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June 22, 2011

News & Opinion: Women in Business(books)

By: Sally Haldorson @ 7:19 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

As I (and many others) have noted, women business book authors make up a very small percentage of the category, and while the number is growing, often books by women are more niche-oriented or geared toward the personal, so don't get the powerful push or word-of-mouth that more general business books get. So I'd like to spend a little time talking about the books written by women that have landed on my desk recently:

This spring, Anne Kreamer's book, It's Always Personal, first intrigued me--no, touched me--due to the personalized publisher copy being used to promote the book. Kreamer wrote:



I was told when I started work that if I wanted to be professional, I should never let my feelings show at work--that emotion had nothing to do with success. But somehow once I’d been working for a few years I realized that that advice seemed mainly to apply to women. The well-known chairman of my Fortune 500 entertainment company thought it was completely acceptable to call me up and scream at me because a good deal I’d made had not moved up the price of the company’s stock. He got explosively angry at me, but I certainly didn’t feel like I could reply in kind. So I cried. And felt even worse, but I sucked it up and went on, burying that experience until a few years ago when a former colleague and I were talking about how every woman we knew had had a similar experience. Because of my personal experience I realized I really needed to understand why crying on the job was such a taboo.


In most every intense conversation, including those I have at work, I tend to cry. And I hate it. And I avoid those intense conversations as much as I can. Which means I tend to avoid conflict, asking for help or recognition, laying it on the line. It's Always Personal spoke directly to me and I found great aid in Kreamer's assertion that "[w]e can...engineer and guide their course [of our emotions] so that they flow productively--used, if you will, for irrigating our crops and generating our power" instead of feeling like my emotions were instead robbing me of my power.

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Lida Citroen
, a branding expert, brings us a guidebook for "creating power through personal branding" in Reputation 360. Citroen starts us out with three questions: What kind of car would you be? What kind of song would you be? What kind of beverage would you be? Then, she suggests you ask the same questions of your target audience, and if you are an atmospheric Bon Iver cut while your audience is an 80's Journey sing-a-long, well, you've got a ways to go toward speaking your customer's language.

Other useable, accessible advice from Citroen? Remember that you've had successes, that you have had superhero moments, and don't pack those memories back in the past. Don't limit your networking only to people who can help you get a leg up; remember to surround yourself with cheerleaders too. Go with your gut: if something doesn't feel right, like your website design doesn't match up with your personality, change it, regardless if it takes extra time, money or effort. After all, it's your personal brand.

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Life coach Alissa Finerman's book is about Living in Your Top 1%. What is unique about Finerman's book is that she presents nine rituals for achievement. Rituals. It's an interesting word to choose. She explains: "It is important to note there is a big difference between knowing about a concept and regularly practicing it." The focus is on practice, on recreating your reality through moderating your mindset and making small changes. Finerman's advice is supported throughout with highlighted Takeaways, Top 1% Tips and Pep Talks, and chapter-concluding Bottom Line Summaries. Particularly helpful, I found, was her "Go for the Goal" chapter which emphasizes the usefulness and practicality of small steps amounting to big things. And that is really what Finerman's book does, help you look closely at the details of your life so that you can make the right small changes to climb up into your top 1%.

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In September, you'll hear us get really excited about The Big Enough Company by Adelaide Lancaster and Amy Abrams, owners of In Good Company (where women entrepreneurs go to work, meet and learn). Well actually, we're pretty excited about it now! I can seriously tell you that even the galley is quite a gorgeous read in terms of content presentation and organization, full of solid advice that grounds the personal interviews.



The Big Enough Company explores how to grow your enterprise in a way that sustains your own personal goals and needs, not someone else’s standards. Drawing on the true stories of nearly 100 entrepreneurs, as well as their own experiences, Lancaster and Abrams guide readers through the best principles that really matter when you work for yourself. This book empowers entrepreneurs to ignore popular “wisdom” and peer pressure to take charge of their businesses in a way that will help them succeed on their own terms.




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Also in the entrepreneurship category, I must mention Carol Roth's excellent The Entrepreneur Equation. This is the book to read if you are considering starting your own business and are brave enough to look the staggeringly poor odds (90% failure rate) in the eyes and learn how to avoid the common pitfalls. Roth will encourage you to look closely at your own personal motivations, evaluate the risks, assess the timing, and acquire the tools you need. What is so tremendous about this book is that Roth isn't cheerleading, but soberly advising, and that is exactly the kind of information new business owners truly need.

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Vernice "Flygirl" Armour is a huge personality with a hugely engaging new book, Zero to Breakthrough. Armour is a flygirl for real: a former captain in the United States Marine Corps who has set a LOT of firsts in her life. So she is the perfect person to answer the question: "how do you get big things done?" What I love about this book is that Armour speaks directly to us as readers who are moving step-by-step through this book with her. After a particularly harrowing, adrenaline-filled story, she asks: "Okay, are you still breathing?" And then steps us through what we should take away from the story: "Here are a few ways to use this incredible story when you have to make tough choices." This kind of authorial language keeps us turning pages, ingesting her wisdom as though it's being served up by a good friend.

Here is an example of what differentiates Armour's advice from others. Typically when we are advised to face our fears, no one bothers telling us that we should not face all of our fears. Armour makes that distinction:

*Follow your fear if it means doing otherwise would put everything you have at risk.
*Avoid following through on fears that put others at unwanted or unnecessary risk.

What else? She offers a Combat Confidence that really resonates: "Use fear to your advantage by looking at it as a field guide to the areas of your life in which you need to acquire more knowledge."

With a professional history like hers, she knows of what she speaks. We'd all do well to listen.

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Great on the Job by Jodi Glickman is all about communication and ranges from the very simple (saying "Thank You", or updating a colleague) to the more refined (crafting an effective elevator pitch) to the most delicate (communicating through a crisis.) Included in the book are Tear-Out Cheat Sheets that break down each chapter and might be handy to tuck into your wallet for future use. But Glickman's book isn't just about what to say, and how to say it right, it is about doing the right thing. Sound sappy? What I mean is this: Glickman will make you conscious of communication, of how other people are relying on you to step up, speak out, stay steady, and the only way you can truly be the person people rely on and turn to, is to communicate.

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Two other exciting books coming up this fall that you should bookmark for future reference (and literally just came in the mail today) are:

Practical Genius: The Real Smarts You Need to Get Your Passions and Talents Working for You by Gina Amaro Rudan

Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women's Paths to Power by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath and Mary Davis Holt.











 

About Sally Haldorson


Sally Haldorson's job as 800-CEO-READ’s General Manager is to make 800-CEO-READ a great place to work for our employees, and a consistently high-performing customer service organization for our clients, authors, and our partners in the publishing industry. In addition to her General Manager duties ensuring collaboration, integration, and quality, she reads, writes, reviews, curates, and edits for the company. Helping craft The 100 Best Business Books of All Time used parts of both skill sets. Outside of work, she is most likely to be found hitting a tennis ball around or hanging out with her boys (husband, child, dog) at home.