Tyra Banks Graduating From Harvard Business School!


Tyra Banks is set to graduate from Harvard’s Business School. She was interviewed by Youngme Moon in a casual 90-minute conversation for the The Harbus ( The independent newspaper of the Harvard Business School community). Tyra talks about making her brand better, not just fan motivated.

“There’s a difference between a career and a business,” Banks opined. While she loves her career, she wants to turn her brand into a sustainable, legacy business. Accordingly, she looks to Walt Disney and Virgin’s Richard Branson as role models. “I’m not looking to build my company based on fans,” she said. Rather, she feels a responsibility to spread her message of empowerment, self-esteem, and beauty in a way that’s consistent with her ethos and, hopefully, favorable to her bottom line. Sounds like Oprah, right? “The comparisons are extremely flattering, impossible to live up to and inconsistent with my goals,” Banks insists.

Prior to enrolling in HBS’s Owner/President Management Program, Banks admits that her goals were “too audacious” and that business decisions often came from her gut. After her first session of the program, she called an emergency whiteboard meeting for all of her Bankable Enterprises staff on the rooftop of Manhattan’s swanky Gramercy Hotel. This, despite the fact that her Harvard professors had explicitly advised her to keep a two-week grace period post-HBS before making any drastic organizational changes. Banks, however, was so “invigorated and energized” that she simply couldn’t wait.

Prior to enrolling in HBS’s Owner/President Management Program, Banks admits that her goals were “too audacious” and that business decisions often came from her gut. After her first session of the program, she called an emergency whiteboard meeting for all of her Bankable Enterprises staff on the rooftop of Manhattan’s swanky Gramercy Hotel. This, despite the fact that her Harvard professors had explicitly advised her to keep a two-week grace period post-HBS before making any drastic organizational changes. Banks, however, was so “invigorated and energized” that she simply couldn’t wait.

Tyra Banks interviewed by Professor Youngme Moon – – Photo by Lynn Yu (HBS 2013)
Now, at the completion of her HBS education, Banks understands that success is “not about being the biggest, but being the best.” What does that mean for the model/TV host/producer/author/entrepreneur? Shifting her focus from scope to scale. “Strategy is my strength, but I have too much diversification,” Banks admitted to the crowd. Currently, she’s working with an executive coach to learn how to delegate rather than micromanage. And despite having lived decades in the public eye, she’s still trying to toughen up. “I wish I was hard,” Banks reveals. “I have armor, but a strategic knife can still get in those creases.”

Perhaps that’s why Banks falls victim to the ultimate powerful woman dichotomy: balancing the need to please with the need to be serious and strong. She admitted to the crowd that the “character” she concocted for herself on America’s Next Top Model is quite different from who she is in real life, but that she “would love to have her in the boardroom” in all her fierce glory. In fact, the Tyra Banks who sat in Batten Hall speaking to fellow students presented herself more as the girl next door than the Victoria’s Secret bombshell. Well, make that the really, really attractive girl next door.

As a soon-to-be alum, Banks couldn’t leave without dispensing a few words of wisdom for those wishing to emulate her successful career:

“It’s okay to be vulnerable. Things don’t always have to be perfect.”

“You have a drive that the average person does not have. I’ve just started to take care of myself, and you need to do that, too.”

“Don’t chase the money, even if you want to be a banker. Chase the passion. Chase the dream.”

Photo from PR Photos

One Response

  1. celebritilicious February 19, 2012