Naked in the Boardroom: A CEO Bares Her Secrets So You Can Transform Your Career

Naked in the Boardroom: A CEO Bares Her Secrets So You Can Transform Your Career

by Robin Wolaner

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Renowned media executive Robin Wolaner delivers the 80 Naked Truths businesswomen need to develop presence, seize power, and achieve success.

Straight-talking and sensible, Naked in the Boardroom explains how to achieve more: more opportunities, more money, more notches on the corporate belt without sacrificing your integrity or losing yourSee more details below


Renowned media executive Robin Wolaner delivers the 80 Naked Truths businesswomen need to develop presence, seize power, and achieve success.

Straight-talking and sensible, Naked in the Boardroom explains how to achieve more: more opportunities, more money, more notches on the corporate belt without sacrificing your integrity or losing your identity.
In delicious, bite-sized nuggets, Robin Wolaner's Naked Truths provide universal and instantly gratifying lessons for advancing your career. They can be put into action regardless of your age, experience, industry, or whether you are a one-woman start-up or a big-company employee.
Drawing on her own career in magazine publishing and media development, Wolaner shows you how to succeed because of, rather than despite, your unique background and personality. With humor, attitude, and fierce intelligence, she reveals:

  • The keys to successful negotiation on behalf of the company or yourself
  • What great public speakers know and tricks you can use
  • When and how to burn your career plan
  • How to do the right thing in the gray zones of business ethics
  • Effective ways to recover from a mistake
  • Unusual wisdom for hiring and firing -- and for being hired and fired
  • And much more

Peppered with candid stories drawn from Wolaner's life, as well as those of other trailblazing women, Naked in the Boardroom is both essential and inspiring. It provides invaluable wisdom for anyone who sees success on the horizon, but who wants help getting there on her own terms.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wolaner rose from office temp to become president and CEO of Sunset Publishing before moving on to write, consult and serve on private corporate and nonprofit boards. Her own stories, and anecdotes from other achievers, are the basis for this chatty instruction manual for the distaff up-and-coming, which begins with the predictable assertion that women are generally different from men. The following chapters exhort readers to burn their career plans, listen to their guts, learn by example, benefit from smart moves, recover from bad ones, hire and fire well and manipulate situations to their advantage. Eighty-one "Naked Truths" punctuate her upbeat tale of mostly serendipitous and intuition-driven maneuvers. These aphorisms range from the obvious ("Return phone calls and emails") to the dubious ("If you undo a bad decision quickly, it doesn't count"). Sidebars labeled "Stripped-Down Wisdom" address corporate basics like how to dress, how to fire and how to cope as a working mother. In "Baring It," successful women recount their biggest mistakes and the lessons learned. Despite the book's intrusive theme of nudity, Wolaner gives some genuinely helpful advice, but often overplays the roles of ambition, networking and gut instinct at the expense of expertise, competence and plain hard work. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
It's hard not to expect some interesting twists in a career advice book written by a former Penthouse copywriter. Wolaner, publishing guru and founder of Parenting magazine, doesn't offer anything salacious here, but she does deliver 81 naked truths to help women capitalize on their gender while making good in the workplace. She generously shares her own career steps and missteps and provides the lowdown from the boardroom, bedroom, and cubicle. The real-life lessons on career planning (don't lock yourself into a plan), negotiation, mentoring, antimentoring (don't emulate rotten managers), business ethics, recovering from mistakes, and hiring and firing are sometimes harrowing but always educational. Interviews with other high-profile executives reinforce Wolaner's experiences. She tells how her personal life intersected and sometimes interfered with her work, a situation that will ring true for many women juggling multiple roles (Naked Truth #68, "No one is a fully competent working mother"). Recommended for public library business collections.-Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A how-to book for career women, with a difference: It is full of dishy and street-smart examples from her own life as a magazine executive...a quick diverting read."


"Robin Wolaner does something that few CEOs would ever do — she shares her honest mistakes and the lessons she's learned along the tough road of starting and running a company. Both men and women can start smarter — and finish richer — as a result of reading this book."

— David Bach, #1 National bestselling author of The Automatic Millionaire and Smart Women Finish Rich

"Robin Wolaner has written a terrific book...She offers insightful advice about such critical tasks as...negotiating, change management, and developing a positive culture."

— Professor William A. Sahlman, Harvard Business School

"An excellent book...this is great one-stop shopping for women wanting to move ahead in business."

— Barry Diller, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, InterActive Corp

"...A riveting read."

— Arlie Hochschild, author of The Second Shift and The Time Bind

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My mother hates the word "naked" in this book's title. One of my first business partners said, "Naked in the boardroom? Well, you have always disarmed and then dismantled any man you were near, not the other way around." 

I don't mean it literally, Mom. And I'm glad my partner thought I was always in control. But what I mean is this: Getting naked is another term for getting real.

Naked in the Boardroom began as a letter to my daughter, Bonnie, when she was four. I was thinking about what her working life would be like as a woman, and how much had (and hadn't) changed since I began my career in the 1970s. But by the time I actually started writing this book, I realized that maybe my ambitions were for a larger audience: women like those I've met all through my career, who hunger for other women's hard-earned wisdom.

While today you enter the workforce believing that you can have any position to which you aspire, you are still told to put on a business face, to make decisions based on analysis instead of personal beliefs and gut instincts, and, especially, to leave your emotions behind when you enter the office. Let's face it: The message is that to succeed, you should be more like men.

