Young Success

Self-made millionaire Bethenny Frankel's top career advice: Focus on 'working hard' in your 20s, not relationships

Bethenny Frankel speaks onstage during day one of the 2019 Nazarian Institute on January 26, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Erik Voake | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Self-made millionaire Bethenny Frankel has one word of advice for 20-somethings: Work.  

The founder of lifestyle brand Skinnygirl says she recently passed along the same sentiment to a friend, who was concerned that their 25-year-old daughter was spending too much time working and not enough time finding someone with whom she could build a life.

"I said, 'What's she supposed to be doing? Getting married [and] going to look for China?'" Frankel, 51, tells CNBC Make It. "She's supposed to be working hard. She doesn't have responsibility. She doesn't have mortgages. She doesn't have kids."

Frankel hustled through her own 20s as a production assistant on the TV show "Saved by the Bell," before starting an event-planning business called In Any Event, which quickly fizzled. In her 30s, while starring on the hit reality TV show "The Real Housewives of New York City," she launched Skinnygirl Liquor, which she eventually grew into a global brand.

"[Your twenties are] when you should work [and] get your priorities straight," Frankel says.

Frankel says she doesn't mean that young people can't simultaneously progress in their careers and settle down with significant others. Rather, she says, having a job you're passionate about can make you more attractive to "the right person."

"Everybody's so worried when they're young [that] they have to go get married, you have to find a person," Frankel says. "But the best person is not going to be attracted to someone who doesn't have their own career, doesn't have their own independence."

If you don't know exactly what you want your career to look like, don't worry: Frankel says your effort and work ethic are more valuable than settling down into a life-long profession. She says she still leans on lessons she learned from event planning, even though she hasn't been involved in that industry for a while now.

"Young kids getting out of college think they need to know what they're going to do with their lives," she says. "You have to be on a road, but you don't have to know if you're on the right road, because there isn't one. All of my mistakes, my wrong roads, have been more valuable than anything."

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