PRAISE FOR From CINDERELLA to CEO
"The storybook Cinderella sits and waits for her prince charming to come. From Cinderella to CEO is a rewrite for modern day Cinderellas. This book tells women to climb on their own horse and ride to their destiny. It's full of great road maps on everything from how to survive a wicked boss to how to surround yourself with swans!"
Pat Schroeder, former Congresswoman, President & CEO of the Association of American Publishers
"Cary Broussard has produced a great compass for women who are navigating their journey through work life. This is a primer that turns fairy tales into actionable road signs that will transform starry-eyed neophytes into seasoned professionals. This book is much more than a 'yellow brick road' map. It is an atlas that not only helps the reader plot her successful course; but, it also underscores ways for managing a successful career, as well as identifies road markers and landmines that could derail a career. It is a must read."
Esther Silver-Parker, Vice President of Diversity Relations, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
"If you have aspirations to be successful and happy in your career, then From Cinderella to CEO is the book for you! Cary Broussard has decoded folklore and articulated a play-by-play game plan to help women win in the ballgame of business. And best of all, this fairy godmentor wisely refers to cutting edge twenty-first century thinking by interpreting business as pleasure!"
Linda K. Bolliger, Founder & CEO, Boardroom Bound?
"From Cinderella to CEO offers something for everyone. No matter which rung of the corporate ladder you are perched upon you will appreciate Cary J. Broussard's fresh perspective on women in the workplace. Whether you are just starting out, mentoring a new hire, or thinking about starting your own business you'll look at things differently after reading this book. Broussard understands that while work styles may vary by gender, these differences complement each other and savvy employers and employees will prosper when both styles are encouraged to flourish."
Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the World's Largest Market Segment
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About the Author
CARY J. BROUSSARD is nationally known for her work in bringing women's groups together and uniting them to share a common focus. She is one of the top advocates for women in diversity and business, and is well known for creating Wyndham's WOMEN ON THEIR WAY® program, credited with improving travel services for women everywhere. Broussard is a sought after speaker on the lecture circuit and has been seen on CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC. She has also been quoted extensively as an expert on women in business in major newspapers and magazines.
ANITA BELL is a freelance writer who has authored or coauthored nine books on career issues, fitness, nutrition, emotional health, parenting, and other topics.
Read an Excerpt
From Cinderella to CEO
By Cary J. Broussard
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-471-72718-0
Picture Yourself at the Palace and Find a Fairy Godmentor
Yes, we've all read Cinderella-but you shouldn't dismiss it as a fairy tale of interest only to children. This story has a lot to teach us in today's competitive, cutthroat business world. The new Cinderellas are under constant pressure, but that only builds their strength. They keep working, get right back up, and dust themselves off when they are put down. They make mistakes and are far from perfect. But they are the real heroines of the workplace.
Cinderella is the world's most popular and versatile fairy tale character. Her story has been told in hundreds of different ways all over the globe. Fairy tale folklorists put the number of versions anywhere from 340 to over 1,500! The first and still foremost Western literary version of Cinderella was published in 1697 by Charles Perrault, as part of his collection called Contes de ma Mere L'Oye, better known as Tales of Mother Goose. He introduced the detail of the glass slipper, the pumpkin turning into the coach, and the fairy godmother.
Chances are you know Cinderella by heart. But just in case you need a refresher, here is the classic version in a nutshell:
A young girl called Cinderella is cruelly mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, ridiculed and forced to act as a lowly servant. Yet the girlmaintains her sweet and hopeful spirit, working hard and dreaming of a better life. The prince, who is searching for a bride, invites all the maidens in the land to a grand ball. Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters conspire to ensure that she cannot attend. However, a fairy godmother appears just in time to provide Cinderella with a magic coach, a gown, and a pair of glass slippers. At the ball, the prince falls in love with Cinderella at first sight. But she is in a hurry to return home before the magic dissipates at midnight, and rushes off before he learns her identity. In her flight, she leaves behind a glass slipper. The prince sends his emissary to find the mystery girl who fits the shoe. Many maidens try to squeeze into the slipper, including the stepsisters. But only Cinderella is a perfect fit, and so she becomes the prince's bride.
