Book review: Nice Girls Don´t Get the Corner Office, by Dr. Lois P. Frankel.


I had read this book  earlier this year thanks to my company’s Women Leadership Forum Networking Book Chain.

I did not know what the author meant with that “corner office” reference, but the subtitle in the front cover made me instinctively grab the book from the pile: “Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers”… Wow! Well, I definitely don´t want to unconsciously sabotage my career, so let’s take a look!

The book I got is a new and updated edition of a New York Times bestseller, which offers advice to women with regards to business and career.

In the past, I have read several of the most  widely acclaimed classic self-help books about  self-esteem,  assertiveness, proactivity, life goal settings, personal development and achievement, how to deal with negative emotions and so on; but  these self-help titles  deal with the subjects in a more theoretical and psychological way, not giving many specific day-to-day examples, so if you are short of epiphanies and “a-ha moments”, you will need to read them several times before the knowledge permeates your grey cells and you are able to put things together in a practical way.

Nice Girls Don´t Get the Corner Office, on the contrary, displays plenty of examples of what the writer describes as “mistakes”: working environment behaviors that can sabotage your career, also paired with the needful advice on how to deal with challenging situations.

The author assumes that women learn to be “nice girls” in childhood and carry some self-sabotaging behaviors (i.e. continuous seek for approval, putting others interests before your own) to adulthood… So she invites women to make a conscious transition from nice girl to adult woman by becoming fully aware of those behaviors and changing the fearful voice inside for a reliable and assertive pitch.

The “mistakes” come to fall into seven categories:

  • How you play the game.

The author is very clear about it: whatever your company business is, its size or corporate culture, office politics prevail and you have to play the game by the rules, if you want to succeed. Some of the common mistakes are: not engaging in social networking, doing the work of others (being “too helpful”), protecting or covering for irresponsible and inconsiderate people (A.K.A. “ jerks”) at work, among others.

  • How you act.

This section deals with overcoming insecurity and the need for approval. The message is: an adult self-empowered woman does not need to be liked, so be confident in yourself and stop acquiescing to abusive behaviors.

  • How you think.

This section is about making you aware of misguided attitudes and beliefs that can be conditioning your behavior in a negative way: reluctance to delegate, premature abandoning your career goals, putting work ahead of your personal life are just some of them.

  • How you brand and market yourself.

“A personal brand is a promise of performance that creates expectations in audience. Done well, it clearly communicates the values, personality and abilities of the person behind it.”

Here the writer quoting Marketing author Peter Montoya, invites us to define our personal brand and be the first to recognize and showcase our own merits and achievements.


  • How you sound.

Do you feel the need to over explain or use too many preambles? Are you always apologizing or asking for permission? Do you use “touchy-feely” language?

Well, it seems that all this habits are mistakes which detract from our credibility, so the author gives some coaching tips on how to communicate and deliver our message in an effective way.


  • How you look.

Talking about credibility, it seems that more than fifty percent of success depends on our physical appearance and non-verbal communication: wearing inappropriate attire  or make up, using gestures inconsistent with your message or avoiding eye contact are some of the habits to be completely avoided.


  • How you respond.

This section is about emotional intelligence: to reach the necessary self- coherence  that will help you to fully reach your objectives, you have to work against some cognitive tendencies and attitudes like internalizing negative messages, holding a grudge, permitting other´s mistakes to inconvenience you.


In Dr. Lois P. Frankel’s  Nice Girls Don´t Get the Corner Office  you will find over 130 tips that will help you gaining awareness of some attitudes and behaviors that can contribute to damage your image and stagnate your career.

I have found this book quite interesting and revealing, but be conscious that the book has been written targeting the American audience, so there are some cultural differences that are applicable even to global corporate environments, depending on which area of the globe you are sitting in: I personally don’t agree with some of the author’s statements, but all in all, I would recommend this title since it is a light and fun book which offers many useful hints and insights.

Bilingual children and homework

The Lesson_Picasso

 Dear parents of bilingual children:

I’m going to write about the benefits of helping your bilingual child with his/her homework, and I’m just writing from my own experience as a mother.

My daughter is seven years old and she is doing her second year of Elementary School in Italy. I’ve always talked to her in Spanish, according to the OPOL method and now she is a bilingual child.

Last year while my girl was doing her first year at school and starting to read, I couldn’t dedicate enough time to help her with her homework, due to my professional and academic commitments, so instead I brought her to private tuition with other kids of her same age.

However this year my daughter insisted to do her homework with me at home, so we seat almost every afternoon for a couple of hours and I help her with her  homework and with the study of the different subjects: Maths, Italian, Foreign Language…

Thanks to this routine not only have I managed to save money, but I’ve also had the opportunity to observe some of the benefits of helping your children with their homework when your mother tongue is minority.

