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Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World

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More than fifty trailblazing executive women who broke the corporate glass ceiling offer inspiring and surprising insights and lessons in this essential, in-the-trenches career guide from Joann S. Lublin, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and management news editor for The Wall Street Journal. Among the first female reporters at The Wall Street Journal, Joann S. Lubli More than fifty trailblazing executive women who broke the corporate glass ceiling offer inspiring and surprising insights and lessons in this essential, in-the-trenches career guide from Joann S. Lublin, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and management news editor for The Wall Street Journal. Among the first female reporters at The Wall Street Journal, Joann S. Lublin faced a number of uphill battles in her career. She became deputy bureau chief of the Journal’s important London bureau, its first run by women. Now, she and dozens of other women who successfully navigated the corporate battlefield share their valuable leadership lessons. Lublin combines her fascinating story with insightful tales from more than fifty women who reached the highest rungs of the corporate ladder—most of whom became chief executives of public companies —in industries as diverse as retailing, manufacturing, finance, high technology, publishing, advertising, automobiles, and pharmaceuticals. Leaders like Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, as well as Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, and Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee, were the first women to run their huge employers. Earning It reveals obstacles such women faced as they fought to make their mark, choices they made, and battles they won—and lost. Lublin chronicles the major milestones and dilemmas of the work world unique to women, providing candid advice and practical inspiration for women of all ages and at every stage  of their careers. The extraordinary women we meet in the pages of Earning It and the hard-won lessons they share provide a compelling career compass that will help all women reach their highest potential without losing a meaningful personal life. 


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More than fifty trailblazing executive women who broke the corporate glass ceiling offer inspiring and surprising insights and lessons in this essential, in-the-trenches career guide from Joann S. Lublin, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and management news editor for The Wall Street Journal. Among the first female reporters at The Wall Street Journal, Joann S. Lubli More than fifty trailblazing executive women who broke the corporate glass ceiling offer inspiring and surprising insights and lessons in this essential, in-the-trenches career guide from Joann S. Lublin, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and management news editor for The Wall Street Journal. Among the first female reporters at The Wall Street Journal, Joann S. Lublin faced a number of uphill battles in her career. She became deputy bureau chief of the Journal’s important London bureau, its first run by women. Now, she and dozens of other women who successfully navigated the corporate battlefield share their valuable leadership lessons. Lublin combines her fascinating story with insightful tales from more than fifty women who reached the highest rungs of the corporate ladder—most of whom became chief executives of public companies —in industries as diverse as retailing, manufacturing, finance, high technology, publishing, advertising, automobiles, and pharmaceuticals. Leaders like Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, as well as Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, and Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee, were the first women to run their huge employers. Earning It reveals obstacles such women faced as they fought to make their mark, choices they made, and battles they won—and lost. Lublin chronicles the major milestones and dilemmas of the work world unique to women, providing candid advice and practical inspiration for women of all ages and at every stage  of their careers. The extraordinary women we meet in the pages of Earning It and the hard-won lessons they share provide a compelling career compass that will help all women reach their highest potential without losing a meaningful personal life. 

