Be Career Smart – not just “nice”

Title – Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office
Author – Lois Frankel

Happy International Women’s Day!

Women have achieved so much in the last 50 years in terms of breaking the glass ceiling, conquering water and space, but we still have a long way to go. And if there is one book, I could recommend to all my young friends, nieces and any female I care about – this would be it! This brilliant book is packed with more than 150 mistakes women make at work and the practical ways to stop doing the things that really hold them back.

This book is something every woman should read, whether you are fresh out of college, or already in a high-ranking successful career. There are so many pearls of wisdom, it is amazing. For most readers, you will feel convinced that you make every single mistake in the book (or have done in the past!) Do NOT worry, awareness is half the battle, we can only correct what we know!

SCORE: 4.5* out of 5

To be honest, this book easily deserves a 5 on 5. However, I disagree quite a lot with the “How You Look” Section. To me some of the advice seems a little outdated, especially if you work in tech roles. However, I totally agree with the author that it is better to err on the side of conservative dressing, at least in the beginning of your career. You can choose to stand out for your dress sense or style after you’ve established your brand beyond question. Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, mentioned something very similar in one of her townhalls I attended (as an employee), and she is the leader of the largest stock exchange platform and one of the biggest fintech companies in the world.

Aside from this short qualifier, I have nothing but praise for the rest of the book. Indeed, the gist of the book is to play to your feminine strengths, while making you aware of common career mistakes that derail your career in subtle but concrete ways. I’ve made many of these and sadly seen many wonderful women get stalled in their careers for the same reasons, while other (men) overtake them to extraordinary heights. Women often never reach their full potential due to what I like to call “Death by a thousand cuts” – small mistakes here and there. Just one or two won’t hurt you, but like compound interest, over a period of 10 years, they make a huge and NEGATIVE difference.

I have the audiobook version, and honestly the author’s narration sounds like a conversation with my favorite aunt or a strong and honest mentor. I’ve read the paperback version but loved the audio format much more for this very reason. Plus, its easy to listen to audio at 2X speeds and while I am doing manual chores like cleaning, traveling or just for a quick 2-minute dose of inspiration and pointers before an important presentation!

Nice AND successful! Avoid tactics that subtly sabotage your career.

Some Takeaways (mistakes) that Resonated with me personally:

  • #1 – Pretending It Isn’t a Game. #2 – Assuming the Rules are the same for Everyone.
  • #3 – Pinching Company Pennies. I stopped doing this very recently, and no one cared or asked why! Not even the finance department!
  • #24 – Polling Before a Decision. I do this a lot, so I sometimes must bite my tongue and assume silence is a sign of no objections.
  • #33 – Denying the importance of Money. Job satisfaction is important but earning top $ is a sure-shot way of skyrocketing motivation!
  • #44 – Making Miracles.
  • #56 – Ignoring the Importance of Network Relationships. Similarly, #17 – unwilling to capitalize on relationships.
  • #66 – Waiting to be Noticed.
  • #77 – Couching statements as Questions.
  • #85 – Using Qualifiers
  • #120 – Tolerating Inappropriate Behavior. On the same vein, is #15 – Protecting Jerks.

Overall, must read. If you mentor women or girls, or want to give a graduation gift for a female in your circle, then this book will be perfect!

Similar Works:

Books – Lean In, By Sheryl Sandberg. How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job; by Sally Helgesen. Girl, Stop Apologizing; by Rachel Hollis. Secrets of Six Figure Women, by Barbara Stanny. Own it, by Sallie Krawcheck.

Movies – Late Night (2019), Joy (2015), The Associate (1996).  

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Presence – Amy Cuddy

Title – Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office
SubTitle – Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges
Author – Amy Cuddy

From brain trauma accident survivor to Harvard professor to TED talk speaker with million viewers! Who would not want to listen to an author with such an incredible rags-to-riches story?

This is an amazing book, and once you start reading you will quickly realize why the book landed on the Amazon bestseller list, and the talk garnered 30+ million views on a generic topic like “confidence”.

SCORE: 4.5* out of 5

Some of the concepts may seem like common sense or something your grandmother would advise you – sit up straight, don’t hunch, etc. But here are some unique concepts to pique your interest:

[a] Wonder Woman or starfish Pose
[b] Nudging – how small changes can bring out large gains!
[c] iHunch (serious concept with a hilarious name)
[d] Fake it till you become it! Dealing with impostor syndrome.

