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People’s Choice Awards president offers life lessons

Brooke Kovanda | Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Notre Dame alumnus and president of the People’s Choice Awards shared tips and advice about making it in the pop culture industry during a lecture Thursday.

Fred Nelson highlighted 25 lessons he learned during his career and used examples from celebrities to prove his point in his lecture, “Popular Culture is Not an Oxymoron.” Nelson has previously worked at entertainment outlets such as “E! News,” “Time, “Esquire” and ABC’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”

For example, Nelson said he learned how to “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” based on Ellen DeGeneres’ 1995 acceptance speech for the People’s Choice Award’s favorite female performer in a new television series.

He said DeGeneres seemed uncomfortable with accepting the award, but gave the speech anyway. Around the same time, he was the assistant publisher of “Marketing for Worth” magazine and knew little about personal finance, and found inspiration in DeGeneres’ speech.

“I thought, ‘You know what? I can fake it,'” he said. “And I did.”

Nelson said he learned to “Razzle Dazzle ‘Em” from Ricky Martin and learned to “Be a Prodigy While You Can” from Neil Patrick Harris.

The 25 lessons he presented included advice he wishes he had heard as an undergraduate, he said.

“Change your mind — switch careers, jobs, cities,” he said. “You have every right to change your mind multiple times.”

He also said perseverance and the ability to adapt in any situation are two keys to achieving any goal in life.

“If nothing else, think for yourself,” he said. “All that you’re learning now, everything you’re going to do in your job, try to suck the marrow out of all the experiences.”

The lecture was co-sponsored by the Department of Film, Television and Theatre and the College of Arts and Letters.