We’ve been on the fence about Anna Wintour and her persona, wondering whether she puts on a bitch front because she can. However, after seeing her speak last Tuesday and watching the “60 Minutes” special and its outtakes, the Vogue editor-in-chief has our respect. And, she’s taught us a few valuable lessons that explain and defy her reputation.
REPUTATION: She’s a bitch and a perfectionist.
REALITY: “I’m very driven by what I do. I am certainly very competitive. I hope I’m not [a bitch]. I try not to be. But I like people who represent the best of what they do, and if that turns you into a perfectionist, then maybe I am.”
LESSON: Demand the best and you might get stereotyped — but you’ll have surpassed your critics, so it won’t matter.
REPUTATION: She’s a dictator at the office.
REALITY: “[A magazine] is a group of people coming together and presenting ideas from which I pick what I think is the best mix for each particular issue. But in the end, the final decision has to be mine. … People respond well to someone who is sure of what they want.”
LESSON: When you’re the boss, you’re responsible for the final product; make sure it’s exactly what you want it to be.
REPUTATION: She’s all business (and no fun).
REALITY: “We’re here to work. There’s on-duty time and off-duty time. … If one comes across sometimes as being cold or brusque, it’s simply because I’m striving for the best.”
LESSON: There’s a time for work and a time for play, so don’t let having fun at work get in the way of what you need to accomplish. In Anna’s case, “play” means throwing the biggest and most fabulous party of the year.
REPUTATION: She tells designers and fashion companies what to do.
REALITY: “We can advise. We can’t dictate. We can only point them in that direction.”
LESSON: The power of persuasion can be more effective when used in a subtle manner. Don’t demand something. Suggest it. If you’re powerful enough, they will “decide” what you advise.
REPUTATION: She is obsessed with appearing perfect.
REALITY: “I like looking at my clothes rack in the morning deciding what to pick out. I like fashion, I wouldn’t be in this job if I didn’t.”
LESSON: If you love your job, you won’t mind the discipline it requires of you, even if that means keeping every single hair on your head in place for more than two decades.
If you’re ever criticized for being cold, unfriendly, or bitchy, especially in a work environment, say you’re simply striving for the best — then back it up with your performance.