Disclaimer: The fabulous folks at FSB Associates sent me a review copy of this book, but don’t worry! I’d never review a book I didn’t actually like. This one really did strike a cord with me.
I’ll admit: When I first cracked the spine of Stiletto Network I had pretty low expectations. I’ve read many business books targeted to women, and I’ve been woefully disappointed in many of them. Why? Because the advice usually centers on the idea that to “fit in” or to “excel” you need to present a specially-tailored version of you that doesn’t paint you as emotional/mom/wife/feminist/etc. Now, I’m not one for tears in the workplace, but I am a firm believe in authenticity. It’s more important to be you than to pretend to be someone you think your office might like better than the real you. How can you be effective at work if that much brain power is being channeled into creating a persona? Plus, many of those women-centric books focus on the importance of competition: out-competing your peers (men and women alike) to prove over and over that you are the best. I’m all for doing and being your best, but… at the expense of relationships? I don’t think so.
This book doesn’t do that. What it does, instead, is focus on the importance of friendship among women – and, in many cases, how those friendships lead to greater success in the workplace. How much more authentic can it get?
Throughout the book, Ryckman shares interviews with successful women who belong to these networks. The interviews are the most valuable part of this book, in my opinion, because you get an in-the-trenches view combined with a heavy dose of I-can-do-that inspiration.
And this is important stuff across industries. As Ryckman reports, “According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, 8 million U.S. businesses are majority owned by women…. The number of women-owned businesses is growing twice as fast as the number of total businesses.”
It’s funny because at the same time that I received this book, I learned about a networking group specific to women in the pet industry. I filed it away in the back of my mind thinking that maybe I’d look into it… someday. But having read this book, I’m feeling more inspired to track down information about that organization or – gasp! – get together a small group of women to create a new Stiletto Network.
When women work together, we truly can accomplish anything. I love that this book isn’t a battle cry for women to soldier up, but rather to leverage one of our core strengths – relationships – to help each other succeed.