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“SKIRTS in the Boardroom”by Marshawn Evans222 pages$27.95, hardcoverJohn Wiley & Sons, Nov. 30, 2008

“SKIRTS in the Boardroom”
by Marshawn Evans

222 pages
$27.95, hardcover
John Wiley & Sons, Nov. 30, 2008

Book Review: 'Skirts' delivers advice for boardroom situations

Posted online
Sometimes it’s the title that draws me in, and other times, I’m drawn to a book because I find the author intriguing. In the case of Marshawn Evans’ “SKIRTS in the Boardroom: A Woman’s Survival Guide to Success in Business & Life,” it’s a bit of both.

I’d seen the book in 2009, and it stuck with me. Working in a profession where style demands acronyms be clearly spelled out, I wanted to know what SKIRTS means. SKIRTS is shorthand for sisterhood, knowledge, integrity, respect, tenacity and substance.

Author Evans knows a thing or two about business as an entertainment attorney and owner of both a life enrichment consulting firm and a national brand management agency. She’s also a former Miss America finalist and was a contestant on Season 4 of
“The Apprentice” with Donald Trump.

The boardroom is often where the folks at the top of the corporate ladder make decisions that affect everybody else in the business or organization. Evans establishes early on, however, that she’s not just writing for the women in the corporate office. For her, the boardroom is a place of power, but more specifically, any place, opportunity or setting that is traditionally male-dominated. And, she notes, it’s also a place where the “good ol’ boys network” runs rampant.

True to her word, I found that much of the ground covered in this book is applicable to women in all walks of work and life, and men could benefit from her insights, too. Evans covers a wide array of topics, including networking, personal branding, attitude and defining priorities.

A blend of charts, quotes, quick tips and nuggets of trivia are sprinkled throughout. Just as Evans’ wit and drive shines through her writing, it’s also evident that she did plenty of research. I was intrigued to see that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once listed her dream job as commissioner of the National Football League. And one tip, “Be willing to say ‘no.’ Make sure that ‘no’ ends with a period, not a question mark,” resonates with me. I can recall numerous times on committees or in community groups when I’ve been faced with a request that I either didn’t have time for or didn’t feel qualified for, but instead of putting my foot down, I end up “playing nice” and saying, “Well, I don’t really have time, but … ” and the end result is that I end up adding yet one more thing to juggle. Given that Evans spends plenty of time in this book talking about courage, assertiveness and leadership, it would appear that I am not alone.

There are plenty of exercises, too. Among them are a worksheet for creating a committed value system, complete with an assessment and action plan and exercises to help determine individual leadership style. If one is a “red skirt,” for instance, she’s an aggressive leader, while a “beige skirt” is a passive individual. There’s also a quick 12-step lineup for those who need attitude makeovers.

Evans is comfortable – sometimes too much – with catch phrases and plays on words, with chapter titles such as “Creativity: Show ‘Em Your Assets” and subheads Behind the Mascara and Women are Better Drivers. Since it’s pretty clear from the start that this is a book for women, I found it a tad distracting in places. Still, for the most part, it’s worth it to look beyond those phrases at what she has to say. She’s also, apparently, a fan of the acronym, but some of those are memorable:
• WANT – Many people want to be successful, but Evans’ goal is to equip them to go after it. WANT, she says, is merely waiting and nothing transpires. That strikes me as a good mantra for many areas of life.
• TAGS – By personally defining what they have to offer, women should discover that they have the secret ingredient to success, which Evans says is creativity. They just need to be clear about their talents, abilities, gifts and skills.
• ASK – Evans spends some time on this three-part strategy in Chapter 5, “Communication: If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It.” It’s a method for effectively delivering a message to any audience. Assign importance, separate the wheat from the chaff and know your main talking point. Sounds pretty easy, and a simple worksheet, along with a completed sample sheet, make ASK even more applicable.

At 222 pages, this book isn’t necessarily a quick read, but it’s broken up into three parts and 11 chapters, so it isn’t too hard to go through and focus on those aspects that are most appealing. One challenge – I wouldn’t necessarily call it a criticism – is that this book has so many sections, subsections, exercises, pullouts and definitions that in some places it’s hard to decide what to concentrate on first. That’s often the case when a reader’s presented at once with multiple intriguing elements. On the plus side, I’m of the opinion that being able to read a book more than once and continue learning from it is the mark of a good work.

In her acknowledgements, Evans notes that “SKIRTS” is her first book, with more to come. If her future works are as entertaining and informative as her initial attempt, my guess is that she’ll move beyond the novelty that comes from having appeared on TV with The Donald to make a name for herself as an author with key insights to share.
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