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Book Review: Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office

First of all, this post offers no tips on marketing a company per se but does offer tips on how to market yourself as a person, more specifically as a woman in business.

If you’re a man reading this, I encourage you to continue and to share this with the working women in your life. We need men to help advocate for us. Thank you in advance.

Full book title & author

Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel, PhD.

As a 40-something year old woman who signed up for the Marines at age 17, I think I know a thing or two about working in jobs that are male-dominated. As of 2016, women Marines comprised just over 8% of all Marines. I’m sure 20 years ago that percentage was even less.

Over the years, I also held other jobs that were not “typically female” like wearing a hard hat and loading cars for Amtrak Auto Train and being the first woman videographer for an ABC affiliate television in North Carolina.

So, I’m used to sticking out a bit. And, unfortunately, I also learned that whatever tactics I used in my previously male-dominated jobs did not carry over well to the office place with more women, a different kind of politics and more overall complexity.

Without belaboring the issues of inequality between men and women such as pay; I’ll just say that I’m open to learning how better to “play the game.”

And here in lies one of my biggest mistakes. In reading this book, I learned that me avoiding playing the game at my previous office jobs hurt my career advancement. What I thought was “avoiding office drama” was in fact a removal of myself as a player in the game and it sabotaged me.

Ladies, heed my advice and read this book so you don’t make the same mistakes as me.

Book overview

This book highlights 133 mistakes that woman make and provides solid advice in the form of “coaching tips” for each mistake. Readers take a comprehensive self-assessment in the beginning of the book and from there, you determine which area to focus on first.

This is not a book that you read “cover to cover,” but instead jump around as needed addressing areas that are unique to your mistakes.

Yes, I said it.

You are making mistakes.

Become aware of them and change or you will continue to be passed up, professionally.

What I love about this book

I love this book because the self-assessment reveals specific areas to work on. The areas are grouped like this:

  • How You Play the Game
  • How You Act
  • How You Think
  • How You Brand & Market Yourself
  • How You Sound
  • How You Look
  • How You Respond

Here are the results from my self-assessment:

As you can see, “How You Play the Game” is my weakest area.

The irony of all ironies for me is Mistake 7: Working Hard.

I once spoke with my manager about wanting to move up the ranks after several years of success and promotions already. Her response, “You’re so productive, we could never find anyone to replace you!” Ouch. I was being punished for being too productive. My upbringing (at home, in school and in the Marines) to be a hard worker—stunted me in the office place.

In the coaching tips section for this area, this is one I try to focus on to this day:

“Give yourself permission to ‘waste a little time.’ If you’re not spending 5 percent of your day building relationships, you’re doing something wrong.”

– Lois P. Frankel, PhD

In the corporate world, I made the mistake of “working hard.” And now as a business owner for more than three years, it’s even more important that I purposefully carve out time to develop relationships. Being a taskmaster at heart, I have to constantly remind myself that just because I’m not working on a client deliverable does not mean that what I’m working on is unimportant.

Another thing I’m guilty of is taking notes during meetings. In fact, I defended my notetaking in a LinkedIn post last year. And others agreed with me:

I take copious notes in meetings because it helps me to actively listen and be present. It helps for recall a week later when I’m ready to take action on something I wrote down. I think the point here in both the LinkedIn post and book is to not let yourself be diminished by notetaking because of your sex.

“Each time we accept one of these tasks, we perpetuate the stereotype that a professional woman’s role is to nurture, care for, and serve others at work.”

-Lois P. Frankel, PhD

For example, for Mistake 119, Taking Notes, Getting Coffee, and Making Copies, here are a few of the action items (called Coaching Tips) at the end that could help alleviate this if you feel forced or belittled by the request:

  • When asked in front of a group if you’ll make copies or take notes, practice saying in a neutral, non-emotional way, “I think I’ll pass, since I did it last time.”
  • Introduce your corporate culture to the custom of having the newest person on the team perform these tasks.

A challenge for you

I dare you to take the self-assessment, find your weakest area and focus on improving just ONE mistake. Of the 133 mistakes listed in the book, I’m sure you can find at least one. (In researching more for this article, I found Dr. Frankel’s free online self-assessment.)

As women in the workplace, we need to help one another rise to the top. Or at the very least, to equality. Being honest with ourselves, and realizing our vulnerabilities and weaknesses are the first steps. Share this post to help another woman out.

What about you? What if your #1 mistake from the book? And what are you doing to overcome it?

P.S. I took a different path to get here but I actually DO have a corner office. And I love it!

And, I can always get better at playing the game. Would you like to network together? Connect with me on LinkedIn!