To her fans, Lilly Singh is known as “Superwoman”. She was the highest-paid female YouTuber of 2016 and has amassed a huge following producing comedy videos.
At MAKERS’ 2017 conference, Lilly used her spot to talk about the notion of having career back-up plans.
“Parents – and especially South Asian parents in my opinion, and my experience, are very keen on this idea of having back-up plans… I’m here today to encourage you to only have a Plan A and to ‘F’ a Plan B.”
MAKERS is a storytelling platform for influential women in business, politics, activism and entertainment. February 2017 marked their third annual conference; they brought leaders together to have a conversation about topics including breaking the glass ceiling, violence against women and the inclusion of men. This year’s theme for the conference was #BeBold – and taking Lilly’s advice certainly requires young women to do just that.
Credit: Screenshot via makers.com
She continued her talk by telling her own story, about how she came to pursue YouTube with no back-up plan.
Lilly finished her Bachelor’s in Psychology at York University in 2010. She had initially planned to go to grad school, but quickly realised that wasn’t what she wanted.
So, she told her parents she wanted to pursue YouTube, which she admitted was "scary for everyone involved".
“In 2010 YouTube wasn’t what it is today... Who was to say that YouTube wouldn’t go the way of Myspace and totally disappear?” But her parents gave her a year to pursue it with everything she had.
Credit: Instagram / @iisuperwomanii
She said: “from that point on, every day I would work on making this dream a reality. I would learn how to edit, learn how to write scripts, look at other YouTube videos and figure out ‘how are they marketing themselves?"
For a while, she said, “the little annoying voice” in her head told her “hey loser, what if this doesn’t work? You should still probably prepare for grad school.” But she eventually decided to give 100% to her dream, with no doubts or back-up plans. “I committed to only my Plan A. I started treating my career as if it was a guarantee.”
Rather than having a Plan B or Plan C – Lilly resolved to have a series of Plan As. If things weren’t working out, she wouldn’t go to grad school or get an office job, she’d change her technique and strategy – she’d implement a Plan A 2.0 or 3.0, but never a Plan B. “Entertainment and YouTube are always going to be my Plan A… If I can’t think of creative scripts – I’m not going to start thinking of other jobs, I’m going to learn how to be more creative.”
And it worked. Within a year of starting her channel, Lilly had more than one million YouTube followers.
Now, she has more than ten million followers and over 1.8 billion views across her videos. Every day, she works on creating videos to make people laugh and make herself laugh.
Lilly acknowledged that it’s “super risky and super terrifying” to have nothing but a Plan A, but she encourages young women to really think about what they want and to give it everything they have.
“To you I want to ask – really dig deep, and ask – what do you want to do? Where do you want to work? Who do you want to be? What do you want to stand for? – that should be your Plan A.”
“If you’re willing to work so hard on something, literally if you’re willing to lose sleep for something, put 200% into something – I’m a big believer of putting all your eggs in one basket and making sure that basket is golden.”
Lilly finished by saying, “You shouldn’t clutter your brain with a Plan B and Plan C. Your energy, your body, your soul, your mind should all unite for a Plan A. Don’t be scared. Have a Plan A. Focus on your Plan A.”
Very inspiring stuff.
You can watch Lilly’s speech in full and learn more about MAKERS here.