1.       Improvement of the academic skills using the minority language as working language.

This contributes to achieve a more balanced bilingualism, that is to say, having a high and similar skill in both languages and the ability to use them efficiently in different fields and situations.

I was quite surprised to realize how, once my daughter had learnt to read in Italian, she was able to read also in Spanish even though nobody had taught her how to do it; but now it turns out that when we’re doing some maths exercises she counts in Spanish instinctively and just because she is with me at that moment, so thanks to my help, she is also learning the Spanish name for the operations, factors, etc.

When we are working on Lingua Italiana and she has to do a composition, summary or  analysis, we also speak in Spanish and practise the subject’s own metalanguage.

2.       Training in Learning Strategies.

Using my mother tongue as a learning strategy has been very useful to explain some orthographic rules in the case of Italian homophones, as in the case of the pairs “ho”, “o”; “é”, “e”; “a”, “ha”, just by focusing on the meaning of the words in Spanish.

Learning Strategy training can be useful not only when learning a second language, but also for other subjects. Once the child gets familiar with strategies he/she will be able to develop his/her own learning strategies and become a more autonomous learner.

3.       Improvement of one’s self skills in the working language

I had learnt Italian  in an autodidact way (by full immersion) until now, and even if I had attained a language certificate for level C2 of the CEFRL in Italian (that is, the highest level certification), I had not examined in depth many of the explicit rules of grammar and writing.

Besides, this activity allows me to gain access to first hand cultural references (literary, historic, social, geopolitical, procedural, and so on) that usually aren’t available to language learners even in a situation of immersion.

Learning along with your child is a rewarding experience that prepares you to integrate into a foreign society, for being able to help him/her in the future, for building up his/her identity and for sharing his/her worldview.

4.       Promotes affective factors in learning.

Not only my child benefits from her mother’s help at her own home, moreover she enjoys quality time with me, exchanging knowledge and experiences, while I can monitor her learning and encourage the development of her abilities.

The minority language turns into a working language for learning that equals the language used at school, increasing its value and the child’s attitude towards it.

But also, as a mother whose mother tongue is different from the working language used at school, I often provide my daughter  the occasion to teach me something and that fills her with great pleasure and pride, increasing her self esteem, improving her self-perception and promoting the development of her learner autonomy.

5.       Free access to teaching resources.

Last but not least, a wink to all of you who apart from being parents are also teachers:

As a Spanish FL teacher I’m always aware of anything related to methodology and learning practices, so I consider the teachers’ methods, the textbooks’ approach, the worksheets or didactic materials, etc.

Who of you are teachers: I can assure you that working with your child you will get many ideas to adapt or create new activities for your students.

Haciendo los deberes


This is my first post in English.

“There’s always a first time.”

Pasa la vida…

Hoy se le ha caído el primer diente (incisivo central inferior) a Isabella; era tan pequeñito, que me ha hecho sentir ternura y un poquito de pena…  mi niña se está haciendo mayor: en septiembre comienza el primer curso de primaria y me hace mucha ilusión que empiece el cole “de verdad”, con sus libros de lengua y de ciencias, sus cuadernos, su estuche con tres cremalleras lleno de lápices nuevos, su diario de clase… Un nuevo mundo se abre ante ella y yo revivo esta emoción en primera persona, no sin un poco de nostalgia de mi propia niñez.

En estos días de calor y apatía, enciendo a diario el ordenador, dispuesta a retomar mi trabajo con la tesina, pero no consigo prender la mecha del estudio: correo electrónico, redes sociales… necesito un asiento ergonómico para mis horas de navegante sin rumbo (¡qué dolor de espalda!). Quizá esta desgana se deba a un surmenage intelectual o a un bajón anímico tras el fallecimiento de mi padre hace ahora un mes: la vida pasa, o nosotros pasamos por ella siguiendo nuestro camino,  renunciando a cosas y diciendo adiós a personas en cada estación, para encontrar nuevas ilusiones a lo largo del recorrido.

Al tomar hoy en mi mano el dientecito de mi hija, me ha recordado la semillita que encierra dentro de sí el misterio del ciclo de la vida, y como estamos en época de cosecha, he decidido recoger aquí este pensamiento y comenzar a trabajar para que futuros proyectos puedan dar su fruto el día de mañana.

Verde Envenenado.

Queremos ser más respetuosos con el medio ambiente, queremos alimentos más genuinos, buscamos la producción a Km0, los frutos de cultivo ecológico y evitar las bolsas de plástico y las bandejas de poliestireno.

