Top Chef Host Padma Lakshmi Gives Her Best Career Advice to Women

Model, actress, foodie, best-selling author and Top Chef host, Padma Lakshmi definitely knows more than a thing or two when it comes to career and business. Believe it or not, even a successful woman like her went through struggles with self-doubt and a lack of confidence, and over the years has gained many pearls of wisdom which she doesn’t want to keep to herself. 

She realized her value when she decided to advocate for herself

Even after authoring three successful books, she questioned her ability, recalling, “I thought: ‘I’m not a scholar. I’m not 75 years old. I haven’t worked in a food lab.’ There were a million reasons for me to think, ‘What business do I have?” She said that she realized her value when she took hold of all the information that was out there and decided to advocate for herself. “It had less to do with talent and more to do with knowledge,” she said, and this resulted in her writing ‘The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World’ which was published in 2016. After overcoming self-doubt, she also revealed some of the worst career advice she was ever given and has always been rooting for women-owned businesses since the beginning. Most recently, she has collaborated with Stacy’s Pita Chips to start a funding and mentorship project for various woman-owned and food-related startups. She is also the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America (she too was diagnosed with the condition), and a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.

“Know what you’re good at, have the humility to find other people who are good at what you’re not”

“Push against the open door. As young people, we have one idea in our minds about how we want our career to go, and sometimes there are opportunities that come along that are adjacent to what you want to do,” she says. As someone who started her career as a model, she also began hosting travel and culinary shows which soon led to her becoming the host of the ever-popular Bravo TV show, Top Chef. She advises the finalists to “know what you’re good at, have the humility to find other people who are good at what you’re not and then empower them to do their job for you … Nobody does anything alone” and “be a little more pushy than feels gracious.” However, the worst advice she was given was to follow your dreams and if she had done so she would have been the worst rockstar in the world because she cannot sing. However, she suggests that “Have two or three dreams and be pragmatic about it.” More importantly, one should know what they are good at and that women should accept that can’t do everything, “This is a really hard year for me and my family, but it’s a really great, successful year for my career. There’s always a payoff, and anyone who tells you that you can have it all and do it all hasn’t done enough. You just can’t.”

Image credit: The New York Times

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