Personal stories

The book certainly is filled with anecdotes from struggling actors who landed coveted Hollywood roles, homeless person, introverted kids giving public presentations, women leaders and so much more! It’s a self-help guide and a leadership training book for rookies and a motivational speech all rolled into one!

But I personally related very well to the book, because I have my own stories that prove the methods in the book work. Don’t ask me why, the reasons are listed in the book. All I care is that they miraculously work!

Here are some personal stories that make me believe in the book, 100%!

[a] Fearless girl – Have you seen the sculpture of the “Fearless girl” facing the massive Wall Street bull? Just the thought alone makes me feel more confident as a woman. My 7-year old niece always stands this way and she recently was awarded a memento at school for exemplary leadership in class, despite having changed school in the middle of the year, and only being there for 3 months! 🙂
[b] Lucrative jobs interviews – A colleague confessed to trying out the “wonder woman” pose minutes before her interview for a competitive technical position at Nasdaq, the megalith fintech exchange! She landed the lucrative at a salary range far higher than she imagined. She admits the pose might not have been the tipping factor, but she is convinced she eliminated the “desperate” vibes that unemployed jobseekers unconsciously give that had been holding her back until then!
[c] Shrinking violet – take up your available space! When my mom returned after a 2-month trip caring for my ailing grandmother, neighbors and colleagues remarked that she looked “shrunken” and every bit her normal short 5 feet 5 inches frame. In truth, this is a far cry from the joyous personality who has made 6+ feet students quaver in fear! Interestingly, I’ve been told I look taller after I published my book and took a leadership role last year. Maybe confidence does make you taller and more attractive!

Boost your confidence – for the moments that matter!

Who will benefit the most?

This is not just a self-help book, and even though I have it listed under my “women” section, the book was not targeted solely for women.

So who all can benefit?

  • You are a stay at home or unemployed jobseeker, anxious about returning to the workplace and being unable to cope up.
  • Kids (or adults) who have been bullied or feel excessively shy.
  • Anyone with mental health, depression or anxiety issues.
  • Women of color, or anyone from a minority group who is eager to take their career to the next level, but facing feelings of “impostor syndrome”
  • Grad student stepping into a researcher or first professor role.
  • College students embarking on their first jobs.

I’ve already recommended this as a MUST-READ to all my mentees. This will also make an excellent graduation gift to students and young professionals!

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Fabulous Read – Emily Belden

Title – Husband Material
Author – Emily Belden

This was another book I picked up at my local library, from the “New Reads” section. The date was close to Valentine’s Day, the title was supremely catchy, and the blurb was intriguing to say the least! After all, how many romance books involve an urn holding the ashes of the heroine’s dead husband’s ashes, mailed in a package?

SCORE: 5* out of 5

If I had to describe this book with movie analogies, then this is a book where “Double Jeopardy” meets “Legally Blonde”. Or “Confessions of a Shopaholic” meets “The Intern”. Or the recent “The Spy Who Dumped Me”.

This author portrays drama, grief, betrayal, unusual friendships, romance and dating set in the glitzy background of LA, complete with control-freak, unapproving and RICH mother-in-law and romantic male character who may turn out to be the hero or the villain! All the characters are very well fleshed out and the heroine’s

I read the whole book in one go (~ 2 hours)! ? It’s been awhile since I found a romance or chick lit book so gripping, so do want to appreciate the book thoroughly. I suspect I finished half the book just to find out how the husband died in the first place – even though I knew this was a “hook” I was willingly ready to take the bait!

The book is classified as “coming of age” fiction on Amazon, but honestly “Women’s Fiction” would be a better category or Urban Drama! Or even RomCom. Why do authors classify books this way and make it difficult for readers to find them? (bit annoyed, but the author writes so well! ) Thankfully, my library correctly had it marked under “New Age Romance”.

I loved how the author weaved some very controversial and depressing questions relating to death, hurtful relationships without making it sordid or overwhelming! After all, we read such books for entertainment, but it’s beautiful that the author was able to intersperse them without losing the story’s magic!

