At the mere age of 19, country music star Taylor Swift has achieved a stunning number of feats within the recording industry. After releasing her first album in 2006, which has now gone triple platinum, her sophomore release was the single most popular CD of 2008. As a young and powerful entrepreneur, what knowledge does she have to impart?
Taylor Swift possesses a powerful combination of traits. But beyond those traits, she’s relied upon intelligent business practices and interpersonal skills. Recently named the “Superstar of Tomorrow” at the 10th Annual Young Hollywood awards, Swift represents all that it takes to win the hearts and minds of the current consumer audience.
Stephen Key: Taylor, you have had such a tremendous year. With all of your awards and accomplishments over the past year, what advice can you give someone, in any business, that you have found to make you successful?
Taylor Swift: Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve never expected success. I think the biggest mistake you can make in life is to expect that you’re entitled to success without working for it. I used to run into other girls at talent shows who would basically announce to everyone they came in contact with that they were “going to be famous someday.” I never had that attitude because I didn’t ever want to say anything I couldn’t back up. My parents are both very logical, and so I’m the same way. In order to be happy, if you are actually lucky enough to succeed, you shouldn’t feel entitled the whole way up. That way, if you actually get where you want to go, it’ll be a pleasant surprise. I think it’s all about having a mixture of humility and quiet confidence. Never believe your own hype, but never believe anyone when they tell you there’s something you can’t do. Also, be good to people, and that means everybody. Everyone I look up to is a good person first and successful second.
SK: Recording artists have traditional ways of marketing themselves. We have noticed that you have broken out of those traditional avenues. How have you taken advantage of these other marketing tools such as MySpace and your Web site? Any tips or strategies you can give?
TS: It’s funny to me that people think I’ve had a brilliant online strategy, when really I was just a 14-year-old girl who made a MySpace because all my friends had one. I just continued to keep up with it and kept it personal. I kept it diaristic. I never wanted people to feel like they’re going to a “promotional Web site.” It’s just my MySpace.
SK: You are truly a great people person. Do you have any tips to help people successfully connect and communicate with the people they meet or are doing business with?
TS: Thank you! I just noticed over the years that when people look you in the eye and are present in the conversation, it makes you feel better about talking to them. Eye contact is a big one for me. If someone’s eyes are darting around the room, possibly scouting for someone cooler to talk to, it automatically makes me insecure. I never want people to feel that way after talking to me. I wouldn’t be here without people, so the least I can do is pay attention when someone’s talking to me.