Fortunately, the Duchess of York always gets back up very quickly. She can take whatever the media dishes out and I think she will survive my musings.
Tonight I ponder four mistakes Sarah Ferguson could warn us to avoid:
1. Believing the world owes you a living.
The world doesn’t owe you anything but a death.
Fortunately, most of us get a lot more than death out of life.
We get the most when we do the work of pursuing our dreams.
For a writer this means writing and marketing every day. You never get a chance to sit still in an evolving world.
Some writers complain that their words are being devalued by globalization. Perhaps. But the world doesn’t owe you a living and people in the Philippines or India don’t owe you a living either. You have to get out there and hustle. You have to work smart to prove your worth.
Whenever I see Sarah Ferguson on television she is bemoaning the fact that she is raising two princesses on a settlement of about $25,000/year. I can sympathize that she expected a little more from marrying a prince.
But even she can tell you, the world doesn’t owe you a living.
2. Forgetting that you are a brand.
In 1992, Princess Fergie bared her breasts on a boat. The image was caught on film by an enterprising member of the press and became an indelible stamp on the later divorced royal’s permanent record.
We can all pooh pooh the over-zealousness of paparazzi – few will ever forget Princess Diana’s fate. We can debate the rights of public figures to have private lives. Still, many believe Sarah Ferguson tarnished the royal brand that day.
As a writer, you are your brand or your pen name’s brand. Either way, in a digital world you cannot trust that your identity will not be revealed, nor that any information about you will ever be entirely safe from prying eyes.
Everything you do in public and everything you do in private that you or someone else shares in a public forum has the potential to mark your brand.
Take the time to craft a self brand aligned with your core values and you will find it easier to live a life that reflects your brand.
3. Staying down when you slip or fall.
No matter what they are saying in Buckingham Palace this week, Sarah Ferguson has proven she has the aristocratic bearing to face the press and the public despite her recent actions.
The day after the story broke she accepted an award in Los Angeles on behalf of her charity efforts. Yesterday, she appeared at the BookExpo America and signed books.
I suspect that may be what makes so many of Britain’s royals cringe, that she can step so far out of line and yet refuse to disappear.
As a writer, sometimes you will make mistakes. When you do, you should apologize, and then you should follow through with your commitments.
Whatever you think of her, you can take a lesson from Sarah’s resilience.
4. Thinking you have to be an expert.
I remember seeing Sarah Ferguson on the David Letterman show when she was promoting a Weight Watchers cookbook in the 90s. Her name and face were on the cover. There was even a blurb “Straight from the kitchen of…Sarah, the Duchess of York.”
But when she and Dave started preparing one of the recipes, Sarah unabashedly admitted she doesn’t cook.
I guess that wouldn’t fit with her brand.
Still, she sold quite a few cookbooks.
As a writer, you may have opportunities to stretch outside your boundaries. You will have to decide for yourself how to integrate that stretching with your career and your personal brand.
You may choose to outsource the research. You may even choose to hire ghostwriters. Or you may choose, as I would have, to learn to cook every recipe in the cookbook with your name on the cover.
Your choice. But you don’t have to be an expert.
What’s ahead for Duchess of York?
Only time will tell how this latest scandal will play out for Sarah Ferguson. I suspect she will regroup, find a sponsor (hopefully a legitimate one), and bounce back stronger and more vibrant than ever. If nothing else, I am sure she will have the best tales to tell the royal grandchildren.
What do you think? Has Sarah Ferguson gone too far this time? Is her recent indiscretion surprising? Amusing? I would love to read what you think in the comments below.