When it comes to gutsy career moves, Kate White knows of what she speaks. After 14 years at the helm of Cosmopolitan magazine, she’s stepping down to focus on her speaking engagements and book-writing career. In her latest book, “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know” (Harper Business, $24.99), White shares insider information and candid advice aimed at helping women take control of their careers.
Your book is called “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This.” So why are you?
One of the things that’s a problem when we’re first starting out is that we don’t get told enough. Our bosses sort of assume that we know things, and we just wish sometimes that there would be someone higher up who would tell it like it really is.
If you’re lucky enough to land an interview, how do you make the most of that opportunity?
I sometimes see people come across as cool as a cucumber in an interview, but to me, it’s the hot tamale that gets the prize. People want passion; they want to know that someone who works for them will be all in and go balls to the wall.
You talk about the need to develop “a golden gut.” Why?
Lots of things are happening on a subterranean level, and it’s important to pick up those signals, because you want to use them
to your advantage. You want to get a sense of how the ground may be shifting in your own workplace.
Why are women often afraid to ask for what they want?
We’re definitely better at it than we were when I first started out. But I feel that we’re still nervous that something bad is going to happen if we ask. Maybe it comes from our need to be liked.
We’re afraid that if we ask for something and it seems to the other person that we’re overstepping our bounds, we’re going to do something to upset the ecosystem of being liked by that person. But bosses overall really respect you for asking for what you want. And once you start doing it, it becomes much easier.
What is “bitch envy,” and why do women need to use it?
We are always going to have times in our professional careers when we feel this twinge of envy toward someone else. Because we’re trained to think that envy is a really nasty feeling — which it can be sometimes — we pretend we’re not feeling it or that we’re justified. We put it all on that person. Whenever you find yourself having any kind of nerve hit that way, it’s important to take it immediately away from that person and to realize that it hit a nerve with you for a reason. More than likely, you want some of what she’s got.
A fulfilling career and personal life — is it possible for women?
Yes. I feel that I’ve had a wonderful career and a nice marriage, and I have two kids I’m incredibly close to. It’s not that you can’t do it, but there may be certain things you have to do at different times. A good way to think about it is that we live into our 80s as women now, and we don’t necessarily think of retiring at 65. You have to think about it sometimes as being a serial achiever.