Customer Reviews: Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I admit that I opened this book with a slightly negative bias. I'm beginning to weary of authors who aggressively brand themselves these days. What used to seem original now often feels formulaic and pretentious.

Mirelle Guiliano understands her adopted country and knows how to impress us. On the one hand, she used her elegance and sophistication to good effect when she began with Veuve Clicquot and, yes, American women are rather intrigued by (apparently) effortless French style. On the other, "me + French = wonderful" can grow tiresome WHATEVER nationality is involved in the equation. While I'm sure peppering her conversation with French phrases is charming in real life (although she reminds us she is "equally" proficient with both languages) in a book it gets tiresome very quickly, c'est vrai.

But, ignoring the calculating branding (including the branding of nationality) and a bit of...hmmm...maybe too much self-assurance to be completely relatable, Mme. Guiliano really does have excellent advice for women. Particularly in American culture which can tend to the casual (especially with the younger generation entering the workplace) or the uninspired (note numerous political leaders who could all benefit from this book), specific advice about fashion--and more specifically, style--is very helpful.

I know some other reviewers have dismissed much of her business advice as common sense and maybe it is. But I found reading this book--especially the first half--surprisingly interesting and helpful. Yes, perhaps these are things I could write a paper about (mentors, proper approach to your work and workplace, actively LOOKING for opportunity and being prepared to take it when you see it, etc.) but I was reminded about actually APPLYING them to my personal life.

Time and again I made notes in the margins about something I should remember in MY workplace--and I'm not even in a business, but in a service industry. I think these reminders will be useful and will correct a few bad habits (of attitude) that you can forget to be aware of after a while at the same job.

She speaks from hard-won experience, has excellent advice well worth the length of a book (rather than, as many of these things, a magazine article), and her story is genuinely inspiring. "Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire" is a good read at any stage of your career. For some reason, I found it hard to put down--odd, for a business book. Whether she wrote it herself or had (unacknowledged) help, the writing style is clear and engaging. I recommend this whether you're starting out at the beginning of your career or, like me, in the middle and need to ... reevaluate it--and yourself.
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VINE VOICEon November 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have never read any of Mirielle's previous books, but this one has piqued my curiousity for the others. Her writing style is conversational and engaging, and she intermingles anecdotes from her own life with solid advice. While I work in the semiconductor industry and that's a far cry from the Luxury Goods segment, her advice to women workers is sound. I enjoyed reading about her career path. You know what I thought was inspirational? She advises you to follow your passion, noting that passions change, and in addition, live your life in balance - work alongside play. Refreshing viewpoint from a business book, that one. If only we could all vacation like the French! Also, I like the emphasis on being who you are and comfortable in your own skin.

I was actually inspired by the wardrobe section to go through my closet, to remove anything that didn't make me look and feel great. I am inspired, when I go back to work next week after some time off, to follow her advice on dressing better for your job. And while I never appreciated the sentiment when it came from my mom, I believe the author when she says that seductive clothing has no place in the workplace.

One of my favorite chapters was on etiquette. I would love this author to write an entire book on etiquette. She confirmed something I knew to be true - the handwritten note or thank you card is really important. She also confirmed where your napkin should be when you get up, and how you should arrange your fork & knife. I did these things myself but saw so much variation in others that I wasn't sure if it was all in my own head.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ooh la la . . . Mirielle Guliano, the tiny, compact style dynamo that demonstrated just why "French Women Don't Get Fat" and then kept them skinny and dressed them chicly in "French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, & Pleasure (Vintage)" does her devoir again and transports her divinely put together femme into the corporate boardroom detailing an elegant and fashionable path to career success in her new book, "Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire." A clever woman of a certain age, Madame Guiliano has neatly transitioned from her role as spokesperson CEO for market-share-leader champagne company Veuve Clicquot to an entrepreneur selling an America-friendly French lifestyle via speaking appearances, books and an Internet presence complete with video clips displaying such things as the proper way to open a bottle of champagne, creating a romantic table for two, tying that all important fashion accent--the scarf and making two French secret food weapons: homemade yogurt and savory leeks. Smart and savvy Mirielle has lived fairly long and very well; her trademark anecdotes illuminate this latest memoir with the same common sense simplicity that worked so well in her first two books.

