This page includes our collected wisdom.  We work in a weird and wonderful business- if you’ve found something others may want to know, please add your comment!

Click here to download a printable copy of Holly’s The Way of the Steel Magnolia.

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1. Its not about me.

If others attack, often they are voicing their own fears or frustrations. They may pick on you before anything can go wrong.   Ironically, you will appear stronger by keeping control of your emotions, and the attacker will not look strong, but come across as a hysterical banshee.

2. Keep the ball in the air.

Communication is a badminton game- to be productive all you have to do is hit the birdie back. Don’t panic and give a stupid answer because you were caught off guard. Develop a bag of replies to buy some time–“Is that what you meant?” “Wait, are you saying XYZ is a bad idea?” “What do you think will work?” “How did you solve this problem in the past?” “I don’t have an answer for that right now, can I think about it for a moment?”

3. Win the war, not every battle.

Fighting every battle will exhaust your resources. Take a longer view to get what you want, and to avoid harming your own credibility. Step back and strategize- if you choose which battles are really important, you will use everyone’s time more effectively. BUT don’t’ fail to fight the important battles – you are not a doormat!

4. Use Solutions-Based thinking.

Pursue answers, don’t instead of dwelling on the problems. This ensures no matter how badly a meeting or conversation goes; you are in charge of getting the information you need from this encounter. “So, did we decide on the boxer shorts instead of the leopard mankini? ”

5. Use Wonder Woman bracelets.

Sometimes aggressive people are afraid of failure or being perceived as stupid. They belittle some one else so they will look better. Sidestep and deflect, be smarter than they are. If an encounter gets out of hand, acknowledge they are upset “Wow I can see this is very important for you.” or thank them for bringing a problem to your attention. This allows you to keep authority over your area- do not give it away to bullies!

6. Deflect from the Unsolvable.

World hunger and whether or not you are a moron won’t be resolved in the time span allotted to most show discussions. Don’t take the bait, and say so. Prepare a couple of statements ahead of time, believe me- you’ll need them someday. And don’t forget humor works every time!

7. Be gracious about what other people know.

It’s easy to confuse leadership with knowing everything. Even if you know a lot about a subject, listen to what other people know. They may provide new information. Or they just want someone to tell their knowledge to–a great way to bond with someone. When leading creative groups this is a KEY element- others want to contribute too. If they wanted to mindlessly carry out orders, they would work in fast food.

8. Use the Toddler Rule.

Sometimes bosses or colleagues give you too many tasks or conflicting goals. Ask them to help you set priorities. OR let them choose a solution, but you dictate the options. “Would you like graham crackers or a granola bar?” It takes a long time for someone to notice you omitted possible alternatives like “cookies.”

9. Stop the car to ask for directions.

If you need help or more time, money or resources, you will not look stupid if you take initiative to discuss it early. Draw others into your think tank who have expertise to solve your problem. “I thought I’d get some feedback from you, from the group, etc” You will gain credibility if you address the problem early, instead of waiting until some one’s hair catches on fire. Allow others to solve a problem for you- it’s truly miraculous!

10. Cry in the car on the way home.

One Response to “The Way of the Steel Magnolia”

  1.   Caitlin Clare Cisek Says:

    Hey Guys,

    Here’s the site about Andy Warhol’s “box”.

    Hope you enjoy…


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