30 review for Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Grits Helme

    First of all, WTF is this cover? Does this woman not have eyes just so that she doesn't have to read this terrible book? What was the point of this? If Lublin simply wanted to share stories of women in business then she needn't have put a bullet-ed list of contradictory "lessons" at the end of each chapter. If, rather, the point was to actually think about the issues facing women in the workplace and analyze them, maybe she should have actually DONE that instead of just putting a bullet-ed list o First of all, WTF is this cover? Does this woman not have eyes just so that she doesn't have to read this terrible book? What was the point of this? If Lublin simply wanted to share stories of women in business then she needn't have put a bullet-ed list of contradictory "lessons" at the end of each chapter. If, rather, the point was to actually think about the issues facing women in the workplace and analyze them, maybe she should have actually DONE that instead of just putting a bullet-ed list of contradictory "lessons" at the end of each chapter. And when I say these lessons get contradictory, I'm not kidding: one "lesson" after the chapter discussing (pointing out? we don't ever really reach discussion in this book) sexual harassment in the workplace is about a woman who tells her daughter that she hasn't "'earned the right to make a big deal'" about her harassment and that she should "'just stay out of his way.'" For some reason, this is okay. We do not unpack this statement. Even better, we follow it with a lesson telling us not to accept harassment and to "'push back as equals.'" Unfortunately, we never really unpack any of the issues in these women's stories. Is this fatalism? The world will never accept a woman wearing a colorful dress to an executive board meeting, so we will simply tell a story about a woman who changed her wardrobe to single-color outfits and leave it at that? Or is this just bad writing? Does Lublin simply not realize that she didn't draw a single conclusion and has therefore produced a collection of unconnected anecdotes with conflicting messages and no real scholarship? Zero stars. Do not waste your time with this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book. Lublin did not bring anything to the table that I hadn't already read/heard in other books/websites/podcasts that focus on women in the workplace. One positive aspect I can note is that I liked the biographical information on the women the author interviewed. Their paths to the top were all interesting, and it showed that there's no single road to success. Particularly as a young professional woman without a background in business/finance, I was pleased t Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book. Lublin did not bring anything to the table that I hadn't already read/heard in other books/websites/podcasts that focus on women in the workplace. One positive aspect I can note is that I liked the biographical information on the women the author interviewed. Their paths to the top were all interesting, and it showed that there's no single road to success. Particularly as a young professional woman without a background in business/finance, I was pleased to see that women can succeed in the business world having majored in English or philosophy, for example. Also, like Lean In, I appreciate that Lublin touched on how important it is to have supportive male AND female mentors/sponsors/friends in the professional world as well as in one's personal life. Now for the bad: - I cringed every single time Lublin described the outfit the woman she interviewed was wearing. I understand wanting to add some details and set the scene, but doing it in the same way every time ("Soandso is dressed in XYZ") is boring and draws too much of the reader's attention to the powerful woman's attire and away from her achievements. - When Carol Bartz told her daughter "You haven't earned the right to make a big deal" about the male sales manager incessantly asking her out, I was in disbelief. I think this tone plays out throughout the book. There's this sense that if men are being unprofessional on the job, women should just plug on without "making a fuss." If that's the secret to getting ahead, our society has more problems than we realize. We cannot wonder why women fear bringing such issues to the forefront and possibly wait years before saying anything when this mindset prevails among female pioneers we look to for guidance. - Several of the women came from positions of... wait for it... privilege (yes, I am a millennial who said "the p-word." If you find that offensive, I am absolutely fine with you not reading further.) BEFORE YOU YELL AT ME: I'm not mad at them or jealous of them. I'm happy to see these women making strides in the business world, and I applaud their progress. I make note of this simply to say that as a young woman of color whose parents aren't well-connected doctors/lawyers/professors/PhDs/CEOs, some of the stories did not resonate with me completely. I don't think I was the target audience for this book, and maybe that skewed my opinion, so please take it with a grain of salt. I know the "rags to riches" stories are far less common, so I don't blame Lublin for not having more, but personally, I connect more with that than with the Morrison-Wilderotter types who grew up with dads in the C-suite. Again, NOTHING wrong with that, but the stories of women like Indra Nooyi or Ursula Burns or Oprah Winfrey (growing up with no family members to ask for help, presumably often having the added pressure of being the only woman of color in a room) give me more of a sense that the "top of the business world" is a real possibility.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    "Earning It" is a non-fiction business book geared for women in the workplace. Being a working woman today, I am so appreciative for those women who have gone before me and have paved the way for me. There is a long way to go but oh-so-many of the stories in this book show how far we've come. It gives me hope that we're on the right track! This book is filled with stories of women from many different sectors of the economy. The author tells the stories of a ton of different women. There are some "Earning It" is a non-fiction business book geared for women in the workplace. Being a working woman today, I am so appreciative for those women who have gone before me and have paved the way for me. There is a long way to go but oh-so-many of the stories in this book show how far we've come. It gives me hope that we're on the right track! This book is filled with stories of women from many different sectors of the economy. The author tells the stories of a ton of different women. There are some you may recognize like Mary Barra or Carly Fiorina, who made a run for the White House just earlier this year. There are also a lot of other woman that I had never heard of so there was even more to learn in this book. They are tales of irritation and hard won respect. They are tales of difficult circumstances and triumph. The author delves into her own experiences as one of the first female reporters for the illustrious Wall Street Journal. This experience gives her personal insight into some of the things that these women went through. The stories were fascinating. Some of them disheartened me but some of them really made me excited for how far we've come. Most of the book is involved with telling individual women's stories but there was not much to hold them all together. I wanted a little more from the book, some sort of connection. This is a great book for learning more about what individual women have faced in marching towards success in the workplace!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Naomi Zener

