NEWS WE CAN USE: Killer Heels & Killer Instinct are Not Mutually Exclusive

Can’t women in tech have killer heels and a killer instinct?

How much does what you wear in the workplace make a statement about your skills and accomplishments? It depends: While it doesn’t seem to have affected Mark Zuckerberg’s success (we doubt Facebook’s stock price has dropped as a result of his refusal to wear anything but hoodies and sandals), at the same time, when you’re a tech entrepreneur trying to attract funding, partners and press, paying attention to your appearance and wardrobe can contribute to an image of success.

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we talk about dressing the part  and how what you wear can pose a hindrance -at worst, a barrier to entry. It’s like that old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

And, for many women in Silicon Valley, cultivating a personal style has at least earned them and their startups some good publicity, as evidenced by this recent New York Times Style section story on a new crop of women in the tech space who unabashedly dress up in designer clothes.

In the article, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, 42, a former Google executive who now runs a video shopping site called Joyus, said: “Earlier in my career, if I had to choose between a skirt and being taken seriously, I would have chosen being taken seriously. But now I’m at a point in my career in the valley where I’m judged by what I’ve done.”

Considering that the tech world is typically on the cutting edge of what’s new and modern, it sounds a bit archaic to us that a woman who walks into a meeting with venture capitalists wearing a designer skirt wouldn’t be taken seriously. If it was a hot pink mini skirt, perhaps, but dressing professionally and having a signature style should make a positive impression on others and show that you’re polished, smart and can run circles around those male tech geeks in t-shirts and jeans — even if you’re wearing five-inch Louboutins.

How do you think clothing impacts perception of your abilities?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

 

Learning From Lindsay: Part II (AKA Dress to Impress)

What a strange power there is in clothing.~Isaac Bashevis Singer

We don’t mean to pick on Lindsay Lohan. Lord knows, she has had a lot going on.

But, when we saw her don the now oft-talked about white dress that she chose to wear to court last week, we knew it would be a popular subject in the Twittersphere and beyond.

Why?  Because the dress spoke volumes, though clearly not about what she had hoped it would.  (She claimed to have worn the virginal white frock to proclaim her innocence; various pundits speculated that it illustrated everything from a rebellious spirit to poor judgment. And then there was the manicure…)

But, whether you were on Team “White” or Team “Not Right,” most would agree that she just didn’t dress to impress – particularly in light of the gravity of the situation.

Poorly chosen clothing can, at a minimum, be a distraction and, at a maximum, a barrier to entry, so it’s important to be super clear about what your clothing says about you.  So what can you learn from La Lohan’s wardrobe dysfunction?

[Read more…]

MOVING FROM BACKSTAGE TO CENTER STAGE

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” — so bellowed the Wizard of Oz as he tried to maintain the magic that he had created.

Jessica and Meryl "backstage"

We know his pain. In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we talk about how public relations people are typically the ones behind the proverbial curtain, pulling the strings and making other folks look good in the spotlight.  And, our goal with this book is to help you learn how to promote yourself in the best way possible, so you’ll reap rewards in the workplace. But in doing that, we have had to come out from behind the curtain and take a bit of center stage ourselves — that’s what you have to do these days to sell a book!

So, instead of setting up a photo shoot for our clients or being on set while a celebrity was photographed for a magazine cover, as is often the case with our jobs, we arranged a shoot where we were the subjects.  Let us tell you, it is not easy being a model — no wonder supermodel Linda Evangelista said she wouldn’t get out of bed for less that $10,000 a day!

In the talented hands of photographer Simon Alexander and makeup artist/hairstylist Sadah Saltzman, the experience was made much easier.   For fun, we took some shots of us “behind the scenes,” a few outtakes featured here.

Getting our dance on to Lady Gaga

Both of us prefer to be on the other side of the camera, but here are a few tips we used to loosen up and get comfortable on set, all of which you can also use before you going on an interview or speaking in public:

1) Music feeds the soul. Simon loaded up the 80s tunes and some Lady Gaga to get us going on set.  If you have a big interview or presentation, before you leave for work or on your way, crank up your favorite tunes to pump you up and help your confidence so you’ll do a good job.

2) Keep a sense of humor. Laughter truly is the best medicine and helps diffuse an awkward situation or a tense meeting.  It also instantly relaxes people.  We found plenty of comical moments during the shoot and it’s reflected in some of the best shots of the day.

Laughing on the set

3) Dress confidently and comfortably (and powerfully). We brought several outfits as options for the shoot but the common thread was that they were bold, stylish and yet comfortable enough to stand around in for hours. When you’re preparing for an interview, a speech or an important work function, pick something that will reflect your personality and style, help you stand out (even if it’s a great tie or necklace that elevates that simple black shift or grey suit) but doesn’t make you want to change into your PJs and slippers after wearing it all day.  If you’re going to sport those 5-inch heels, make sure you’ve broken them in and you can walk in them. Choose your “power” look (be it “business chic” or “casual cute”) and rock it.

Last of all, no matter what the situation–photo shoot, interview, presentation, networking event–the best advice is to have fun.

Have you ever had to be front-and-center vs. behind-the-scenes? Share your story with us on Twitter or Facebook.