I want to go far in my career. I want the best for myself. I want success, and I’ll do just about anything to get it—other than get a Working Girl perm, though I would consider adding a shoulder pad or two. That’s why I come to you today from a desk and a chair, as opposed to where I’d usually be addressing the public at large: my boffice (bed-office).
This is just one of the many valuable nuggets of information I noted while taking Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner’s master class for MasterClass: I have to be ready to pivot. If I’m looking for career prosperity, I’ve got to get myself up, get my affairs in order, and get down to business outside of the comforts of my plush Urban Outfitters duvet. After all, by the time my alarm goes off in the morning, Kris has already been up for hours, trading millions with the bigwigs.
I had no idea what to expect when firing up my very first MasterClass earlier this week. I had heard tell, of course, that this was the premier avenue to learn from all the greats. A quick scan of its library of talent in my area of expertise, Arts & Entertainment, would suggest so. Natalie Portman, Shonda Rhimes, Jodie Foster, and Martin Scorsese are just some of the esteemed instructors. There’s even a three-hour course from Alicia Keys, in case I want to learn how to always be out of tune!
With a MasterClass course from someone as reputable and business-minded as Kris Jenner, I was ready to sit down with a pad and paper for what would surely be anywhere from five-to-seven hours of intense learning. It turns out, Kris has the second-shortest course in the Business section. Hers is one hour and forty-six minutes long—just three minutes longer than Howard Shultz’s, who must’ve had to record his class quickly so he could get back to his busy schedule of Starbucks union busting.
However, just over 90 minutes of class time was ideal for my afternoon. And frankly, a good business person should be able to communicate the essentials of brand building in that amount of time. Though I’d like it noted for the record that I am so fervently committed to journalistic standards of practice, I was ready to endure seven hours of learning for less than 2,000 words in a Google Doc. But I digress!
Kris’ class is broken up into 11 separate, easily digestible segments. Each one has a targeted bullet point in the larger scope of her overall MasterClass, which is all about building a successful personal brand and translating that into a business. “We’ll be talking about creating the right personal brand narrative and how to target the right audience,” she says, in a markedly different tone at the end of her introduction; she’s clearly now reading from a cue card. “And how to handle fame while staying grounded, graceful, and true to yourself!”
With that line, I was sure fame was my destiny. But much to my chagrin, there were no paparazzi outside my building this morning when I left to make an early Trader Joe’s run. But as Kris would later highlight for me, this was not going to happen overnight—even though it seemingly did for her family.
From the very first segment, I did glean that I was starting at a disadvantage. Kris tells us, her star pupils, that it’s important to make your personal brand authentic. And to do that, you should be selling yourself as someone who does what you genuinely love. “I was doing what I love to do, which is filming a television show,” Kris says of her jumping-off point for creating her brand. And that’s all well and good, but some of us are still in the midst of contract negotiations with those pesky, stingy networks! What are we to do while we wait for the cameras to go up?
Luckily, for every completely oblivious, unrelatable statement, Kris does actually offer up some sincerely good advice. As I mentioned before, her emphasis on having the readiness to pivot—in both life and business—is a kernel of truth that can be adapted and applied to life in its most dire moments. Would I have pivoted to the pre-roasted frozen corn when Trader Joe’s was all out of their normal frozen corn this morning if I didn’t have Kris’ advice in my back pocket? Hard to say. Sometimes a bag of corn is enough to ruin your whole day if you’re not equipped to deal with it.
A fair amount of Kris’ lessons involved tales of her life story. My eyes glossed over each time she began to tell a tale from her past; I had already been largely aware of Kris’ history from burning millions of brain cells on all 285 episodes of Keeping Up with The Kardashians and its various spin-offs over the years. However, this inadvertently fulfilled another one of Kris’ instructions, which is to experiment with different avenues and figure out what you’re really good at. I am great at zoning out and laughing to myself, imagining that Kommander Kris is seated in her chair with her starched pilgrim collar, addressing the nation as if she were FDR and this was her Fireside Chat.
