During Women’s History Month, we share some advice from Mireille Guiliano, a petite French woman best known for creating the French Women series: French Women Don’t Get Fat; French Women for All Seasons; French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook; Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire; and now French Women Don’t Get Facelifts. But, before her rise into fame, Ms. Guiliano was a powerhouse in business. She was the CEO of Veuve Clicquot, the iconic Champagne made so by her passionate efforts. For 20 years she directed the brand and took risks that others would have thought crazy. Still married to her sweetheart of 38 years, and living between NYC and France, she has created her ideal life — after much hard work and prioritizing. So, how did she do it, and as women, how can we succeed like her? Here are Ms. Guiliano’s 10 keys to living the life you dream.
1. Don’t be afraid to take risks: Ask yourself: ‘What is the worst thing that could happen to me?’ This has been my mantra my whole life. It was this wise advice my mother gave me when I was young, and I still ask myself that question when I need to make a tough decision.
2. Everything is education: If you have an education, you can always fall back on your feet. With an education, you can find employment. As women, we need to learn to rely on ourselves and education is the key to that.
3. Follow your heart: In France, career is not the most important thing. The family and your personal life comes first. So follow what talks to your heart.
4. Do something that you are passionate about: Find a path that brings you happiness and joy and think outside the box when you are looking. Being French, I loved the Veuve Clicquot story, so when the job in NYC came up — I took it and worked hard to become the CEO.
5. Be willing to change your course of life: I was a trained linguist and when I worked in that industry, I was not happy. So I had to accept that perhaps this was not my calling. So, I followed the Champagne industry, because my mother and I enjoyed Veuve Clicquot. And I asked myself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?’
6. Work really hard: Think about what you want to accomplish, put together a plan, and work to achieve it. There is no avoiding hard work. So, make sure you’re enjoying it.
7. Invest in constant training: Learn, learn, learn! If you can’t do something — learn it. Be it public speaking, writing, marketing, or anything else that you don’t know. Expose yourself to new things which will help you build your confidence.
8. Be clever: Come up with ideas to achieve your goals in ways that others aren’t thinking. It’s not about money; it’s about taking an idea and making it real through different channels.
9. Walk the Walk: Your word is your promise. Your image is very important, so dress well, talk well, and behave well. Don’t bring out your dirty laundry.
10. Learn how to say no: Women are nurturers and we want to do it all. But we have to prioritize. It’s not that we can’t have it all, but that we can’t be it all. Life is about making choices and priorities. I know that if we had decided we wanted children I wouldn’t have picked that professional path. So, prioritize and practice saying, ‘No.’ We only have so much time, so don’t spread yourself too thin.
The theme of her latest book, French Women Don’t Get Facelifts, is that as women, we need to celebrate aging. With age, comes the knowledge, maturity, and ability to make choices that bring us joy. Instead of pleasing others, we can start to please ourselves. And, that is where the famous French phrase comes in handy: “La vie commence a cinquante ans.” — or, in English, “Life starts at 50.”