The Brothers Grimm published a grittier version of Cinderella from an oral folktale called "Aschenputtel" or "Ash Girl." Instead of a fairy godmother, assistance comes from doves that nest in a tree Cinderella plants on her mother's grave. The slipper is gold, not glass, and the stepsisters go to gruesome lengths to fit into it-they cut off parts of their feet!
In 1950 Walt Disney released an animated film of the fairy tale that was a huge success, and the movie's graceful, singing heroine has become our most enduring image of Cinderella. With the advent of home video, the Disney film is more popular than ever, and the character has spun off into infinity, with character clothing, costumes, jewelry, housewares-even breakfast with the "real" Cinderella in Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom. In 2001 Disney hooked up Cinderella with other fairy tale princesses- Belle, Aurora, and Snow White-forming a quartet that's more popular than the Beatles, with merchandising sales of over $1.5 billion a year!
But the story of Cinderella is not, and has never been, just for children. Ever since Perrault entertained the sophisticated aristocrats of Louis XIV's court with his telling of the story, people of all ages and background have delighted in Cinderella variations. The full-length ballet "Cinderella," with music by Prokofiev, premiered at the Bolshoi Ballet in 1945, and charmed an audience of stern Soviet officials. The Rodgers and Hammerstein teleplay, with its unforgettable score, entranced all ages. The literary world has seen an endless stream of adult treatments of Cinderella, including a poem by Sylvia Plath, Jungian critiques, and Freudian analyses.
How can one story continue to cut right through the cultural overload and intrigue people of all ages and eras? What is Cinderella's secret?
The Alchemy of Transformation
At the heart of Cinderella is the belief in the possibility of transformation. Cinderella is transformed from downtrodden servant to princess, from lonely ash girl to beloved bride. She tells us that everyone, no matter how lowly and scorned, can be elevated. This is the message of Cinderella that keeps people captivated. And it applies to working women as well as fairy tale heroines.
Okay, let's get real for a minute. No one is saying that you'll meet Prince Charming and be transformed into a princess and go to live in a castle. (And after reading about the travails of Princess Diana and Fergie, maybe it's just as well.) But you can create a realistic and highly satisfying transformation in your work life.
There are as many different ways to transform your work life as there are versions of Cinderella-or more. "Women demand a greater sense of fulfillment from our jobs than men do," says Gail Evans, retired executive vice president of CNN and author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. "The standard male-oriented rewards-money, power, prestige-don't necessarily have the same sway with us."
Most of us would like to make more money. But it's not (necessarily) the sole motivation. Some women seek power and an impressive job title, while others aren't comfortable with the high level of pressure and stress that accompany upper-echelon positions. Although this book is called From Cinderella to CEO, I am not implying that every woman should aim to become a chief executive officer. I am, however, encouraging you to think like a CEO in whatever position you hold. And to envision a transformation that suits your own values, goals, and reality.
Some women want excitement in their careers, others stability. Some crave freedom, others prefer structure. Many women seek work that makes a meaningful contribution to the world. Others value a chance to express their creativity. Everyone has a different vision of success. What's yours? You'll need a strong image of how your career transformation will look before you turn the pumpkin into the coach and get there. And no one can create this picture of work fulfillment for you. It depends on your particular balance of values, talents, and desires.
Examples of transformation are all around us. Some real-life Cinderellas are wealthy and world-famous, but others are women you know or even work with every day.
The person who asks to take on a little more responsibility each month, until she gradually works her way into a position of authority and becomes a manager and a mentor for those who come behind her ... The innovator who introduces a new concept to the company and keeps pursuing it until the higher-ups listen ... The risk-taker who takes the plunge and starts her own business because she has an idea that she believes in ... The woman who gets through a difficult situation with a boss, keeps reaching her goals and driving revenue no matter what the company politics may be ... They are all Cinderellas.
