If you are the kind of person who judges books by their cover, then you already know that Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, is awesome.
Yes Please is real, hilarious, and inspiring. Amy talks about her failures and the things she has done right. She talks about her parents and all of the people who helped her succeed. She offers her opinions on everything from love to careers. She explains why Parks and Recreation almost didn’t make it and how they turned the show around. I really loved the honesty in her book and I wanted to share with your just a few things that really stood out to me as I was reading:
1. If something makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to do it.
During a cold audition when she was just starting out, a casting director asked Amy to describe her most embarrassing moment. The casting director said she needed a video of Amy talking. Amy asked her if she could talk about anything else, but the casting director said no. Amy refused, and the casting director never called her again. I am so inspired by this story – she drew the line, and although she didn’t get that particular job, and she obviously still ended up being successful.
“Everybody wants you to share your MOST EMBARASSING MOMENT all the time, and I am here to tell you that you don’t have to. You don’t have to tell it or tweet it or Instagram it. You don’t have to put it in a book or share it with anyone who doesn’t feel safe and protective of your heart.”
So no, you don’t have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Not to get a job. Not to keep a job. Not for anyone.
2. Be whoever you are.
Amy’s book is divided into three main sections:
1. Say whatever you want
2. Do whatever you like
3. Be whoever you are.
All of these are equally important, but to me, the message that stood out throughout the whole book is “be whoever you are.” I feel like if you do that, then the other two will follow. I respect Amy for staying true to herself throughout her journey to the top of an industry that isn’t always okay with that. I don’t want to get into too many specifics here because I don’t want to give away too much, so I will just leave it at that.
3. There is a right way and a wrong way to apologize.
“A word about apologizing: It’s hard to do it without digging yourself in deeper. It’s also scary and that’s why we avoid the pain. We want so badly to plead our case and tell our story. The bad news is that everyone has a story. Everyone has a version of how things went down and how they participated.”
Amy has a long story about this, which I will let her tell you. But I will say that I thought she made a really great point when she says that an apology should be about compassion, not about trying to defend yourself.
4. Stop competing against other women.
Did you know that Tina Fey helped Amy Poehler get on Saturday Night Live? And that she asked Amy to join her as one of the first two women coanchors on Weekend Update? That’s a friend.
And look how happy Tina is, sharing the spotlight with her friend. I love it. Amy talks a lot about how women need to start supporting each other instead of competing against each other. She loves the relationship between Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins on Parks and Recreation. She asks working moms and stay at home moms to stop making each other feel bad and just respect each other’s choices in life. And she dedicates a chapter to Tina Fey, her “comedy wife.”
Amy and Tina are the kind of friends you want to have. They are the kind of friends you should be. They support each other and know how lucky they are to have each other.
5. Let go of people and things that don’t make you happy.
“I am a firm believer that every few years one needs to shake one’s life through a sieve, like a miner in the Yukon. The gold nuggets remain. The rest falls through like the soft earth it is.”
6. “The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing.”
Amy talks a lot about how hard writing is. She dedicates her preface to writing and asks you to understand how hard writing is as you read her book. One of my favorite parts of the whole book is this part of the preface where she talks about how in order to actually achieve any goal, you need to get out there and do it:
“How do we move forward when we are tired and afraid? What do we do when the voice in our head is yelling that WE ARE NEVER GONNA MAKE IT? How do we drag ourselves through the muck when our brain is telling us youaredumbandyouwillneverfinishandnoonecaresanditistimeyoustop?
Well, the first thing we do is take our brain out and put it in a drawer. Stick it somewhere and let it tantrum until it wears itself out. You may still hear the brain and all the shitty things it is saying to you, but it will be muffled, and just the fact that it is not in your head anymore will make things seem clearer. And then you just do it. You just dig in and write it. You use your body. You lean over the computer and stretch and pace. You write and then cook something and write some more. You put your hand on your heart and feel it beating an decide if what you wrote feels true. You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing. That is what I know. Writing the book is about writing the book.”
7. The robots will kill us all.
The last chapter of Yes Please is called “the robots will kill us all: a conclusion.” Amy has a list of things reasons for this. She points to her phone as evidence: “My phone wants to show me things I shouldn’t see,” and “People text and drive and die,” among other exhibits.
I could go on and on about this book and I ended up taking out a few of the “life lessons” I originally had intended to write about just because I don’t want to give too much away.
If you are a fan of Parks and Recreation, you will love reading the way Amy describes the show’s journey from its shaky beginnings to now, especially her discussion about her favorite moments with each actor on the show.
Have you read Yes Please? What did you think? What was your favorite “life lesson” Amy Poehler had to offer?
Thank you, Amy Poehler, for Yes Please!