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Your Preview of Kate White’s “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This”

Posted October 2, 2013 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

Here at Career Girl Network, we are so excited to be partnering with one of the most powerful, dynamic, and incredible women in America, Kate White. If you don’t know Kate, you’ve absolutely read her work. She is the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and has now parlayed that incredible experience into what we think is the new career bible for women in business, the bestselling “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This.”

We want you to get to know Kate, so we’re giving you a number of ways to get her book, and a chance to meet her!

  1. Read an excerpt!
    Below, you’ll find an awesome excerpt from “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This.” Check out this chapter, and I know you’ll want to buy the book, too.
  2. Get the chance to video chat with Kate!
    Buy Kate’s book, and you will have the chance to be a part of a private Togather.com hangout (a very cool video chat) with Kate White. The first 30 people who send to marcy@careergirlnetwork.com proof that you’ve purchased Kate’s book (a receipt, a photo, whatever works for you) will get to be on the hangout!
  3. Twitter Chat with Kate.Kate’s incredible book and its advice is taking over the #CareerGirlChat on October 15th at 8:00pm EST. Put it on your calendar and ask Kate the questions you want to ask in your career.
  4. Listen to the podcast.
    I had the incredible opportunity to interview Kate, and I can’t say enough about how great she is. Check out the incredible conversation I had with Kate tonight (October 2nd) on Career Girl at 6:00 p.m. (stay tuned!)

Here it is, your excerpt/preview of “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This”


{ Develop a Golden Gut }

At one point in my career, the magazine company I worked for was sold, without warning, to a large European corporation that took over with all the aplomb of a blowtorch.

Management treated my staff and me as if we were summer interns who were just learning the business, asked zero questions about U.S. consumers, and immediately redid the entire magazine, with a young guy on the business side supervising all the layouts.

It was a terribly unsettling experience, one of the worst I’ve ever been through professionally. Every day meant new changes and new instructions to follow. I felt worried about my own career but also concerned about all the turmoil and uncertainty my staff was going thorough. Fortunately, about five months later, I was offered a job as editor in chief of another magazine at a terrific company, and I fled the scene with just a few singe marks on my butt. Yet I don’t regret the time I spent in those stressful, unpredictable conditions— because it was there that I learned to listen to my gut.

I’d always respected my gut, but I’d never put it to work the way I did during that time. At first I didn’t even see how much I was relying on it. I did know that since the ground underneath me was shifting every day, I needed to do my best to anticipate what might be coming next so my staff and I wouldn’t be caught off guard. I found myself saying things to my managing editor such as “Let’s do a, because b will happen and we’ll be ready.” Or “Don’t do c—it will only create problems tomorrow.” My decisions turned out to be right on. One day as my managing editor and I were strategiz- ing, she narrowed her eyes and asked, “How do you know all this stuff?”

At that moment I realized that for the past few weeks I’d been paying heed to my intuition on an almost primal level. And it was helping save my ass, big-time. It was as if I were in a survival-training camp and I had no choice but to use my instincts. Later, after I was ensconced at my new job and had caught my breath, I analyzed what I’d been doing so I could always have those skills to fall back on. Since then I’ve relied on them through thick and thin.

It’s never too soon to begin developing your gut. Here are the tricks that have served me best.

Know how your gut likes to talk to you. Vowing to trust your gut won’t do you any good if you can’t tell when it’s sending you a message. You have to learn to tune in. For many people, me included, a gut reaction is just that—a rumbling feeling in my stomach. A gut reaction, however, may not actually occur in your gut. I’ve heard some people say that they’ve learned to pay attention when their pulse pounds or they feel a tingle all over. (A Vanity Fair writer once remarked that when Tina Brown was the editor, she knew an article was right if her nipples got hard when she read it!) You might not even have a physical reaction: perhaps you just have a niggling sense in your mind that something’s really good or really off. Doesn’t matter how it occurs. What’s key is to begin to note when you feel different in some way and ask yourself why.

If you’re not sure if certain sensations really mean anything, keep track of them and see if you can validate them later. Let’s say that when you leave dinner with a friend one night, you end up with a nervous feeling in your stomach on the drive home. When you arrive at your place, write down your impressions. What could have happened during the night that made you feel that way? Was there something subtle about your friend’s behavior that suggested she was troubled though not admitting to it? Did she arrive seem- ing that way, or did her behavior shift during the meal? Later, if she confesses to a personal problem or admits that you pulled a move that upset her, you’ll have an idea that your tummy was definitely talking to you that night.

