In her first book, “The Strawberry Letter: Real Talk, Real Advice, Because Bitterness Isn’t Sexy,” radio personality and “Steve Harvey Show” co-host Shirley Strawberry hopes to inspire, motivate, heal and challenge readers who are fraught with questions about life, love and how to succeed. Here’s an excerpt.
I rely on seven simple steps on a daily basis, and I pass them on to other women regularly:
1. Look your best at all times. Okay, ladies, at six a.m. I'm camera ready every day: hair, lipstick, and even lashes. I know we're on the radio and now television, and it would be very easy for me to be comfortable in sweats and no makeup. I certainly could sleep an extra thirty minutes to an hour. But when I started working with Steve I got excited about stepping up my game not only professionally, but appearance wise. I knew Steve had a reputation for being a sharp dresser. Working with a guy like him, you'd better not come in there looking crazy! Besides, I am not going to let a man be prettier than me.
2. Be a team player. Some days you are a standout player or captain, like a Kobe Bryant or Lebron James, and other days you have to know how to pass the ball. Prime example, I work with comedians. Sometimes I'm the butt of the joke. However, in stepping out of my comfort zone of taking myself too seriously, I've learned to take the humor in stride. You have to learn to laugh at yourself sometimes, and being on The Steve Harvey Morning Show team has taught me that for sure. This may sound cliche, but life's too short! Laugh often and laugh at yourself more.
Another example of being a team player is that I'm not a very athletic person. In fact, I'm a proud "girlie girl." However, when the show partnered with Disney theme parks on an event, I tossed caution to the wind and didn't hesitate going along with zip-lining through the park's makeshift forest with the rest of the morning show gang. Can you believe it?
On air I'm daring and outgoing, but off air I'm much more reserved and laid-back. So, joining the gang, and zipping around the Disney forest, letting loose like Steve, Tommy, and Carla, was truly a testament of me being a team player. I let my off-air personality switch places with my on-air one and it felt great!
3. Keep yourself updated on everything from current news events to current trends, and maximize your resources. In radio our job is to entertain and inform listeners. However, for me, it's always been about taking it to the next level. I don't just depend on getting information when I'm on the job. In my spare time I read books, magazines, newspapers, and check out what's happening on the Internet. Being aware helps you to be prepared for the unexpected times when you're forced to step out of, again, your comfort zone. You never know, you may be interviewing the president of the United States one morning, just like we did recently on the show. I couldn't believe we were actually speaking with President Barack Obama!
4. Don't be afraid to reinvent yourself, from your image to your career choice. Hey, someone may just ask you to write a book, like me! Suddenly, I went from giving advice in the mornings with Steve Harvey to being an author. I was scared to death, but I took the challenge head on!
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5. Be both accommodating and assertive, and don't be afraid to express your ideas. I'm pretty easygoing when I'm in the workplace. I don't mind getting Steve a cup of coffee. No, I'm not his assistant, but it doesn't degrade me as a woman, or belittle my status as his colleague and co-host to take on a task someone lower on the totem pole is expected to do. On the flip side, I'm sure that to you I'm this assertive, fearless woman dishing advice to listeners each morning. Well, believe it or not, I wasn't always that fearless when it came to The Strawberry Letter segment on the show. When I first started The Letter, I held back when it came to expressing my opinions. I simply wasn't comfortable dishing out those jagged pills to the audience. I didn't want to crush anyone's feelings. So, I used to be extra nicey-nice, borderline timid, and played it safe when answering letters. I wasn't expressing my true feelings or opinions. But I realized after just a few months of sitting next to Steve, hearing him be so straightforward, that coming soft wasn't helping people. I wasn't being fair to the fans in need, or being true to myself. Besides, it was just my opinion. Hate it or love it, I had to keep it real. And guess what? It worked. Our listeners, even when my views were more critical, loved it. What would've happened if I had continued being afraid to speak my mind? The Strawberry Letter might not have become what it is.
6. Do everything that's required of you and don't be afraid to go beyond expectations, because it will pay off with bigger successes in the long run. I've always stayed at the station for as long as it takes to get the job done, with or without pay. Having that kind of reputation showed my bosses that I was the woman for the job. I moved from being an on-air personality in Chicago to a bigger market in Los Angeles, co-hosting the top morning radio show in the city, to sitting in the number two seat next to Steve Harvey there, and now being known nationally after the show was syndicated. My longevity in the business proves that not being afraid to go above and beyond what's expected pays off with bigger successes.
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7. Exercise your creative muscle outside the workplace with hobbies or other areas of interest, to alleviate stress and burnout. Who knows? It may be the makings of your next successful career. I love interior design and clothing. So, trying out new decorating ideas at home and fashion styling for my girlfriends is a great way to exercise and sharpen my creative muscle when I'm not working. I also love entertaining friends and family (catered of course)! Who knows, maybe a fashion/interior-decorating/entertaining show is next for me! What's your next successful career?
Excerpted from “The Strawberry Letter” by Shirley Strawberry. Copyright © 2011 by Shirley Strawberry. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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