Inside the “Stiletto Network”

Author Pamela Ryckman on the growing power of female connections

  • By Sandy M. Fernández
  • May 21, 2013

At its core, Pamela Ryckman’s new book, "Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business," is an inspiring tale of female friendships—the kinds that can lead to landmark business deals, supernova start-ups, and $1 billion IPOs. The kinds of catalytic relationships that were once the sole province of men. No longer.

Ryckman, a business reporter, spent years interviewing power brokers like Silicon Valley venture capitalist Heidi Roizen and Susan Lyne, CEO of AOL’s Brand Group (and former CEO of Gilt Group). Her discovery: Female connections — forged through women-only salons, dinners and networking groups (some with sardonic names like “Brazen Hussies,” and “S.L.U.T.S.: Successful Ladies Under Tremendous Stress”) — are playing a key role in the success of this new generation of business leaders. Here, she shares some secrets behind their success.

DailyWorth: I understand fashion was one of the catalysts to your reporting. Can you explain?

Pamela Ryckman: This book started with a gut feeling, a notion that I'd found something meaningful that was shaping women's lives. It happened when I walked into a room of more than 50 high-powered women and saw that so many of them were just.... gorgeous! I'd never seen so many chic, on-trend outfits in a conference room. Many of my sources had talked about the pressure, in previous eras, to act and talk and dress like men. Their femininity was considered a detriment. So, I thought, what's going on here?

What was going on?

After two years of research, I've realized that the outside is a reflection of what's happening on the inside: women are becoming more confident and comfortable in the workplace. They’re not expressing their femininity in an unprofessional way, to be sure -- it's no showcase of knockers and knees -- but now, fashion and femininity can be used as forms of self-expression. And, when used correctly, a strategic advantage.

And [these] women are coming together to unwind, debate, compare notes—and mine their collective intelligence to realize their dreams and champion their causes. They’re coming together to change the world.

Keep reading for more on why women are choosing “passion over balance.”

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