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Five Career lessons from watching Jon & Kate Plus 8

May 29th, 2009 · No Comments

My wife and I have been watching Jon & Kate Plus 8 for the past year. We have two little ones, so we  really identify with the daily struggles Jon & Kate have been going through. 🙂

In case you never watched Jon & Kate Plus 8, it’s a realty TV show about the Gosselin family, consisting of parents Jon and Kate and their eight children—a set of twin girls and a set of sextuplets. The show follows the family through their daily lives, focusing on the challenges of raising multiple children. This show has become the #1 show on the TLC channel.

However, as this show becomes more popular, Jon and Kate are having problems. Jon was reported to have inappropriate encounter with other women in the bar late at night while Kate was on a book tour. There was also rumor about Kate having an affair with her body guard. They’re being constantly followed by paparazzi. This past Monday, Jon & Kate Plus 8 had its new season premier. After watching the episode, I feel that Jon and Kate are on the verge of getting a divorce. It’s very sad.

I’m not going to get into who is right and who is wrong — from National Inquirer to Entertainment Weekly to talk shows, there are plenty of coverage on the relationship between Jon and Kate.

However, I do feel that there are several career lessons we could all learn from Jon and Kate’s struggle.

Lesson #1: It’s very risky to have little boundary between work and personal life.

Jon used to work as IT Analyst while Kate was a nurse. Kate quitted her job after the births of the sextuplets. Jon quitted his job two years ago because they started making good income from the TV show. But, Jon has consistently complained about the lack of privacy — the TV crew shoot films in their house three days a week. During these three days, the film crew pretty much follow the Gosselin family around the clock. Jon said that he really wanted a "normal life". Both Jon and Kate had said in the show that what we see on screen is their job. It’s hard.

Regarding the issue of work versus personal life, some people try really hard to make a separation –  when they go home, they never work.

But, I have also heard the argument from some folks that they’re so passionate about their work that work is not really work. Work and life are fully integrated to them.

Personally, I prefer to have some boundaries. With blackberries and the internet, it’s very easy for someone to be constantly working. Over the years, I have learned that it takes time for me to detach myself from thinking about work. For example, let’s say that I’m answering some work emails at home. When my kids come to me for a request, sometime I’m still thinking about the work issue. It’s hard to immediately shift my attention to something else. So, I try to create a clear boundary between work and personal life.

Lesson #2: You cannot really "plan out" your entire career; you just have to "plan" as you go

Initially, the show as filmed as a two-hour special. It later evolved into a weekly show. Jon and Kate probably never imagined that their show could become such as a huge success that they’re being paid between 50K-70 per episode, allowing them to purchase a million-dollar home, and to publisher a best-selling book.

Lesson #3: There is a tremendous cost for becoming rich and famous. You’d better be ready for it.

Jon and Kate are having a difficult time. On the surface, their show has become one of the most popular TV shows. Financially they’re successful. They published their own book. They moved to a big house. These are all things many people dream of. But, they’re not happy. This is a classic example that money cannot buy happiness. There is a tremendous cost for becoming rich and famous.

Lesson #4: If you’re your brand, you must be ready to handle the media and lack of privacy

Jon and Kate were having a birthday party for their kids in the park. Suddenly they saw paparazzi hiding in the bushes. Their pictures were all over the tabloids. When you’re the product/brand, you’ll be under a lot of scrutiny. Unfortunately, that’s how media works. If you’re the brand/product, you need to be mentally prepared for the media onslaught and the lack of privacy.

Lesson #5: Know your life priorities when you’re growing your career

I have to say that it bothers me that Kate went on a book tour while left Jon and her kids home. And she still said that "this is all about her kids". It’s true that she has nannies, but I think she has also made bad choices by spending way too much time away from home. The action needs to be consistent with priorities. Unfortunately, I think Kate has failed in this regard.

I hope Jon and Kate will soon find the right balance, and reconcile. Many of your loyal audiences are rooting for you guys! 🙂

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Tags: Career Fast Track · Learning and Growing · Work/Life Balance

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