I’ve never worked in corporate America. And every work environment I’ve ever been in has had a power differential that has swayed dramatically in women’s favor. But I have spent years listening to my friends enumerate the many challenges they face at work, describe horrible bosses, and recount less than pleasing communications with co-workers. In the past I’ve just been able to listen and nod. Now I can hand them the new book by Jane Miller, “Sleep Your Way to the Top* (And Other Myths About Business Success)”.
This book is a fun and easy read that’s packed with useful information to help you get to the top without having to do anything unmentionable to get there.
Recently I sat down with Jane to learn more about the book and her goal of getting it in the hands of every 22- to 30-year-old out there.
How do you spend your days?
I worked in corporate America for 30 years. I am the former CEO of a $100M+ food company and I had a great run heading $1 billion divisions of well-known companies like Frito-Lay, Bestfoods and Heinz. These days I am focusing primarily on doing non-profit work such as sitting on the board of Unreasonable Institute, mentoring, and building JaneKnows.com.
What made you want to write the book?
After many years of piling up titles and experiences, I began mentoring students in the business school at CU. I discovered that many of the students share common concerns and they were asking me similar questions about how best to interact with co-workers, bosses and bullies. I decided to try and put my best advice in a book. But I didn’t want it to be another stuffy CEO tell-all. I wanted it to be a useful handbook that someone could pull out when sticky situations arise to get the answers they need. It’s like having your very own business mentor in your back pocket.
How did you come up with the title?
I was on a hike one day with a girlfriend and we were talking about all of the corporate life game changing experiences we had. There’s a lot of crazy shit that happens in the corporate world! A pivotal experience that stood out for me was when I was offered a big job that no woman who came from marketing had ever held. Soon thereafter rumors began to fly that I got it because I slept my way there. It was a very difficult experience, both personally and professionally, but I learned a lot about myself and how to handle tough situations because of it. Plus, it gave me the idea for a great book title!
Who is this book for?
It’s for young people who are just getting started in their careers and negotiating their first few jobs. However, even though it’s primarily targeted to 22- to 30-year-olds, I’m finding that many people are reading it for tips on how to be better bosses to the younger people in their organizations.
This book has been described as a cross between Sheryl Sandberg and Chelsea Handler. Can you tell me more about that?
I think the most important thing Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” did was start a relevant dialogue about women being heard in the workplace. It engaged so many readers and got the conversation started, whether people agreed with her or not. When it comes to Chelsea Handler, she’s just funny. The best part about her is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. I try to do that and always have. I wanted my book to be a fresh voice for young people so they realize they can have hugely successful careers without giving up their own voices or turning into robots that just go through the motions. Yes work can be serious, but it can also be a lot of fun on the way to the top.
What has been the most exciting byproduct of writing the book?
Without a doubt, it’s the reaction I’ve been getting from people who tell me they are reading it and USING it to improve their situation at work, communicate more effectively, and set bigger goals for themselves.
You decided to publish your book with FG Press. How has that been?
Fantastic. Dane and Sandy and all of the authors at FG Press have made this experience simple and fabulous. I’ve heard so many horror stories from friends and colleagues who have written books and either went with a traditional publisher or self-published. I feel so lucky to have crossed paths with FG Press. I have a second book in the works and I look forward to working with them on that one too.
How long did it take to write the book?
Who has been your greatest mentor/teacher?
Poppy. My grandfather.
What do you consider your greatest success in life so far?
Moving beyond my personal circumstances to create a meaningful and financially successful career that now allows me the freedom, time, and opportunity to give back.
What secret talents do you have?
I’m a seamstress. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that before. When I was really poor, I would make pillows and blankets and clothes. I don’t have to do that anymore, but it was a great skill to have.
If they made a movie about your life, which actress should play you?
The now version of me: Annette Bening
The younger version of me: Emma Watson
What are you working on now?
My second book is going to be about helping men in corporate America be better mentors to women. This is something I am super passionate about and I believe that so much of my work has come down to this. Men don’t know how to bring out the best in women and I think the workplace is suffering because of it. I’m also really excited about my new podcast, Jane Knows Business, which I’ll be launching soon.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it a success?
Write a review on Amazon. Give it to their friends, daughter and sons. Make it required reading in their business courses. Tweet about it. Leave it on their bosses’ desks. Stand on the corner and sell it. I don’t know. I’m open to suggestions!
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