by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio
So, I think I’ve mentioned this before: I don’t like pink books for “girls”. They bother me. For one, I don’t like pink. Second, I’m not twelve. But I will forgive the Girl’s Guide chicks their magenta book cover both because it’s relatively tasteful in its design, and because the information inside it is so good.
The Girl’s Guide to Kicking Your Career Into Gear by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio is an excellent collection of interviews, advice, and the authors’ personal experiences. The third book in their “Girl’s Guide” series focuses on your career as a whole, whereas the first two were about starting your own business and being a boss (respectively). They start out with a simple, but important, point: “If you’re not looking out for your career, then no one is.”
Chapters cover where you are now (“You Are Here”) and where you want to be, the “new girl’s network,” change and challenges, and “thinking big.” The section that I found the most helpful, however, was the one on fear. Aside from the usual advice about confronting difficult coworkers, Friedman and Yorio make the observation that owning your success is scary: “To say the sentence ‘I am successful’ out loud is uncomfortable for most of us. There are several reasons why this is the case. As women, we have been raised never to boast, and downplaying our successes has become a comfortable way to connect with other people. … The key is for all of us is to define our own success.”
They go on to talk about their own experiences in writing their books, and how their decision to think positively and take control really changed their outlook, and attracted more good things to them. It sounds cheesy, but they explain it well, and it really makes sense. As they put it, “When you believe that you are surrounded by idiots and your boss just doesn’t understand how hard you work and that you should work somewhere else but can’t afford to leave your job — then you have accepted that your career is not under your control.” They also talk about gender stereotypes and how to work with them (and break some of them), and handling challenges at work and at home.
The book ends with Part Four, entitled “Think Big.” Part Four discusses the overall picture: what do you want? Is it the corner office? Flex time? A raise? It also talks about getting what you deserve by, oddly enough, asking for it. The section finishes up with a chapter on leadership and delegating (something that many women have a hard time doing). Susan Heathfield, a management consultant, shares her “12 C’s for Effective Team-Building,” and the Guide girls provide “Fifteen Things We Learned From Girls Taking Charge.” Since this book came out fairly recently (January 2008), the ladies are still off on their book tour, but they’ve got some good information on their website, The Girl’s Guide to Business, along with a (slightly neglected) blog and calendar.
Though there’s some useful stuff in this book for everyone, women are more likely to enjoy it (for obvious reasons). What I’m finding, though, is that the Girl’s Guides aren’t the stereotypical “grrl power!” pink books, and for that, I give them a lot of credit. It’s hard to strike a balance between good business advice and the specific difficulties women face, but these ladies do an admirable job.
Reprinting allowed with permission of author.