Not a Question of if, but Rather of How

A few years ago, after Nancy Vonk and I gave a speech at an event, Kate Cassaday, an editor from HarperCollins came up to us and said, “You’ve broken every rule of business to achieve success, and I think that’s a book.” We made some self-deprecating comment, joked a little and brushed off the offer with a breezy, “We’ll think about it”. In other words, we did what so many women do. Oh, we of little faith.

Our talk had been about the unconventional choices we’d made as both career women and mothers: like sharing a job that was typically done by one person so we could give a decent amount of attention to both the job and our families. Like putting so much energy into mentoring that it taught us to lead. Like saying things that higher ups didn’t want to hear, often publicly.

Hey, wait a minute. Maybe we did have something to offer! The book, Darling You Can’t Do Both (And Other Noise to Ignore on Your Way Up) was born this year after what felt like the world’s longest pregnancy. Along the way, we spoke to an army of women who have rewritten the rules at work, renegotiated the terms at home and taken their authentic, emotional, intelligent selves into every environment. From them, we learned so much more than we knew at the outset, and we hope their advice and ours will provide fresh new ideas on how women can have the lives they want.

Darling isn’t a paint-by-numbers guide on getting to the corner office. It’s a series of suggestions on breaking the rules that hold us back. A story of how to live a rich, full life that can include a big career and a family, if that’s what you want. We believe that the relentless societal drumbeat that says choose…choose…choose, is just wrong…wrong…wrong.

The opportunity to have the life you want may come dressed as a monstrous obstacle or a 90-degree slope, as was our book offer. “How could we manage it all?” If, like us, you can’t go straight to yes, I highly recommend “maybe”, the breezy, “I’ll think about it.” Then think about it hard. Weigh the pros and cons. Can you get extra help with your kids or propose a different way of working with your boss?

Just don’t say ‘no’. Making it happen is not a matter of if, but rather of how.

Along with Nancy Vonk, Janet Kestin is co-founder of Swim, a creative leadership lab designed to create fearless leaders. They were Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy Toronto from 1998 to 2011. They led their office to two Cannes Grand Prix, a Grand Clio and Best of Show at the Creativity Awards for work like Dove “Evolution” and “Diamond Shreddies”. Janet has judged Cannes, Clios, CA, The One Show, D&AD and was foreman of the D&AD 2013 Writing Jury. Janet and Nancy were included in Creativity magazine’s Top 50 Creative People of 2008, and named advertising Women of the Year at the WIN Awards and the AWNY Awards in 2007. In 2011 they were inducted into Canada’s “Marketing Hall of Legends.” In 2012 they were included in Advertising Age Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Women in Advertising. Janet and Nancy write industry advice column “Ask Jancy” on, and penned Adweek book Pick Me, now a staple in advertising schools from Texas to Turkey. Darling, You Can’t Do Both (And Other Noise To Ignore On Your Way Up) a career guide for women, was published by HarperCollins in 2014.

Image credit: