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Single ladies and start-ups, stand up for being special


As someone who’s busy striving to find her feet in a new area of work, I’ve recently made it my business to find out every little nugget I can about what to do – and what not to do – when it comes being successful at selling your services to the corporate world.

This week, my latest lesson, learnt at a business event workshop for the self-employed, was a simple one : specialise, specialise, specialise.

As I sat listening to the Enterprise Champion of Business Link Yorkshire(yes, this is her official job title) explain the importance on strictly focusing on your potential market and firming staking your claim to this territory, I remembered the last time I’d been told this fine-tuning approach to cultivating a career was a canny move.

My former journalism tutor had the same advice while I studied for my Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism, 13 years ago. ‘Find an area to specialise writing in, make your name there, then you’ll have less need to look for work, as it will come to you…’

So, it was with this notion of cultivating my ‘specialness’ still ringing around my head, when a few days later, I read a piece in The Observer – albeit about an altogether different market – which threw this notion out of the window. And left me spitting feathers!

Lori Gottlieb, American author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough, is urging women who haven’t found Mr Right by the time they reach 30 to settle for Mr Second Best.

Gottlieb attempts to qualify her laughable ‘theory’ by saying: ‘Every woman I know – no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure – feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.’

I’m not sure what left me more irritated and disappointed – the fact that Gottlieb was the latest in a long line of hollow mouthpieces who felt it their duty to dig out their rusty loudhailers to dictate to me and my peers on the grounds of gender, or was I more irked at The Observer for giving her such a prominent voice, in the shape of a half-page ‘news’ article on page 7?

Here’s the full piece: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/24/women-stop-looking-mr-right

Second best is never good enough, whether you’re talking couples or corporates.

Keep it special!