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Career Lessons From Lindsay Lohan's Reality Show

The first time we caught a glimpse of Lindsay Lohan in the 1998 remake The Parent Trap, it was clear that this 12 year old redhead had a glittering career ahead of her. Unfortunately, despite following up her film debut with other successful movies, at the height of Lindsay’s career in 2006 it all started to go drastically wrong. The former child star now finds her career in ruins, with the dizzy heights of fame she reached with films like Mean Girls now a distant memory. Lindsay has gone from being one of the world’s most sought-after teen stars to a liability that no one wants to hire and has completely destroyed her career in the process. She’s been quoted as saying, “Life is full of risks anyway, why not take them?” Unfortunately, Lindsay has taken one too many and it’s ended in career suicide.

This year, Lindsay signed a deal with Oprah Winfrey’s network to make an 8 part reality series about her attempts to remain sobre and re-build her shattered career. It was intended to be an honest look at her life, but it has so far only served to highlight her unreliability and unprofessional attitude.  However, there are some lessons we can take from this car-crash TV show:

Lack of regular communication with manager leads to de-motivation

Featured heavily in the show is Lindsay’s long-suffering assistant, Matt. He’s worked for plenty of celebrities but really has his work cut out for him with Lindsay as a boss. Matt makes it clear that to do his job properly he needs a 5 minute chat with Lindsay both at the start and at the end of the day - a reasonable request, but a concept that is lost on Miss Lohan, meaning Matt rarely gets any time with Lindsay at all.  This leads to misunderstandings and confusion, with Matt becoming dejected and on the verge of quitting. The lesson here is, if you’re managing someone, take notice of how they like to communicate with you and make time for them, if only a quick de-brief at the end of the day.  It’s amazing the number of misunderstandings that can be avoided and problems which can be easily solved with good communication. 

There’s no greater motivator than being scared to let someone down

Oprah Winfrey may be the one person that Lindsay is scared of, and not just because it’s her network that is the vehicle for the reality show.  When it gets back to Oprah that Lindsay has been putting the show into jeopardy by refusing to film and generally behaving badly, she calls Lindsay in for a pep talk that ends up with Lindsay, telling her, “When you change a schedule, you know what happens – you’re a professional woman and you have a whole team of people relying on you.” On the surface, Lindsay seems to take note of the advice and vows to do better.    Whether it works or not is another matter, but in our careers there’s something to be said for having a boss that you respect and want to do well for– if you’re scared of letting someone down, it does spur you on to do better.  When looking for a job, try to choose a manager that you respect, as you are more likely to perform to the highest level you can.

Get all of the information before agreeing to a job

In the first episode, Lindsay agrees to do a cameo in a short lingerie shoot. Unfortunately, she didn’t realise that they would be asking her to speak a few lines of dialogue as part of it, and freaks out when she finds out.  She handles it in her usual calm way by refusing to have anything to do with it, crying and screaming, “This is not what I signed up for!” This in turn holds the whole shoot up and further cements her reputation for being unprofessional and untrustworthy. The lesson here is, when asked to do something at work, make sure you know exactly what it will entail before agreeing.  It’s easy to be agreeable and say yes to everything, but by having all the details of something beforehand you can decide whether it’s something you both want to do and have the ability to do. It’s much better to do the research before agreeing to anything and having to pull out at a later date when it’s not what you thought.  

Be articulate when complaining about something

Much of the opening episodes are taken up with Lindsay’s search for an apartment in New York.  In one heated exchange, she argues with her realtor, Cash Bernard about his supposed lack of action in finding her a place to stay.  Unfortunately though, she does not communicate very effectively and ends up getting angry and coming across as spoilt and unreasonable, failing to get a result. Tempers flare during a phone call to Cash when she accuses him of being “lackadaisical” and having “no urgency.” When faced with having a difficult conversation in our careers, the best course of action is to stay calm.  Write down a list of points beforehand so that you can communicate them clearly and try to keep emotion out of the exchange so that you are more likely to get results.

Lindsay’s involvement with the reality show was a career mistake in itself. The troubled star was seen talking about how the process “wasn’t what she signed up for, complaining, “This was supposed to be something real and gritty and cool and normal.” She confirmed that she will never do anything like this again.- unfortunately, she may not get a chance to as the show has already been reportedly axed.  It debuted to terrible ratings and showed a poignant picture of a fallen star instead of being the career-booster Lindsay so badly needed.  Lindsay does come across as intelligent and quick-witted, but fiery and unprofessional too. It remains to be seen whether Lindsay can salvage her career, but unfortunately the reality show is not going to be the catalyst for this.

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