But when I tuned back in, I received exactly what I came here for: Kris’ morning schedule. My biggest vice in this world is watching celebrities’ “What’s In My Bag” or “What I Eat In a Day” videos, so I pulled up a chair, ready to indulge. “I have coffee. I get on the treadmill. I return emails, texts, and I can make some international phone calls,” Kris says. “So I feel like I have a leg up on the day.”
Immediately, I realized I’ve got to change around my entire sleep schedule. I’m now setting my coffee maker. I’m calling random numbers each morning just to feel important. I’m dialing up the combination Marshall’s/TJ Maxx/Bed, Bath & Beyond in Chelsea to find out what time they open, just to hear another go-getter on the other end of the line.
Then, Kris gave me a more fulfilling affirmation than I have ever gotten from any therapist. “I get anywhere about half an hour early. Just so I can sit, ground myself… go over any notes. Everything I do makes me flow into the next hour of the day.”
As a chronically early, overly anxious homosexual, it was as if Kris took my hand in hers, looked me in the eyes, and said her famous line: “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.” (Also a title of one of her lessons, by the way). The next time I’m sitting at an airport gate well before my flight has even appeared on-screen next to the jet bridge door, I will remember this. I will say to my boyfriend—who has been judging me for making us arrive at 5 a.m., before the Hudson News even opened—this is how Kris Jenner does it. And don’t you want to be successful?
Now, I’ll be honest with you. A lot of Kris’ class is her spouting mumbo jumbo and saying the word “brand” over and over again. Her lessons echoed the classes I had taken as an undergrad in an Advertising program, long before I became the beautiful, young, witty writer with the stunning complexion I am today.
But to that effect, she is a branding expert. Turn to every other influencer on social media with 500,000 followers, and they’ll spit the exact same platitudes! And with far less panache, too. At least we know that Kris’ tips have resulted in 15 years of staying power. And in industry years? That’s a lifetime.
Each of the lessons in Kris’ class comes with a detailed assignment at the end of it. I’m not big on doing adult homework, so I was already skeptical. Turns out, they’re really more suggestions than assignments. The first was to make a vision board that reflects my personality. Kris is a very visual learner, who cannot successfully make vision boards online despite many attempts, a revelation I fear could send the Pinterest stock plummeting to the ground.
I decided to skip this assignment (and the rest of them as well), because if you count Housewives memes saved from Twitter, videos of Bella Hadid saying nonsensical wisdoms, and screenshots of half-naked famous men, I’ve got several vision boards within the 33,428 photos saved in my camera roll already.
Besides, Kris Jenner’s class on MasterClass is most compelling when viewed as a character study. Reading between the lines is an essential part of this experience. And the ironic yet oh-so-brilliant part of the whole thing is that you can see her implementing her own branding from moment to moment.
For example, when discussing the importance of brand logos, Kris says, “I remember when Kim was choosing the brand logo for SKIMS and how much effort, time, and energy she put into that. Because she had something in her head she wanted it to be, and she didn't stop until she got there.” Here, Kris is completely glossing over the fact that Kim had to rename the entire brand after the product had already been produced. It was formerly called “Kimono” until a rightful outcry of cultural appropriation inspired a name change. But Kris, ever the brilliant businesswoman and brand manager, skates right over that failure. Because the Kardashian brand is not a failure.
I dare not say much more than I’ve already disclosed—I don’t want to leak the entire class. That would be pointless and also maybe illegal. I say “maybe” because I’m not sure, but I’d like to avoid alighting the legal ramifications of any entity that can afford the per diem fee of Kris Jenner and Anna Wintour.
Even though Kris Jenner’s class on MasterClass might not be filled with the most proprietary advice, it is a streamlined starter pack for anyone looking to get a leg up on personal branding. It’s inarguable at this point that Kris Jenner is a master of marketing, and this class is perfect for anyone looking to avoid an expensive education for a few thousand followers.
Still, it’s Kris’ nonsensical witticisms that I’ll really be taking with me at the end of the day, particularly one that I can’t quite wrap my head around, though I do understand it at face value: “Behave like you can’t afford the loaf of bread, when in fact, you own the bakery.” After doling out this wisdom, Kris simply says, “You’re welcome.” She’s Jean Valjean, and this is her MasterClass.