After 30 years as Vogue Editor-in Chief, these are 10 lessons by Anna Wintour on how to be excellent, creative, and successful.
Anna Wintour is, without a doubt, the most respected, influential, and even feared person in the fashion industry. She could claim that she's the mastermind behind contemporary celebrity culture: she invented supermodels at a time when Hollywood wasn't eager to be related to the fashion industry. As editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988, Wintour was the first ever editor to put on the cover of the iconic magazine actors, singers, sportspeople, politicians, and even reality celebrities like the Kardashians. Wintour has become a powerful influence in fashion for being the one and true leader of an industry that has found a place in pop culture in the last thirty years.
Born November 3, 1949 in the UK, her name itself has become a trademark of elegance, intelligence, ambition, and diligence. Her father was editor at the Evening Standard, and in a way, he decided that she should pursue a career in fashion. A high school dropout, at 16 she started working in fashion. Years should pass for her to become the brains behind Vogue, the fashion bible as some call it, and along with her partner-in-crime, Grace Coddington, together they set a legendary mark in the way fashion magazines are made.
Coming from a family with high academic studies, and with a keen sense of work and business, Wintour had the tools and personality to be a natural-born leader. Respected and feared, Wintour can brag about being the only person in the fashion industry to send a designer to re-do their entire collection. She entered a business targeted to women that was dominated by men. Still, her years in fashion journalism allowed her to make room for herself. A self-sufficient creative woman who understood that art and business go hand in hand, she reinvented the way fashion is made, produced, and sold, making it the democratic and globalized phenomenon we have today. By encouraging designers to look at the streets for inspiration, she brought fashion to pop culture and viceversa. Looking back at her long career and reign at Vogue, these are some of the lessons those who look up to her have learned about how to have a successful career.
1 - Success comes after failure
You may not know this, but she was fired from Harper's Bazaar at the beginning of her career. Apparently, she was too bold and too ambitious for them, so after a few months in the British publication she was fired. She has stated that in a way, to lose a job is to gain a job. There's no time for moping; instead, take every struggle as an opportunity to grow.
2 - Be decisive
This point is something that makes you a leader. Also called “Nuclear Wintour,” the fashion editor is famous for her strong sense of direction and guidance. Don't be afraid to state what you want and be coherent and committed to your dreams. Indecisiveness will lead you nowhere, so it is important for you to decide what you want to do and to commit to it.
3 - Keep your eyes on the prize
She has taught us that scrutiny, gossip, or just paying too much attention to negative comments can distract you from your goals. As they say, haters gonna hate, so pay no attention to what people say or think about you. Remember, the only person whose opinion matters is your own. At the end of the day, who cares what others think about you?
4 - Pick your battles
As creative director of Vogue, Wintour has had to accept revolutionary ideas that at first may have sound daring and bold for her. However, she’s very famous for listening to others (as long as you make your point right away), so she may be convinced. Remember, to become successful and a leader you have to listen and learn from others.
5 - Learning is a never-ending process
Don’t be narrow-minded. Listen as much as you can, read as much as you're able to, and always keep your eyes open. Everybody is a mentor. Everybody has a story and a lesson to learn from. Experience new things and don’t specialize too much on one thing (these words come from herself), but rather learn from different fields, so you develop a more complex way of thinking that will eventually make you more creative and self-sufficient.
6 - Always, always do your best
Mediocrity is nothing but fear of success. As a remark, this is probably one of those things that Wintour can't state. If you think you can do better, then do so. Push yourself to new limits and always respect your own sense of creativity. Commit to what you do and always give that "extra" something.
7 - Live your life
Life is happening out there, right now. Get out there, live, experience new things, get out of your comfort zone, and dare yourself to new experiences, places, even people. At a time when we are more eager to document our lives that to actually live them, it's crucial that we go and shake hands, and really see people and what they're doing. This will encourage your sensibility and creativity.
8 - Don’t be afraid to break the mold
“Have a point of view. Trust and cultivate your taste” are some the words she said at a lecture in Oxford. Trust yourself; otherwise, no one else will. There's always something new that can be done in any field. Remember, leaders are those who are not afraid to think outside the box.
9 - Be genuine
You are unique and don't need to fit in to make it. Be relevant, “be intellectually free,” she says. How? By learning, by having experiences, by being sure you have already developed a sense of uniqueness, character, and personality. Being yourself, trusting your beauty and intelligence will open any door.
10 - Love what you do
“When you live with intention you create a space to achieve true excellence in every sense.” It is almost the alchemic formula for success. This will make you to feel passionate about whatever you do, to put your mind and soul into whatever you love, to thrive until you eventually achieve your goals and dreams.
To listen to her at interviews or conferences is so thrilling that you cannot help but feel inspired by her sense of commitment to the business that she loves. She’s the ultimate boss of the fashion industry. She's the eyes, heart, soul, and mind of a way of art that is finally respected in culture, and all thanks to her. You can agree or disagree with her way of doing business, but one thing is for sure: she's not afraid of being herself and to work hard to get what she wants, which is something we should all do to become a better version of ourselves.
If you're interested in learning more about this leader, take a look at this short video from Vogue so you see how inspiring she is.
Cover picture by The Oxford Student
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