    A must read for women climbing the ranks in any male dominated profession, and a must read for men who have to help pave the way for women to climb those ranks and not be part of the problem for women to smash the glass ceiling!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    I was interested in some of the broader aspects of this book: unconscious bias, management tips, and individual stories of awesome kick-arse businesswomen making it in their fields. But something about this book feels dated – even when references are made to the 2000’s, it seems to come through the lens of the 1980's. Nevertheless, it was eye-opening (if not always particularly educational) to read these interviews, and how women dealt with gender issues in the workplace. Please note, not all adv I was interested in some of the broader aspects of this book: unconscious bias, management tips, and individual stories of awesome kick-arse businesswomen making it in their fields. But something about this book feels dated – even when references are made to the 2000’s, it seems to come through the lens of the 1980's. Nevertheless, it was eye-opening (if not always particularly educational) to read these interviews, and how women dealt with gender issues in the workplace. Please note, not all advice was very good, sometimes it was contradictory, and a lot seemed counter-intuitive to modern concepts of an equitable workplace. Then again, these concepts are drawn from individual accounts of women who were often NOT working in an equitable workplace, which comes through quite strongly. But. So much of the advice literally suggested pandering to men’s expectations of a non-bossy, polite, and sympathetic female colleague (don’t wear bright colours! Your male colleagues will joke about you!). Some women even argued against reporting sexual harassment: you don’t want to rock the boat! - What you should do is try to fit in with, and build (demonstrably non-sexual) relationships with your (apparently often close-minded, disrespectful, sexist) male colleagues. Which seems completely archaic and insane. So, interesting, but not a necessarily a guidebook to necessarily live by?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leann

    The bulleted "lessons" at the end of each chapter were not helpful or constructive and many sections of this book felt hurtful as opposed to helpful. One chapter in particular, Sexual Harassment Never Vanished, offers "lessons" such as picking your battles and don't overreact. Other lessons include thinking twice before you have a glass of wine alone with a male associate after work. As an HR professional this whole chapter made me sad and upset. The chapter itself does nothing to dig deeper int The bulleted "lessons" at the end of each chapter were not helpful or constructive and many sections of this book felt hurtful as opposed to helpful. One chapter in particular, Sexual Harassment Never Vanished, offers "lessons" such as picking your battles and don't overreact. Other lessons include thinking twice before you have a glass of wine alone with a male associate after work. As an HR professional this whole chapter made me sad and upset. The chapter itself does nothing to dig deeper into the topic or personal stories shared and does not discuss ways to create meaningful change. The "lessons" provided honestly feel like they are trying to push things backwards or accept the status quo as opposed to influencing for meaningful positive change. Overall, I would not recommend reading this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Blames women for being discriminated against

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Wiseman

    I didn't make it through the whole book. After it told me that doors are knocked down with a push and the 'push' outlined was a mix of luck and having a well connected daddy - I gave up. I agree with the review that said it shows how far we have come. But by no means are these strategies that I would or even could employ today. And maybe next time no description of what the hard fought leader is wearing. It has no bearing on her successes. I didn't make it through the whole book. After it told me that doors are knocked down with a push and the 'push' outlined was a mix of luck and having a well connected daddy - I gave up. I agree with the review that said it shows how far we have come. But by no means are these strategies that I would or even could employ today. And maybe next time no description of what the hard fought leader is wearing. It has no bearing on her successes.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I am appreciative of the fantastic women who paved the way in corporate America, and these stories do them justice. However, the author insisted on belittling the stories with a full account of what the women were wearing during their interviews, which seemed counterintuitive to the point of the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    The stories are all interesting and provide valuable perspective, but the book still has he attitude that women should adjust to the attitudes of men, rather than how to correct and shape those attitudes.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Freund

