Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Without Options....Pfffffffffft.

The authoritative voices drone on, painting images that haunt me in my dreams as news of the financial crisis eclipse even Madonna's civilized divorce. While rabidly following the simultaneous meltdowns, I remain warily optimistic that even under the worst of circumstances people will go to dinner, buy tickets to the theater, get their hair cut and carry on with aplomb.

The secret to managing the unmanageable is to review and rereview one's options. Without options, all is dire. Pffffffffffffft.

Option #1: You will not hide but instead, treat each day as an opportunity to do it better.

Option #2: No matter how grim the news, exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, pull out the sharpest clothes and wear them with flair.

Option #3: I really do believe that the most powerful form of advertising is to be exceptional therefore no matter what you do, do it with focus and passion.

Option #4: Energy and imagination are particularly seductive qualities so hone these skills by reading, thinking and surrounding yourself with the brainiest and most generous of colleagues.

Option #5: You are not alone and can reach out to colleagues, advisors, mentors as well as talented and gifted friends for support and counsel.

Option #6: No matter the obstacles, hold to your vision and purpose of where you want to go. Dogged persistence is rewarded (ask John Updike).

Option #7: The only way to get out of a slump is to hit some balls, make some phone calls, schedule some lunches.

Option #8: Perception trumps reality so you are always in the midst of projects, opportunities and deals. Nothing's scarier than someone rumbling around on four flat tires.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Child's' Play

Full disclosure: I swoon for competence and get batty when incompetence and imperviousness go hand-in-hand.

This morning I showed up at the car dealership for a valve change. An email predicting dire consequences if I ignored the value replacement arrived in my mailbox two weeks ago. Dutifully, I scheduled an appointment. The customer service representative went to get the paperwork and oh no, sorry Mrs. S., your car is not the car that has the recall.

He smiled gamely. I sat there. He showed me the paperwork to confirm the recall didn't pertain to my car. I waited. With no peace offering in sight (An apology? A complimentary car wash?), I left.

Whenever a mistake has been made, treat it as an opportunity to showcase your inimitable sense of professionalism and style. I've seen some colossal mistakes in my time but only the ones handled with deft and graciousness ended well. I still regret missing the meeting when the incorrigible Mary W. suggested a deceased celebutante as a spokesperson for a line of hair care products. Rather than own the mistake, she compounded it by blaming the most junior staffer on her team.

It takes guts to scale a mountain, face down a pit bull or eat blowfish sushi. Admit to a boo-boo? Child's play.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Madcap Heiress Scary Talk

Well, people, here's a question for you: Are you still dressing for success or have you switched to duress?

While the dress/success style worked wonders through the left high and dry periods in my life, these days I need more armor. Truly, when even a chance encounter means listening to madcap heiress scary talk ("Neiman-Marcus is going bankrupt"), a cardigan thrown around the shoulders simply won't do.

Here's a round-up of essentials to wear when the dow is down, the mood is grim and talk of a bread line is not for a loaf of Poilane in the 6th Arr.:

Go monochromatic. Nothing looks as rich or as powerful as all-black, all-navy, all-grey.

Get a steamer. Not only is there no excuse for wearing anything rumpled or crumpled, it's aging and pity-inspiring.

Gloves and a scarf. It's amazing how well-chosen accessories can ward off evil naysayers simply by the discipline they connote.

Polished shoes. I'm starting to bore myself on this subject but nothing looks as sharp as a pair of well-shined shoes. Ladies, take note: This goes for you, too.

Skip the trends. If you're immune to whimsy maybe they'll think you're immune to an economic turndown.

Shop the vault. Shopping the closet was yesterday's epiphany...today it's about shopping the vault where you keep Grandma's platinum watch (wear it alongside your everyday watch) and Mom's pearls (add the fake stuff and voila, it's brilliant).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You Can't Win Alone

Despite a weekend spent trying to keep The Lord from going to Fifth Paragraph (and thereby scaring the daylights out of everyone around him) this Election Day morning finds me in a supremely uplifted state of mind. No matter what Chicken Little has to say about this torpedoed economy, my bet is that once the election is over we're going to see a decided sense of relief and anticipation of what we need to do to get our country back on track.

For now, let me urge everyone to take some lessons from this remarkable campaign and how it can apply to all of us:

You Can't Win Alone. More than two years ago, both candidates sat down with their closest advisors and plotted their runs for the presidency. No matter what the goal, it's impossible to get there by yourself -- we all need strategists, connectors, mavens, thinkers, even 'Paul Reveres' to accelerate our drive and ambitions.

Know Your Narrative. We all have a story about what we do and why it matters but you must be able to articulate it. Telling your story in a way that encourages connectedness with your listener is perhaps the most critical aspect to why some people move faster than others.

Image Matters. This election wasn't just about the content but the context. The fact that Obama kept his cool (and looked sensational) when things heated up earned him the admiration and adulation of not only his base but the media covering him.

Confidence is Everything. No matter how the polls were trending, all of the candidates were serenely confident that they would prevail. Only in the last weekend when Senator McCain poked fun at himself on "SNL" did we see a chink in his armor.

There's No Such Thing as Anonymity. While 2008 is the year YouTube became a tool for political campaigning, someone is watching you and me -- all of the time. So remember that when you hold the door an extra second or grab the parking spot I've been waiting for.

Get a Campaign Song. I don't know about you but I'm certainly going to find a song that epitomizes everything I believe in. And when I find that song, I'm going to sing it, I'm going to hum it, I'm going to rock to it as I walk on and off the set of everyday life.