being in an industry that requires a good amount of time in front of the computer really makes you appreciate the times when you're not staring at a laptop or desktop screen. for my flight down to and back from SXSW, i totally relished the hours uninterrupted by phone or internet. i took the time to write, sleep, and also managed to blaze through two books by two absolutely compelling women - Mireille Guiliano and Kelly Cutrone.
i don't feel like there are enough examples of power women who like to help other women out there in the world of business. a lot of the successful ladies we see depicted in movies and on TV are the kinds of women nobody wants to be around: mean, disrespectful, lonely, hostile and with a warped sense of entitlement. Ms. Cutrone herself is privy to this on her own show plus the ones she's previously been a part of. anywho, i always gravitate towards the books by power women in all kinds of industries. they have so many life lessons and tips to share with young ladies like myself :)
Guiliano oversaw the Veuve Cliquot enterprise in the U.S., expanding from 1% of market share to a good quarter of it. Intermixed with great lessons on how to wine & dine, interview, network, make presentations and hold your own in the office & on the field, this amazing French powerhouse also shared her personal thoughts on fashion, work/life balance and taking care of yourself (which we as women tend to put to the side in our quest to be all things motherly for everyone else.) i was really entertained and inspired by her many stories of holding her own against the stereotypes of the male-dominated industry that the wine world was - and how she always stood true to bringing new ideas to the table to bring her brands to the top of consumers' minds.
Kelly Cutrone is an incredible force of nature. While dispelling almost everything that's been depicted of her on TV, she shares an incredibly intimate peek into her life - from a bored teenager trapped in upstate New York, a hipster in the wild days of 70s NY nightlife, a young divorcee piecing her life back together on the west coast to legendary pillar in the fashion PR industry. what i loved most about Kelly was learning how huge her heart is. in regards to her employees - as long as you give her your all and show that your heart is truly in the right place at People's Revolution, she will bend over backwards to take care of you and give you the tools to succeed in the industry (or wherever you want to end up.) her book is a quick read but chock full of great advice for anyone who wants to be (or work for) an entrepreneur. i love that she constantly stresses the hard work, the stress and the hours it takes to succeed; i feel like so many people i meet who want to "be in fashion" don't actually have the heart, the drive or the passion to do it. she makes it crystal clear that those people are a dime a dozen and quickly find they have no place in the fashion industry at all.
so what are some of the things both Mireille and Kelly taught me? here are a couple of my favorite lessons from both fabulous ladies:
- What's the worst that could happen? Life is all about taking risks, right? For women in business, taking risks is the key to finding success - and encountering failures (lessons learned.) Both ladies often asked this question throughout their books, to demonstrate why they made the decisions they did. I love posing risks in that perspective. You'll find that things don't seem so scary or daunting if you stop and ask, "What's the worst that could happen?"
- You will get somewhere if you put your heart into it. Mireille & Kelly are full of experiences where they went above and beyond what was required of them to get what they want and ultimately elevate their present business situation. This is one of those lessons I feel are easiest to listen to but hardest to put in place. You have to keep at whatever it is you're doing, especially when you reach the point where you feel like you can't do it anymore. As my friend Darcey Howard likes to say, you're not an entrepreneur if you don't want to vomit at least three times a week :)
- Take care of yourself! Ugh. The first thing women do is forget about themselves when trying to have it all. I am a repeat offender of this. I have to remind myself that I am in dire need of "me" time, all the time. Mireille goes into some depth in pointing out the differences between how the French and Americans view vacation time. We have a lot to learn from the well-vacationed Europeans, I can tell you that! Kelly even points out that while she has created a life where her home and work are in the same building, she is adamant about unplugging when she leaves the office, to cook, bake, focus on her daughter and basically have time to herself.
- Learn to say no - and how to hear it. It was so comforting to me to read different takes on this from both women. Mireille stresses that you have to know when to say no - to promotions, new jobs, new responsibilities, whatever - in order to maintain your inner peace and some sort of balance in your life. Alternately, I LOVED reading Kelly's stories about getting yelled at (and yelling at) impossibly difficult clients. It comes with the territory - and it's how you build that tough-as-nails blood Kelly's got streaming through her veins.
- Dress for success! For Mireille, it's injecting your personal style so that you make an impact in the boardroom without making a spectacle of yourself. For Kelly, it's cutting-edge style, and a uniform of all-black (only at fashion shows & events) - timelessly chic, always stylish and a way for her team to find each other in the midst of chaos. Regardless of where you are in your career and what you happen to represent at the moment, I think both women would agree that the most important thing you can wear is a relentless confidence of self. Nothing looks better than a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.
I read a ton of books but I'm glad these two made it on the plane with me. I highly suggest these to any power girl who needs a little more mentorship from other power girls in the world.