Well when you run a book club for ambitious women you have to read any other book with ambitious women in the title. Surely it’s compulsory!
The book starts of with ‘What You Know’. Mrs Moneypenny is hot on qualifications. She believes “you can (almost) wipe out the past by investing in the future”. Basically, there is still time to gain a qualification in later life to support your career ambitions. Just because you didn’t do a degree, or the right degree at the right university, shouldn’t be the end of your career. There is still time.
What I particularly liked was Mrs Moneypenny’s reasoning for why qualifications were important. She gave 3 distinct reasons:
- They give you confidence
- They act as an independent testimony of your capabilities
- They provide you with important links to others
Too often people focus on the knowledge you gain. However, there are so many other reasons that studying is useful and I like how Mrs Moneypenny’s reasons acknowledge this. She discussed the power of the alumni, which is something I really believe does help successful people.
Next the book explores ‘Who You Know’. This is because “to be really successful, you need to combine ‘what you know’ with ‘who you know’. Mrs MoneyPenny recommends trying to meet as many people in person. She also explores the ideas of different status levels your network will be at: Posse, Big Ideas and Regenerative Community.
She makes it very clear that “if you want to make to get to the top, doing your job is just not good enough”. This is a lesson that all ambitious women need to learn. It is natural to think if I go a good job I will get noticed, promoted and reach the position I know I am capable of. This is idealistic and the sooner women realise that the better. Working is a game and in addition to doing your job well you need to other things, such as build a network and self-promote.
Mrs Moneypenny always talks about the idea of being less than perfect. She states “accept that ‘less than perfect’ is good enough”. Virtually every female focused success book I have read says the same thing. To get to the top you need to stop worrying about being perfect. It hinders you from moving forward.
Mrs Moneypenny explores the idea of it never being too late to find your true passion and that you shouldn’t use your age as an excuse. Whether that be you are too old or too young. She states “Any age is the right age to action”.
There is a whole chapter devoted to you having “The Third Dimension”. You need to be more than your job. You need an activity outside of your work that excites you to help you connect with people and also give you something to talk about. No-one wants to talk to someone who just talks about their job and remember people connect with people.
Overall, Mrs Moneypenny is very conventional and traditional in her recommendations: study for recognised qualifications, join a board and build a network. There was nothing throughout the book that shocked me as something I hadn’t heard before. There is an emphasis that having a strong financial background, and ideally a qualification, will help on your route to success. That isn’t surprising given Mrs Moneypenny’s background. She was an investment banker and has had a column in the Financial Times since 1999.
Throughout it felt like the focus was very much for ambitious woman who were aiming to be a CEO of a FTSE company. She does mention once or twice that being ambitious might not lead you to there and some women want to work for not-for-profit organisations. However, on the whole the focus is getting to the C-Suite of a FTSE company. Even if you aren’t aiming for the C-Suite I still think there is valuable advice.
The book feels dated compared to other books I have read recently so I was shocked to see it was published in 2012. However, I still found it useful and for any woman wanting to build a career it would definitely be worth a read.