If You Have to Cry, Go Outside Book Review
Want to win my copy of Kelly Cutrone’s If You Have to Cry, Go Outside? Shout me on social media & I’ll send it to you with a favourite passage marked for your enjoyment.
I was introduced to the world of Kelly Cutrone by my fashion-savvy sister, who was a devout watcher of her TV show, “Kell on Earth.” To give you an idea of the personality within these pages, here’s a favourite quote from Cutrone as she talks about taking out an opponent (take note of her love of F-bombs):
“Who gives a f**k about her opinion? No, she’s dead! She is f**king dead! Because I’m gonna f**king come up like a shark underneath a glass bottom boat and f**king whip the s**t out of her.”
Her blunt, no-holds-barred style got me piqued enough to pick up a copy of her first book. I wondered how someone so seemingly corrosive became such a success – it would appear that the natural course women have learned is to claw each other apart to get to the top. But she’s a success because she doesn’t give a crap about what anyone thinks about her! Not in a cliched, “I’m going to try be a popular maverick but really be devastated if people don’t like me…” This book is great at pointing out that anything worth doing has to be done balls to the wall (and with integrity), not by dancing on the edge of fear and playing halvsies. In If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, she talks about her climb up the world of fashion PR, but what I really found more compelling was the back-story of the fabled “bitch in black.” Her unglamorous beginnings, and how she stumbled upon her PR gift by being a club promoter and working her way into the “in crowd” really brings her back to reality.
It’s truly a great example of how someone can turn “nothing” into “everything,” and what Cutrone really tries to pass on to her readers is the importance of accountability. On her show, she gives her employees enough slack to be able to own their tasks – but if there’s a mistake or laziness or negativity cloud on the horizon…she’ll swoop in and rip you apart. It’s an empowered form of collaboration – everyone is accountable for doing their part and bringing their A-game to the table. Not prancing around caught up in the moment or drama.
I’ve had my fair share of experiences with challenging work environments and bosses. People who try to manage their staff with empty fear, or companies that breed insecurity and low self-esteem. But what I learned from Cutrone is that there are environments out there that could offer the type of fit where my particular style of work can thrive. She seems like a cold hard bitch on the surface, but if you look further, you can tell there is more substance to her method – a loyalty, a desire to grow her people, a keen eye for who can thrive with her style of grooming. I have a similar style to her, the impulse to fight to the death for my projects and coworkers – but this trait it never fully came to fruition because I didn’t feel connected to my work environment.
People management is so much more than hiring the most qualified person with a shiny, shiny resume. Once you bring someone aboard your company, I truly believe it is crucial to make them invested in remaining part of your team. To build the relationship and loyalty that can make them a “lifer” instead of someone quick to seek out fulfillment at your competitor. It irks me to hear managers talk of people being so expendable or mediocre, because everyone has the potential to create great work from inspiration.
This book was such a smooth read (albeit sometimes quite raw in tone), and I managed to finish it in a day. Whether you’re a young one ready to take on the world after graduation, or someone deep in their career and amassing seniority…I think that Cutrone’s candor could really be a refreshing breeze to focus your career goals. Or if you’re like myself, and in the cocoon of reinventing yourself, she can really light the path for how to turn your vision into reality. She’s particularly funny when talking about femininity – how women often limit themselves by not managing their hysteria or emotional natures in the face of a challenge. I had a friend who broke down in a boardroom, and lost the confidence of her boss for not being strong enough to keep it in check. I’m sure she would have benefited from this book, and instead would have known to lock herself in the bathroom and re-arrange the walls with her fist. Once you lose your poise, it’s nearly impossible to get back.
I gotta throw these quotes out, like little treats:
“This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a bad day, a bad month, or a shitty year. Things will change: you won’t feel this way forever. And anyway, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you know what it means to fail. You can’t know what it’s like to feel holy until you know what it’s like to feel really fucking evil. And you can’t be birthed again until you’ve died.”
“It was becoming obvious that I needed more than witty small talk and the right look to survive in this town. [Y]ou can fake your way to the table, but ultimately you have to learn how to eat. Clothes do not make the woman (even if they do make her look good).”
“…[T]his isn’t a book about how to be a smart businesswoman, because I’m not a smart businesswoman. Frankly, I’m not even that smart. What I am is fearless and intuitive. I’m attuned to the sound of my inner voice, and I’ve been following it blindly for most of my life, without any clear goals.”
“If anyone really wanted to change the world, they’d bring in the fashion bitches, because nobody gets things done faster. If we went about saving the world like we go about producing fashion shows, well, let’s say New Orleans after Katrina would’ve been fucking sorted. (We’d all have been wearing Paul Smith wellies and barking, “What do you mean your head’s bleeding? Get up, let’s go, move!”)”