| 3.4°C Dublin

A patchwork of professional pointers

Gina London



Former CNN television news anchor Chris Cuomo. Picture by Mike Segar/Reuters

Former CNN television news anchor Chris Cuomo. Picture by Mike Segar/Reuters

Former CNN television news anchor Chris Cuomo. Picture by Mike Segar/Reuters

Dear much-appreciated readers,

Every week, I try to weave a glittering tapestry of professional lessons for you that enhances your life and bolsters your career. Using the finest of high-quality storyline threads, I string a series of relevant, easy-to-apply tips for you to apply to your own lives as they were related to me from the lives of global talent directors, leadership experts, best-selling authors, extraordinary ordinary people or even recollections from my own experience.

But today, just for today, I’m exchanging my usual fantastical fabric of wonders for a colourful blanket of random thoughts, stitched lightly together by the twisted fibres in my mind.

From me to you, I offer today’s patchwork quilt of pointers.


Ageless smiles

I’ll colour this first patch bright yellow, because that’s the iconic colour given to those ubiquitous smiley face emojis you see everywhere. Everywhere except maybe now on certain faces who don’t want to be mistaken for being older than they really are.

“What?” you may ask.

Well, it seems there’s new research from a joint project between Canadian and Israeli universities (which apparently expands upon their previous research on the same topic) that states you look older when you smile. (Unless you’re over 60, then you, well, don’t look any older, you just look the same.)

Here’s what happened. Observers who examined two photos of the same person (under 60) smiling and then not smiling, consistently guessed the smiling picture as older than the unsmiling image. Those laugh lines and crow’s feet that help us advance signals to another human being that we are cheerful, compassionate, or full of joy, also signal an advancement of our age.

“Oh my gosh!” I hear you exclaim. “Forget about smiling at the camera in my next Zoom presentation or virtual meeting. I want to hold on to my youthful vitality.

“By the way, just how much older does a smile age you according to the study?” “One or two years,” I reply. “That’s it.”

“Seriously? So, what should I do with this news?” You rightly follow-up.

“Resume smiling,” is my answer.


Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of business.

This field is required

Fired and Nice

This next patch in the quilt is chequered. It starts with me sharing how years ago, just weeks after the birth of my daughter, I was abruptly fired by the company for which I worked.

I was the first female executive who had given birth in this firm and, while no specific reason was provided, I suspected the fact that I needed to leave promptly at 5pm each day to collect my infant from daycare and couldn’t stay as late as everyone else, had much to do with the decision.

I sued for unfair discrimination. We settled out of court.

Even though those difficult days are way behind me, I still very clearly recall who, among my former colleagues, reached out to me and who said nothing.

Just over a week ago, CNN fired long-time news presenter Chris Cuomo. The reasons for his departure were connected to a sexual harassment accusation and texts that indicate he provided unethical assistance to his brother, Andrew Cuomo, who was fighting his own battle against sexual harassment as governor of New York. Andrew is no longer governor and now Chris is no longer an anchor for CNN.

If someone you work with gets fired, what should you do? My recommendation is to let them know you’re thinking of them. You don’t have to weigh in on the issue and potentially jeopardise your own standing with your company, but you don’t have to go dark either.

Anchor Don Lemon was an on-air friend of Chris’s. They presented a podcast together and often bantered before commercial breaks as their programmes ran back-to-back.

Perhaps Don has reached out to his former colleague in private, but at the time I am writing this column, he hasn’t said a word on TV nor written anything on social media.

Other colleagues have publicly mentioned it. I’m surprised former bestie Don has not.


’Tis the gift to receive

And finally, my last patch today for you comes in red and green like Christmas wrapping paper. Although it’s the season for giving, I want to share a little lesson on how important it is to receive well too.

How often do we simply move on after opening a present, receiving feedback or even a thoughtful word?

How quickly do we lose focus on the interaction we are experiencing with another person and become re-absorbed by our thoughts, an external activity or maybe even that next random notification that pings in from our phone? How easily distracted are we during this busy time?

I’m reminded of a story an American client of mine told me. One Christmas he gave each member of his team a copy of his favourite book.

He explained that this was the most impactful book he ever read and he wanted each of his team members to read it too. Everyone thanked him and promised to do just that. But, my client was tricky. On page 112, he wrote in the margin, “When you get to this page, let me know and I’ll give you $1,000.”

He waited until the end of January. No one reached out.

Smile. Be kind. Be good to your word. There’s some great reward.

Most Watched