I’m sure by now you have all heard about Ashton Kutcher’s acceptance speech at the Teen Choice Awards. I have never been a fan of his (particularly after the “Demi debacle”), but his speech was so powerful that I am compelled to take another look at him.
Although his message was intended for a teenage audience, it should resonate with all of us. He said there were three things he learned growing up; the first was about opportunity, the second was about being sexy, and the third was about living life.
His opening statement about opportunity was perfect. He said, “I believe opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” He then proceeded to talk about his first job at age 13 and every subsequent job thereafter, expressing, “I never had a job that I was better than.” Readers, think about that. Then, he added that he never quit a job until he had another one.
I would like to ask every self-made success story a simple question: how old were you when you got your first job? And, how many jobs did you have while in your teens and early 20’s? I’ll bet overwhelmingly, their work ethic was learned at a very young age.
My first money-making opportunity began when I was 11. I would babysit, put rollers in my Mother’s friends’ hair, and take care of the neighbor’s pets. At 16 I convinced the owner of a women’s dress shop to hire me. I then hired two schoolmates who became my “fashion advisors”. I chose the two gals, trained them, taught them how to sell effectively and received a commission on their sales. (Hmmm, sounds familiar.) So I certainly agree with Mr. Kutcher – opportunity looks a lot like hard work.
He then talked about “being sexy”. Of course the screaming teenagers initially jumped the gun with their cheers, but then he said, “The sexiest thing in the world is being smart — really smart — thoughtful, and generous.” I loved that. One of my favorite TV personalities is Judge Judy, who says “Beauty fades but brains are forever.” And as many of you know, I have repeatedly told our granddaughter Niccie that being smart is the most important attribute a girl can have. Cheryl always adds in being thoughtful and Jamie adds in being generous. One of my dear friends Claire shared one more piece of advice with Niccie: “Never marry a stupid man.” … Smart is sexy.
Lastly, Ashton (we’re now on a first name basis) talked about “living life” and mentioned what he learned while researching his part in the Steve Jobs movie. While I’m paraphrasing, I believe his message was that life is not a spectator sport — play to win. You don’t have to fit any particular stereotype. You can be you. Don’t let those who choose to limit themselves with their own fear stop you from taking a chance and seeking out new opportunities.
His final words were, “Don’t just live your life — build one.” That is exactly what Walter and I have been doing throughout our marriage and our careers. We have built a better life for us, our family, and thousands of women and families throughout North America. For that we are humbled and most grateful.
So, thank you, Ashton Kutcher, for delivering such a powerful speech. I am very proud of you. But do me one favor? – No more “debacles”. Please don’t disappoint.