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Banks shows conference audience why she's a model for success

Tyra Banks would get to the career advice the organizers of the 23rd annual Bakersfield Women's Business Conference brought her to town for eventually, but she opened her address to a sold-out crowd of 1,500 current and aspiring business women last week with a lesson on how to "smeyes."

That's shorthand for "smile with your eyes," the model and business mogul said after taking a bite of the bread pudding she hadn't had time to get to before her speech.

Think of something that makes you really happy, ("for me, it's bread pudding") and then look directly into the camera and seduce it, Banks said. She demonstrated a pouty look with gleaming eyes.

Banks had to get that out of the way, she said, because everywhere she went people asked her about it. Airports. Restaurants. Even public restrooms.

Despite a career as one of the most famous supermodels in fashion, Banks, 38, is much more than a pretty face.

After a meteoric run as a supermodel that broke through numerous racial barriers, she hosted a talk show from 2005 to 2009 and is creator, executive producer and host of reality show "America's Next Top Model," which is viewed in more than 170 markets.

Banks also runs media empire Bankable Productions, as well as the Tyra Banks TZONE Foundation, which makes grants to community-based nonprofits that serve low-income, disadvantaged girls.

Banks credited her mother with forcing her to consider, even at the height of her modeling career, what she would do with her life after the modeling gigs stopped.

"Every business has cycles," Banks said. "Prepare for the ending at the beginning."

A music video she premiered on her talk show garnered some of the highest ratings of the show's run, but for all the wrong reasons.

"People were tuning in to watch the train wreck," she said, laughing.

The point, Banks said, is that you can rebound from mistakes, and it's never too late to change course. If your career choice isn't working out, find a new one and get serious about doing what you have to do to succeed in it.