4 Career Lessons from Naomi Campbell

4 Career Lessons from Naomi Campbell

Last week I went along to Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief show, partly to feel like I was part of fashion week, partly because it’s for a good cause and partly because I love Naomi. It was a great evening which raised a lot of money but, as this isn’t a fashion blog, a review would be quite out of place. So I thought, instead of a review of the show, why not take a look at what career lessons can be learned from one of the original supermodels (and no, there will be no mention of flying mobile phones, let’s leave that in the noughties).


1. You are the company you keep. If we ignore the recent rumours about Justin Bieber, Nai Nai keeps some pretty good company. It was well documented that Ms Campbell and the late Nelson Mandela had become very close friends, to the point where he called her his ‘honorary granddaughter’. I would list some other powerful friends of Naomi’s but who could possibly follow Nelson Mandela? I think that says it all.
2. Embrace the new kids on the block. No not one half of the super band NKOTBSB. I mean the fresh, young, energetic new workers who will inevitably join the company as you become more senior. Don’t hate. Take Jourdan Dunn for instance. Instead of bitterness and contempt, Naomi seems to treat her with almost sisterly love. She has taken her on as a friend and mentee instead of seeing her as a rival and a threat, reportedly sharing useful advice such as making sure she takes enough breaks so as not to burn out. When asked about why she would want to take part in model search TV show ‘The Face’, Naomi said ‘I don’t want a young woman to feel like her dreams have been blown because of me – I want to help her reach her dreams. I have an opportunity to share what I’ve learned over 27 years, and that’s a powerful thing.’ Now that’s what I call paying it forward.

3. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Upon hearing that Naomi Campbell was to take up a major role in US TV series Empire, you may well have rolled your eyes and thought to yourself ‘not another model/singer turned actress’. Or you may be none the wiser until now as the show doesn’t air in the UK…Either way, here is a perfect example of taking the plunge and trying out a new career. Obviously for normal people a move from accounting to consultancy is more likely but the principle is still the same. Face your fears and go for that new role/industry you’ve been fantasising about. What’s the worst that could happen? Even if you’re terrible at it, at least it won’t be aired on national TV and posted on the internet for the world to see (hopefully).

4. It’s okay to take a break. As mentioned earlier, Naomi advised Jourdan Dunn that it’s okay to take a break. After a decade of drama – rehab, assault conviction, British Airways ban, blood diamond trial – Naomi took some time out. Think diving, horse riding, yoga retreat, clean eating…really taking a break. Since then her career has showed no signs of slowing and her reputation is no longer that of a crazed-diva-toting-diamond-encrusted-mobile-phone-as-assault-weapon. Granted, most of us won’t face the same challenges but sometimes work – and life – can get hectic and stressful. We all need time to recharge and sometimes to re-evaluate our situations. At times, you don’t realise how fed up with something you are (a job, a house share, a relationship) until you take a step back from it. So book some time off work and get yourself to a remote spa for a few days. Or if you want to do it Naomi style, get yourself to India.

Got any career lessons from Naomi to add? Share them below in the comments!​