Obtaining your dream job is rarely ever easy. However, obstacles fall away in the face of persistence. PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley is...

Obtaining your dream job is rarely ever easy. However, obstacles fall away in the face of persistence. PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley is an example of putting that success principle to use.

Sticking with your goal long enough will lead to ultimate success. Everybody starts out somewhere. Tavis Smiley, TV personality, author, liberal political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist, entered Indiana University with only 50 dollars to his name. There he became the business manager of his dormitory, and a member of the student senate. Money wasn’t his main issue in deciding where to work as he took a nominally $5 per hour paid internship with the Bloomington, Indiana Mayor’s office.

Seeking to continue a path in politics and public affairs, Tavis managed to connect with the City of Los Angeles, Mayor’s office through Washington Redskins football player, George Hughley. Tavis persistently wrote letters to Mayor Tom Bradley’s staff regarding a possible internship. He even went so far as flying out to LA himself to plead for a spot. Finally, he received a response; unfortunately, it was one informing him that all positions were filled. Not letting the bad news defeat him, Tavis gave it another shot by sending a personal heartfelt letter directly to Mayor Bradley. It worked so well that the Mayor called Tavis personally to offer him an internship. That internship advanced Tavis further along his career track serving as an administrative aide to Bradley.

The Los Angeles political landscape ultimately served Tavis well, as a springboard to broadcast his social take on public affairs, first as a local radio commentator and now as host of the acclaimed national late night talk show “Tavis Smiley”, televised on PBS. Tavis’ determined and resolute career journey has merited recognition by TIME magazine in 2009 as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People.”

A recipe for success: follow Tavis’ example with positive thinking and persistent action. There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

As a respected book author and publisher, his most current offering is the title “My Journey with May Angelou.” Tavis recounts his most personal memories of a decades-long friendship with the hailed African-American wordsmith. Working World is honored in featuring selected excepts of lessons in Love & Success from this inspiring book.

10 Lessons in Love & Success from Maya Angelou
Selected excerpts from the Tavis Smiley’s book My Journey with Maya Angelou.

  • We should not deify those who we look up to, as they all have their shortcomings. Tavis writes, “Frailties and faults accompany even the most accomplished among us.”
  • Though someone might have different tactics than yours, their heart could still be in the right place, and love can still be shared between the two of you. Here is  an important lesson on accepting differences.
  • The key to all relationships, whether a private relationship among two friends or a public relationship between an interviewer and interviewee, is listening. Maya says to Tavis, “Your eagerness to speak often belies your willingness to listen.”  In her forthright way, she was giving Tavis an important lesson in humility.
  • Every second of every day is a gift, and an opportunity to fulfill our purpose of loving one another. Maya states, “Be grateful for your very life, be grateful for your ability to strengthen and rebuild your self-worth, grateful for one more chance to fight the good fight and walk the good walk, grateful for one more day to show someone some kindness and courtesy, grateful for one more moment to show somebody some love.”
  • Maya never let her age, mood, or circumstance get in the way of showing love to her fellow human. The power of love surpasses the weakness of our human state. Quoting Maya: “The deterioration of our bodies does not excuse the deterioration of our resolve.” The flow of love “keeps us young, even as we grow old.”
  • WE ARE ALL LOVED; no matter what others may say, or how insignificant we feel sometimes, we must always remember that somebody loves us.  Maya’s grandmother gave Maya the feeling, “That I was loved. That I was protected.”
  • Start off every relationship, friendship, and conversation on a “love” note. It’s amazing just how much further this takes you in life. Here is a typical warm welcome from Maya: “I greet you with great gratitude. My sisters, my brothers, my daughters, my sons, I greet you in love.”
  • End conversations on a grace note. Tavis writes, “Not only did Maya start every conversation on a ‘love’ note, but she ended it on one too. Even if that conversation was an impassioned argument, Maya made sure that you walked away feeling respected, empowered, and loved.”
  • Show your love. “Like the James Taylor song says, ‘Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.’ Maya would live by this rule every day of her life.”
  • “Love shapes the world, and that is why it is important for us to pass it on to others in the same way Maya did to everybody she met.” Tavis adds, “I am who I am because Maya Angelou loved me.”