    Having read Sallie Krawcheck's 'Own It' prior to this, I was yearning for more examples of female executives and their stories of ascent in the business world -- ideally across a broad range of industries. Joann Lublin has delivered the jackpot here in 'Earning It.' She is very much a journalist (Wall Street Journal) and her 52 profiles featured here show a diversity of experience both on the way up a corporate ladder and at the top of senior management and in board positions. It was well worth Having read Sallie Krawcheck's 'Own It' prior to this, I was yearning for more examples of female executives and their stories of ascent in the business world -- ideally across a broad range of industries. Joann Lublin has delivered the jackpot here in 'Earning It.' She is very much a journalist (Wall Street Journal) and her 52 profiles featured here show a diversity of experience both on the way up a corporate ladder and at the top of senior management and in board positions. It was well worth the read. My one criticism would be that in many cases I feel that I was held at a bit of a distance from the true personal stories of these executives. If Lublin had instead featured a dozen people, would I have been granted more access to the personal drive and motivation of the smaller group of woemn, through more in-depth interviews? Maybe. I've noticed Lublin's readers urging her on Twitter to bring out 'Earning It, Volume 2,' and if a project like that is in the pipeline, I'd be eager to read more on any one of the 52 women featured here or others. Likewise, I'd welcome more input on their male counterparts -- or female, for that matter. (Nonbinary seems to be overlooked entirely in this book -- maybe coincidentally? Maybe there actually were no LGBTQ executives appropriate for this title). But the support of co-workers, mentors, sponsors, and spouses is evidently invaluable in the development of any career -- and certainly that of a successful female executive, so I'd like to gain more perspective on these working relationships too. Food for thought for future projects. This book did indeed deliver what it promised, and it was exactly what I'd hoped. It's clear that Western culture (esp. American) has made great strides from an abysmal beginning but still has a long way to go in achieving corporate gender equity. The more we all understand that, male and female alike, the more likely we are to improve things. This book helped pinpoint important issues. I am eager to follow Joann Lublin's WSJ writing, any other books she's soon to publish, and her own personal story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Patty Chapman

    If you are straight, married and have kids, pursuing an executive role, thus book was written for you. This book has some good quotes from female executives, so I don’t not recommend it, but be aware that the perspective it is written from is aggressively heteronormative. The section on sexual harassment is a depressing reminder of how little progress has been made since the 70s and without giving away too much, the advice is more along the lines of playing politics and going along to get along If you are straight, married and have kids, pursuing an executive role, thus book was written for you. This book has some good quotes from female executives, so I don’t not recommend it, but be aware that the perspective it is written from is aggressively heteronormative. The section on sexual harassment is a depressing reminder of how little progress has been made since the 70s and without giving away too much, the advice is more along the lines of playing politics and going along to get along to a tune that seems almost out of joint with the rest of the book. In the sections on seeking mentors and mentoring others the recommendations are focused on avoiding the appearances of impropriety with male coworkers as if same sex relationships don’t exist and the rumor mill couldn’t just as likely churn about same sex peers. Advice is given about how having kids makes you more of an asset by teaching empathy but there is no advice for those who choose to be childless. The rest of the book was interesting, and cites some sources I would like to read more from so I don’t consider the time wasted.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Hadley

    I’m pretty back and forth about this book. While I enjoyed hearing stories from female executives, I felt the writing style tried to force these stories into lessons and takeaways that often contradicted themselves. Specifically with the sexual harassment chapter, the author’s final summary bullet points were problematic and somewhat suggested to not let these things hinder your career, when unfortunately that is not the case for the majority of women who have received such advances and do in fa I’m pretty back and forth about this book. While I enjoyed hearing stories from female executives, I felt the writing style tried to force these stories into lessons and takeaways that often contradicted themselves. Specifically with the sexual harassment chapter, the author’s final summary bullet points were problematic and somewhat suggested to not let these things hinder your career, when unfortunately that is not the case for the majority of women who have received such advances and do in fact suffer from them without any vindication. Her “damned if you do, doomed if you don’t” attitude throughout had much more of a “throw up your hands and shrug” quality than a real strategy for how to deal with it. Overall I stopped reading the “takeaways” as I don’t think this book should read as a manual, and more as anecdotes. For a book published in 2016, the author writes from a dated time in the 80s and 90s and it shows.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meepspeeps

    This is well-written for future female executives and men who want to understand better the value female executives bring to their organizations. Peeps can also learn how to remove the barriers they may unknowingly support: the barriers that prevent women from getting to be CEO. "Learning to work for a*@holes" is an excellent section, as is the double standard discussion of female and leadership stereotypes. I also learned that after over thirty years of efforts to combat them, sexual harassment This is well-written for future female executives and men who want to understand better the value female executives bring to their organizations. Peeps can also learn how to remove the barriers they may unknowingly support: the barriers that prevent women from getting to be CEO. "Learning to work for a*@holes" is an excellent section, as is the double standard discussion of female and leadership stereotypes. I also learned that after over thirty years of efforts to combat them, sexual harassment and assumptions about affairs to get ahead are still more common than I thought in 2016, and difficult to eliminate. Chapter 12 on executive presence is outstanding - just read it if no time for the whole book. This chapter faces the double standards and explains why it's so important for women to accept and adjust, not just cry, "that's not fair," even though it isn't fair.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    If you have not read or heard a lot of stories of women in the work place (especially in higher level management) during the 80s and 90s there might be something in this book for you. It is well laid out with stories from executive women through out as examples of the strategies discussed. However, I don't agree with the author's stipulation that stories from older women are of inherent value to younger women today. Many of these stories are the same so once you have heard a bunch of them they a If you have not read or heard a lot of stories of women in the work place (especially in higher level management) during the 80s and 90s there might be something in this book for you. It is well laid out with stories from executive women through out as examples of the strategies discussed. However, I don't agree with the author's stipulation that stories from older women are of inherent value to younger women today. Many of these stories are the same so once you have heard a bunch of them they are all the same. They tend to focus on walking the line of pointing out bias and not being seen as unlikable. I found the advice here very typical business advice without new incites into actions to try or how to find the line between likable and powerful.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Guthrie C.

