There are only 6 chapters in this book.
Try and imagine that. You’re Ivanka Trump. Your parents have been all over television and Page Six since you were born. You have hundreds of millions of dollars in personal worth and your father has billions (so he says, anyway). Because of this money, there are a lot of people who would call you a success. You’re currently touring America, talking to “people from all walks of life” as politicians are wont to say. They want to know your secrets. You want to reach out to them. You sit down at your marble and gold-leaf desk on your, I dunno, probably sable fur chair, and tell your several nannies to keep the kids occupied while you open the vast vaults of your knowledge and pour yourself onto the page.
You come up with six topics. Six.
The first topic is “passion.” Ivanka is going to teach us how to identify our passions. Strap in, folks.
The first thing we learn from Ivanka about passion is that it’s great. Passion is super wonderful. We should all have passion. Ivanka’s passion is to inspire women and be an entrepreneur. This passion makes her what she calls a “multi-dimensional” woman. What’s a multi-dimensional woman, you ask? Oh just a woman who has passion for her career goals and her home goals. While Ivanka never mentions or defines a mono-dimensional woman, the strong implication is that such a woman would be somebody who only had career goals. The life, family, and sundry goals are always spoken about as the add-ons to career and always in a context that makes it sound like she just discovered these things for the rest of us.
Ivanka’s passion is to inspire women to think beyond the “stereotypes” of working women, which she defines as masculine and without lives beyond their careers. She wants to introduce us to the concept of a woman who works but also is feminine and motherly! No one has ever thought of that before, right guys? Right? No way this is Ivanka’s original idea. She’s going to break us out of these constricting masculine social roles and make sure we act like women.
For example, she tells us that she’s made an effort to spend more time with her kids and learn how to cook. Apparently she made it to 35 without knowing how to cook. I think this is supposed to make her look flawed and relatable, but most of the rest of us would have been in pretty bad shape if we got that far without cooking because, well, we don’t have a house full of servants. Indeed, she is now less relatable than ever.
Next, we have several pages of tips from Shawn Achor, who makes TED talks and such about happiness, and Steven Covey, who wrote the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People series. Ivanka says she “likes” these things, so she credits them and then quotes them. Literally. For several pages. This portion of Chapter 1 is the only portion that contains any real information about passion or happiness or career building and you’ll notice it’s not even written by Ivanka. Hell, the book is titled Women Who Work, and she doesn’t even quote books written by women.
Finally, she’s done quoting Achor and Covey and we’re now treated to the infamous anecdote of Ivanka waking up one morning before graduation day to a call from Anna Wintour asking her to come work for Vogue. She turns it down, of course. She already wanted to work as a developer and then for the family business. Now she and Anna are friends. Get used to this. She’s “friends” with literally everyone she ever turned down for something or another. She talks about how nice it is to be in your 20s and explore all kinds of career paths because you don’t really have any responsibilities. Lack of responsibilities is not an experience I had in my 20s, so at this point I just wrote “fuck you fuck you fuck you” in my notes.
Up until this point, Ivanka has given the impression that she doesn’t really know anything about anything at all. She has nothing to say and she’s a mindless corporate automaton programmed to repeat buzzwords and extol the virtues of being “pro-active.” You can imagine my surprise when she went off on a tangent about the details of a building for about 3 pages at the end of chapter 1. You see, for all the bunk that Ivanka speaks about having a passion for “inspiring” people, it is pretty obvious that her true passion is for the onerous cataloging of design details for hotel development. There’s an entire paragraph about wainscoting. Wainscoting for fuck sake! If she loves wainscoting, why couldn’t she just say that? “I love wainscoting and crown molding and porcelain tubs; those are my passions” is that so hard, Ivanka? Is that so damned hard? Tell us more about that! Write a book about designing and developing hotels. No? I guess that wouldn’t be broadly marketable enough. Better just quote Steven fucking Covey some more.
By the way, the ending of chapter 1 is literally just a shameless promotion of Scion hotels. It doesn’t even try to hide. No, really:
“Scion targets a new customer in search of connection, so the hotels are centered on community and innovation. Scion hotels offer energized social experiences and shared work spaces designed to bring people together to share ideas and create”
Chapter 2: Make your mark: Become a world-class communicator, colleague, and networker.
You know how lately it seems as though every newspaper wants a juicy thinkpiece about how millennials are doing something wrong? They’re killing such and such industry or they got too much love from their parents or they otherwise annoy supposedly everyone else? Well, you should know that Ivanka is not about to break that pattern. You see, in spite of being born the same year that I was born and therefore being in limbo between Gen X and Millennials, she solidly identifies as a millennial. I guess her marketing department felt like that would sell better. Furthermore, in spite of identifying as a millennial, she’s got plenty of criticisms for millennials. “We” don’t listen, apparently.
Being a good communicator means listening, people! Have you ever heard that advice before? Of course you have. From everyone and everywhere starting in first fucking grade. This is a pattern for Ivanka. Anything she gives that might be construed as actual real advice from her (as opposed to Achor or Covey) is blindingly obvious DUH kind of stuff for which no sensible person on earth would pay the price of a book. If she’d been anyone other than Ivanka Trump, then not only would every publisher have told her to go fuck herself, they’d have made copies of the manuscript to bring to happy hour on Friday and dared each other to a last-man-standing drinking game wherein they take shots every time she wrote the word “inspired.”
There’s a lot of crap here copied out of other books from actual writers and then some empty non-advice from Ivanka about doing things like “practicing” and “paying attention.” There’s another completely unrelatable anecdote where she describes how she got all nervous before speaking at the RNC but then, don’t worry, her level-headed husband came by. He’s always balancing out her “emotional” side. Thank goodness she’s here to challenge stereotypes about women, right?
Chapter 2 ends with a meandering ramble about how we should be authentic, but not inappropriate because then our peers will judge us. Be real, but not emotional, because we’ll judge you. Be yourself but don’t bring too much of yourself to work because it’s work after all. Be stylish, but be understated about it because otherwise we’ll judge you. Mean Girls Management 101. This part is my favorite because you can just tell from looking at pictures of Ivanka that she carefully brushes her hair with 100 strokes every morning like Jan fucking Brady and then goes to work where she holds meetings telling people how important it is to be authentic while judging Diane from accounting because her hair looks mousy.
I hate Ivanka. As her reader, I am bored by her. As a citizen of the country her father now governs, I loathe her. As a member of the non-executive-level working public, I resent her, and as a living, feeling, breathing human being, I reject her as my stomach might reject a bad piece of cheese – an initial discomfort, a revulsion resulting in a cataclysm of violent expulsion. Ivanka vomit everywhere.