From this week’s unexpected firing of the New York Times’ executive editorJill Abramson, to articles on the “confidence gap,” and campaigns to #BanBossy and be a #GirlBoss, the past year has been filled with conversations regarding how women are perceived in the workplace. But women looking for a guide on how to survive at the office should look no further than these pearls of wisdom from Nicki Minaj, who knows you don’t have to choose between being bossy and respected.
1. Recognize the double standards that assertive women face.
When a woman speaks her mind, asks for a raise, fires someone, or disagrees with higher-ups, she’s “pushy.” When a guy does all the same things he’s confident and upstanding. To break down barriers you have to acknowledge the subtle double standards that exist in front of you. Minaj summed this up in a segment from her MTV documentary in which she complains about the difference between how she and Lil Wayne are treated. “Is that wrong? Wanting more for myself and wanting people to treat me with respect?” she says. No Nicki, not wrong at all.
2. Don’t worry about being nice to everyone all the time.
“Ain’t got time to talk, just Hi and Bye bitch!” Minaj raps on Drake’s “Make Me Proud.” Society wants women to be nice and neatly manageable but Minaj does the opposite and it’s made her career more dynamic than those of her peers. And if you scare a few people because they’re not used to a prim and proper, clean-mouthed lady, then so be it!
3. Be a trailblazer in your field.
“If you come into it thinking that it’s all about just being cute and getting some attention— I didn’t do this for attention. I didn’t do it for any reason other than I wanted to explore the business and take it to where the guys took it, as a businesswoman,” Minaj told DJ Vlad in 2009.
Minaj’s career isn’t just about being a rapper, it’s about specifically being a rapper who can push the medium for women in all directions. No matter what you do for a living, you can always be fighting for more inclusivity and power.
4. And remember and recognize all the women who paved the way for you.
Celebrate and call attention to the women who fought their way to the top in the past, like Nicki Minaj did when she gave credit to Queen Latifah. And remember that, the way they’ve helped you, you can help other women. The best way to be a bossy businesswoman is to assemble a bossy businesswoman army.
5. Always be getting money.
Making a lot of money doesn’t always directly relate to success or wellbeing, but question any system that’s unfairly underpaying you. According to an April Washington Post survey, full-time working women make 82.6 percent of what men make weekly.
6. Don’t let men in power tell you what you’re worth, you tell them what you’re worth.
If you let people tell you you’re less than gold, they might treat you as such. Minaj knew that right out of the gate she had to define herself and her success on her own terms, especially when it came to dealing with men in power who were intimidated by her. “I took a lot of shit from people, from men who didn’t want me to realize my own worth, who didn’t want me to know the truth about who I was and how good I was,” she said in 2012 at Hot 97.
8. And flaunt your achievements proudly.
“There hasn’t been one single solitary human being in the history of the world, a female rapper, to sell more than my first or second album in the first week,” Minaj said in a 2012 interview with Funkmaster Flex. If there’s one thing Nicki Minaj is truly boss at, it’s waving her insane accomplishments in front of everyone’s faces.
9. Run with the boys in power, and don’t shy away from the goal of taking their place.
Minaj collaborates with the biggest names in rap — Kanye West, Drake, Rick Ross, and Birdman. Those guys are kings, she’ll say, but there’s no king a queen can’t conquer. And remember that there will be time when the boys have your back, like when Lil Wayne decided to pull the Minaj off the Summer Jam line-up in 2012. After Hot 97 personality Peter Rosenberg dissed Minaj’s “song Starships,” Wayne took Minaj off the night’s bill, saying, “No person that works with me will be disrespected in my presence as long as I’m on this planet.”
10. And remember, you’re going to make mistakes, but that’s okay.
Even if you act like a queen, a Barbie, and a monster rolled into one, at the end of the day you’re a human woman, which means you’re not perfect. Maybe you let a dude boss talk down to you because you thought that’s how this game works. You could have been more assertive when speaking your mind. The point is, you’re going to make mistakes on your way to badass boss status and it doesn’t mean you’re any less powerful and intelligent.