Here’s the Advice That Would Have Made Chelsea Handler Drop Out of Kindergarten

Chelsea Handler is seated with her hands folded while smiling.

Giovanna Chung/KCM

It’s deceptively simple!

At a time when we could all use a little inspiration, we’re looking back at Katie’s 2012 book, The Best Advice I Ever Got. In it, she examines her own experiences from the front lines of the worlds of politics, entertainment, sports, philanthropy, the arts, and business — and collects the ingenious, hard-won insights of countless leaders and visionaries. They tell us how to take risks, follow our passions, cope with criticism, and commit to something greater than ourselves. You’ll find thoughts from everyone from financial guru Suze Orman to George Lopez to Christina Applegate to Maya Angelou.

Couric also reflects on the sage advice that has guided her, from her early days as a desk assistant at ABC to her groundbreaking role as the CBS Evening News‘ first female anchor.

Chelsea Handler juggles gigs as a stand-up comedian, TV host, and bestselling author. You’d think with her busy schedule and intersecting career paths, that she might have an overly-complicated secret to success. But it turns out that Handler’s advice can be boiled down to two words: “pay attention.” Handler says that the act of observation is key. If you remain watchful, she points out, you can learn from others’ successes and mistakes, and absorb unexpected sources of inspiration.

Chelsea Handler on Success

I wish someone had told me when I was growing up that succeeding in life is as simple as paying attention. Paying attention to everything and everyone, and not just paying attention to Lifetime movies starring Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Emmanuel Lewis, and reruns of Charles in Charge, wishing it would turn into a reality show called Chelsea in Charge. Paying attention to each person’s success and each person’s failure, and learning that the two go hand in hand. Paying attention to the fact that just when you think everything’s going your way, it won’t, and just when you’re ready to give up you’ll be reminded of why you started trying in the first place.

If someone had told me that I’d be able to make a living by hiring a bunch of my friends, throwing food at them on a daily basis, and then spending half an hour making fun of celebrities, I would have dropped out of kindergarten. You can do whatever you want to do — you can create a job that never existed, you can create nonsense or create genius. But as long as you’re paying attention you’ll grab inspiration from everything and create something that’s a little different and a little newer. If you’re really lucky, you’ll end up being the first woman to anchor the evening news by herself, or the first woman to anchor a show on the E! network. Just pay attention.

EXTRAORDINARY LIVES by Katie Couric, copyright © 2011, 2012 by Katherine Couric. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.