Published on DailyWorth: Why I’m Done Being a ‘Nice Girl’

I do not plan to be a nice person this year.

I’ve made a lot of friends by being friendly and uncontroversial toward everyone I meet — in short, by being nice. For a while, this worked well enough. I do not like conflict, and getting along with everyone made it easy to avoid.

But it also made it hard to negotiate a good salary. I once stayed at a job where I was miserable and underpaid because my college career center taught us that it’s unprofessional to leave too quickly. (Looking back, I suspect this was to deter students from accepting internships only to quit for more lucrative opportunities a week later.)

As I got further along in my career, I asked myself why it was so important to please everyone — and I realized that it wasn’t.

Continue reading.

On Business and Style: The Gentlewoman’s Code

woman in business suit

I love the idea of living by a code. A strong code defines the type of person you want to be and equips you with finite ways to live that life. To have a code is to stand for something. It is a plan for when there can be no plan–when life gets unpredictable and demanding and improvised badassery is the only option.

The modern gentlewoman is a feminist, a world traveler, a business owner, an artist, a boss, a lover, a risk-taker, a  pleasure seeker, a philanthropist, a leader, a teacher, a friend, a realist with big, ballsy plans. She’s got it together; she runs her life with practical authority, and she’s very good at getting what she wants.

Naturally, she has a code:

  • The gentlewoman is a warrior who charges through life with purpose. Proactive decision making and deliberate action are part of her daily battle strategy. She executes plans with intelligence and fierce determination. She calls bullshit when it happens and counterattacks with an instant grace that is as beautiful as it is lethal. She is always dressed for battle and her style is impeccable.
  • The gentlewoman isn’t concerned with pleasing others or seeking approval–it’s bad for business. She is kind and gracious in life, but she will not conceal her values just to keep a conversation agreeable. She never rushes to assure the person who ran into her because he wasn’t paying attention that “It’s okay.” She is not one to make a change for the sole purpose of gaining someone’s approval either. She demands what is hers and offers apology only when she is truly in the wrong.
  • She does what is necessary to get the job done. She knows that there are no rules but her own rules, and she’s no stranger to figuring things out on her own.
  • There is a forward-moving momentum to her life. She is never stagnant, always working toward the next goal. The gentlewoman sees the value in staying in on a Friday night to get ahead on work that is important to her. She works hard while she’s young so she can afford to work less later in life.
  • She appreciates a good, stiff drink. There’s nothing quite like relaxing with a tumbler of scotch after a long day of entrepreneurial badassery and creative revolution.
  • She deals in uncompromised honesty. She faces even the most painful truths head on because she knows lies and excuses shelter her only from being a greater, more evolved version of herself. Likewise, she’s loath to sugarcoat the truth for others. When a relationship–whether business or personal–isn’t working she ends it cleanly and definitively and moves on. She cuts ties with the sharpest blade and the gentlest truth.
  • A gentlewoman remembers a name when an introduction is made, and thenceforth uses it when speaking with her new acquaintance. There is power to be gained in remembering the name of everyone she meets.
  • She feels gratitude where others feel envy. The gentlewoman doesn’t resent other women for the things they have that she may lack–she’s too busy appreciating what she does have while she works to make the rest of her world better. She knows a woman with, for example, a prestigious job, or an abundance of lovers and admirers, is no more a woman to be envied than to be celebrated. She knows how to rejoice in the success of others while focusing on her own hard work and accomplishments.
  • She possesses the kind of self-assuredness combined with a love of risk taking that follows self-taught independence. She’s not afraid to strike out on her own and see the world at her own pace. She’s learned how to cook a nutritious meal, be on her own in a foreign country, change a light bulb and use a hammer because she understands what worth these skills have to her self-sufficiency.
  • She makes fitness a priority after a fulfilling career and social life. She takes care of her body with exercise and a healthy diet; she runs, swims, boxes or lifts weights for her health, and not as penance for the pizza she ate last night. She can enjoy an indulgent meal and skip a work-out to make a deadline with no hard feelings.
  • She is highly critical of how she spends her time and does not entertain distractions, including procrastination, perfection, uncertainty and jealousy. At any given moment she is either up to something highly productive, like revising her company’s marketing plan to drive up sales, or learning to code, or networking in a hotel bar; or she is doing something awesome, like skydiving, or reclining on the couch with a glass of champagne, a decadent dinner and the next “Game of Thrones” episode.
  • She is thoughtful before she speaks and chooses her words discerningly. She doesn’t complain about trivial inconveniences or toss out a remark  just to fill an uncomfortable silence. Her speech is precise; her words are weighted and measured to exact the greatest amount of control possible. She is not afraid to be bold, provocative or uncensored, but she determines when and where she is transparent. She is in control of her presentation, and therefore, the situation.
  • A gentlewoman holds her head high and her back straight. She could fill a room with her regal posture and dignified confidence.
  • She understands the importance of outward appearance and style. Wherever she is, she’s dressed with purpose. She has dedicated time to discovering a precise sense of style that works for her and she now wears her own version of class and sophistication. She evokes power in a pair of running shoes just as well as in a pair of expensive black pumps.
  • A gentlewoman is not perfect, and she does not strive to be perfect. She knows that to put perfection on a pedestal is to stunt her truth and creative edge. She knows that perfection is not an end result worth the effort it takes to achieve. She does not allow its pursuit to get in the way of her quest to make art, accept power and have fun.

photo credit: carbonated via photopin cc