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Leadership Now

Smart Is The New Sexy: 3 Lessons From The Ashton Kutcher School Of Awesome

Teen idol takes stage at Teen Choice awards, drops knowledge amid prepubescent screams? Totally, dude.

Smart Is The New Sexy: 3 Lessons From The Ashton Kutcher School Of Awesome

Standing in front of a chorus of girls' prepubescent screams, the man they call Kutcher said that he felt like a fraud.

"My real name isn't even Ashton. Ashton's my middle name," the actor said. "My first name's Chris. It always has been. It got changed when I was like 19 and I became an actor. But there are some really amazing things I learned when I was Chris. And I wanted to share those things with you guys because I think it helped me be here today."

What are those three things? They consist of three things, the teen idol formerly known as Chris said:

  • Opportunity
  • Sexiness
  • Living life

Opportunity comes from hustle.

In a turn that would mesh with YCombinator cofounder Paul Graham, Kutcher praised the schlep: "Opportunity looks like hard work," he says.

Before he was on That 70s Show, he was slogging through jobs, he says: carrying shingles up a roof with his old man when he was 13, washing dishes at a restaurant, working at a grocery store deli, sweeping Cheerios dust off the floor of a factory. And he never had a gig he was "better than," he says, in a decidedly un-Millennial show of humility.

How to be sexy

When a teen heartthrob gives advice on attraction, you'd think we'd learn something about his workout routine. But he went all non-superficial on us, explaining that the sexiest traits are:

  • Being really smart
  • Being thoughtful
  • Being generous

"Everything else is crap, I promise you," he says. It's just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less, so don't buy it."

In this way, Kutcher is genteel and gentlemanly, acknowledging that a little graciousness can do wonders for your career.

How to live excellently

After work and sexiness naturally comes living life. Kutcher says that he relearned a major lesson while working on his new Steve Jobs biopic. We'll go ahead and quote his paraphrasing of the departed Apple executive:

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is, and that your life is to live your life inside the world and try not to get into too much trouble and maybe get an education and get a job and make some money and have a family. But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing. And that is that everything around us that we call life was made up by people who are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in."

Bottom line: "So build a life." he continued, "Don't live one; build one."

[Image: Flickr user Kevin Krejci]

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