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Designed for Success by Dondi Scumaci

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The Advocate

Designed for Success
by Dondi Scumaci

Reviewed by Carol Kurtz

"Scumaci makes the case that if we women can change the way we see and talk to ourselves, we'll open up the possibility of doing great things, as we've been designed by our Creator to do."

She isn’t Moses and it’s not Mt. Sinai, But “Designed for Success” clearly spells out the ten most important commandments for women in the workplace. But although Dondi Scumaci speaks to women, the tone of the book isn’t anti-male. It’s more about how to overcome the stereotypes women have been raised to accept, and how to become the best woman you can be. Fully female, but also business savvy and successful.

With a new commandment for each chapter, we reconsider mentoring and being a mentor as a powerful tool for women in the corporate world. We learn to “Lead From Your Current Position”, probably the most positive of all the commandments. Each chapter explores anecdotal employees facing problems that relate to the commandment being discussed, a nice break from some of the drier subject matter. Questions for Reflection and Action Items also help to summarize each topic and to offer practical applications. The book is light on Scripture and spiritual reference.

Scumaci points out that as girls we’re taught not to be pushy or to rock the boat, and we end up not being able to be assertive when necessary. We’re taught to avoid making a mistake at all costs, so we play it safe and don’t take risks. She argues that what we believe about ourselves is what we communicate to others, so changing how we see ourselves is vital to becoming a leader. She suggests making the mental shift from negotiation (something most woman avoid) to collaboration, and negotiating doesn’t seem as daunting. Making the shift from “It’s important for everyone to like you” to “It’s important to make a difference” is a powerful mental adjustment that frees us to step out and move forward.

These tenets are geared toward employees and managers, not entrepreneurs, and the milieu is consistently an office with a boss/employee dynamic. With so many women running or starting their own small businesses, it would have been a nice angle to cover, although some of the wisdom in this book can certainly apply, like the idea of falling in love with your job again and ways to add value to what you do. Strategies for communicating more effectively certainly carry over. Effective tips include responding to negative comments or disagreeable suggestions with the simple statement “You may be right”, thus disarming a potential conflict. Not thinking like a victim or carrying a chip on our shoulders will go a long way to leveling the playing field.

Is there really a glass ceiling? Most definitely, Scumaci believes. She argues, “When men are direct and straightforward at work, they are called leaders. When women are direct and straightforward at work, other words are used to describe them.” Facing this reality head on helps us to debunk the stereotypes while still embracing our feminine strengths. It’s not necessary to be angry or militant about breaking that barrier, but acknowledging its existence is vital to moving beyond it.

Possibly the biggest revelation in the book will be helpful to women in all walks of life, whether in business or not—that through our own self talk we’re often much meaner to ourselves than we are to anyone else, holding us back from achieving our goals and dreams. What do we say to ourselves when we look in the mirror, or when we make a mistake? Scumaci makes the case that if we women can change the way we see and talk to ourselves, we’ll open up the possibility of doing great things, as we’ve been designed by our Creator to do.

Carol Kurtz Darlington is a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor who works with people who want to lose weight as well as those who just want to enjoy better health. She enjoys empowering and encouraging others to reach their health and fitness goals, feel better about themselves in the process, and enjoy more energy to stay active in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Totally Fit With Carol, a Christian weight loss website featuring workout videos, health tips, exercise advice, and more. She loves her morning cappuccino and her beloved grand-dog. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and haunting Starbucks.