Gay Gaddis: Networking Guru
I recently read the book, Cowgirl Power: How to Kick!Ass in Business & Life by Gay Gaddis, and it has catapulted to the top of my favorite business reads. Gay is an excellent storyteller and impressive businesswoman. The way she slips stories in to illustrate her points is flawless. I especially liked her story about the UPS slippers (p.183).
This book is, on the surface, focused on inspiring women to own their greatness in the business world. She starts each chapter with a photo and story of a famous cowgirl, as she attributes her inspiration to these women. But everything she writes illustrates just how inspiring a woman she is! And she does it humbly. Gay uses “we” and “our” liberally in her stories about her company, which is refreshing. It’s never “I did this” or “I did that.” She gives everyone credit for the company’s success. I think even using famous cowgirls to highlight each chapter is a way that Gaddis moves the focus away from herself and onto others.
It's apparent early on that Gaddis is a great networker. She refers often to the importance of building relationships. On p.214 she even identifies herself as a “master connector." Networking is definitely her superpower. Gaddis is a member of C200, a group of executive businesswomen whose mission is to foster the advancement of women in the workplace. She and her C200 colleagues are devoted to giving back and helping others. Cowgirl Power is all about helping women succeed.
“Networking is not about asking for favors and advice. It is about building solid relationships with helpfulness and reciprocity.” Gay Gaddis
My one criticism of Cowgirl Power is that Gaddis has a lot of messages to get across, and sometimes it can seem forced, or too brief. She uses a lot of headers to separate passages within chapters. Examples of headers: Do Things You have Never Done Before, Get Comfortable With Risk, Cowgirls Build Powerful Networks, etc. I’m guessing this comes from her background in advertising, where coming up with a pithy saying is paramount. It felt like Gaddis had so much more to say and knew her pages were limited. But it remained a very enjoyable read, and the stories she tells are so worth it.
I love her “Cowgirl Power Toolkit” at the end of the book. Gaddis gives advice, “a few helpful ideas” in her words, on how to be more confident and successful. Some of her advice includes exercises, others are simply reminders to be authentic, own your emotions/skills/personality, take risks, listen to your gut, make your own luck, make an extra effort to recognize others…and more!
Career counselors spend a lot of their time building clients’ confidence. This book is a confidence-builder. I can see myself recommending this book often.