Beyond the Label | Maureen Chiquet

Summary of: Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms
By: Maureen Chiquet


Embark on a journey through the life of Maureen Chiquet, former global CEO of Chanel, as she shares her experiences and insights in her book ‘Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms’. Drawing from her early fascination with France, her academic pursuits at Yale, and her work at leading companies like L’Oreal, The Gap, and Chanel, Chiquet provides valuable lessons on the importance of embracing one’s unique identity. The summary covers themes such as self-awareness, empathy, and confronting the ‘shadow side’ of one’s talents, while shedding light on the complexities of balancing professional and personal life. As you dive into the world of female leadership, you’ll learn how Chiquet challenged established norms and navigated her way to success.

Maureen Popkin Chiquet’s Life Journey

Maureen Popkin Chiquet’s life journey depicts how her childhood experiences led her to become a successful businesswoman. Growing up in Creve Coeur, a suburb of Saint Louis, with a lawyer father and an arts-loving mother, Chiquet developed an appreciation for beauty and aesthetics. However, her praiseworthy academic and professional success became self-limiting due to her desire to please others and avoid disapproval. Despite encountering anti-Semitism during her co-ed private school adolescence, Chiquet had supportive teachers who taught her essential skills, such as empathy and self-awareness, which later helped her in the professional world. Her fascination with French culture, which started in her French class, eventually led her to study abroad. Chiquet believes that moving beyond labels and cultivating our shared interests can create a more effective and equitable society, and it’s on all of us to take responsibility for change.

Falling in Love with France

Chanel’s Global CEO, Maureen Chiquet, reminisces on her summer in France where she developed a lifelong appreciation for French food, culture, and the beauty of each moment. From getting glimpses of Paris on her way to her host family in Calvisson, to spending her days exploring the countryside and cherishing the French tradition of l’heure de l’apéro, Chiquet’s love affair with France would never end. Her stay exposed her to the wonders of nature and the richness of the arts and gave her a chance to appreciate life’s simple moments.

Chiquet’s Journey to Success

Chanel’s former CEO, Maureen Chiquet, discovered the power of perception as a Yale freshman. While studying literature, she learned about deconstructionist theory and how each person’s experience shapes their interpretation of the text. Chiquet’s insights on inherent biases influencing perspectives became pivotal in her career choices at L’Oréal and The Gap. She honed her attention to detail in publishing and envisioned how each piece would affect its audience. Fleur, her roommate in Paris, taught her to embrace her femininity and sexuality, inspiring her to live life boldly. This led to her entrepreneurial breakthrough in The Gap with a popular design, cementing her reputation as a visionary merchant. Chiquet’s experiences reflect the importance of self-awareness, the power of perception, and embracing individuality in pursuing success.

Leading with Purpose

In the book, “Beyond the Label,” former CEO of Chanel, Maureen Chiquet, shares her insights on leadership and shaping a purpose-driven career. Chiquet’s journey began at L’Oreal, where she went through an intensive training program and learned to appreciate the knowledge of people on the front lines. Through negotiations and taking initiative, she quickly climbed the ranks to become a product manager. Chiquet’s boss taught her the value of preparation, knowing every aspect of the competitive landscape, and the importance of design. She eventually became CEO of Chanel and encouraged others to lead authentically, free from gender stereotypes. Chiquet’s story is a testament to the power of purpose and the value of hard work.

Finding Creativity in Marketing

During a jazz concert in New York City, Global CEO of Chanel, Maureen Chiquet, realized that jazz improvisation and French New Wave films both subverted established norms to create something new and delightful. This inspired her to challenge marketing norms and create something compelling. Her colleague, James, helped her meld aesthetics with business needs, recognizing that small imperfections made models stand out. Chiquet used her creative assets and “rule-bending talent” to straddle the worlds of creative thinking and marketing, focusing on how customers would feel about themselves when they saw her campaigns. She discovered that as a woman, she could be feminine and in charge, leading to her success as a marketer.

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