Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire

Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don't Get Fat, and French Women for All Season, relates the experience she gained as a senior executive for Veuve Cliquot to young women starting out on their careers.   It's a mouthful of a title, but it was a good read. This is most likely because I am a poster child for the target demographic: twenty something female employed in an office environment.  I didn't learn anything knew, but instead finally understood business sayings that those of us in the corporate world have come to live every day.

One example is the old adage, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have."  Guilliano spins it a little differently, calling women to "be their own brand."  As a senior executive for a luxury goods company, she became a visual indication of the business.  She was expected to physically represent her company at all times, whether jet-setting to overseas meetings or picking up weekly groceries.  For people who haven't made it to the corner office yet, the idea is to present the best possible form of yourself at all times.

I likened her pitch to a concept I see recommended to writers, published or unpublished: get yourself an platform.  You need a following to help you market yourself.  When you do any amount of face-to-face business interactions, your physical appearance is part of your platform.  It has to match with what you're pitching with your words, spoken or written.

Another phrase I heard over and over again was the about the "80/20 Rule."  The rule states that 20% of your workforce is responsible for 80% of your results.  I hadn't understood it quite that way, but looking back I can see it applicable in context.  It puts a spin on some of my past experiences on the job that makes me want to face-palm.

Overall, the concepts were repeats from a myriad of venues over the course of my career thus far: meetings with my management, corporate training, and the common catch phrases floating in the office ventilation system.  Guilliano's style makes it feel like a mentor whispering industry secrets in your ear over a glass of wine. I would recommend this book to other up and coming twenty-something women who are in the first stages of their career.

Anyone want to borrow it?


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