Before writer and showrunner extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes decided to spend a year saying yes to everything, public speaking was not her bag. Luckily for us, her “year of yes” — which became the inspiration for her recently published memoir of the same name — has changed all that. “The very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear,” explains the TV powerhouse behind the likes of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” in an inspirational TED talk she delivered earlier this week.
Rhimes begins by detailing the frankly mind-boggling amount of work — and money — that goes into maintaining her ever-expanding TV empire. “I’m a titan,” Rhimes says. “I don’t tell you this to impress you; I tell you this because I know what you think of when you hear the word ‘writer.'” “I don’t hack at a computer and imagine all day,” she jokes. “A dream job is not about dreaming — it’s all job.”
But what happens when “all job” becomes too much job? As well as being a testament in itself to the fact that good things come from saying yes, Rhimes’s frank and often humorous talk offers advice and insight into her impressive work ethic, and how she stays creative while keeping up with a punishing schedule and three kids. Not so long ago, she felt the joy had gone out of her work, but one yes in particular — saying yes to playing with her daughters as she was rushing out the door to yet another work event — “likely saved [her] career.” The key to holding on to your passion, for Rhimes, was finding time “to play.”