Search the Blog

Get Feed via Email

Keep Your Elbows on the Table ~ Guest Blog by Kate White

Posted in Guest Bloggers, Recession Proof Musician | No Comments »

When I was about 12 years old, I started reading Cosmopolitan magazine, which has earned its reputation for sexy articles. But Cosmo also has a tradition of having Editor-in-Chiefs that also write books. Founding editor Helen Gurley Brown wrote Sex and the Single Girl, which became the catalyst for Cosmopolitan Magazine. Ms. Brown later wrote Sex and the Office, and Having it All, which also found their way into my personal library.

When Kate White took the helm of Cosmo Magazine, she wrote Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead, but Gutsy Girls Do, and 9 Secrets of Women Who Get What They Want, which features this article expanded as an entire chapter. This book has helped me navigate my way through various issues, and I’m including a snippet in the hopes that it may inspire you as well.

Elbowing out

Keep Your Elbows on the Table
by Kate White

A few years or so ago Ted Koppel devoted one night of “Nightline” to opera, in conjunction with a special event at the Kennedy Center and one of his guests was. An eighty-something year old woman named Kray Vayne who in her prime had been considered one of the great opera singers of her time. And yet despite her extraordinary voice she achieved only a modest level of success. “I went forward,” she said, “but I never hit the jackpot. I was always on the periphery because I didn’t belong to any company.”

Why didn’t she achieve the fame she deserved? An opera critic on the show offered this explanation: “In order to make a career in any of the performing arts,” he said, “you’ve got to have elbows. It’s not enough to have talent. You have to have the ability to put yourself out there, to put yourself in front, and, quite evidently, she was lacking in the last of these qualities.”

It’s pretty sad to think that a remarkable singer didn’t get the attention she deserved simply because she refused to elbow her way to the center of the room. And yet that’s a fact of life. In some situations you will be given what you want because your passion bowled them over or your ingenious idea won the day, but there are times when you absolutely have to be a little pushy. If you want to be the one chosen, you have to be noticed—and noticed for the right things.

Consider what a male reporter said not long ago about Barbara Walters: “I always think back to the time when, as a reporter, she used to beat out the assembled male press corps, elbowing her way to the front of the pack and driving her high heels into the feet of her colleagues.” Barbara Walters wasn’t afraid to use her elbows when necessary.

You don’t have to go everywhere, but you should go places where your presence will remind the people who matter that you’re definitely in the mix. And don’t just show up. Wear something fantastic (have a couple of outfits to wear for these occasions) and introduce or reintroduce yourself to anyone in a position to change your destiny.


Kate White

In addition to being a book author, Kate White is the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, the largest-selling women’s magazine in the world. Under her editorship, guaranteed circulation has increased by over 500,000 and Cosmo now sells on average two million copies a month on newsstands alone.

White became editor-in-chief of Cosmo in 1998. She is the recipient of the Matrix award, which honors “extraordinary achievements of outstanding women in the communications field.”

Kate White has now expanded into fiction writing, and you can read more about her and all of her writing at her Kate White website.