Seduce the Boys' Club or Play It Nice?

What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK ( -- Madison Avenue's most senior femmes are penning books about how to be successful in business. Their strategies could hardly be more different.
McCann's Nina DeSesa is shopping a new book around.
McCann's Nina DeSesa is shopping a new book around.

Nina DeSesa, chairman of McCann Erickson Worldwide, New York, is out shopping a new book, "Seducing the Boys' Club: How A Woman Can Triumph in a Male Workplace (and Even Enjoy the Battle)." Ms. DeSesa's agent, Fredrica Friedman, who also repped Donna Hanover, Rudy Giuliani's former wife, is visiting publishers today about the new tome. "They've got to emulate the good things that men bring [to the workplace], and also use what women have," she said. Ms. DeSesa feels men tend to be more openly competitive, confrontational, and confident while women are generally more collaborative, listen to others' ideas and give credit where it is due. "So many of women's attributes are what make a good leader. Combine them with men's characteristics, and you can be the perfect person." Ms. DeSesa joined McCann in 1994 as New York creative director and was later promoted to chairman of the New York office.

The two women at the helm of New York agency Kaplan Thaler Group, New York -- Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval -- offer a different opinion on getting ahead in life. Their book, "The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness," hits bookshelves in September. "The book came about after we thought about how we run the agency," said Ms. Koval. "It's not one of those places where people are encouraged to eat their young." The pair interviewed successful executives and celebrities as well as lesser-known individuals who've done well and found that treating others well often reaps huge rewards. The book combines real-life anecdotes from the likes of Donald Trump(?!), writer Ken Auletta and model-turned-mogul Kathy Ireland, with findings from scientific research showing that people who behave nicely to others benefit in multiple ways. Doctors who are nice to their patients, said Ms. Koval, are sued far less than those who aren't. "People don't acknowledge that being nice can be a sign of strength. Nice is more often seen as synonymous with weak," said Ms. Kaplan Thaler. "People don't realize it can be a powerful business tool."

Still, something tells us that Nina's book might be the winner here for those hoping to cut it on Madison Avenue.
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