Career Lessons from Miley Cyrus… Seriously

It seems Miley Cyrus has “twerked” her way right back into good favor among the American public.

After a wild performance at September’s MTV Video Music Awards that included the scantily-clad 20–year-old suggestively dancing with 36-year-old singer Robin Thicke that drew heavy criticism, many say Cyrus redeemed herself with her recent performance on “Saturday Night Live”.

She hosted the late-night comedy show and poked fun at her recent racy antics, which restored some of her likeability, says Peter Shankman, author of Nice Companies Finish First.

Within those self-inflicted jabs, Cyrus proved that a sense of humor and savvy career moves can be a win for personal branding and help mitigate  bad exposure.

Shankman says Miley’s transition was calculated and masterminded by savvy branding experts and while the pop star acknowledged her antics were a bit outrageous, she remained unapologetic about her choices.

“She knew what she was doing from day one,” Shankman says. “She shows it’s important to believe in yourself and to ignore the haters. People will always say that what you are doing is crazy, but if you know it will work, then give it everything you’ve got.”

Career coach Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide, says Miley has remained true to herself and really admitted from the start that there would be bumps in the road, just like in any early-staged career.

“She was unapologetic, and it was acknowledged that this was a rebranding exercise. She didn’t deny anything,” Cohen says.  “They said, ‘yes she is trying to redirect her career as a grown up now.’”

And as she faced pushback or criticisms, Cohen says she stood by her choices.

“She won’t apologize for this; she is young and still new at this,” he says. “And no one can deny that she is working very hard. She is demonstrating that.”

Also, despite the controversy that has engulfed Cyrus’ career moves as of late, Shankman says she clearly trusts her advisors.

“You have to be careful who you trust,” he says. “This wouldn’t work for everyone, but she is clearly in with some smart marketing people.”

And a final takeaway from Miley’s transformation? Don’t take anything too seriously.

“It’s always business, never personal,” Shankman says. “Let things roll off your back—if you can’t laugh at yourself you will never make it. Also, America has a very short attention span, so feel free to screw up once, they will forget in two days.”

Cohen agrees and said her good-natured turn as host on SNL only helped the entire situation, twerking and all.

“She keeps putting herself out there—visibility is good too. Sometimes when people trip up, they disappear, but she hasn’t done that. Madonna is a good example of this too—she has had embarrassing situations and PR fiascos, but she keeps putting herself out there,” he says. “What will happen cumulatively is that the good stuff will outweigh the bad stuff.”