You probably know Amy Poehler for her sharp comedy and dazzling one-liners--as an SNL cast member, or, more recently, for playing Leslie Knope on the smash NBC series Parks and Recreation, which enters its seventh and final season this year.
What you might not know--and which truly speaks to her entrepreneurial character--is Poehler's ability to overcome obstacles. In her new book Yes Please, which comes on the heels of Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl and Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Poehler reportedly takes a measured yet darker look at her life and career, notable in contrast to her on-screen presence.
In Yes, Please, the comedian "takes off the wigs and the costumes and steps out of character," says NPR's Terri Gross in an interview with Poehler. She opens up about the "demon voice in her head," as well as her childhood, her battle with postpartum depression, and more, although the book is (of course) rife with humor.
Poehler is one of modern comedy's great success stories, and an entrepreneur in her own right: She is a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, which continues to operate out of Manhattan today. But how did she get there?
Here are three of the comedian's perhaps unexpected character traits, necessary for any leader (in any industry) to succeed:
Let's face it: Being a woman in comedy is not easy, and being a successful woman in comedy is even harder. As with most businesses, comedy is historically male-centric: there were no women on Forbes' annual list of the highest-earning comics in 2013. In her book, Poehler recounts a time in her 20s when she read her boyfriend's journal and discovered that he didn't think she was pretty. It was an aha moment, so to speak, and which--though painful--was ultimately productive: "It was freeing," she told Gross, "not only for my work, because vanity is a tough thing to have in comedy--but I didn't care as much if people thought I was pretty or not pretty." Poehler's ability to pivot the experience is a testament to her optimism, which is an absolute must-have quality for entrepreneurs.
Great leaders are expected to be independent, to have foresight, gumption, and an inexhaustible drive to succeed. But what about that often untold piece of the puzzle--the people who are actually close to them? Rolling Stone lauds Poehler's book for, among other things, crediting her friends and family. Seth Meyers, for instance, contributes a section to the book. So do Louis C.K. and Tina Fey. Poehler also pays tribute to her parents, who offer their own reflections on the day their daughter was born.
Odds are, you didn't go it alone either--is there someone in your life who deserves some thanks?
Failure is a part of life, and an unspoken cornerstone of entrepreneurship. Owning up to your mistakes is never easy, and doing so takes remarkable courage. ThinkProgress recounts a section of Yes Please--a chapter entitled "sorry sorry sorry"--in which Poehler admits to a mistake: She unwittingly offended the writer and director of the movie Hurricane Mary--the true story of a girl with cerebral palsy--in a routine she did onstage. It took Poehler five years to apologize, and it wasn't easy when she did. But it's never too late. And perhaps contrary to popular belief, great leaders should always know when to say it.