That's wrong.

Perhaps I'm comfortable with "naked" because my first job was at Penthouse. I am happy to report that the editorial and publishing employees were clothed, but getting naked is one reason why I succeeded in business. I showed my feelings and even vulnerability in the workplace. I was sensitive to the people with whom I worked. The lessons I learned in business all point to one broad truth: Success follows when you use what you've got. You will succeed because of, not in spite of, your personal traits. The trick is to make your aptitude and flair work for you in a style that is uniquely yours. Maybe I'm a cockeyed optimist, but I think the last decade of changes in business tilted the balance in our favor. Business moves faster, and that means that developing your gut instincts really pays off. Which gender is known for intuition? The biggest growth companies are in the information business: Who's better at getting, and sharing, information — men or women?

Men can be good at these.

Women are better.

Although much comes naturally, this book is intended to help you realize your particular strengths, to develop your ability to hear messages from your gut, and to shape your skills in listening, decision making, and negotiating — all essential to your career regardless of your seniority or industry. Each chapter is devoted to a specific business theme, accompanied by "take-away" sections filled with easily digested tips on specific career topics.

Kamala Harris, California's first African-American female district attorney, was told by her mother (a noted doctor), "It's great to be the first, you'll be the first at a lot of things, just make a path for others so you're not the last."

As part of a generation of women who were firsts, I think of Dr. Harris's words a lot. I was the youngest publisher of a national magazine in 1982, then the first entrepreneur that Time Inc. funded in a joint-venture start-up. In 1993, I was Time Warner's first divisional CEO to get pregnant. Then, I became a top executive at CNET, one of the first Internet companies to go public. There I suddenly found myself an elder stateswoman to young people who would ask me to be their mentor, to help them form a plan to succeed in work, in timing their families, in balance. In the hundreds of conversations I've had with women on the cusp of greatness — whether over late-night pizza or waiting at crowded airport gates — I've always ended up saying the same thing in different ways: Business is personal. Every necessary decision-making tool is already inside you — your experience, brain, and gut will tell you what to do, if you can access their messages. This is a skill that can be honed, and this book — and taking on the challenges presented to you — will show you how to do just that.

Most of the women I interviewed for this book, women who became CEOs and who were willing to get down and dirty, share my desire to help our female successors have it easier than we did. We hope that the next generation of businesswomen can learn from how we've grappled with real-life issues: hiring, firing (and getting hired and, er, fired), sexuality in the office, overt and covert discrimination, negotiating, recovering from a mistake. Few of these lessons come easily; indeed, I've learned as much, if not more, from mistakes and scoundrels over time as I have from easy decisions and heroes. My best mentors were the antimentors, whose examples I vowed to avoid.

Women in business today will far exceed the successes of the previous generation's women if they can just be themselves — be real — at work. This book will tell you how to be who you are and make it work for you. And you can keep your clothes on.

Copyright © 2005 by Robin Wolaner

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What People are saying about this

Robin Wolaner has written a terrific book that captures what she has learned as an entrepreneur and leader. She offers insightful advice about such critical tasks as hiring and firing, negotiating, change management, and developing a positive culture. More importantly, she sheds light on the emotional side of business by talking simultaneously about what she was thinking and what she was feeling at various points in her quite remarkable career. She reminds us that being a woman in the world of business is different - harder in many ways, but also empowering in others. Robin's book is must reading for all entrepreneurs and, frankly, for all men and women who need to figure out how to work together productively in a professional context.
William A. Sahlman, Harvard Business School
Jenny Ming
Robin Wolaner gives practical advice based on real life experience. You see yourself in each story and can apply her insight at any point in your career.
President, Old Navy
Pat Heim
Robin Wolaner has been in the inside and knows how to play the game of hardball. Her real life stories are great examples of how to win.
Author of Hardball for Women and In the Company of Women
Patricia Ziegler
Groundbreaking in unveiling humanness as the key to success in both business and in life. Naked in the Boardroom is inspiring, and brutally honest. I couldn't put it down.
Co-founder of Banana Republic and The Republic of Tea
David Bach
Robin Wolaner does something in Naked In The Boardroom that few CEO's would ever do: she shares her honest mistakes, and the lessons she's learned along the tough road of starting and running a company. Both men and women can start smarter-and finish richer as a result of reading this book.
#1 National bestselling author of The Automatic Millionaire & Smart Women Finish Rich
Arlie Hochschild
Robin Wolaner's vividly described and hard-won insights will be of particular use to women but most should be of interest to men as well. A riveting read.
author of The Second Shift and The Time Bind
Cathleen Black
Robin Wolaner has nailed the myths and the realities of life in the executive ranks, in a pithy and entertaining read. There is a lot to learn here to make your career more satisfying and successful.
President, Hearst Magazines
David J. Martin
Robin Wolaner is one of the smartest and most accomplished CEOs I know. I have benefited for many years from her sage insights. Now everyone else can, too.
CEO, Young Presidents' Organization
Stanley Bing
at once useful, funny, wise and sexy. That's right, sexy. Because Wolaner knows that sex isn't something we working stiffs leave at the revolving doors to our office towers. We take it with us, and if we're smart, we use it. Getting naked, on the job at least, was never quite this much fun.
Fortune columnist and author, Sun Tzu Was a Sissy
Barry Diller
An excellent book...particularly for women who still have too few of the guideposts that men take for granted...this is great one stop shopping for women wanting to move ahead in business.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, InterActiveCorp

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