6 LESSONS FROM ‘LEAVE YOUR MARK’ BY ALIZA LICHT

Another great  read in the bag. Yaay! Reading ‘Leave your Mark’ by Aliza Licht felt like getting through different episodes of a girly series. Toward’s the end of the book, Aliza Licht does let on that her successful social media formula as DKNY Girl on twitter was inspired by the famous series, ‘Gossip Girl’ but thats not why the book gives off that vibe! The book is packed with a mixture of narrations of her own past experiences. She starts off by discovering that she is going in a completely different direction (plastic surgery) from her actual passion(fashion) and then starts to navigate her way back. This book is basically about ‘how she built her own ladder where there was no obvious path. Its packed with real life scenarios of devious colleagues, mean bosses and a whole lot of accessories organising. Lol. Oh, yes! She paid her dues and learned many lessons along the way.

Here’s what we can learn..

Professionalism is not dead. In today’s world, various avenues like social media mean people in high places are easily accessible but that does not mean you can approach them in a cavalier manner. Short handed messages like, ‘Hey, can u talk’, will get you nowhere. Neither will a phone call from mum, despite her being the connection. She also covers a lot of ground on professional etiquette, like cover letters and  ‘thank you’ emails after interviews. For some professions that goes without saying but having read some of the scenarios she has seen in the Fashion and PR world, this subject is worth the time. Calculated touches of professionalism can make you the most memorable crab and get you out of the barrel.

Timing in career is key. Treading that fine line ‘between paying your dues and moving on in time before sh*t hits the fan’ can be difficult. Whether you are looking for a promotion or a pay rise, gauging contribution versus returns can be tricky.  We have all heard of that scenario where the boss shows the colleague that their contribution is not worth progression and verging on replaceable, but unfortunately  the colleague chooses to carry on as if the amber light has not been flashing for a while. At the sign of a red light you must begin to explore other routes. If you feel you are reading the signs wrong, seek out a confidant to help you understand the signs otherwise you risk stagnation or worse, the chopping block! Its important to gauge whether you are ‘paying your dues’ or wasting valuable time. 

Build your portfolio even in your current role. Keep a record of your contributions to the business environment and goals. This will help you negotiate pay rises, new positions or even more responsibility in your current role. Understanding what is above and beyond and what is your actual role is very important to that list. Your boss may look at you funny for asking for a pay rise for doing what your paid to do well.  When it comes to this record think above and beyond! The point of your record is to give you confidence and assurance of your growth and contribution and help you understand your next direction.

Navigate office politics carefully. ‘At the end of the day, business is about human nature more than it will ever be about business’. Well said Aliza. Lets be honest, sometimes a work place can became a playground. Bosses mark territory, people become teams and gossip does the rounds. There will always be those characters that get things going and try to get you involved. Don’t add to, or stir the pot. Be careful where you place your feet in these scenarios.

Do not get caught out on social media. Social media can be a serious deal breaker in more ways than one. You may tick all a recruiter’s boxes until he/she decides to skim through your profile. Other faux pas include sending your boss a friend’s request, tagging the company profile in drunken posts, etc. These things can be hard to gauge so your better off safe than sorry by following some unsaid rules. Think before you post. Let your boss take the lead with befriending you on social media. Think of your social media as your personal brand and post accordingly. She goes into detail on the content for your bio, what do you want to be known for, finding your voice on social media and so much more. 

The higher you go the cooler you should become. The last few chapter focus very much on lessons for leaders. Firstly, should you go on to rise in your career, help others up. Having worked her way up through Haute and Atelier to DKNY, Aliza credits key people for nurturing her and giving her the opportunity to grow. But for every person that nurtured her, there was one that sought to stifle her or misread her determination as intimidation. Don’t be that person. As a leader, nurture people who are looking to grow. Secondly, if you are to lead, you must work on your network and networking skills such as learning  to work a room with grace, conversational skills, maintaining professional relationships, etc. Thirdly, you must learn the ropes surrounding your own. While working as an accessories assistant, she learned the art of public relations which afforded her the next step on the ladder at DKNY.

