In the 1950's Lucille Ball was more than a funny woman, troublemaker, and doting wife on the hit TV series I Love Lucy. Behind the scenes the fiery redhead was also a determined and powerful businesswoman. I Love Lucy premiered 61 years ago today, and while Lucille may be most known for the leading role in her signature hit show, she's also a successful founder and innovator. A fellow soldier in arms. A comrade who worked over and charmed Hollywood like a boss.
In 1950, Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz cofounded Desilu Productions, a company that quickly began crushing it in Hollywood by producing hit shows like their own I Love Lucy, Star Trek, The Untouchables, The Andy Griffith Show, Mission Impossible, and many (many) more. But more than just achieving success for herself, she broke molds, shattered glass ceilings, and busted down unmarked, secret, boys-only-club doors for future generations of women like you and me.
Turns out, comedians can be terribly serious about business.
Through I Love Lucy, Lucille taught her audience family values and the importance of having a sense of humor, but her lessons of self-created success can still be learned today. After the break, four entrepreneurial lessons you can learn from "America's Funniest Redhead," Lucille Ball.
- Play to Your Strengths — Lucille did not hold a business degree and had little business experience under her belt, but she didn't let that stop her from being an equal participant in Desilu. While Desi dealt with the "business" side of things, she took advantage of her creative instincts to identify, develop, and greenlight some of America's most beloved shows. Do what you know best and you'll always find success.
- Think Outside the Norm — Desilu was hot for innovation. Not only was the company the first to use a multi-camera film setup before a live studio audience, but Arnaz saw the value of the rerun before anyone else and purchased the rights to all of the original episodes, securing an income for many years to come. Never stop thinking of new ways to complete tasks, sell, market, and improve your workflow. Set aside time to think creatively and strategically every month. You never know where an everything-goes, brain-clearing idea dump could lead you. Even better — invite some fellow businesswomen to your creative sessions to get a fresh perspective.
- Stay Focused — Bad breakup? No big deal. Divorce? So what! Lucille Ball had success placed squarely in her sights, and kept moving towards her goals no matter what. After her divorce in 1960, Lucille bought out her ex-husbands' holdings of Desilu, and succeed him to become the first female President of a major production company. Keeping your goals fresh in your mind is important for success. Write down your goals in exquisite detail, post them on the wall in front of you, and do at least one thing every single day that helps you get there.
- Brand Yourself — Lucille could have settled for being the star of I Love Lucy and President of her own company, but she didn't stop there — she built a personal brand around being "America's Funniest Redhead," which helped her land starring and guest-starring roles for years to come. Study up on how to build your own personal brand and add value to your business.
Did you know that Lucille Ball was such a savvy businesswoman? Has her story inspired you? Share your thoughts in the comments!