Christine Duffy started as a project group manager with McGettigan Partners in 1982. Maritz Travel bought McGettigan a few years back and Christine rose to be the CEO of the combined company, which is a global leader in meeting, event, and incentive travel services. "A lot of my rise in the organization was because I was very ambitious," she says. "I was always the one to take on more. I became the one you could give a difficult task to and turn it around. Don't wait for people to suggest you do something," Christine advises. "You have to be responsible for what happens. Get up the nerve to go to your boss and say 'I'd like to take on this project or I think I can make a positive contribution to the company by doing X, Y, Z.' Also, don't wait to be recognized for your abilities. Often being polite and waiting to be recognized is a detriment to women. Ask yourself, 'How do I promote myself?' As Tom Peters says, 'Promote your brand.' Everybody else is!"
Susan Braun is president and CEO of The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, a global leader in the fight against breast cancer through its support of innovative research and community-based outreach programs. "One of the most important parts of being a CEO is seeing the big picture," says Susan. "For women at all levels of business, I encourage them to regularly step back and review how their work contributes to the goals of the organization. Equally important is vision. We all need to envision the end we have in mind, whether it's to create a new business opportunity or cure cancer. If we can see it, we can make it happen."
Of course, merely wishing that your dreams come true won't cut it in the real world. You're going to have to work hard to make it happen. Be persistent and think like a chess player. Accept your differences and imperfections.
Your imperfection can be the key to the palace. Embrace it, build on it, improve it, find others who appreciate it. Stay true to your dreams and ideals even when you're ridiculed, stifled, or overwhelmed with obstacles. Don't let your mistakes hold you back by dwelling on them.
And make sure to find someone with a magic wand to help you along!
Everyone Needs a Fairy Godmentor
One of the most enchanting qualities of fairy tales is how they illustrate that so many aspects of life remain constant over the centuries. Charles Perrault, who capped his versions of fairy tales with witty moralites, offers this insight at the end of his Cinderella story: "It is a great advantage to have intelligence, wit, common sense, courage, and good breeding. These and similar talents are gifts from Heaven. But even with these talents, you may fail to reach success, without a fairy godmother or godfather to help you on your way."
Substitute "mentor" for "godmother or godfather" in the last line of this 300-year-old advice and you have an invaluable lesson for getting ahead in today's work world.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of a mentor, or a series of mentors. They have made all the difference in my career. And if you ask almost any successful person, you'll usually find out that she or he was greatly helped by one or more mentors.
Mentoring is as old as civilization. Certainly one cavewoman showed the other how to keep the fire alive and get her fair share of the meat. In the Odyssey, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, takes on the form of a man named Mentor in order to give Odysseus advice and guide his son. (I guess the people in those days were so biased they wouldn't take the advice of a female even if she was immortal.)
The modern definition of a mentor is "a wise, loyal advisor," or a counselor, coach, or advocate. The person who receives help was once called a "protege" but is now deemed a "mentee" in corporate-speak. The word sounds rather like an exotic animal, but in fact being a mentee is a crucial part of growing your career.
"It's not what you know, it's who you know," is a cynical old expression-with a disconcerting element of truth. If you're a woman in business you can change it to: "It's what you know and who you know." When you shine doing your work it's always good to have someone to cheer you on. You have to be sharp, well-informed, and at the top of your game. But the reality is that who you know also matters, and a mentor gives you a tremendous advantage-if you're willing to listen to your mentor!
Catalyst, the leading research and advisory organization that works to advance women in business, found that four out of five senior women executives emphasized the centrality of a mentor to their success. Sheila Wellington, the former president of Catalyst, points out in her book Be Your Own Mentor: "In my experience, the single most important reason why-among the equally talented-men tend to rise higher than women is that most men have mentors and most women do not. Mentors can show you the ropes. And pull strings."
The Many Faces of Mentors
Okay, you're convinced that you want and need a mentor. But who will it be? You might be surprised.