Similar Works

If you like any of the below, you will appreciate reading this author too:

Genres – Drama, contemporary romance, Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction.

Movies – The Spy Who Dumped Me, Double Jeopardy, The Intern, Legally Blonde, Devil wears Prada, Confessions of a Shopaholic.

TV Series – Modern Love.

Books – “The Summerhouse” by Jude Deveraux, “Confessions of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella, “Right Fit Wrong Shoe” by Varsha Dixit, “Marriage Clock” by Zara Raheem.             

Overall, a fantastic read, and ideal for traveling or gifting! Happy Reading!

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Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8th is International Women’s Day, so this month is dedicated to all the amazing women authors out there, as well as books that advocate for women. Below is my reading list for the month, so also hoping to accomplish a good chunk of my reading goals and “clear the clutter” Goodreads challenge. So many birds with one stone! 😉

March 2020 Reading list

  1. Presence, by Amy Cuddy.
  2. Women Still Don’t Get the Corner Office. Author Lois Frankel.
  3. Squeezed by Alyssa Quart
  4. America for Beginners. Author = Leah Franqui. (Fiction)
  5. Head over Heels, Lila Monroe. (Fiction)
  6. Husband Material. Author = Emily Belden. (Fiction)
  7. You are a BadAss, by Jen Sincero.
  8. 365 Days of Facebook. Author = Nirupama. (Fiction)
  9. Achtung Baby, by Sara Zaske.
  10. You Woke up Worthy, Britny West.
  11. To Winter at Wildsyde, by Emma Leech. (Fiction)
  12. Mirror Work, Louisa Hay.
  13. The Profitable Content System, by Meera Kothand.
  14. Evening is the Whole Day. Preeta Samarasan. (Fiction)
  15. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Women and Leadership. Harvard Business Review.
  16. Secrets of Six-Figure Women. Barbara Stanny. Non-fiction business.
  17. The Big Book of Juices. Natalie Savona. Health & Living.
  18. Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling. Non-fiction business.
  19. The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae. Stephanie Laurens.
  20. The Marriage Clock: A Novel. Zara Raheem.
Go Girl Power!

Happy Reading!

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Title – Unlocking Potential: 7 Coaching Skills That Transform Individuals, Teams, and Organizations
Author – Michael Simpson

REVIEW SCORE – 4.5/5 ****

Since last year, I’ve been involved as a mentor in my company’s formal mentoring program for women and diversity initiatives. So I was looking for a good book to “up my game”, so mentees can make the most of my (limited) time and experiences. This book came in as a recommendation, and Amazon was already offering me some ebook credits for being a voracious reader! So the timing seemed fortuitous!

So glad I bought this book!

Good leaders are those who can act both as effective managers and trusted coaches who take their employees to the next level. Unfortunately most training guides teach managerial skills focusing on results, not coaching. This book fills that cavernous gap.

Every team has diverse employees and a one-size-fits-all approach rarely brings out the best in every member of the team. Plus, most managers are already crunched for time, so 1-on-1 time is often used for getting random project updates rather than discussing career development goals and critical feedback loops. This book will help both employees and managers put that limited time to better use. Already, my manager and my mentees are responding positively as we are accomplishing more in 30 minutes than we did over weekly meetings in the entire quarter! 🙂

Improved mentoring sessions and group meetings

Whether you are a first time manager, professor/ teacher, sports coach, a seasoned manager who wants to help employees who seem “stuck”, or simply accelerate career development for the whole team. Even professional coaches will find this book useful to give better sessions with clients.

What I love about the book?

Did I mention this book has a foreword by THE Marshall Goldsmith? That alone guarantees a high quality of content, but interestingly I read the foreword only AFTER buying the book.

Aside from the halo effect of Goldsmith, I genuinely loved that the book is immensely practical – strategies that you can take action on, immediately! Some of what I’ve started to use are listed below:

  1. Questions to ask employees to make the coaching sessions more effective, how to measure results and the SARAH model.
  2. How to help difficult employees accept negative feedback.
  3. Separate methods for 1-on-1 vs group/team coaching. I do both, and so will you – if you are a professional coach, or lead large teams.
  4. How to give feedback to get employees/ clients so they are encouraged to take constructive action.

Overall, highly recommend for managers, teachers and coaches.

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