Career Advice from the Musical Hamilton

One of the biggest entertainment juggernauts to come out of 2015 was the musical Hamilton. Hamilton is a broadway musical created by Lin Manuel Miranda that documents one of the United States founding fathers Alexander Hamilton’s life and career pursuits.

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This show took the musical theatre world and the entertainment world by storm in 2015 and offered insight into the life and times of Alexander Hamilton. This musical is outstanding in both its execution and it education. Not only does it teach us about the creation of many components of the U.S. that are still in place today but it also offers its audience many excellent career tips along the way seeing as it revolves around the careers of many important men and women.

We’ve put together a list of what we believe to be a few of the most important pieces of career advice in Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton.

Career Advice Courtesy of the Broadway Musical Hamilton

Talk Less, Smile More

While this piece of advice from Aaron Burr to Alexander Hamilton comes with a response of “you can’t be serious!” from Hamilton, it is important to know in your career when to speak and when to keep quiet.

In any job it is crucial to know when to speak up and voice your opinion and when to let someone else have the floor or have a chance to work out their idea. While it is not beneficial to keep quiet all the time it is important to manage your opinions and know when you should sit back and let others speak.

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Wait For It

As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. In Hamilton, Burr is a ‘wait for it’ kind of guy, lying in the shadows waiting for his time to shine (even if it takes an eternity) while Hamilton would go out and get what he wants, often regardless of who was in his way.

It is important to work hard for what you want but also important to know when you should sit back and let fate take charge and when you should pounce. Waiting forever for things to happen to you will get you nowhere but being too abrasive can be equally destructive to your career. You must find an appropriate balance.

Write Like You’re Running Out of Time

Hamilton was known for his long letters and his ability to write endlessly. He was constantly writing and in the musical his peers first ask him “why do you write like you’re running out of time?” and then once they see what he is able to accomplish with his writing begin to ask him “how do you write like you’re running out of time?”

By keeping busy and continuously learning and developing your skills you will be able to expand your horizons and see what you are truly capable of. Hamilton never settled, he was always determined to be better than himself and everyone else, and that drove him to success.

Alexander joins forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled The Federalist Papers. The plan was to write a total of twenty-five essays, the work divided evenly among the three men. In the end, they wrote eighty-five essays, in the span of six months. John Jay got sick after writing five. James Madison wrote twenty-nine. Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!

from the song “Non-Stop” 

Stand Up for What You Believe In

In the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” Hamilton asks Burr “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?”. Burr would never outright tell anyone his beliefs because he was scared of backing the wrong horse. This is a terrible habit to fall into in your career because it can mean becoming a follower and working towards someone else’s dream instead of your own. It is important to stand up for what you believe in and make sure you are not doing anything in your career that goes against your beliefs. In addition, you should defend your beliefs when required so others know where you stand.

“[JEFFERSON] (on running for president) So now I’m facing—
[JEFFERSON AND MADISON] Aaron Burr!
[JEFFERSON] With his own faction
[MADISON] He’s very attractive in the North. New Yorkers like his chances.
[JEFFERSON] He’s not very forthcoming on any particular stances
[MADISON] Ask him a question: it glances off, he obfuscates, he dances
[JEFFERSON] And they say I’m a Francophile: at least they know I know where France is!”

From the song The Election of 1800

Put Yourself Into the Narrative

Elizabeth (Eliza) Hamilton, Alexander’s wife, decides in the second act of the show that she will take herself out of the narrative. She doesn’t want anyone to know what she thinks and wants to take control of how she is perceived. In the end she writes herself back into the narrative in her own way in order to make herself and her achievements known to the world. Eliza founded the first private orphanage in New York and it is important that she made sure that people paid attention to her and the Hamilton name after Alexander had died.

It is important to manage your career in such a way that you make a name for yourself in your field. Roadblocks in your career should not dissuade you into believing that you can not achieve greatness. Put yourself back into the narrative and continue to work hard and do what you believe in so that in the end you have told your story in your own way.

Teach them How to Say Goodbye

Hamilton documents the time when George Washington steps down as president of the United States. He knew when to step back and allow someone else to have their chance to shine and take over the role. This is an important piece of career advice to remember because it is crucial to allow others their chance to speak and put forth ideas. As much as we want to put ourselves first, teamwork is equally critical to success and if we can manage ourselves and know when to take a step back in order to let others shine everyone’s work will benefit.

Keep Your Personal & Private Life Separate (Avoid Writing Pamphlets)

It is important to know when to share pieces of your personal life in a work setting and when to keep work professional. Alexander Hamilton was accused of speculation and in an attempt to clear his name of any wrongdoing he published a 95 page pamphlet entitled Observations on Certain Documents in which he denied any wrongdoing and admitted to an affair he was having that resulted in him paying the woman’s husband over $1000 in blackmail money. This pamphlet was severely damaging to his reputation and exposed a part of his personal life that many people did not know and was only rumoured to be true. It is important to know when to keep personal information to yourself in the workplace and to ensure it does not conflict with your work or disrupt your career path in any way.

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Don’t Throw Away Your Shot

Hamilton’s big song in the show is called “My Shot”. It is all about stepping up and taking chances. This is great career advice for anyone entering into their field. Once you’ve been given a chance to prove yourself don’t squander it. Make sure to go above and beyond to work hard and prove you can do the job well, you will be rewarded for your hard work and determination.
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Sources:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/alexander-hamiltons-adultery-and-apology-18021947/?no-ist

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/hamilton/peopleevents/p_e_hamilton.html

http://genius.com/7873684 

Hamilton Cast Recording

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