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A decade ago, Vancouver's Elaine Lui was fundraising by day and honing her gossip chops by night, writing e-blasts on topics like Britney or Jennifer Aniston's marriage prospects. Her cheeky take was so popular she launched LaineyGossip, which she's built into one the world's top celebrity gossip blogs. The Globe and Mail asked her what principles have helped her succeed.

Know you're not special

My parents never told me I was special. What they did tell me is that I could work hard. Watching the Miss Hong Kong pageant when I was 10, I said, "I want to be Miss Hong Kong." My mom told me that was never going to happen, that I wasn't pretty enough and that Miss Hong Kong was probably a prostitute. I know that parents these days would consider that way too harsh, but I find – and there is research to support this – that parents who don't tell their kid over and over how great they are and instead tell them to work hard and persevere create more successful individuals.

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Forget 'follow your dreams'

I get a lot done because I work my butt off. I get up at 4 in the morning. Maybe I'll end up partying until 3 o'clock in the morning at the film festival, but then I'll go back to the hotel to keep working. Those choices are made easier because I love what I do, but I still think discipline is more important than passion. In terms of career advice, "follow your dreams" is far more common than "work hard," which is just crazy. Too many people believe in themselves.

It's more important to be good than to be first

My mission is to expose how the celebrity system works, and this means taking some time to analyze information. When Katie Holmes announced she'd left Tom Cruise, most sites just repeated the headline and had that post up in minutes. My article went up an hour later. I made a few calls and pieced together some details no one else had. In those cases, I'd rather the quality of the story over the immediacy.

It's more important to be right than to be first

Last year during TIFF I got a tip that Angelina Jolie had been spotted at the King Edward. She wasn't scheduled to be in Toronto, so this was a huge scoop, but I wasn't totally sure about it, so I waited, contacted other sources, waited some more. Like most bloggers, I'm an "exclusives" whore, but ultimately it's more important to be right. In this case, the tip turned out to be false, so I was glad I held off.

Of course women can't have it all – it's a stupid question!

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I hate that question. Men don't get asked that question. Nobody has it all. Life is about choices and you can't make all the choices to have all the things, regardless of gender. Does anyone actually think they have it all? Do you think that Angelina Jolie thinks she has it all? I think she probably wants more.

There is absolutely no cool way to approach a celebrity

It's just not possible because from the start there's an inequality of power there. You are coming in from an inferior position. You're saying I love you and that person obviously doesn't love you back.

But if you must …

My policy has always been about positioning rather than approaching. Like last year at TIFF I was at a party with Kate Hudson. I wasn't about to go up to her, but I knew she was a smoker, so I went out to the smoking patio first. There was almost nobody out there and then she came out and we had an organic moment. Honestly, I know it's not the healthiest piece of advice, but if you want to have an interaction with a celebrity, don't leave the smoking terrace.

Lainey covers the Oscar red carpet Feb. 24 on Etalk.

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This interview has been condensed and edited.

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