on February 8, 2012
This review is being written from the perspective of someone who has worked with women, for women, and (later in life) as an employer of women, some of whom became very successful in their careers and some of whom had a more difficult time climbing the proverbial ladder of success. As I will describe in a moment, the advice is fascinating, and I recommend this book for professional and career women of all ages.
The authors are "Mrs. Moneypenny with Heather McGregor." Mrs. Moneypenny (not to be confused with Miss Moneypenny, the secretary for James Bond's boss, M) is the pseudonym used by a Financial Times columnist who has written on women's topics for 12 years. She runs her own successful business, is married and has three children. McGregor is a leading London headhunter, has three academic degrees, teaches from time to time at the prestigious London Business School and the Cass Business School, and chairs Career Academies UK, an educational charity. Importantly, nobody has ever seen Mrs. Moneypenny and Dr. McGregor at the same place at the same time. In short, we have a very well qualified and successful author.
This book is well written, easy to read, and incorporates a no-nonsense approach that the reader will likely find to be effective and even inspiring. It is substantive, yet you will likely find it hard to put down. It makes use of many years of the author's observations and experience. With a few of clarifying comments here and there, here's how the main part of the book is organized:
1. What You Know. Qualifications matter, because they give you confidence, act as an independent testimony to your capabilities, and provide you with important links to others.
2. Who You Know. The author wrote her PhD thesis on the concept of "social capital."
3. It Is Never Too Late. I loved this chapter. As the author explains, far too many women give up on their ambitions for the stated reason that "it is too late." Truth be told, it's seldom too late.
4. Just Say No. To get a feel for the author's style, here's how she begins this chapter: "No! Say it. Say it again. Say it out loud. There, see? It's not that difficult, is it?"
5. You Can't Have It All. Perhaps the most important chapter in the book, according to the author. I won't spoil what she has to say.
6. ...But You Have To Do It All. This chapter is specifically for working women with children and women with other responsibilities.
7. Financial Literacy. This was my favorite chapter (I'm an economist). Basically, if you want to become successful in business, you need to be able to speak the language of finance.
8. The Third Dimension. Mrs. Moneypenny tells you that it's not enough to be good at your job and run your home life well. You need a "third dimension" (from a number of alternatives) to round out your effectiveness.
9. Doing Your Own PR. Virginia Woolf once said, "For most of history `Anonymous' was a woman." You need to spend about 5 percent of your time doing your own PR, and you need to understand the most effective techniques.
10. You Can't Do It Alone. The author tells young women that there is no such sentence as, "I can't do it." Rather, the real sentence is, "I can't do it alone." There's good advice here for working with others to improve your effectiveness.
At the end of each chapter there is a "homework" section that helps readers summarize the chapter and organize their activities. I will end with Mrs. Moneypenny's closing advice: "A final word to all the ambitious women who will read this book. When you get to the top--and if you follow my advice, you will do so--remember to turn around and reach back to help the generation of women behind you. As Madeleine Albright once said, `There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.'"
on August 7, 2012
Let me first start by saying that I normally read two or three books at a time and that although I have a kindle and an Ipad, I love the thrill of turning paper pages. With that said, I will comment on Sharpen Your Heels (SYH). I stumbled on this book after reading a Mrs. Moneypenny article in the Weekend FT. I must confess that I mostly read the FT Weekend and I focus on Lunch with the FT and Mrs. Moneypenny. After reading SYH, I am now better able to read the rest of the FT newspaper (Mrs M would be proud of me).
This book is excellent. I got it a week ago and besides going to work and fraternizing in the evenings, I did not put it down until nine days later when I was finished. Dr. McGregor has managed to put all the things a woman of any age and century, but in particular, this century, needs to know about excelling in the professional world. It is not just for the traditional business woman, it is for any woman (at any age) who needs to equip herself in order to achieve significance and success.
Dr. H. is very frank in telling us women that you cannot have it all and that you need a team. She gives practical and doable tips for managing your professional life while putting in place boundaries and rules to protect your family life. When reading this book, I truly believe that I am being mentored by someone who has collected all her life experiences and shared it with me.
I am thankful that Dr. H took out of her busy schedule to pen this book. It will become one of my birthday and Christmas gifts for the dearest women in my life.
on February 25, 2013
If you just exist at your job, you do what is asked and you are physically present 8-5 but you wonder why after having done everything that is asked or expected, you are not being promoted or rewarded, then this book is definitely for you.
I recommend this to all women. These are best practices that are as important as your job. In today's business world, being good at your work is not good enough, you are playing a game and you need to be good at every aspect of your game. This book will definitely add to your basket of skills and help you make the leap from ordinary to "How did she know to do that" or "How did she do it, I wish I knew"
on July 21, 2016
Best book, does what it says on the cover. It's mainly targeted to women who want to be in the business world, but there are lots of general tips for any career including academia (like "your hair matters") and she justifies every single one of them with facts and experience.
on July 4, 2012
This marvelous careers advice book is aimed at women (it says so in the title of course!) but if you are a man - or if you know a man - who is standing at the bottom of the greasy pole looking up, or stalled, clinging on at the halfway mark, then recommend him this. Maybe advise him to buy the Kindle edition, so no-one will see he's reading it - after all, as Mrs Moneypenny points out, image is important. She herself, she reports, is often seen carrying a copy of the London Financial Times rolled under her arm, thus demonstrating she is a business-like person.
