May 25, 16   Admin   0 Comment Interview, Jenna

Jenna Ushkowitz has turned her showbiz skills into entrepreneurial success. Now she shares how every millennial can smile with glee.

This is a week of beginnings. Graduation is in the air, which brings celebration, excitement and an air of uncertainty for those moving the tassel. I myself graduate with a Masters Degree from Fordham University this week and have spent the last two years working with many young people focused on their future. As the old guy (51) I get to observe as an outsider. I watch and wonder as these young and exuberant people push forward both with optimism and trepidation about what’s to come.

Will they be successful?

Will they be wealthy?

Will they find love?

Will they be happy?

Will they have an amazing life?

These questions are not just for millennials, they are the same for all people at the beginning of life’s journey. But each generation shares a common era ready for them to make their mark, and today it’s the millennials’ turn to determine their preferred future.

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenna Ushkowitz best known for playing Tina Cohen-Chang on Glee. Despite our generational differences we both share backgrounds in theater and business and had a great time discussing how young people today have more opportunity to be successful then ever before.

At 30, Ushkowitz already has an admirable life, succeeding in the arts, media, and now business. Aside from her huge fan base of Gleeks, the South Korean-born American has had success on Broadway, as an author, and now as an entrepreneur as well. She recently co-founded a podcast network At Will Radio with business partner – entreprenuer, restaurateur, Zagat’s and Forbes’s 30 under 30 list maker, Will Malnati. With her incredible ability to manage and run multiple projects at once, Ushkowitz believes that millennials should embrace every opportunity available to them too. ‘Lately I’ve been hearing, ‘if you spread yourself too thin, take on too many projects, try to do too many different jobs, you won’t be able to excel at any of them.’ Well I say, ‘why the hell not?’ When inspiration and creativity lead you down a road, you take it — and you put your whole heart into it,’ she noted.

Here are Ushkowitz’s tips for embracing and enjoying life going forward.

1. Turn a world of ‘NO’ into a world of ‘YES.’

‘In life, the word ‘no’ is so often attached to the things that we can’t control. To make a ‘yes,’ you have to grab onto the things you can control and put everything you have into them. When I was on Glee, so little of my time was my own — from shooting the show, to recording in the studio, to arena tours — that it felt like the universe was saying ‘no’ to even thinking about doing anything else,’ explained Ushkowitz. ‘But my dad always said, ‘strike while the iron is hot,’ so to have any other creative outlet, I had to find something I could do in the time that I could control. The day I decided I had the time to write a book, after a long day of shooting, I went home and pounded out a 75- page manuscript to show to my manager. One year later, my book hit the shelves. Because I made the most out of the best opportunity that I could control, I was able to create a ‘yes,’ which lead directly to more opportunities, like my podcast Infinite Positivities, and the podcast network, At Will Radio. There are going to be times where ‘no’ is a real thing — when some things are just not possible. In those times, all you can do is ask ‘what is possible?’ and make the most out of whatever the answer is.

2. Establish and share your purpose.

The word purpose gets used a lot when discussing Millennials. Oddly enough I have always had purpose in my life, maybe that’s why I relate. Ushkowitz explains why expressing that purpose publicly is important. “When there is a culture of purpose, everyone is feeding off of each other’s belief and dedication, and the affect it has on the success of a project, in my experience, is pretty special,” said the Glee star.

3. Surround yourself only with incredible people.

At the beginning, the people around you shape your destiny more than later in life. Ushkowitz and I both agree that building a base of successful people around you will take you farther and faster.“In your personal life, and as much as you can in your career, surround yourself with people who push you to be your absolute greatest. And the people in your life that are simply unhealthy? Sometimes they just gotta go,” advised Ushkowitz. “It can be very hard, but to create the life you deserve, especially when you’ve found that sense of purpose larger than yourself, these are the hard decisions that you have to make.”

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