Amy Schumer’s New Book on How to Be a Boss
"I try to set a good example for my staff to let them know they are welcome to do the same."
In Amy Schumer’s new book she describes her only one-night stand ever and rains fury down on women who wear their hair down at the gym.
She also remembers being a very bad employee.
In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, out today (Aug. 16) from Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books, Schumer gives a long list of jobs she’s been fired from, and pays homage to the many horrible bosses who’ve helped her become the manager she is today, as creator, writer, and star of TV show Inside Amy Schumer. In it, she says she’s learned over the years to let her employees be open about their emotions at work, and to give people a fair shot even if they’re not that great at what they were hired for.
“For as long as I can remember, I was seeking employment,” says the comedian and actress. In Manhattan alone, she writes, she’s worked in at least a dozen restaurants and bars. Before she was a performer, she worked as a house painter, a t-shirt seller, a salon hair washer (which she was fired from), a fitness instructor, a pedicab driver, a bartender at a lesbian bar (also fired), a bodega cashier, and a mailroom attendant (fired).
From all these jobs, she learned how not to be. Says the writer and star of 2015 filmTrainwreck:
All those mean chefs who belittled the waiters, and the sociopathic restaurant managers who led with fear and intimidation, wielding their minuscule amount of power to scare the shit out of any employee who needed a day off for even the most legit of reasons…All those assholes really showed me several specific versions of who I didn’t want to become if I was ever in charge.
Now that she’s a manager, says Schumer, she sees how stifling work environments were unhealthy. So she made her show, going into its fifth season next year, a place where anyone can be comfortable with their emotions.
Now that I’m the boss can be openly honest about my feelings at work, I try to set a good example for my staff to let them know they are welcome to do the same. Everyone is free to feel their feelings on the set of my TV show. Sometimes when I am extra emotional due to it being that time of the month, I just get on the loudspeaker and announce to all the cast and crew that I have my period.
She’s also learned to let go—literally. Two bosses in particular, “two late-forties Indian guys who
thought knew I was an idiot,” says Schumer, never fired her from a job where she basically just ate hot dogs, and in doing so, taught her the value of measured firing. She writes:
One of the things I’ve learned as a boss myself now is to have high expectations of people, but also to keep it realistic. You can’t expect someone to work past their potential. If you’ve hired someone with the mathematical aptitude of a pet rock, and she eats all your hot dogs and doesn’t know how to make change, try to figure out how and where she shines, and let her excel in that area instead. I try to be patient and forgiving with the people I hire, just as they are with me. Mutual respect. But when I realize they don’t have what it takes, I do the kind thing and let them go.
Ultimately, writes Schumer, she sees how “full of humiliation and hardship” being a manager can really be. “I get what it feels like to have people’s fate in your hands,” she writes, and, “It’s not a sensation I enjoy.”
But, she says, being your own boss is still better than working for someone you don’t respect. Though…still not quite as good as not having to work at all, she adds.