Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success
Author: Ivanka Trump
Published: May 2, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
Description from Amazon:
Description from Amazon: I believe that when it comes to women and work, there isn’t one right answer. The only person who can create a life you’ll love is you. Our grandmothers fought for the right to work. Our mothers fought for the choice to be in an office or to stay at home. Our generation is the first to fully embrace and celebrate the fact that our lives are multidimensional. Thanks to the women who came before us and paved the way, we can create the lives we want to lead—which look different for each of us. I’ve been fortunate to be able to build my career around my passions, from real estate to fashion. But my professional titles only begin to describe who I am and what I value. I have been an executive and an entrepreneur, but also—and just as importantly—a wife, mother, daughter, and friend. To me, “work” encompasses my efforts to succeed in all of these areas. After appearing on The Apprentice years ago and receiving a flood of letters from young women asking for guidance, I realized the need for more female leaders to speak out publicly in order to change the way society thinks and talks about “women who work.” So I created a forum to do just that. This book evolves the conversation that started on IvankaTrump.com, where so many incredible women (and men!) have shared their experiences, advice, ambitions, and passions. Women who work lead meetings and train for marathons. We learn how to cook and how to code. We inspire our employees and our children. We innovate at our current jobs and start new businesses. Women Who Work will equip you with the best skills I’ve learned from some of the amazing people I’ve met, on subjects such as identifying opportunities, shifting careers smoothly, negotiating, leading teams, starting companies, managing work and family, and helping change the system to make it better for women—now and in the future. I hope it will inspire you to redefine success and architect a life that honors your individual passions and priorities, in a way only you can.
I didn’t know much about Ivanka Trump until this last US election. But the more I saw and learned about her, the more I admired her. She’s beautiful, stylish, classy, and successful. She handled herself with grace and poise through the entire election process. There are a lot of people who hate Donald Trump, but even those people have to admit how admirable Ivanka is. When Jessica asked me to read Women Who Work and write a review for it, I was thrilled! I couldn’t’ wait to pick it up. And this coming from a chick who loves fiction to a fault! I don’t work, so at first I was a little hesitant about being the one to review this book. But I soon found out that there was so much more than just career advice. I started reading it and the first thing that hit me was that this book is not just about women. If anything, it’s for anyone wanting to be successful!
Chapter 1, Dream Big, was downright inspirational! It wasn’t just about careers or business, it was about life in general. How to find things that you love and have a passion for and then going out and doing them. I have the tremendous privilege of being a homemaker and having a husband who is able to support that. And that frees up my time to pursue things that I love. I read more than the average person. I get to bake like crazy for the staff at the Emergency Department where Ivan works. I plan to homeschool our future children. This chapter encouraged me to undertake these things that I love and enjoy and if possible, turn them into something lucrative. Someday, I plan to open a bakery! Ivanka discusses how to stay positive in life. How to examine yourself to see what kind of purpose you want your life to have. She suggested a positivity exercise of spending 5 minutes every day writing down the positive things you’ve seen or experienced in the last 24 hours. I tried it, and even I have been more optimistic for it! It doesn’t even have to be a literal 5 minutes with a physical list. Some days I simply think, “oh yeah I have to do my positivity 5 minutes!”, I start thinking about all those constructive things, and then I forget to actually write the list. But the idea of finding the good things has actually worked!
Chapter 2, Make Your Mark, was just as good. She talked about communication skills that you can use in all areas of life. How to network and gain support from colleagues and those in positions above you. I was inspired to get into volunteering in my community. Who knows the opportunities that volunteering at the library could open up for me!
Chapter 3, Stake Your Claim, started getting into the actual business portion of the book. Although there wasn’t much to practically apply to my life, there was still a lot of good things to chew on. I mainly used it to look back at the jobs I previously held and tried to apply all those ideas to how I could have done things differently. This is the chapter that anyone in a leadership position should read. Many of the suggestions that she gives could be used in any business scenario. Even areas like education, where many administrators and teachers don’t consider what they do to be actual “business”, would benefit from the things Ivanka writes about. Avoiding useless meetings, negotiating raises and flex hours, etc., can be used just about anywhere. This chapter is incredibly helpful and informative about real women’s issues, mainly maternity leave and flex hours. I understand that family planning and childcare are the main things that can be disadvantageous to women who work. Ivanka gives very good, practical advice on how to deal with the business side of that.
Chapter 4, Work Smarter, Not Harder, also deals in the juggling that mothers need to do in order to have children and a career. This was the chapter that I thought the entire book was going to be about. But even then, there are many strategies that everyone with a full, active lifestyle can take advantage of when having a career. This chapter is about organization and trying to have it all. Ivanka talks about prioritizing and, hopefully, how to juggle everything life throws at you successfully.
Chapter 5, Tip the Scale, goes hand in hand with that prioritizing, by pointing out that you need to grasp all the good things that happen instead of working through them. Carpe Diem, especially those days with your kids that you’ll never get back. Take care of yourself and make sure that you’re “seizing meaningful moments” that you’ll be able to remember and cherish the rest of your life.
Chapter 6, Lead with Purpose, is where she lost me. Up until this point, I was all set to give this book 5 stars as a great business book. Honestly, every CEO and supervisor should read this book and take many of her suggestions to heart. But then she ruined it. Chapter 6 started in with all that over-generalizing, modern feminism, affirmative action crap. There’s an entire list of why women should be hired as executives and managers and be funded as entrepreneurs simply because they’re women and all women share the same strengths and traits. She applauds Norway for having a law that “requires at least 40% of their public boards of directors be female”. Frankly, I’m insulted. I’m more than just my lady parts and I’d like to be judged and evaluated as an individual, for my own accomplishments and qualifications. And “time and again it is proven that investing in the education and business initiatives of women and girls is one of the highest return opportunities, especially in emerging markets, where their success has a direct impact on economic growth” . . . why not instead of focusing on their gender, which I thought we were trying to discourage in society, you find out why they’re successful. What are they doing that makes them such good investments? I’ve said this in other reviews, the last thing that matters to me about someone is their gender, race, creed, or orientation. Why does any of that have to matter? Why not hire the person who is best for the job? Why not hire the person you believe has the passion and drive that will make your business successful? I know that Ivanka’s heart is in the right place, but she fell into that trap of overgeneralizing an entire group of people based on something that they have no control over and that the best way to overcome societal stereotypes is affirmative action. Anyone else see a problem here? And advocating for paid maternity, paternity, and adoption leave to be required by law, I absolutely do not agree with. 1. I don’t believe in most government regulation in business. It doesn’t work, it has never worked, and if anything, it hurts business. 2. By requiring it, instead of having employees ask for it, that requirement would discourage companies from hiring women, because of all the extra costs. This chapter kept me from giving Women Who Work a 5 star rating.
Overall, I liked this book a lot! I learned a lot from it and was inspired by it and by Ivanka. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to start their own business, anyone looking to advance their career, and to anyone in a managerial or supervisor position. And the area of business doesn’t matter. As I said, there are enough suggestions and strategies to cover a broad range of careers and ventures.
*Thank you to the publisher, Portfolio for sending a copy for review!
Note from Jessica:
Many thanks to Kim for reviewing this! We had originally planned for this to be a double review so you could have two opinions of this book. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to read it. Wanting to be fair to both the author and publisher who was gracious enough to send me an arc copy, I decided to pass on it and Kim took the reins and read it. It was not the book that was the issue, it was me and life in general and it would not have been fair to try and attempt to read it and not give it a proper review.