Just shut up. Even when you learn to trust your gut, you may sometimes not hear when it’s signaling you. The secret is to listen. One of the smartest, most intuitive women I’ve come to know from writing mysteries (and I love the fact that she is now a great friend) is Barbara Butcher, the chief of staff and director of Forensic Sciences Training Program at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Barbara spent years working crime scenes as a medical death investigator, investigating 5,500 death scenes and 680 homicides. It was at those death scenes, she says, that she learned to develop a golden gut.

“Everything we need to know is around us for the taking as long as we are truly taking it in,” she says. “As a death investigator I learned to open my senses to what was around me and abandon preconceived notions of what I was going to find. I learned early on that if I was told that I was going to investigate a homicide, then that is what I would find, but if I reminded myself that I was going to investigate the cause of death, then I would find the truth.”

Her advice for honing your gut instincts? “Take your hands off your ears and put them over your mouth,” Butcher says. “Learn to listen, see, smell, and absorb everything around you without speak- ing your thoughts first. If you practice these skills, you will get all the signals you need to be able to trust your instincts.”

Trust your gut but teach it first. Your gut is directing you based on what it knows, so be sure it’s well informed about what matters. Experts who swear they make gut decisions often have years of training, and their response is an automatic one based on their reserves of knowledge.

A few months after I began at Cosmo, I took a bunch of mocked-up covers out to a shopping mall, showed them to young women, and asked how they liked them. Based on all the covers I’d done over the years, I was pretty sure the women would automati- cally pick one particular cover because the model was gorgeous and the background color was a yummy shade of yellow. But before they gave their answer, woman after woman asked me the follow- ing question: “What month is it for?” Until then, I hadn’t realized how important the seasonality of the cover clothes was to Cosmo readers. Knowing that enabled me to better use my gut when pick- ing cover shots.

Connect the dots. You just saw two coworkers whisper- ing furtively in the hallway. Is something up that you should be concerned about? Maybe—though it could be that one of them has hooked up with a guy in accounting and is simply sharing the steamy details with her office pal. Your boss didn’t make eye contact with you when she passed you in the hall. Is she annoyed with you? Maybe. But then again, she might just be having a bad morning or got reamed by her boss earlier that day.

Little moments don’t always mean anything, but sometimes they do—though it may not be exactly what you think. So how do you know what to pay attention to and what to ignore? You play

“connect the dots.” If one thing catches your eye in an odd way, make a note but don’t go insane with concern. But if two things re- lating to the same person or same situation grab your attention, it’s time to sit up. In your mind, run through a list of things they could suggest. Ask yourself how it might relate to you and whether you should be concerned.

Guard against your gut’s biggest enemy. Even if you’ve learned how to tune in to your gut, there may be times when you end up stupidly ignoring it. Why? Because other people pressure you to—directly or indirectly.

I’ve seen the potential for that kind of thing to happen with magazine covers. When you’re a magazine editor, sometimes a cover shoot comes in and for some reason just isn’t strong enough. Maybe the clothes didn’t work or the celebrity felt awkward (or was hung- over!). Your gut will tell you you’ve got a loser on your hands, but you feel pressure not to say the word “reshoot.” People hate that word. It’s difficult enough to coordinate the celebrity’s and photog- rapher’s schedules the first time, let alone for a reshoot. But you can’t allow your gut to be silenced.

This happened with the second Kim Kardashian cover we did at Cosmo. In order to make this cover look different, we had decided to shoot Kim in jeans and a bathing suit top and mist her body with water, even wetting her hair a little. I loved the idea—until I saw the results. Kim was her gorgeous self, but she looked in the photos as if she’d been hosed down with Wesson oil instead of water. It was like a Maxim shoot run amuck. My gut was rumbling big-time, and when I started talking about needing to do it again, everybody turned ashen. But it was totally the right call.

We reshot Kim in a salmon-colored minidress made of sweat- shirt fabric, and the cover was the biggest seller of the year.

Know that you shouldn’t necessarily take your gut at face value. That rumble or knot is telling you something, but it may not be the obvious thing. In a Cosmo interview, Laura Day, the best-selling author of Practical Intuition, pointed out something I’ve found to be true. “When you have an instinct,” she says, “it doesn’t mean you should blindly follow it. It’s a message that you should examine the situation a little bit more.”

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."