The book is written through the eyes of a PR specialist which offers refreshing insight. It shows one the balance between pushing and pulling in career and ‘the business of people’. To me, this is also a great book on emotional intelligence. People are the most complex matter in the world, and yet we cannot do anything worthwhile without them. If I was Aliza, I might have named the book. ‘How to act accordingly 101’. Haha.

In a nutshell, if you must progress you must calculate….

6 LESSONS FROM ‘HOW TO BE AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS’ BY MARIA HATZISTEFANIS

I just recently completed  ‘Mrs Rodial’s’ book, and  have to say it is riddled with practical gems on business! Maria Hatzistefanis, the brains and beauty behind the Kardashian/Jenner favourite skin care brand, Rodial,  gives a detailed account of what happens behind the scenes of a successful skincare brand and how she has managed to navigate her way into glamorous magazines, and high-end departments stores. How to be an overnight success is an easy read and she comes across as a very hands on business woman  and personable person. In fact the book is almost like a mini map because she offers her formulas to the reader for example there’s quite a bit on how to collaborate with other brands, how to land into a celebrities make-up bag, building your professional/brand presence on social media etc.

Here’s six key lessons for female bosses…

  1. There’s no such thing as an overnight success.  The successful Rodial brand we see today is as a result of a good 19 years of work! Oh, yes. This makes her a much needed voice for today’s female entrepreneur whose most touted business models are House of CB, or Kylie’s Lip kits.  Obviously, the latter brands have exploded in  a social media generation but many businesses will not automatically explode in the same manner and fashion. She started her brand in 1999, with £20,0000, used Starbucks as her first office and  from there began a steady and upward construction of the brand.
  2. Not all that glitters is gold. She mentions shunning external investment, which had been an option right from the early days, choosing instead to be fuelled by her vision and passion for the brand and a tight budget. She mentions this throughout the book. The absence of big budgets created scenarios were they have had to think outside the box to get things done. When she could not afford to hire a personal assistant, she often had to pretend to be both herself and a personal assistant, voice changes and everything! 
  3. Celebrity endorsement is not the be -all and end- all of a successful beauty brand. The products firstly made their way into celebrity hands before the celebrity collaborations happened, which speaks volumes for the product! She mentions collaborations with Kylie Jenner and Daisy Lowe did help multiply exposure but she uses other unique ideas to build her brand like exciting product names, beauty awards and collaborations with other designers that she felt shared the similar identities of the target customer or complemented the brand, in the process building industry relationships and other useful connections. 
  4. You are your biggest walking advertisement, on and off court! Of course that’s a no brainer coming from a beauty industry entrepreneur but the lesson here is  your presentation of self has to be consistent with what you are selling as the current market is not just buying your product but they are also buying into you. She mentions building a personal presence/Instagram page outside the brand that was more personable and relatable but still not far off from the Rodial brand identity. There she show cases her fashion sense, social events, commentary on other beauty trends, etc, and therefore offering her followers a 360 perspective of her life as a beauty industry business woman. All this directly translates into a bigger following for the Rodial brand. This is so true! Today people want to see and hear from brand owners and the best of the best are very active on some form of social media! I mean the other day Jeff Bezos ‘tweeted an instagram photo’, making pancakes for Russell Wilson and Ciara. What in the world does that have to do with Amazon?
  5. Take care of every aspect of your being. (Physical, mental and emotional). Maria shares how she makes it a point to stay motivated and in shape, saying gym classes and inspirational quotes are part of that formula.
  6. The path to success is a winding road paved with challenges, risks and often detours. Having moved from Greece to complete a Master’s in Business Administration in New York, she surprised  herself by getting a well paying corporate banking job in London. With time, and the reality of a corporate banking job she lost motivation and ended up being fired. And thus, an entrepreneur was born…

I think the book is a great read for today’s female entrepreneur. Here’s a woman who’s been carefully crafting a brand for nineteen years and has achieved a great balance between a healthy amount of personal exposure and a successful brand. I read GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso (founder of Nasty Gal) in the summer last year and the tone is completely different. Maria’s moves seem more thought out and calculated compared to Sophia’s which felt more serendipitous. Both interesting reads but completely different formulas.

In a nutshell, your good thing may take time…