April 28, 2010

LKL Exclusive – To the Class of 2010 Graduates

Posted: 06:00 PM ET

Ellyn Spragins is a speaker and author whose new book What I Know Now About Success: Letters from Extraordinary Women to Their Younger Selves was published on April 27th.

Dear Class of 2010 Graduates,

Soon, commencement speakers are going to hold sway over the advice racket. So I’m sneaking mine in now, just before the tsunami of entertaining, clichéd, quotable, original, soporific and lively guidance crashes over your caps and gowns.

I’m pretty sure you won’t hear this anywhere else. First, it’s advice designed specifically for women who want to succeed. It’s not PC to say that success is different for women than for men. But after interviewing 33 highly successful women, such as fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, makeup artist Trish McEvoy, Food Network star Paula Deen and personal finance guru Suze Orman, on what they wish they’d known about success, I think it is. Also, my advice isn’t socially acceptable. Your mom would not approve. At least not in public. But here it is:

Be selfish. One of the key messages accomplished women wanted to give their younger selves: Don’t put your friends’, boss’s, husband’s and children’s happiness so far ahead of your own that you neglect your dreams.

Be bad. Attention members of the Good Girls Club: This is for you. You follow the rules, get good grades and wait to be noticed for it. Highly successful women know that “being good” usually means adhering to someone else’s idea of what you should be–or could be.

Be dyslexic. In their quest for perfection, many young women have an overdeveloped ability to dwell on their weaknesses. But superstars who struggled with learning, such as Shark Tank judge Barbara Corcoran, cosmetics entrepreneur Bobbi Brown and Ambassador Nancy Brinker, discovered, often painfully, that it was critically important to focus on their strengths. What about their potentially crippling weakness? Meh. They found a way around—or found someone else to do what they couldn’t.

Study your gut. Credentials be damned! It was surprising how many smart, talented successes wished their younger selves had followed their instincts or listened to and trusted their gut. Not a single woman counseled, “Do more number crunching” or “Get more advanced degrees.” Since no one has probably taught you how to hear your gut, you’ll have to teach yourself. Then you’ll need to honor its messages by acting on them.

Don’t be men in pink. Male culture still rules at most American companies for the simple reason that men shaped them and men, in the vast majority of cases, still run them. So it’s remarkably easy for women to absorb the prevailing—i.e. male—definitions of successful behavior and leadership in their work. Fine, if they fit. But many of the gifted women I talked to had to buck the customary testosterone-tinged corporate culture to lay claim to their own authentic leadership. “Don’t be men in pink” means: Resist being recruited by motivations and goals that don’t truly speak to your heart.

Ladies, congratulations and may real success be yours.

Gentlemen, I wish you the best as well.


Ellyn Spragins

Filed under: LKL Web Exclusive

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gerald Jolly   April 28th, 2010 6:35 pm ET

Ellyen Spragin,

Is it possible that a women that is beautifull beyond beauty could write a book about the subject matter of her book.


Joe G. (Illinois)   April 28th, 2010 6:51 pm ET

If she can write a book, one would think she could afford a dictionary and look up the word “Success!”
And what in the world is this religion of hers: Be selfish. Be bad. Be dyslexic. Study your gut. Don’t be men in pink?
And then you hear about women complaining about being treated like.. Yuck.. ain’t even gonna say it. Sickening to even think about what left out there.

Smith in Oregon   April 29th, 2010 1:58 am ET

Republican lawmakers earlier today were floating the incredibly racist notion that children born in America from illegal immigrants 'lack the soul of American citizenship' !!!

What? Republican lawmakers are stating Hispanic children who are American Citizens 'lack the soul of American citizenship' ??!!!

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, Amendment 14. shall not be interfered with by States in regards to American citizenship.

This Republican Party attempt to demonize Hispanic Children born in the United States speaks very highly of crass demeaning Racism.

Republican lawmakers and their Tea Party followers often thump following the US Constitution. Apparently they greatly deviate from that Republican Mantra when it is self-serving, go figure!

I suspect many Arizonians will immigrate to America when Arizona goes bankrupt from the boycott.

I hope the Democratic Party continuously tells the Hispanic Community and the voting public, 'Remember Arizona' come mid-term election time.

Theresa   April 29th, 2010 8:00 am ET

A Smith in Oregon...for anyone who is a public official & states in public that Arizona should be boycotted should have that position taken away. Boycoting astate such as Arizona should be unconstitutional. To me if you are born to an illegal couple then i'm sorry that child should be ! deemed ILLEGAL!!!! Everyone always complaining about the deficit ..well, if your country STOPPED paying for all of the ILLEGALS benefits I'm certain your deficit would decrease. My sister is an American citizen & she certainly agrees with the new immigration law in Arizona. The town she lives in used to be beautiful. In the a.m. there are groups of day labourers waiting to get picked up probably for their ILLEGAL jobs. She said there used to be plenty of unique ,pretty shops but they have been taken over with tacky shops manned by people who speak mainly Spanish. She says she's glad her daughter is an adult because now she would never allow her daughter if she were a teen to walk downtown alone because there are groups of men standing around waiting for who knows what ..who don't even speak English. She's been an Amerucan citizen for approx.35 yr.!

Theresa   April 29th, 2010 8:04 am ET

In other words ...Ellyn Spragons is telling women to act just as men have for the past decades.

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