Having grown up with three brothers, recollections of living with them came back to me as I read Nina DiSesa's book, Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics from a Woman at the Top. At the beginning, I thought I was reading humor as she relates her childhood "...my long road to uncertainty started when I was twelve years old and lasted until the end of my thirtieth year, when I metamorphosed almost overnight from a shy and insecure loser to a first-rate conceited jerk." But once I realized that this humor helped her work effectively with the men in her organization, I began to pay closer attention.
Another source of my confusion with DiSesa's premise came from her assertion that breaking the plexiglas ceiling involves women becoming more seductive and manipulative. To me, that sounded unfair. But having proven herself after progressing from writing resort ads for the Catskills to becoming chairman of McCann Erickson New York, DiSesa makes her points with these sometimes humorous, sometimes insane, but effective strategies for working with men. Using many examples, she shows how she spent her creative energies figuring out the men in her office. She writes, "It's like solving a murder mystery. Collect the clues, lay them all out, and you will solve the puzzle."
Throughout the book, DiSesa shows how she struggled to be taken seriously by twenty and thirty-year-old employees. Once she used a high-powered water rifle to quell their inappropriate behavior. She reminded me of the time when my own children were teenagers and my daughter, annoyed by her brother's antics, asked whether sisters could divorce their brothers. But along with the humor, uncensored commentary, and good advice, DiSesa shows how her lessons helped change the climate of her highly-competitive workplace by identifying her masculine side in order to accomplish creative tasks, meet impossible deadlines, and gain the trust of her co-workers. And in the process, she helped her co-workers find their feminine side making the workplace more pleasant for everyone.
Usually, DiSesa relates solving a particular situation, showing what she did and summarizing the lesson learned, but she is so eager to get to the next topic that occasionally she fails to tie up the threads of the narrative. But this is a minor flaw and may have been intended to keep the reader engaged. This book can help women who study DiSesa's techniques overcome the roadblocks to success by providing a proven path to follow.
Nina DiSesa is chairman of McCann Erickson New York, the flagship office of the internationally renowned advertising agency. In 1999, she was selected by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in American Business. She lives in New York City.
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