A Fortune 50 executive who climbed the corporate ladder shares how young women can replicate her professional success.
When debut author DeBok embarked on her career in the early 1990s, the business world was still very much a boys’ club. Through trial and error, she learned how to deal with an often hostile environment. Now, she “offers advice on how women can work within the male culture without abandoning female strengths such as collaboration, communication and empathy.” The book covers topics like overcoming perfectionism, learning how to lead and negotiate, managing emotions, and dealing with sexual harassment. Her belief is that women must bend to a male-dominated office culture (the “fitting in” of the title) while still using their stereotypically feminine traits—like strong communication skills—to do their jobs better and get ahead, thus “standing out” from their male peers. Some of the advice is not specific to women but applies to all people who are just starting out in their careers. Readers are sensibly urged to be punctual, prepare for meetings, and seize networking opportunities. DeBok also covers issues more pertinent to women, like negotiating salary, maintaining a professional appearance, handling flirtatious co-workers and their jealous wives, and even preparing for golf outings. Though not groundbreaking, the on-point guidance should be helpful for young women pursuing jobs in conservative, traditional companies. But those in less buttoned-up fields might find the author’s perspective a bit dated. The section on how to dress doesn’t address increasingly casual work environments where jeans and sneakers, not business suits, are the norm, nor does she discuss how to get ahead in an industry where the leaders are female, not male. Also absent is advice on a critical issue for many young women: balancing a career with starting a family. While there is general talk of work-life balance, DeBok is mum on topics like maternity leave and the pros and cons of taking time off to raise kids. But when it comes to the day-to-day business of navigating the working world, there are plenty of practical lessons here.
Worthwhile guidance for women aiming for the corner office.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").