Monday, April 19, 2010

59. If You Have To Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone

If you watch as much reality TV as I do, chances are you know who Kelly Cutrone is by now. She terrorized the girls on The Hills (and, to a lesser extent, The City), popped up in Project Runway season one winner Jay McCarroll's documentary Eleven Minutes, and now has her own show on Bravo chronicling the ups and downs at her fashion PR firm, People's Revolution. (That last one is Kell on Earth, it's strangely addictive.) She makes for good TV, so I knew that I had to try out her book. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't too long and I figured this would be probably be a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Kelly Cutrone has long been mentoring women on how to make it in one of the most competitive industries in the world. She has kicked people out of fashion shows, forced some of reality television's shiny stars to fire their friends, and built her own company -- one of the most powerful PR firms in the fashion business -- from the ground up. Through it all, she has refused to be anything but herself. Kelly writes in her trademark, no-bullshit style, combining personal and professional stories to share her secrets for success without selling out. Let's face it: this is a different world than the one in which our mothers grew up, and Kelly has created a real girl's guide to making it in today's world. Offering a wake-up call to women everywhere, she challenges us to stop the dogged pursuit of the "perfect life" and discover who we are and what we really want. The she shows us how to go out there and get it. Much of our culture teaches us to muzzle our inner voice and follow the crowd; Kelly enables us to stop pretending and start truly living. With chapters on how to find your tribe (those like-minded souls who make your heart sing), how sometimes a breakdown is really a breakthrough, and how there is no such thing as perfection, Kelly also shares practical advice, such as how to create a personal brand and how sometimes you have to fake it to make it.

Summary lifted from 

If You Have To Cry, Go Outside is part autobiography and part how-to. Kelly uses stories from her life to illustrate points she's making, and shares how she has learned from various mistakes. I found it to be a very effective writing style; I was engaged with the personal stories and that made me pay attention when she described her methods for succeeding. I have to say, though, reading this book made one thing abundantly clear to me:


Okay, not really. But I am mildly horrified by Kelly's life story. By my count, Kelly has: had problems with addiction, been married and divorced twice, been totally impractical in countless ways, and taken this absolutely crazy path to enlightenment. I am at my core a very practical person, and some of Kelly's "adventures" had me cringing and shaking my head. She also talks a lot about creating your own religion that honors you; she believes you should study many religions and practice the parts that make sense to you. Now, in theory this makes a lot of sense. But I couldn't help thinking that a lot of it sounded like hippie crap. So I won't be taking all of Kelly's advice but I enjoyed reading it and I did find the experience valuable. Although Kelly came off as kind of out there to me, I think reading what she has to say opened me up to some new ideas. And I appreciate that she seemingly genuinely wants to share what she knows to help the next generation of young women.  

One last thing. The full book title is If You Have To Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You. I would just like to go on record that my mother did tell me that. (And it has come in handy a few times.) Thank you, Mom!

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