The Secret to Really Getting What You Want

//The Secret to Really Getting What You Want
When I was in my early 30’s, I lost a job that I really, really wanted, and if that’s ever happened to you, you know how much it can sting.

I was working as the articles editor for a Sunday newspaper supplement, and the editor-in-chief left to become the editor-in-chief of GQ. I was told that I would not only run the magazine until they found his replacement, but that I was being added to the list of candidates for the job.

At first this news stressed me. I didn’t know if I wanted to run the magazine and have so much responsibility in my lap. But once I took over, I quickly discovered I loved the rush that came from being in charge. I worked like a maniac to earn the top job, coming up with the best content I could.

Unfortunately, three months later—yeah, the search took that long–I was told that I’d lost the race. The job was going to a guy from another magazine.

Shortly afterward, my old boss took me out to lunch and had a talk with me. “Kate, I’m sworn to secrecy,” he said, “and I will have to deny this in a court of law. I was told your proposal was the best one submitted, and the main reason you didn’t get the job is because you’re a woman.”

His revelation was deflating, but I didn’t let it get to me for long. A short time later I left for a great position at a women’s magazine, figuring that was an arena in which I couldn’t be discriminated against.  I went on to run five national women’s magazines, including Cosmopolitan for 14 years. It was a fabulous media career and I don’t have a single regret.

At some point along the way, however, I had an interesting insight about my experience losing that job years before. It’s possible I had been discriminated against simply because I was female (as we’re well aware, that’s a regular occurrence in this world), but I also began to see that something else had played a role in my failure. Yes, I’d worked like a maniac, but I’d never gone after the position in a truly gutsy way. For example:

  • I never set up meetings to talk to the publisher about what I was up to or how much I truly wanted the job.
  • I never asked for the opportunity to present my vision in person (accompanied by a dazzling PowerPoint presentation. Wait, those didn’t exist back then. Well, I should have done some kind of visual presentation.)
  • I did nothing to showcase my skills.
 Maybe those steps wouldn’t have changed anything,
but then again they might have.
 

As time went on, I learned to be gutsier and I came to see that gutsiness always helped win the day. Twenty three years ago, I wrote a book called Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do, which articulated the nine strategies that later paid off big for me, and the book went on to become a bestseller. Hundreds of women wrote to me about how my advice inspired them. One of my favorite moments? I was shopping at a William Sonoma and a woman stepped up to me and said,  “Thanks for the $40,000 raise.” That really made my day.

I’m thrilled to announce that on April 3, my publisher is bringing out a totally revised, handbook version of my book called The Gutsy Girl Handbook: Your Manifesto for Success. It’s small enough to tuck into your briefcase, tote bag or desk drawer, and it’s loaded with great strategies that will help you nail the positions, opportunities, and salary you want and deserve. You’ll find, for instance:

  • The 3-step process for determining your perfect professional brand
  • The negotiating tactic practically guaranteed to score you a higher starting salary than the first one offered.
  • The simple technique for generating game-changing ideas that will turbocharge your career
  • The smartest place to sit in a group meeting–and it’s not directly next to your boss.
  • The sure-fire way to stop a man from interrupting you
  • The worst thing you can do when one of your projects blows up
  • The career-enhancing activity you should engage in every single week
  • The unexpected secret of great leaders, male or female

I can’t wait to share the book with you. If you want, you can even pre-order it now. I think the nine principles I offer can be enormously helpful in your career. After I wrote the original book, I sometimes reread it when I needed a kick in the butt, and I’m pretty sure the strategies helped me land the job running Cosmo.

This is a terrific moment for women in the workplace. We still face many hurdles but there are tons of opportunity, as well. I wish you great success in whatever you’re doing.

Oh, and just fyi. The best place to sit in a meeting is near your boss but not necessarily right next to her. You want to be able to maintain eye contact with her through the meeting, especially when you’re pitching ideas.

All the best. Be gutsy!

By |2018-08-04T11:23:31+00:00February 3rd, 2018|Kate White's Blog|0 Comments