Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire by Mireille Guiliano

by Jasmine Turner on June 28, 2010

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She works for a champagne house, too, though I think that Mireille Guiliano's job sounds a lot more interesting

So, the first part of the title to this inspirational book is pretty clear: “women,” “work” and “art.” “Savoir faire” needs translation, at least for me. It means “the ability to say or do the right thing in any situation; tact.” Wow, I read the whole book and did not know the meaning of savoir faire until looking it up, but it was killing me the entire time. What does savoir faire mean? Just what could it mean?!? But now that I know, I’m asking myself: wouldn’t it be convenient to have the skill of saying or doing the right thing in any and all situations with perfect tact and dignity?

If you’re looking for keys to success in the working world, Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility pretty much spells it out from A-Z; all in perfect style. Mireille Guiliano has become one of my idols. I devoured French Women Don’t Get Fat and fell in love with the whole idea of living large but gracefully with gentle restraint and poise. French Women for all Seasons simply confirmed my admiration for Guiliano’s world-view. I feel so lucky that I finally got to meet her at a special San Francisco dinner when she was touring to promote the French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook a few months ago. OMG!

While reading her books I get the sense that I’m talking to a charming, very close friend and getting the best advice ever. It seems like she really cares about helping people define their style, develop their cooking, and, in Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Fair, succeed in the workplace.

One of her main ideas that really impressed me is the importance of finding a work mentor: someone who can give you tips and also allow you to model after them in their career. Mireille achieved the status of CEO of Veuve Cliquot, Inc., but she didn’t start out there. She herself had a few role models along the way which she credits with helping her tremendously. In this marvelous book, she describes her early work experiences and how her skills, confidence and comfort with success grew as she moved up in the New York City marketing world. Interestingly she was the actual voice used in a lot of radio commercials advertising the French wine she was selling. I’ve done some radio work myself so that seemed especially poignant to me. It seems that her French accent while speaking in English was an asset to her career, so she learned to make the most of it. Really, Mireille has used her background as a woman who grew up in France but working and living in the States to tremendous success. Just look at the FWDGT empire! She really is the most charming, wonderful, brilliant, lovely person that I’ve met in a while!

She’s optimistic, too. She mentions taking risks in this book to experiment and learn, but she emphasizes, “things generally work out.” It’s so true! A lot of times we work ourselves up into a frenzy or worry about risk-taking or making different decisions from the norm, but this mode of thinking leaves us always moving in the same direction… that’s not progress. Trying something new once in a while is sometimes one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back, but if we never do anything differently, how can we change our lives in the positive directions that we all hope for? Even if things don’t turn out as planned, we’ve got to give ourselves a pat on the back for at least trying something different and facing our fears down.

Everything from manners, haircuts, mental outlook, and what to eat and drink is laid out in Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire. And wouldn’t we all like to have the ability to say and do just the perfect things at any given moment with tact…especially on the job or in a career? I say anything by Mireille Guiliano is worth reading.

Keep writing Mireille!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jen July 6, 2010 at 10:10 am

I second that! I also had the pleasure of meeting Mireille when she spoke in Fort Lauderdale a few months ago. She came across as warm and genuine. I adore her and her books!

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