Charm Offensive: Milli Brown's Corporate "Curve" Ball

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Publisher acknowledges gender-based assumptions exist

Milli Brown, CEO of Brown Books Publishing Group

I am successful as a result of my strength, determination and fierce independence, because let’s be honest, these days, my lace and curves have nothing to do with it.”

Since pioneering a New Era in Publishing® in 1994, Milli Brown and Brown Books Publishing Group have focused on one central concept—building successful relationships with authors and developing high quality, award-winning books for those who wish to retain the rights to their intellectual property.

The Dallas entrepreneur recalls her pre-book publishing days when she led hospitality development for a global hotel chain and was tasked with elevating differentiation in a competitive market, and The Pittsburgh Press saw fit to showcase her achievements.

“When I received my first business section feature as a young executive, I was ecstatic,” says Brown. “And, I was decidedly unfazed that ‘lace and curves’ were cited as catalysts for my career. I firmly believe the journalist in question intended to honor my achievements, not diminish my tangible talents. Why? Because Mr. Wylie, like most men before the ‘glass ceiling’ era, saw gender standards as intrinsic to workplace roles. To wit, he enthused I had ‘struck a blow for femininity in a bid for corporate business.’ As for the aforementioned clichés, my ‘lace and curves’ were simply ‘keyed to a corporate strategy.”

Today, Brown stresses it is important to acknowledge that gender-based assumptions exist, because integrity is not a surefire shield against disrespect.

“Unrepentant sexism happens. Everywhere, every day,” she says. “It used to be blatant, like earning a third promotion in Pittsburgh for a position that came with a large office, only to be given a desk so clients were still greeted by a ‘pretty face.’ These days, it persists more subtly. Like being included in an executive-level meeting only to be told you wouldn’t be presenting and should focus on client engagement to ‘keep things light.”

Brown points to a critical caveat that should not be ignored. Her advice is intended only for cases of commonplace, non-aggressive ‘water-cooler’ sexism.

“If you’re struggling with a threatening situation, or have been the victim of sexual harassment or assault, stop reading now and run for the nearest door, phone, or authority figure,” advises Brown. “No workplace wisdom, no matter how hard-earned, can properly address the severity of your experience, and my heart hurts for those who’ve endured your kind of trauma.”

Brown recently revisited The Pittsburgh Press story of long ago, not as a time capsule, but as a springboard and was compelled to share her honest opinion on the matter. Here’s why Brown doesn’t subscribe to today’s definition of sexism and offers three takeaways from her experience for young professionals:

1.    PROVE THEM WRONG . . . Rise above the disrespect directed toward you and those who dish it out. And never succumb to playing the victim, unless you prefer ineffectual drama over operating as an empowered equal. The proof is always in the doing, and this insidious, counter-productive mindset will only undermine your successes and strengths.

2.    WALK OR TALK . . . Head toward the door and away from a toxic work environment, or into the office of a person whose sexist remarks demand a rational, frank discussion. Specific to the issue of sexism, I believe one-on-one engagement is paramount to tangible progress. Additionally, avoid airing your grievances and encounters with sexism via social media. And don’t fool yourself into thinking it will foster accountability, because online exhibitionism is a victim’s purview.

3.    RECOGNIZE RESPECT . . . There is a big difference between chivalry and misogyny. Kindness deserves gratitude – regardless of gender – and you don’t want to find yourself guilty of the same disrespect you’re taking a stand against. A lack of discernment can have unforeseen consequences in both your professional and personal life.

While Milli Brown is a CEO and relentlessly independent entrepreneur, her perspective has rarely aligned with contemporary expectations. When she founded Brown Books Publishing Group more than 20 years ago, Brown was a disruptor in a very old and traditional industry. Everyone pushed back against her author-owned model because it was different. Today, that long-established industry faces increasing instability while Brown Books continues to flourish.

“I am successful as a result of my strength, determination and fierce independence, because let’s be honest, these days, my lace and curves have nothing to do with it.”

For more information, please visit http://www.brownbooks.com.

Media contact: Brian Briscoe, 972.248.9500, Brian.Briscoe@TheAgencyatBB.com.

About Brown Books Publishing Group (BBPG)
Founded in 1994 as an Entrepreneurial Publisher for Entrepreneurial Authors®, Brown Books Publishing Group was established to fill a need in the publishing world by allowing authors to have a voice in the publishing process while retaining the rights to their intellectual property. Applying this innovative Relationship Publishing™ model, Brown Books has cultivated a prestigious stable of authors, from New York Times bestsellers to Pulitzer Prize winners and more.. In 1994, Brown Books ushered in A New Era in Publishing™, and more than two decades later, continues to be a successful innovative leader in the publishing, book promotion, and book public relations industries. For more information, please visit http://www.BrownBooks.com.

About The Agency at Brown Books (ABB)
As a subsidiary of Brown Books Publishing Group, The Agency at Brown Books is backed by more than 20 years of publishing excellence, leveraged in the first full-service book public relations, book promotion, marketing, branding, and distribution provider within a publishing house. The Agency provides high-level public relations, marketing and distribution services for not only Brown Books authors, but also non-affiliated authors, all within the same house. For more information, please visit http://www.TheAgencyatBB.com.

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Brian Briscoe
The Agency at Brown Books Publishing
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