Mirielle's tips are the all important ones. She concentrates her efforts on what she know works through the filter of her own experience. As a woman in a man's world, she breaks a seemingly intrinsic rule that should have been abolished over fifty years ago, but for some reason--perhaps some vestige of female insecurity or the jealousy gene--still exists, that being that women in powerful positions rarely mentor their up and coming protégés. Guliano decides to take on this role within the pages of her book, but also suggests finding a role model willing to share his/her know-how about and familiarity with their mutual place of work.

Women already in business may find some of Mirielle's advise a bit obvious: she tells us the value of good communication skills, discusses the value of dressing well without showing too much and confesses the truth that as a woman, working harder and most likely longer is key to gaining respect from the Boy's Club. Remember that Madame Guliano has paid her dues, worked at a top position and now has segued into her new life of author and lifestyle coach. She has lived the life and walked the walk and this memoir/how to may not be comparable to one of Lee Iaccoca or Jack Walsh's business commentaries but nonetheless it does stand out as a summarization of key items that will work in a corporate environment simply because they are classics.

As in "French Women Don't Get Fat" and "French Women for All Seasons." Mirielle emphasizes simple techniques that win every time. We all know these things; Mirielle compiles them for us and affirms them with personal testimony.

As food and wine played a paramount role in her last two books, this book would not be complete without a section on business dining which I found to be the most enjoyable portion of the overall read. Mirielle explains the necessity of proper table etiquette with tips on how to shine during that interview lunch or dinner where your potential boss scrutinizes your dining behavior as to how it fits in with corporate image. She delivers three menus for those at home dinner parties--all of which contain the essential simplicity in preparation and sophisticated arousal of the taste buds. For those who dine out all the time due to their schedules, Mirielle offers her 50 Percent Solution to eating to avoid weight gain--I tried this at lunch the other day and it worked very well--she utilizes a Zeno's Paradox technique where she divides her food continuously in half and then just eats the half. As the brain takes the time to focus on the infinite act of bisection, the stomach has enough time to trigger the brain as to when it actually is full. I ate less than half of my food and felt comfortably satisfied. Mirielle has come up with a thinking person's guide to portion control.

She ends her book with advise about understanding that the old feminist boast about being able to `have it all' is nothing but myth. Taking on too much equates with being stressed to the max where no portion of your life receives the full attention that it deserves. Just said.

Guiliano is one smart cookie--well, half of a half of a half of a cookie. She created a brand for herself while she worked for Clicquot Inc. and now she has enhanced that brand to promote her books and speaking engagements. As it's been quite a while since I checked out her website, I was quite blown away by the content that has been added since the publishing of her first book, "French Women Don't Get Fat." Indeed, Mirielle formulated her working persona and has now morphed that character into the star of her own lucrative niche. She embodies the idea of savoir-faire transforming into joie de vivre.

Bottom line? In "Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire," Mirielle Guiliano tackles the business world with her simple and savvy French style and adopted American know-how while staying skinny and enjoying a balanced life. Recommended.
Diana Faillace Von Behren
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VINE VOICEon January 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I learned several important things from this book. I remembered several other important things from this book. I give these compliments reluctantly because I disliked Guiliano enough as a narrative voice that I don't want to have learned anything from her. Still, she has some good points to make. I would think that parts of this could be really valuable for women who are starting off in business or who find themselves a little bit stuck.

Probably the single most valuable line in the whole book for me was "if you're not a brand, then you're a commodity." She was talking about champagne, but I think it works for your career as well.

Now I'm going to stop saying nice things.

Boy, did I find Giuliano obnoxious. There was a moment where she describes herself and another woman in a business meeting eye rolling at another unfortunate woman who... Presented wrong information? (no) Said something stupid? (no) Was rude to other people? (no) Wore the wrong earrings? (yes).

