Ruth Reichl sat down with Harvard Business Review to talk about her new novel Delicious! and her many-shuttered food ventures, including Gourmet Magazine and Gilt Taste. In spite of a rough track record, Ruth maintains that lady bosses (bossladies/bitchbosses/bossbitches) are both more pragmatic and more empathetic when bossing than their male counterparts.
HBR: Do you think that as leaders, women bring something to the table that men don’t?
Ruth Reichl: I do. I think woman leaders are one, more practical and two, much more sensitive to the whole issue of balancing work and family, which is the big problem facing corporate America today, everywhere from restaurants to big businesses. We need to find much better solutions so that people can have satisfying home and work lives. Every time some young editor at Gourmet came to me and said, “I’m pregnant,” I would say, “Now you’re going to understand what guilt is: If you’re at work, you’ll feel like you should be home. And if you’re home, you’ll feel like you should be at work. No matter where you are, you’re going to feel guilty.” As a nation, we have to solve that problem.
And regarding her woeful editorial luck, Ruth says she both went big and went home (…to drink):
“Even if you should have seen it coming, you never do, and then the staff spends the night crying and drinking together…I would have managed up better. I would have spent more time making friends with the corporate people at the top. It was stupid of me not to have done that. But the things people cited as the reasons Gourmet closed — we were too ambitious, we stretched too far or pushed the envelope too much — I wouldn’t change one bit. To me, working is about trying to do the best you can. I would not go back and make a less good or a less passionate magazine. I just wouldn’t.”
You can read more of her interview here.
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