Backstage at Advertising Week in New York City, Bethenny Frankel rushed in and out of herinterview like a hurricane. It was clear from her demeanor that she was a woman on a mission -- and that perhaps no person, thing, or even cataclysmic event could stop her.
She had recently come off of filming in the Shark Tank, which is admittedly an unlikely place for someone who made a name for herself on reality television as a Real Housewife. And yet, as she shared the ups and down about her career, it became clear that her place among today's best business gurus was almost predestined from the start.
But make no mistake: Frankel would be the first to tell you that her chess moves were rarely planned. Instead, she has relied on an overwhelming and effective mix of gut instinct, belief in self, perseverance and an uncanny way to bootstrap herself upwards.
If you're unfamiliar with Frankel, a simple Google search will yield you thousands of results, many of which are powered by her raving fans who adore her brutal authenticity.
But although that trait played a role in her unexpected ascent, her advice deals with two other principles that have guided her career:
1. Ignorance is power; knowledge is bliss.
As Frankel recounted some of her career moves -- like starting the Skinnygirl brand -- it became clear that ignorance, not knowledge, had been the primary driver of her success. She says she lives by one simple rule: If you don't know what something means, ask -- immediately.
"I'm just really honest about those things," Frankel admitted. "When I don't know something, I don't pretend."
Sure enough, twenty minutes after we spoke, she went onstage at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square and interrupted one of her peers to ask about a marketing term she didn't know. Hers is a humble and simple method that has allowed her to capitalize on her strengths ("marketing, branding, identifying who your target audience is and designing the narrative about the product") while minimizing her gaps in knowledge.
Ask yourself: What could you gain by admitting what you don't know?
2. Ideas are worthless; execution is king.
We've heard about the importance of execution before, but Frankel is arguably an execution machine.
For instance, after her stint on television, Frankel's agencies and agents recommended that she play it safe by starting her personal brand. Instead, she started the now-famous Skinnygirl cocktail brand, despite running into an industry with steep competition, having little experience in being a CEO, and even admitting that she "really didn't have any money and didn't know it would work."
Regardless, she went with her gut and executed relentlessly, ultimately earning millions when she sold the company in 2011.
Despite all of the business wisdom that I've received over the years, I couldn't help but walk away from my conversation with Frankel thinking, Oh yeah -- all I have to do is go with my gut, admit what I don't know, and keep on executing. Simple!
Frankel's entrepreneurial success teaches all of us that it's impossible to ignore the importance of simple fundamentals both in life and in business.
When I asked her what she would tell the next, up-and-coming Bethenny Frankel -- in her thirties, living in a tiny apartment, wondering how she'll survive and thrive and make a name for herself -- she answered, "I'm not some genius or anything. It's simplicity. Simplicity of the idea. Simply being passionate, determined and honest are so important. You can get so far with that."
As she was leaving for her panel, she gifted me one last, defiant quip: "You can never assume that someone is smarter than you. Your doctor, your lawyer, they're only as good as what you give them."
That's a success mindset you can take all the way to the bank.