Admit it — you missed this B. Bethenny Frankel is making her mighty return to reality television, and just like that, balance in the reality universe will be restored with one of its titans back in action.
While viewers saw Frankel navigate her personal highs and lows during her combined eight seasons on “The Real Housewives of New York City,” this time, on HBO Max’s “The Big Shot with Bethenny,” she’s taking cameras behind the scenes of her Skinnygirl empire as a group of savvy professionals vie for a spot on her executive team. It’s a bit of a back-to-the-beginnings moment for Frankel, who teamed with producer Mark Burnett on the series 16 years after making her TV debut as a contestant on one of his shows, “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” in 2005.
The “Big Shot” trailer that dropped last week gave a glimpse at what’s to come, and though the centerpiece is Frankel as a businesswoman, the show spares none of her signature wit and tough love.
Ahead of “Big Shot’s” premiere this Thursday, TODAY picked Frankel’s brain about entrepreneurship, her “Bethenny-isms” of business, and what she believes it takes to truly make it.
Trust your gut — and bet on yourself
The early seasons of “Housewives” followed a pre-mogul Frankel, when she was hustling as an entrepreneur in her mid-30s with an idea she believed in. Viewers were along for the ride as she launched her Skinnygirl cocktail line, sold it for an estimated $100 million, and maintained the name to expand it into a multimillion-dollar lifestyle brand that she still oversees today as CEO.
But those initial stages — those were the ones Frankel said she had to “dig deep from within” to find the determination to keep on keepin’ on.
“The truth of the matter is, the beginning is really the hardest,” Frankel said. “In the beginning, I had to really just go with my gut and believe in myself and not be sure if I was right because there is no way to know.
“You have to have the clarity of vision, passion and drive. And you can kind of feel if you have it, you can feel if you have what it takes to do it. And then you still might fail — and you will fail many times — but if you keep picking yourself up and brushing yourself off, despite failing, and you just have that strength, and you just have that fortitude, you can probably go a long way.”
Figure out early what type of leader you are
Experiment how and with whom you work best. That will help you later when you’re starting to “build the rocket ship while flying,” in Frankel’s words.
“It's good in that time to realize whether you're a corporate person who likes to be in more of a structure and surrounded by other people and have a different level of hierarchy,” Frankel explained, “or whether you should have a partner, or whether you're a maverick that needs to fly solo and then just consult with other people, because everybody needs a team and everybody needs people to talk to. I'm more in the third category.”
Nix the idea of a ‘clear path’
It’s normal to have expectations about your endgame and how you’re going to get there. But, in Frankel’s experience, an entrepreneur is not going to have one direct path in the same way a doctor or lawyer might. Be realistic about that — and don’t be down and out when roadblocks arise or paths head in new directions.
“The people who are going to succeed are the people who are looking at the whole board and shifting,” she said. “So I think that there is no clear path. You have to make specific moves. Even the bad decisions can turn into good outcomes because they take you to a different path.”
Even hardships outside of your work can help, too, she said.
“I mean, I’ve had terrible things happen in my personal life, absolutely terrible. But they definitely made me stronger,” Frankel shared. “So all that's valuable. You can't just have a clear, easy path — that's boring, and it's not going to make you stronger, it's not going to stretch you and it's not going to build your business muscles.”
Ask yourself what ‘making it’ looks like
What’s your vision of success for yourself? The answer may not be about achieving one big thing and instead may be about multiple big or small things.
Frankel’s personal take on “making it” or “getting there” is just that. She runs Skinnygirl, helms a disaster relief organization, hosts a podcast, writes books and flips homes, and all those ventures are rooted in passion.
“There’s no there there,” she said. “I just do things that I love and I execute things that I’m passionate about — but if the tables go cold, I’ll walk out of the casino. I’m not desperate.
“I don’t think that being a millionaire is the ultimate goal or having 10 more books is the ultimate goal. … I don’t think like that. I do one thing at a time that I like and do it well. I design my houses well, I cook a meal well, I make a sandwich in a good way, I spend quality time with my daughter. Whatever I do, I’m going to do it well or I don’t do it at all.”