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Remembering Joan Rivers: 5 Lessons for Business Owners

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on September 05, 2014 11:51 AM

With the death of comic and pop-culture stalwart Joan Rivers, many are mourning the loss of her quick wit and fearless comedic style.

But along with a healthy supply of laughs, Rivers' winding path to stardom and ability to remain in the limelight well into her twilight years can also provide a number of lessons for those who are seeking their own path to success.

Here are five lessons business owners can learn from Joan Rivers:

  1. Sometimes failure can be a good thing. Joan Rivers was already a marquee name when she launched her own late-night talk show on Fox in 1986. The show was a dismal failure, and Rivers' career took a nosedive. But a few years later she recovered, eventually becoming more successful than ever.
  2. Don't be afraid of a little controversy. Joan Rivers didn't shy away from controversy; she made a career out of it. Rivers wasn't afraid to joke about even the most taboo subjects. The lesson here: Controversy can be a powerful marketing tool if you know how to use it.
  3. Your weakness can be your strength. As someone who lived in the spotlight, Rivers had a seemingly fatal flaw: her bizarre affinity for plastic surgery. But Rivers turned this weakness into one of her most enduring, memorable characteristics: self-deprecating humor. Realizing your weaknesses is great; using them to your advantage is even better.
  4. Working with family can pay off. In more recent years, Rivers often partnered with her daughter Melissa to host red-carpet events. The two also had their own show, "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?" that recently finished its fourth season. When done right, family businesses can be a great way to work with and help provide for those you love.
  5. You can choose when, or if, you want to retire. Rivers was still going strong at 81, long after many of the celebrities from her era had faded into the woodwork or started taking it easy. There is no mandatory retirement age. In fact, an increasing number of older people are taking the opportunity to start new businesses later in life.

Maybe the most important lesson to be learned from Joan Rivers' life: Make your work something to remember you by, and something that will inspire others, even after you're gone.

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