Apparently the poor dear chose something too bling bling for her suit. And, I mean, who can respect the presentation of someone who can't accessorize? How old is she? 14? Have we suddenly found ourselves in the movie Clueless? She makes business sound like some kind of high school mean girl's club.

And after examples like her open mockery of someone's earrings, Giuliano *dares* to go on and wonder why women don't mentor each other. Case in point much?

Anyhow. I learned stuff. The recipes look tasty. But she made me so glad I'm building my career in IT and not luxury beverages.
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on January 10, 2010
I have mixed feelings about this book. There are a few useful concepts, such as the power of developing a signature style and the importance of sending hand-written thank you notes. However, much of the book is just good common sense that every woman should know--IF they were raised properly, that is. I agree with many other reviewers that this book would be great for younger women just starting out in the careers. Ms. Mireille can serve as a kind of wise French stepmother.
It's important to remember that Ms. Mireille's rise to the top of a Champagne house is an extremely unusual situation. The world she lives in is a rarefied one most of us will never know. Her methods worked well for her but I think the fact she never had kids also fit into the equation. She has never had to divide her time between children and work. I'm not sure how relevant the book is for working American mothers.
I must admit feeling a bit grumpy when I read this book. The whole notion of "French women are superior to us in every way," is starting to grate on me. American women's inferiority complex is making authors like this even wealthier.
I would not recommend buying this book, but rather, checking it out from the library instead.
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on August 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I believe this book should have been called, "Get Yourself Ready To Do Business." It definitely is not for a seasoned businesswoman. Frankly, if women in business didn't already know this information we wouldn't be in business very long. Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Fare is aimed at the beginner audience - a more impressionable group of women just starting out.

Maybe it's just me, but I quickly grew tired of reading about the author's many successes. Don't get me wrong, I admire empowered and successful women but enough self-praise is enough already. I felt as if I was reading a glorified autobiography. In my opinion, this book is self-serving and not a genuine how-to for the reader. I found it very tiresome to read.

I can't recommend a book that I couldn't even finish.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really enjoyed Guiliano's French Women Don't Get Fat and I've long been an advocate for women to take control of their own lives. So when I saw this book among my Amazon Vine selections, I grabbed it without a second thought. I'm glad I did.

Guiliano is a woman who "made it" in a traditional male-dominated industry, so I was particularly interested in her advice to other women about how to manage themselves in the business world. I found few of her suggestions surprising -- but then in my day job I've interviewed many extremely successful women. Guiliano echoes what I've heard before, such as the importance (or at least usefulness) of finding a mentor who can guide you in career decisions, and the need to both recognize your differences (yes, in a male dominated industry you will stand out; USE that recognition to your advantage) and set them aside (you still have to be brilliant at what you do, so truly gender doesn't matter).

Guiliano doesn't try to write an exhaustive guide for what EVERY woman should do; she sensibly shares only her own experiences and the lessons that she learned (sometimes the hard way). As a result, some of the advice she gives may be suitable for a senior executive for a champagne company (Veuve Clicquot) who rose up through PR and marketing, but not for, say, a computer industry geek. There are many industries in which her suggestions about perfume and wardrobe are relevant -- but I have a hard time imagining my women programmer friends dutifully running out to buy cashmere cardigans and silk scarves. (I don't mind if you buy me one, though.)

Nonetheless, I liked this book a lot for the advice that WAS useful, and I suspect that "what is useful" will depend on what the reader needs. I appreciated her advice on choosing the right company and position ("not necessarily just what feels good today, but what can prepare you for tomorrow") perhaps because it took me so long to learn to give attention to that. I liked her emphasis on women (re-)learning the "gentle art of conversation" as a business skill; as Guiliano says, "Here's where women often excel but do not exploit their talent." Plus (maybe because I like to cook) I appreciated her advice about the importance of business entertaining, and the suggestion that developing three outstanding but low-stress menus can take you through most of your career.

