In conversation with …Kate White, author of I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This
Some of us are more career-challenged than others. Luckily, the super-successful Kate White is here to help.
White was editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 14 years, during which time the hugely successful publication hit record circulation and advertising figures. Before that, White had hopscotched from one fabulous editor’s job to another in what seems to be an ever upward trajectory, seeming never to put a foot wrong.
Then she left it all to focus on a first love which she calls her “back pocket” career idea – writing books. She’s the bestselling author of Bailey Weggins mysteries and has just published I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, a follow up to her bestselling Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead …But Gutsy Girls Do.
We caught up with her during the Toronto segment of her book tour.
Kobo: You have called your book I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This – and it’s jam-packed with great advice. Why shouldn’t you tell??
Kate White: In the book I’m fairly candid about things I’d done wrong, or things I wish I’d done differently. These are the things we usually don’t talk about. When I thought about the fact I’d be sharing mistakes I almost stopped and thought about whether I really minded sharing some of this and I thought actually if you hear about the good and the bad, it will help you more.
Kobo: You were a magazine editor and you write novels – what made you choose to also write books as a career?
KW: Maybe it’s because I’m a Virgo but I really do love to look at why things work and what didn’t work and to analyze that. Plus, after my years at Cosmo, I had learned a lot and had more to say since writing my first book on career strategy.
Kobo: Who should read this book?
KW: I really wanted to reach women in the middle of their careers. It’s when you’ve been somewhere for a while and you’ve gotten a bit comfortable and it’s time to say am I coasting or am I pushing this as much as I can, and then how do I get to the next level.
As well there’s advice for younger women. I find the business environment has really changed, and you can’t take for granted that it’s going to happen for you career-wise. Young women today seem aware that they need all the help they can get, and if they can pick up some good strategies they will. I wanted to offer some of those from what I’ve learned, and to show how you can learn from absolutely every experience. In your early career you have a great opportunity to be an observer and to figure it all out. Think of it as your time to get up to speed before you’re actually in the fray.
Kobo: You talk about the importance of having a signature look, why is that important? Is that just your fashion editor side talking?
KW: It helps to make sure people remember you. You have to be aware that you are judged on your hair, your shoes, eye contact and body language. It might not seem fair, but suck it up, that’s the way it is. It helps to accept that reality and take it a step further, make sure you look good, develop a personal style that has impact and will be remembered.
Think about how people see you and what they think about when they think of you. We all want to be judged on our merits, on our work, not to be judged on our appearance. But that’s not reality. So use that to your advantage, too.