A survival guide for women in the advertising business
Don’t get your hopes up. This isn’t about sex in the city. It’s a handle for a complicated question: How does a woman survive and excel in a male-dominated world?
It’s a good thing that I adore men because throughout my career I have been surrounded and outnumbered by them. I have worked with them, for them, on behalf of them and, during the last 15 years, a lot of them have worked for me. I have done well with men in small agencies and large ones. In the South, the Northeast and the Midwest.
I can say three things about my experiences: 1) give or take a few minor quirks, men are pretty much the same all over; 2) men are “easy” if you know how to seduce them; and 3) it’s a lot easier if you keep your relationships professional (be very careful with office affairs).
The best advice for women is to remember that men are men and you are a woman. This is true whether you are working with them, dating them, marrying them or just trying to torment them. If you try to deal with them the way men deal with each other, you will not only fail most of the time but you will be sacrificing your greatest asset: your femininity.
Here are some of my guidelines on how to manage the men in your professional life–in other words, how to seduce them without using sex:
Remember, they’re just guys. Use the same techniques as you use in your private life. What worked on your father, your brothers (aside from punching), your boyfriends, your husband? Think child psychology, positive reinforcement, masculine pride, fragile egos, saving face.
Never criticize them in public. If they are above you in the food chain, or just plain sensitive, try to confront them without an audience. You’ll have a lot more success.
Try to curb emotional behavior. Men fly off the handle and are seen as strong, passionate leaders. When we do it we’re labeled “emotional”–not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it gives men license to dismiss our points of view. (Example: In my creative department, when a woman has a meltdown, the men cringe and run for cover. When a man has one with another man, they generally go across the street to Patroon and have a beer and a cigar. This is why it’s a boys’ club.)
You can catch more bees with honey. Men are relatively easy to control. You just have to be nice to them. (Actually, this works with everyone.) Start out with things like “great tie” (“haircut, suit, T-shirt, navel ring”), then launch into whatever it is they’re doing that’s making you crazy.
Two sexes are better than one. It is essential for both sexes to play nicely together. We solve problems, read a room, think about life differently because our brains are wired differently. One brain is no better than the other they are just not the same.
Now I have to go and figure out what I will say to all the men in my office after they read this.
(I’m writing a book on this subject, which will be finished this year. Stay tuned.)
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