I feel slightly ashamed to admit I'm not a regular reader of the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist or any other high end financial paper. Neither do I work for a bank or possess a degree in accounting (Mrs Moneypenny is currently studying for one and somewhat regrets she didn't do this earlier in life but personally, I couldn't imagine a duller way to spend my time). I haven't attended the World Economic Forum in Switzerland (as yet) or ever been invited to a game shooting party at an English country house, both of which Mrs Moneypenny recommends as a fine means to improve one's network of contacts and oil the wheels of business. Nonetheless, I rather enjoyed reading about this high-flying, megabucks world, which is testament to Mrs Moneypenny's humorous style, so finely honed over a number of years in her Financial Times column of the same name.
Although Mrs Moneypenny clearly intends, at one level, for her advice for to be taken literally - attend the best university you possibly can, study finance, network with the right people, hire a great nanny, sit on the board of a charity and so on - it was the principle of the thing that I really took away: plan ahead, work hard, seek out opportunities, grow some cojones, help others and (some of them) may later help you. In this respect the book has something for you whether you are a elementary school teacher aspiring to become a vice-principal, a newly-qualified nurse-practitioner looking for your first higher-level prescribing position, an optician studying sports science at night in the hope of becoming a personal trainer, or a mom of toddlers working very part-time whilst looking to the future. Did you guess it? Yes, these ladies are all real people, my friends, and I shall be recommending this book to all of them.
And if your goal is to become a fully paid-up member of the corporate elite or to advise an ambitious, clever but not-very-socially-well-connected girl on how to become one (and by this I mean that Poppa can't fix her up the right internships), then this book is also for you. Although I think they probably broke the mould after they made Mrs Moneypenny, her advice on how to reach the dizzy heights of blue-chip CEO is solid gold, as well it should be given that, in real life, she runs a recruitment firm.
Do I plan to take up game shooting as a result of reading this book? Probably not. But I'm having a very hard think about what the equivalent activity is for my own industry.
on February 24, 2013
There's often an illusion that successful people didn't spend years working hard before they burst into our consciousness...that success can happen overnight. Well maybe that can occur, but it's rarely the case. In this entertaining, eminently readable and fast-paced book, Mrs Moneypenny generously shares the wise, unwise and sometimes 'out-of-the-box' experiences and lessons that she undertook on the way to becoming the highly respected executive and media personality that she is today. This book effectively offers a thoughtful and well-defended "to-do list" for women who want to have a rewarding career and fulfill their potential. The content is applicable across industries and across ambition levels for women and Mrs Moneypenny acknowledges and applauds that each woman should define 'career success' on her own terms and strive for her own ideal. I would certainly have benefitted from having read this sage advice a decade ago rather than laboriously undertaking much energy and time-wasting trial and error en route to my current (very happy) career stage. Besides that, it is a tremendously amusing read and I have since bought a few more copies to share with a couple of my friends. Enjoy ladies!
on June 30, 2013
I love reading Mrs. Moneypenny in the FT. And I loved this book even more. It felt directed at women like me who, especially in this economy, have to start doing things differently rather than doing them the same and expecting a different result. I am actively looking for my third dimension... for more on that, I highly recommend that you buy the book - it would make a great graduation present or first job gift too. But for all ages, the over 50's would certainly benefit, there is a whole chapter dedicated to it never being too late to start (Grandma Moses started painting at a very late stage in her life, hence the name).
And when it comes time to get back into work come September, a great read to gee yourself back into the workforce with practical advice about how to go about fulfilling your ambition.
on February 21, 2013
Although this book seems, at first, to be aimed at women climbing the corporate ladder, eyes fixed firmly on the top jobs, there is much in it that is invaluable to working women everywhere. As the author says, “The only qualification is that you have to want to go places in your career. “ Her advice is aimed at women of all ages and at all stages in their careers, including the self-employed. She is passionate about giving other women the tools for success at work, and this comes through in every sentence. The book is packed with examples and anecdotes from her own life and from other successful women.
on February 5, 2013
Mrs Moneypenny provides great advice for women at various stages of their careers, with real action plans ...and a few laughs along the way. As an executive well into her career, I found plenty of relevant guidance ..and have a lengthy personal "to do" list. I thought I was doing quite a bit in terms of career growth, but found there is much more to do. I highly recommend the book for any woman looking to advance her career.
on August 14, 2013
Great book. Gives you tips on how to stay current, network, and other creative ideas on how to keep yourself sharp at work. Recommended.