Beyond the Obvious | Phil Mckinney

Summary of: Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation
By: Phil Mckinney


Welcome to the world of ‘Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation’. In this summary, you will learn firsthand the experiences, insights, and inspirations of Maureen Chiquet, who achieved high levels of success in both corporate and fashion industries. Discover how she cultivated her ability to think and adapt creatively in various roles, and how collaboration with influential mentors throughout her career facilitated her growth as a visionary influencer. We delve into her life lessons, the importance of empathy and self-awareness, and the values that shaped her journey to leading major companies such as L’Oréal, The Gap, and Chanel.

Maureen Chiquet’s Journey to Success

Maureen Chiquet’s autobiography is an inspirational story of how hard work, determination, and a passion for aesthetics can lead to success. Growing up in Creve Coeur, Missouri, with her lawyer father and artistic mother, Chiquet developed an interest in books, movies, museums, and nature. A transfer to a co-ed private school at 15 revealed to her the world’s harsh realities when anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted on her locker. Despite this, she excelled academically and eventually achieved her dream of studying abroad in France.

Through exposure to various experiences and excellent teachers, Chiquet learned to put herself in other people’s shoes, practice empathy, and realize her full potential. This knowledge helped her later in her professional life, where she eventually became the Global CEO of fashion brand Chanel. Chiquet’s story highlights that, despite life’s setbacks, we should pursue our passions, cultivate empathy, and work hard to achieve our goals. Above all, she encourages us to take responsibility for ourselves and strive to create equitable and effective workplaces.

Falling in love with France

A recount of a young girl’s trip to France where she stays with a host family and discovers the beauty in everyday life through food, culture and traditions.

Upon landing in Paris and taking a train to Calvisson, Chiquet was warmly welcomed by Dominique, her home-stay mother, and immediately began her love affair with French cuisine, particularly goat cheese. Throughout the lazy summer, she explored the countryside, learned the culture and savoured each moment, cherishing the French tradition of l’heure de l’apéro. Her host family exposed her to the marvels of nature and the richness of the arts which allowed her to appreciate the beauty of everyday moments. Chiquet’s love for France would endure long after her trip ended.

Chiquet’s Journey to Leadership

As a literature major at Yale, Chiquet was intrigued by deconstructionist theory. Later in her career, those insights would help inform her decisions at L’Oréal and The Gap. Her ability to analyze how visuals affect people’s perception became a guiding light in her leadership approach. She studied abroad in Paris, where she learned to embrace her femininity and sexuality. Fleur’s refusal to submit to societal barriers taught Chiquet to live life to the fullest. She started her career in Paris with a L’Oréal internship. Later, at The Gap, she noticed young women wearing flowing, printed rayon pants and turned the concept into a huge success, solidifying her reputation as a visionary merchant.

Leadership Lessons from L’Oreal

In this book excerpt, the author shares the story of how she joined L’Oreal Parfumerie, underwent a rigorous six-to-twelve-month training program, and gained valuable insights into leadership. The author emphasizes that as leaders, it’s essential to have a purpose and a voice trusted enough to be put forth. The author shares how she closed her first deal during her training by using a direct approach and gaining a great appreciation for people at the front lines. After her training period, the author was promoted to the position of assistant product manager, where she flourished under her boss’s tutelage, learning to prepare for every meeting and earning her place at the conference table. The book excerpt provides valuable leadership lessons for readers looking to develop their skills or start a career in leadership.

Rule-Bending Talent

During a jazz performance in New York City, former CEO of Chanel, Maureen Chiquet, discovers the correlation between jazz improvisation and French New Wave films. This realization inspires her to challenge established norms in her marketing career while staying true to her feminine identity. Along with her creative team’s director, James, they focus on the importance of unique imperfections in models and how they can be used as tools to create aspirations in customers. Chiquet uses her exceptional talent of balancing creative thinking with marketing strategies, earning her the title of a “rule-bending talent.”

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