She falters in parts of the book, though, enough so that I had to subtract a star. In a section on negotiating salaries, Guiliano caught my attention by discussing the lack of men's-and-women's pay parity. But her advice is too vague to be useful. This disappointment occurred in several sections, and I think it's because she does write from her own experience. She's a sales pro, after all; she's good at negotiating (salaries or whatever). The skills that come naturally to her may be difficult to articulate, even if they're the ones that we most want to learn.

It's a good book, though. I expect that most women who want to succeed in business will learn something from it -- even if that's only a reminder to believe in oneself.
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on April 3, 2011
Mireille Guiliano has had an extremely interesting life. Raised in France, Guiliano trained as a translator but quickly landed in public relations for Champagne instead and ended up as the CEO of the American arm of Veuve Cliquot - and then she became famous for her book, French Women Don't Get Fat. Guiliano says that women are making a lot of progress in business, although there isn't exactly equality - when she was looking for a new building for Veuve Cliquot's US headquarters as CEO with a male associate, she was mistaken for his secretary. She says some of the remaining inequality is related to the fact that women still don't mentor or support each other as much as men do; she starts off this book by explaining that she set out to write a book to tell women all the things she wished she had known when she first started in business. This includes a pretty wide range of topics - everything from making sure you have a firm handshake to what drinks to serve at a dinner party to what to wear to work - but Guiliano's premise is that these things matter, whether they should or not. I think she's right on almost everything, except that I almost never serve Champagne at dinner parties. Recommended for young professional woman - maybe take some of it with a grain of salt, especially if you're in a different profession than she was, but her perspective is rare and worthwhile.
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VINE VOICEon October 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I admit the title "Women, Work, & The Art of Savoir Faire, Business Sense & Sensibility" caught my interest as much as the author, Mirelle Guiliano. She is also author of "French Women Don't Get Fat."

Ms. Guiliano has many tips and "rules" on how to be a happy, successful, and balanced woman in the world of business. She has a very unique way of wording things that led me to quite a different way of looking at my role in the world as well as some of my behavior; not only in business but in my personal life as well. I must say, the change in the behavior, attitudes, feedback, and answers seems to be changing and I like it.

Not having to put on the pseudo-macho woman persona when I want to get things accomplished is quite refreshing.

This is a wonderful, must read for any woman no matter if they are an executive or a stay at home mom. No matter if you are heading a regional conference or meeting with your son's teacher we have business to take care of. Learn how to look great, enjoy being a woman, and still get the account for your company.

The recipe; yes, recipes; for Mousse Au Chocolat with Ginger was devilishly delicous.
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on March 22, 2013
I've enjoyed other works by the author (French Women Don't Get Fat,French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, & Pleasure) and I work in a professional environment, so I was prepared to enjoy this book. Unfortunately, I couldn't even bring myself to finish it (I got about 3/4ths of the way through it) and that is unusual for me.

Part of it is that Guiliano's whole French thing may have run its course. We get it. The French live differently. They know how to tie scarves, they walk around more, they shop every day. What was interesting and novel in 2004 is no longer quite so engaging. And the case for a French women's way of working isn't nearly as clear cut as that for a French woman's way of eating. Is France well known for being a bastion of gender equality in business? I don't think it is worse than America, but I certainly don't think it is better.

The other issue is that Guiliano's advice is either vague or extremely basic. There's stuff about "following your passion," avoiding the HR trap, and not wearing flip flops to work. Now I've interviewed plenty of young women who could use a hand in determining what is appropriate business wear and what isn't, but Guiliano seems to have failed in identifying the core audience of her book. This wasn't marketed as a guide for women just out of college.

By the time I got to the halfway point, I felt like I was just reading a retread of her previous books. Besides making time to get manicures and sending handwritten "thank you" notes, there wasn't a whole lot about what I could do to advance my career.

For those who are craving information about the French lifestyle, Guiliano's earlier books provide all that you need. I wouldn't recommend this book.
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