Dolly Parton’s advice for running her sprawling business empire at 78

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Dolly Parton, the singing sensation turned business mogul, shows no signs of slowing down at 78. And according to her, the path to emulating her success is pretty simple.

The iconic ‘9 to 5’ singer hinted that she puts in more than just the standard office hours.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Parton said she “works her butt off” to keep the many plates in her business empire spinning.

As co-owner of The Dollywood Company, Parton helps oversee the Dollywood Theme Park, the Splash Country water park, several diner ventures as well as a spa and hospitality venues in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Parton’s portfolio also includes pet apparel business Doggy Parton, a fragrance brand and more recently a series of banking kits with Duncan Hines.

Forbes values Parton—who is also a fierce philanthropist—at $440 million, though other outlets place her closer to $650 million.

But despite the brand her name has become, Parton said she has never become the ‘step on the bossman’s ladder’ she once wrote about.

When asked how she runs her empire so successfully, Parton said she had been “blessed” in her endeavors to work with great people and has let them get on with it.

Parton has never sought to micro-manage, she added: “I don’t boss anybody around because I don’t even have the time or the energy to even do that. I just try to put people that are smarter than me in all the right places and then I go on about my business.”

The author made it clear her talents lie in the creative side of the business, saying there are aspects of her empire she doesn’t know anything about—but feels she doesn’t need to because of the people she has in place.

“I’m more of the creative force and the one that has an overall sense of things,” she said. “I try to find the best people and I try to trust them to do what they say they can do. Then I have people looking out after all of them.”

The ‘Islands in the Stream‘ singer also said her hands-off management approach for senior executives is paired with instinct, and trust that if an individual isn’t right for their role they’ll eventually be revealed.

“We know if somebody’s not right, they’ll show themselves, or it’ll be pointed out so many times by other people that you do trust, you’ll know it’s time to move on from that person,” she said.

“So I depend on my own higher wisdom of knowing if I’m in the right place with the right people.”

‘Looking like a woman and thinking like a man’

Parton, who has been awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, said from her early days performing in Nashville she knew she had talents that could be monetized. Or as Parton put it: “Looking like a woman and thinking like a man, so to speak.”

Appearance is another area in which Parton had some sage advice—which may help GenZ employees who reportedly are entering the workforce unsure of how they should dress for the office.

For Parton, known to be a big fan of wigs and brightly-colored suits, the aim is to be comfortable, adding: “You know what business you’re in, and you pretty much know what’s expected.

“If you’ve got a dress code, just look the best you can, take it right to the limit. You can kind of bend the rules a little bit, but if that’s the job you want and you already know the rules, then go by the rules.”

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