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Dolly Parton revealed the worst career advice she ever got—and why she ignored it

Dolly Parton performs onstage during the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards at Allegiant Stadium on March 7, 2022 in Las Vegas.
Kevin Winter | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Dolly Parton is one of the hardest-working people in Hollywood — and at 76, the legendary country artist doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon. 

The Tennessee native has just released her first novel, "Run, Rose, Run" with author James Patterson along with a companion album of the same name. "Run, Rose, Run" follows a young singer-songwriter on her path to stardom in Nashville.

Last week Parton opened up about her illustrious career, professional regrets and how she combats burnout in an interview with organizational psychologist Adam Grant for his podcast "WorkLife with Adam Grant."

Throughout her 50-year career, there's one piece of bad advice people have tried to pass on to Parton – but she's always brushed it off. 

"The main advice that people wanted to give me was to change my look – to go simpler with my hair and the way that I dress, not to look so cheap, nobody was ever going to take me seriously they would say," she told Grant.  

She explained: "The way I look and the way I looked then was a country girl's idea of glam, just like I wrote in my 'Backwoods Barbie' song. It was really like a look I was after. I wasn't a natural beauty. I just like to look the way I look. I'm so outgoing inside, I need the way I look to match all of that." 

Parton also revealed her secret for juggling multiple projects without burning out. 

During her career, she has received 50 Grammy Award nominations, four Emmy Award nominations and one Tony Award nomination, has sold more than 100 million albums, opened a Dollywood theme park and launched The Dollywood Foundation where she started book-gifting program Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, and she even helped fund the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.

"I've got so many irons in the fire that sometimes I'm burning my own butt," Parton joked. "I have to get up earlier, I have to work longer, and I have to have a bigger cup of ambition in the morning to get it all done," referencing the opening line of her popular hit '9 to 5.' 

She continued: "I don't have time to burn out, I'm burning up. I'm a creative person and every new thing will create something else … energy begets energy and creativity begets creativity, so I just really have to stay with it because I want to see things happen, I want to make things happen."

After a stressful work day, Parton said she likes to spend time at home with her husband, Carl Thomas Dean, and either cook or read. She also turns to her relationship with God for comfort: "I always say when things are bad I pray, when they get worse, I pray harder." 

Parton's other secret to success is simple: Don't take yourself too seriously – and that includes not dwelling on past mistakes. "I like to enjoy my work, I like to have it be fun, and I like the people around me to have fun doing it," she said. "My biggest regret is I have no regrets."

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I work at the most iconic Ukrainian restaurant in New York City
I work at the most iconic Ukrainian restaurant in New York City