Workday Reading

Belle’s Workday Reading: September 10, 2014


My first semester of law school is over.  It was the most humbling 10-weeks of my life.  I spent most of it certain that I would be lucky to find myself in the thickest part of the bell curve.  If I graduated today, I would be in the top 10-percent of my class, magna cum laude.  But it’s not good enough.

If you learn nothing else from me, I want you to learn this: Be just as motivated by success, as you are by failure.

When you reach your goal, don’t sit down and admire the view.  Look at the horizon and think of a new goal, a bigger goal.  You define what success will be for you.  You can always go further and reach higher if you are willing to do the work and be accountable for the outcome.

It always seems impossible, until it’s done.


1) Washington Post has a piece on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.  It’s an interesting read, but I hate when journalists refer to women as “brainy.”  When was the last time that word was used to describe a man?  It’s irritating that a woman’s intelligence and knowledge needs to be repackaged in an adjective that sounds less powerful so that she can be beloved by the masses.

2) I skipped the under-$50 bag this week for some under-$50 shoes.  These H&M pumps are just as chic as they can be.  I also love these tan, suede heels with a slightly lower heel.

3) Does the life you have in first grade predict how the rest of your life–education, career, family– will go?

4) I’m in the market for some non-suit jacket blazers.  This gorgeous (gorgeous, I say), pale purple blazer from J.Crew has me hooked.  I also like this inexpensive tweed blazer from Forever21.  But this Topshop blazer with a dramatic peplum is my favorite.

5) Attention Road Warriors: Slate has an amazing article on why you should dress well when traveling. “The competently dressed individual stands apart as a beacon of civilized life, an island of class amid a swamp of schlumps.”  It’s like the author read my thoughts.

6) It’s almost cold and flu season. Thanks be that Theraflu is finally back on drugstore shelves.  It’s the only OTC medicine that has ever made me feel better.  (I can cancel that emergency run to Mexico for cold medicine.)

7) I never get tired of articles about crazy things people say in job interviews. This post from Levo League has some doozies from people who still managed to get the job.

8) Calvin Klein has some fantastic pieces for the office.  I love this tie-front blouse.  This charcoal business suit is affordable and perfectly professional.  I also love this cowl-neck sheath dress.  If you need a few mid-price basics, definitely have a look.

9) Lifehacker offers advice on how to be resilient in the face of rejection.

10) This Vince cardigan in the pale grey is so good.  It’s perfect for the plane.  Perfect for casual Friday.  Perfect for keeping warm in a chilly office.  Why can’t it also be perfectly priced?

11) The Boss Mag offer the WORST advice ever given for how to find a mentor.  E-mailing Hillary Clinton and begging her to be your spirit guide is a really terrible way to go looking for someone to help shape your career.  The chances of success are obscenely low, and even if you do hear back from her, how often do you think she’ll be available to take your calls?

Forbes has two good articles on the subject: one with helpful tips for finding a mentor, and another with advice from successful women about how to get the most out of a mentoring experience.

*image found on Pinterest



  1. Kate says:

    As much as I agree with the idea of dressing nicely while traveling, I tend to designate what I wear on the plane as my “airplane clothes” only to be worn on the initial and return flights. Remember the recent story about the flight attendants who wouldn’t let the mother of a toddler take said toddler to the restroom while the plane was grounded on the tarmac, so the toddler peed in her seat? It’s an extreme example, but it’s the reason why. Granted, my outfit is usually a pair of jeans and a comfortable t-shirt (never workout pants or pajamas), but I get SO grossed out by airplanes, the bathrooms, and the other passengers that I don’t want to wear anything I wore during the flight out to a work conference, drinks, or dinner.

    September 10, 2014/Reply
  2. Elena says:

    Thank you for calling people out on the “brainy” thing! I wish people would just say intelligent instead of trying to make it a “cute” word because it’s referring to a woman.

    The 20-Something Project

    September 10, 2014/Reply
  3. Another Kate! says:

    Congratulations on a great semester, Belle! Keep up the good work! I can’t imagine the stress of maintaining a blog (a job in and of itself) and studying for law school at the same time. Thank you for making the time to keep posting – your go-get-’em attitude is infectious and inspiring. I’m starting a new job at my dream law firm in two weeks and your advice really hit home today. Hope all is well and that you’re enjoying your time off!

    September 10, 2014/Reply
  4. MRitz says:

    Congratulations on the great semester! Looking back on law school I think for many people the only year that counts is the first year. Those grades are the only ones available for the job interviews in Fall of 2L year, which sets up your following summer, and that summer job often leads to your first job. Crush it next semester and slog your way through write-on and you’ll be well on your way!

    September 10, 2014/Reply
  5. Pancakes says:

    I think the rag on The Boss Mag article is a little bit of an overreaction. Nowhere does it say to aim so high as to hit up Hillary Clinton.

    September 10, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      “Dare to dream big. Which superstars in your industry would you most like to sit down with for 30 minutes? These days you can find almost anybody’s email address on the internet…”

      It is not unreasonable to think that telling people who aren’t meeting mentors in their daily lives to reach for “superstars” in their profession will push them to reach for the highest people they can think of. Oprah talks often about how many e-mails and requests she gets from completely unknown people asking her to mentor them. It happens. It’s terrible advice.

      If you’re not meeting a mentor organically, ask yourself why. Is it because you aren’t in the industry you want to be in or because you’re not working with people whose advice you respect, etc. And start looking around for people in your orbit who can connect you. It’s too easy to say no to someone when they’re not connected to you in any way, so it’s terrible advice to encourage you to undertake a task that is likely to fail when you can increase success by being realistic.

      September 10, 2014/Reply
  6. Sarah says:

    Belle, thanks for sharing that Wash Post article about the long-term study of kids in Baltimore. I wish more people would read/discuss these issues. If we want to ‘fix’ education, we MUST address what happens outside of school. I say this as someone who has taught in Anacostia (DC) and in upper middle class suburban schools.

    September 10, 2014/Reply
  7. JD says:

    Interesting comment about “brainy”. I tend to see it used more frequently to describe younger candidates who exude a certain earnest wonkishness, regardless of gender. For example, consider how Paul Ryan got the “brainy” label during the last election:

    “By picking Paul Ryan, an athletic and brainy young congressman from Wisconsin, as his running-mate Mitt Romney has delighted Republicans and Democrats in equal measure.” (The Economist, August 18, 2012)

    “The brainy Ryan should help Romney shore up his conservative base and motivate tea party voters.” (LA Times, August 12, 2012)

    “The brainy Wisconsin Republican’s conservative credentials survived each government-growing heresy.” (The National Interest, December 12, 2013)

    September 11, 2014/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Good to know. Thanks.

      September 11, 2014/Reply