    This book is an interesting history of specific female executives interviewed by the author. Instead of each chapter focusing on individual executives, she organizes their stories into women-at-work themed chapters, also interspersed with statistics of how far our society has, and has not, evolved to embrace women in the workplace. I recommend it to any person who is interested in the lives of successful business women and understanding the challenges we still put in place to hold women back in This book is an interesting history of specific female executives interviewed by the author. Instead of each chapter focusing on individual executives, she organizes their stories into women-at-work themed chapters, also interspersed with statistics of how far our society has, and has not, evolved to embrace women in the workplace. I recommend it to any person who is interested in the lives of successful business women and understanding the challenges we still put in place to hold women back in business.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    Couldn’t finish it and could barely read through some of it, so take this review with that in mind. This book preaches a ton of things I hate about the workplace: wear heels, be okay getting paid less and just work harder, change your personality to be more mannish, ignore sexual abuse... Okay, maybe I’m overstating it a bit, there were also good pieces of advice sprinkled in there as well, probably?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I listened to this book on audio all day! It was so interesting to hear the experiences of many different career driven women. It felt repetitive at points but I often feel that way when I read/listen to a non-fiction book straight through. I feel like this is a great book to read as a women in business especially as I am starting my career.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Dumont

    While it would be an interesting academic read, I didn't feel any of the stories were relevant to modern day millennials. Book is set up as if we can take lessons from these women but their struggles, while important to history, are not relevant to us. While it would be an interesting academic read, I didn't feel any of the stories were relevant to modern day millennials. Book is set up as if we can take lessons from these women but their struggles, while important to history, are not relevant to us.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie Fluharty

    I really enjoyed this book. It focused on how women can build their skills and careers to get into middle management and C-level roles. Plenty of great ideas on areas I need to lean into more or further develop for my career.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tamanna

    useful for all professional women

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    antiquated and condescending. did not finish.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Krystle

    Not bad stories from execs about experiences, but some info/advice seemed outdated and semi anti feminist.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mk

    A lot of the advice is for white women of a certain class and in a specific time, less relevant today or for a diverse audience. Otoh some of it was pretty inspiring.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Interesting, skim-worthy read. Some of the advice is dated/not right for today's workplace. Interesting, skim-worthy read. Some of the advice is dated/not right for today's workplace.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    I was turned off by so many aspects of this book. I would not recommend as a modern read to inspire career women like myself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Decent examination of obstacles faced by women with summarized advice for readers. Sometimes a little repetitive but overall the advice was solid and practical, grounded in the real world.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    Informative and useful perspectives.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    Interesting and informative perspectives.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megha Sehgal

    Never judge a book by its cover. I should have paid heed to this :P I had to muster actual courage to read the book after looking at its cover which gave quite an old-fashioned appeal. But I took a good step to start the book. Don't be amazed if you start the book and then find yourself glued for a couple of hours without a restroom break. Joann has done great justice to the book weaving its story in a very engrossing way. The way she narrates stories of 52 trailblazing women is simply superb. Ma Never judge a book by its cover. I should have paid heed to this :P I had to muster actual courage to read the book after looking at its cover which gave quite an old-fashioned appeal. But I took a good step to start the book. Don't be amazed if you start the book and then find yourself glued for a couple of hours without a restroom break. Joann has done great justice to the book weaving its story in a very engrossing way. The way she narrates stories of 52 trailblazing women is simply superb. Many of the characters keep repeating in different chapters when she relates a different aspect about their character. At many of the places you will find the author getting emotional when she brings out pieces of her own life-story in between the lives of famous women. At the first go, I thought the book was too feminist when it talked about sexism at workplaces but then no I was again proved wrong. This book had a different agenda altogether. Its about the struggle and the challenges some of these top-notch leaders faced. The stories of Clara Shih, Mary Barry, Beth Mooney amongst other women leaders are inspirational. Overall, the author has done great justice to this non-fiction.

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