One of my mentors at Wyndham, Dave Johnson, was younger than I and looked more like a prince than a godmother. And we had a somewhat rocky start. Our first encounter was at a company sales retreat during my first six months at the company. The sales and operations divisions were playing a soccer game as a team-building exercise. We marketing executives were the referees. I called the ball "out" during the game when it really was out-a good call, I might add! But Dave, a very competitive guy, really "got in my face" for making the call. Sweaty guys started gathering around and peering down at me, all gruff and "p.o.'ed" at me, shoving each other. It was like being in a real live call dispute you'd see on TV, and I was the ref.
Then the CEO came around in a golf cart and said, "Hey Cary, you need to lighten up on your calls." Well, I was mortified and freaked out as well, but I stayed amazingly calm. And I got back in Dave's face by keeping my cool and walking away. Dave noticed my reaction and I won his respect that day. He saw that I wasn't easily intimidated and could hold my own in a tough game. Later that day we laughed about it and he learned I have a sense of humor. And when he became a boss, he decided that I was well worth mentoring.
When you're looking for a mentor, don't limit yourself by expecting your mentor to be a woman. Female mentors can be wonderful, but are often in short supply. Women in senior positions at corporations are a minority and are often overburdened with mentoring requests. Be open-minded and look for a person who's interested and available to you. This person can be within your company or outside it. There are many different types of mentoring relationships, each with its distinct advantages.
The Mentor Boss
These are the most common mentoring relationships since they evolve naturally in the course of business. There are sometimes limitations, particularly in a large corporation, where your immediate report might not have enough leverage to boost your visibility with senior people. You might also find it hard to be entirely honest with your boss about troubling issues. But with the right personality mix and range of opportunities, a mentor/boss can be optimal, providing you a chance to hone your skills on a daily basis and graduate to bigger projects quickly.
If you're in a larger organization, having a senior boss as a mentor sometimes defers advantages over having your immediate report in that role. First, someone higher up may have more clout in supporting your projects and more venues to increase your visibility. Secondly, in case your boss is unfair-doesn't give you credit for your ideas, undermines your efforts, or holds you back-you have somewhere to turn. But beware that you always have to carefully weigh the pros and cons of going outside the chain of authority.
Formal Mentoring Programs
If you have an opportunity to participate in a formal program in your corporation or organization, it's usually worth a try. Not all formal mentors are a good fit and these relationships often don't go as far as ones that develop naturally. They tend to be goal-oriented and limited in scope, lacking the personal connection that makes some mentoring relationships so magical. But formal mentorships can still be a solid way to learn and network. And these programs are being developed and improved by corporations continually.
In 1997, I started a Women's Advisory Board for Wyndham. I had the freedom to hand-pick women from whom I wanted to learn in order to do my job better and benefit Wyndham. Each member of the advisory board is a mentor of sorts, and hearing from these women who are outside the company and free from internal politics has been a tremendous learning opportunity and source of support-and not just for me but for other women and men in the company.
Now, you may not be at a point in your career where you have a chance to create your own board, or even to serve on one. But you can get in touch with multiple mentors by becoming an active member of a professional organization (see suggestions in the "Resources" section).
Excerpted from From Cinderella to CEO by Cary J. Broussard Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Cinderella: Picture Yourself at the Palace and Find a Fairy Godmentor.
Chapter 2: Snow White: Whistle While You Work and Win Loyal Allies.
Chapter 3: Little Red Riding Hood: Stay on the Right Path and You Can Fend Off the Wolf Yourself.
Chapter 4: Hansel and Gretel: Find Your Way through the Forest to a New Job.
Chapter 5: The Ugly Duckling: Paddle Your Way into a Group that Recognizes Your Strengths.
Chapter 6: Thumbelina: Think Big, Show Initiative, and Do Well by Doing Good.
Chapter 7: Sleeping Beauty: Be Inclusive and Wake Up to Your Full Potential.
Chapter 8: The Red Shoes: Keep Your Work Life from Spinning out of Control.
Chapter 9: Rapunzel: Share Your Ideas and Passion, and Make Your Voice Heard.
Chapter 10: Beauty and the Beast: Stand by Your Decisions, Take Risks, and Recognize Opportunity Like a CEO.
Organizations and Resources.