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I purchased Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick the second it was available for pre-order — one, because she’s hilarious AF, and two, because I heard she devoted several pages to my future husband, aka Zac Efron.
What I didn’t expect to find in the book was real, tangible career advice — but that was definitely one of the many things I took from Scrappy Little Nobody. Although Anna Kendrick has the opposite of a traditional 9 to 5, she’s still dealt with grueling schedules, annoying co-workers, and bad bosses — and I found myself saying out loud “yaaassss, same” every five seconds throughout the entire book.
From team bonding exercises (literally) to dealing with failure, these are the best takeaways from Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody to improve your career.
1. It’s Important to Have Career Goals
We’ve all heard that you should “do what you love,” or that “if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” But you better make sure that what you love doing will actually make some money — AKA you better have some goals and a means of achieving them before you set out to start your flower-crown-making business.
Start as early as you can. Learn, get a mentor, be curious — you don’t have to have a backup plan in place; you just have to make sure the thing you’re passionate about is worth it. (And if it’s not, then you’d better find a plan B.)
2. If You Fall, Pick Yourself Back Up
Perhaps Anna Kendrick’s most important business lesson in Scrappy Little Nobody is that the best way to succeed is to pick yourself up, laugh at yourself, and learn from your failures. With anything and everything you do in life (personally or professionally), failure is inevitable. But it’s how you deal with the slip-ups and the embarrassments that determine whether you’ll ultimately succeed.
So the next time you’re giving a presentation and you forget the words you so carefully memorized the night before, just take a deep breath, crack a joke, and move on. It’s what Anna Kendrick would do if she weren’t a mega-famous actress.
3. The Toughest Bosses are The Best Bosses
After high school, soon after Anna moved to Manhattan to chase her dreams, she landed a role in Night Music alongside Claire Bloom, whom she describes as “arguably the greatest living theater actress.” Although Anna initially viewed her new co-star as a theater god, she quickly found out she wasn’t an easy woman to deal with — or impress. The first time Anna received a compliment from the actress, she recalls feeling like “a monkey who had composed a sonata. Still, it was enough to make me reframe her in my mind as a strict but fair mentor of sorts.”
In Scrappy Little Nobody, she details how working with her idol forced her to toughen up. As anyone who’s dealt with a difficult boss or co-worker knows, the experience can either make or break you. And despite the difficulty and stress of the moment, our toughest critics often become our most memorable teachers. It’s the times when we’re pushed the most that we grow.
4. Success Isn’t Easy (and Celebs Suffer From Imposter Syndrome, Just Like Us!)
One of the most common themes throughout Scrappy Little Nobody is that Anna Kendrick suffers from Imposter Syndrome — you know, the thing where no matter how far you’ve advanced in your career, you’re always just waiting for someone to discover you actually have zero talent and have pulled the ultimate con. It was crazy to find out that even when she was nominated for an Oscar (for her role in Up in the Air in 2009), she was still having to live with two other dudes in a tiny apartment because she was broke.
At one point in the book, she details showing up to a red carpet despite having a cyst inside of her nose cut open just hours before. (She was also admittedly high, but she showed up nonetheless.)
The Anna Kendrick we see today has had massive success — an Oscar nomination, two hit movie franchises (ever heard of Twilight? Pitch Perfect?), and hello, as I mentioned, she’s starred alongside Zac Efron. But she worked her ass off to get there, and it didn’t happen overnight.
So ignore your Imposter Syndrome, put in the work, take what you deserve, and you’ll find success — you might not get to meet Zac Efron, but you might get a promotion or something. (Definitely not as cool, but we can’t all be so lucky.)
5. The (Second) Best Way to Bond With Co-Workers: A Common Enemy
In Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna recalls the closeness she felt to a certain cast after the film’s director hired a dance instructor to whip the cast into shape. (She hardly ever discloses names of actors or movies — which, I’ve decided, is this book’s one flaw; for nosy people like me, why else would we buy these celebrity memoirs???) Although they hated the physical fitness, having a mutual enemy more than broke the ice.
Rumor has it this is one of the best ways to bond with people (second only to alcohol, obvi). Although I’m totally not recommending shit-talking your boss or co-workers (but if you must, do it outside of the office), I think everyone can agree that whether it’s a micromanaging boss or a sexist co-worker, it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
6. You’re Gonna Have to Do Things You Don’t Like
Anna was forced to take multiple horse-riding lessons in preparation for yet another nameless movie, and although she came away with a “bruise on my thigh the size and color of a rotting mango,” her newfound skills never even saw the light of day. While I’m sure she was less than pleased about the scene she had worked so hard to prepare for getting cut, she chose to make the best of it.
Attitude is everything — you get out what you put into things. The reality is, we’re all going to be told to do something we think is stupid or not worth our time at work. But we have to do it because this is the real world, and your boss’s job is literally to tell you what to do. So do what Anna does — grit your teeth, do it, and then make light of it afterward.
Why? Because one, your boss will love you for it (happy boss, happy life) and will view you as a valuable, diversified employee. Two, you’ll be able to say you acquired a new skill and you can update your LinkedIn. And three (and most importantly), you always want to walk away from an experience leaving people to say, “he/she was a pleasure to work with. If I ever need XYZ, I’ll know who to call.” You never want to burn bridges (even if you’re secretly burning them to the ground in your mind).
7. You Don’t Have to Be “Nice”
All that being said in #6, it’s okay to have an opinion, it’s okay to have ideas, and it’s okay to voice them — and you don’t have to apologize for it. You should always be respectful at work — of others’ time, of their ideas, and of their contributions. But men aren’t expected to sugarcoat or add “please” onto the end of a direct order, and neither should we.
It’s okay to be “nice,” if that’s truly who you are. But Anna suggests we put more value on other qualities instead, like “passion, bravery, intelligence, practicality, humor, patience, fairness, sensitivity.”
8. Make Your Younger Self Proud
This is perhaps the most tangible piece of advice Anna offers in Scrappy Little Nobody. Think of your younger self — loud, unafraid, honest, brave — find a picture of her, and keep it on your desk at work. When you’re having a lousy day or you need a confidence boost, just look at your younger self and make her proud.