Se podría pensar que viviendo al Sur de Sicilia, en un pueblecito rodeado por fértiles campos y verdes colinas desde las que se avista el mar, la cosa no debe de resultar difícil; de hecho aquí uno puede abastecerse de casi cualquier alimento sin pisar un supermercado o una gran superficie: hay señores que te traen los huevos frescos que sus gallinas ponen a diario, las verduras (ecológicas) de su huerto, hay quien fabrica el queso. La playa está a pocos kilómetros y hay quien trae pescado fresco al pueblo, aunque como también hay riachuelos de montaña, puede ser divertido echar una mañana pescando truchas. Las carnicerías traen la carne de criaderos cercanos, el agua del grifo tiene buen sabor y casi todas las familias tienen algún terrenillo con cuatro olivos de cuyas aceitunas, prensadas en la estupenda almazara local, sacan aceite para todo el año.

¿Cuál es, entonces, el problema?

El problema se llama “Polo Petroquímico de Priolo”: una macro-fábrica de gases y vertidos venenosos junto al mar, a veinticuatro kilómetros de mi pueblo. Toda la costa desde la parte Sur de Catania hasta Siracusa está contaminada desde hace años con ácido sulfúrico y mercurio, la fauna marina envenenada, los vertidos llegan hasta los acuíferos y contaminan los cultivos; ha habido casos de graves malformaciones en recién nacidos, atribuidas a las altas cantidades de mercurio presente en el pescado consumido por la madre, y las neoplasias van en aumento entre personas de todos los grupos de edad, superando hasta tres veces la media de la estadística nacional.

Se han realizado análisis en los sedimentos marinos de la ensenada de Augusta, encontrando altísimas concentraciones de mercurio (hasta veinte mil veces superiores al límite legal consentido), de níquel, cromo y cobre: Parece ser que hasta los peces han sufrido mutaciones genéticas.

Obviamente todo lo que cae alrededor de este Polo viene contaminado, pero ¿qué ocurre con los terrenos del interior? ¿Y los pueblecitos de montaña?

Mucha gente de la zona cultiva amorosamente su huerto libre de OGMs y pesticidas, ignorando que cuando llueve, sus lechugas, tomates, pimientos, fresas y uvas se están dando un baño de lluvia ácida.

Este dato ha sido comprobado en los charcos que se forman cuando comienza a llover: tienen un color ocre y un ph bastante ácido ¿Dónde? En un pueblo de montaña, a unos cuarenta kilómetros del Polo Petroquímico de Priolo y a unos setecientos metros de altitud. Los gases se condensan en la atmósfera y viajan con las nubes, descargando a veces, a muchos kilómetros de la fábrica.

Por este motivo, muchas veces prefiero comprar el pescado congelado y la fruta del Trentino (ejem…  el ecologismo a nivel personal tiene sus paradojas).

Por este motivo también, quiero reflejar mi preocupación en mi blog, denunciar esta situación vergonzosa y recordar en este post a una querida amiga y persona entrañable, que ha fallecido el mes pasado tras varios años de lucha contra el cáncer. Ti voglio bene, L.

Reír, Pensar, Llorar…

Qui trovate la recensione di Gente di Dublino (Dubliners) in Italiano.

Siempre se ha dicho que la lectura del Quijote, según a qué edades, puede hacernos reír (si lo leemos siendo aún niños), reflexionar (de adultos) o llorar (de ancianos).

Algo parecido me ha ocurrido recientemente cuando he tenido la oportunidad de leer Dubliners, de James Joyce. En casa siempre hemos tenido muchos libros de todo pelaje y género, y por supuesto, una copia del Ulises del escritor irlandés tenía su huequecito en la estantería; el caso es que nunca me había atraído aquel libro “gordo” y tostón, pero desde que he tenido que hacer un pequeño comentario de Dubliners para un curso, he descubierto que Joyce era verdaderamente un genio, y ahora no veo la hora de que lleguen las vacaciones para leer Ulysses y, si me alcanzan las neuronas, también Finnegans Wake.

Me ha sorprendido profundamente el grado de penetración psicológica y la profundidad del autor en el retrato de sus dublineses, y he llegado a dos conclusiones:

– Joyce escribió Dubliners con tan sólo veinticinco años: hoy en día, por la época que nos ha tocado vivir, un joven de veinticinco años no sólo no sería capaz de escribir un libro así, sino que además, dudo que consiguiera apreciar toda la riqueza psicológica de la obra.

– Me alegro de no haber leído Dubliners con veinticinco años, pues seguramente, tampoco habría vivido aún lo suficiente ni tendría la madurez ni autoconciencia necesarias para poder compartir (aunque sea intelectualmente) la epiphany o insight de los protagonistas de sus relatos.

Bilingüismo, Identidad, Bilingual, Multilingual, Identity, Spanish, Italian, Learning, Aprendizaje, Literatura, Books.

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