different place in my life I don’t allow things that are negative to run everything. I think it’s important to just try to stay grounded in who you are, and the things that come your way just be grateful for them.