Step up

Business book review: Fake it ’til you make it

‘Step Up: Confidence, Success and Your Stellar Career in 10 Minutes a Day’

– Phanella Mayall Fine and Alice Olins

First of all, here’s the blurb and the book link:

Step Up is the ultimate career self-help book for women. It blends kick-up-the-bum advice with 10-minute a day career workouts to help you build career success fast. Perhaps it’s networking? Or, maybe it’s learning how to utilise the influence of others? Read, rehearse and watch your career take off!

Book Review: If anything, this book sells itself short – its themes are universal and not specifically for woman, although the examples it references are all female-sourced…and certain sections, such as the power of lipstick are probably more female-focused (although in these enlightened times, maybe not so much so?!)

I’ve summarised five of the key messages that I took from the book below:

  1. Body language

“I believe in hard work – it gives you that layer of confidence” – Zaha Hadid, architect

  • When you are confident, you become more expansive, intervene earlier in conversations

  1. Don’t get hooked on praise

“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time and you would achieve nothing” – Margaret Thatcher

  • Praise is a short-term high – it panders to our insecurities
  • The act of seeking out praise becomes addictive
  • Praise is often not genuine – it can be used as a social mechanism, or a means of control
  • Likewise, don’t immediately view criticism a put-down
  • When praise or criticism arrives, try asking: Who gave it to me? What is its purpose? Why do I need it?


  1. Embrace failure

“It is impossible to live without failing unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case you fail by default” – J K Rowling, in her Harvard commencement address

  • What did I learn from this situation?
  • How can I grow as a person from this experience?
  • What are three positives about this situation


  1. Project gravitas

 “The voice deteriorates when we are nervous before a presentation – don’t frantically check emails: multi-tasking is very anti-gravitas” – Caroline Goyder, impact coach

  • It isn’t about what you think or say – it’s about how you say it
  • Giving you full attention in meetings is a very powerful statement

  1. Speak slowly

“What’s the worst that can happen?” – Kirsty Young, broadcaster

  • When you speak in a shrill voice, it suggests anxiety – speaking slowly relaxes the vocal chords and makes you sound more confident
  • Also, speaking more softly forces people to listen carefully to what you’re saying and encourages them to value your thoughts
  • Actors are very good at varying the volume of their voices to add interest and convey authority