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Lisa Lutoff-Perlo Leads 7 Seas With Innovation & Soft Touch

She’s as comfortable navigating Twitter as she is interacting with guests from all over the world on one of her luxury ships. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, is the kind of inclusive, forward-thinking leader needed for the 21st century.

RSM Hall of Fame

RSM Hall of Fame

We met on Twitter, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and I. A fact that speaks volumes about today’s most effective leaders and their need to stay connected. Very naturally, our conversation about female leadership moved off line. Lisa had hired the first American woman Captain of a mega ship, Kate McCue, and we wanted to interview her, which we did.

But hiring Captain Kate was just one more way in which Lisa Lutoff-Perlo showed her role as an innovator and disruptor in the industry. At work, she’s always challenging assumptions, looking for more creative ways to open up the world through travel, to help bridge the many divides we are facing as people.

That powerful drive to break the rules of her field was behind the development and launch of next-generation cruise ships that Lisa led twice. Most recently, the just revealed Edge-Class, a completely new type of cruise ship experience.

Outside of work Lisa is constantly inspiring girls and women to dream differently. As she shares her own story of self-limiting dreams, you’ll see why she’s adamant about passing on the learnings. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, a true role model for the Red Shoe Movement Hall of Fame.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo talks about her job

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises, is an innovative leaders who is constantly reinventing her industry.

What is the hardest part of your job and why?  

I have the best job in the world, so it is hard for me to say there is a hardest part. I think, though, it is fair to say that there are things about any job that make it particularly difficult. For me, the hardest part of my job are the things I can’t control. Geo-political events that disrupt people’s desire to vacation in the amazing parts of the world we visit and issues that can arise when something mechanical happens to one of our ships. After all, they are vessels that, like our automobiles and despite the best maintenance in the world, can have something happen. Given that I am also the head of our entire corporate Global Marine Organization as well as President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, I do have to ensure that our $45B of assets are running smoothly, safely and efficiently. I count myself very fortunate that I work with an amazing team of professionals who make the hardest parts of my job as easy as possible.

What aspects of the job of a CEO did you not expect as you were advancing in your career?

I didn’t expect to feel the overwhelming outpouring of support that I received when I was appointed to this position – both internally and externally. Nor did I expect to feel the immense gratitude each day for the people around me, who support the vision that we share for our guests, our crew and our brand. We live every day to open the world for those who want to join us as we explore each of the seven continents in modern luxury. We open the world so that people can experience different cultures and places. We also live every day to break down barriers that divide us. When I am on our ships and either meet our guests or watch our crew from over 60 countries taking care of each other and our guests I am filled with an unspeakable pride and grateful to know that I have the ability to create experiences that truly change people’s lives. I had not anticipated the magnitude of that. The other thing I did not expect is the opportunity and platform I have as a woman in this role to “pay it forward” and give back. That is another thing I wake up every day determined to do as I take that responsibility very seriously.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo with Captain Kate McCue and the crew take a selfie

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo with Captain Kate McCue and the crew take a selfie

What Was Lisa Lutoff-Perlo Major Career Mistake?

Tell us about one major screw up in your career and what you learned from it?     

My one major screw up in my career was in limiting my aspirations. See, my professional goal was always to be the head of sales. It’s what I dreamed of and I campaigned for each day. Then my world and dreams came crashing down when the SVP of Sales & Marketing at the time decided to move me into a marketing role. I was absolutely devastated and he knew it. I felt crushed. That I would never achieve my dream of being head of sales. But he also knew what I didn’t know. That it would be one of the best career moves of my life. He saw more in me than I saw in myself. And that’s something very hard to accept at the time when it’s happening. That perhaps this other person sees more potential in you than you see in yourself or that they can see your career trajectory much farther out than you can imagine. The rest is history as I moved from one position to another and finally as the President & CEO of Celebrity. I learned that you have to go where your career takes you, be flexible, be open for change, and never ever limit what you think you can achieve. All of the experience and knowledge I gained along the way gave me the foundation I needed for my current role and has made me a better CEO.

Lisa Lutoff Perlo inspirational quote RSM Hall of Fame

Lisa Lutoff Perlo inspirational quote RSM Hall of Fame

What is the best way to engage the executive men in an organization to support their female colleagues’ growth opportunities?

I happen to work in an organization that values diversity of all kinds. Being the only woman on the Executive Committee gives me a unique opportunity to ensure that we are always thinking about and promoting diversity. I have always said that having a woman at the table enriches and changes the conversation in a way that is powerful. I am fortunate that my male colleagues agree. And I have a VP of Marine Operations who has increased the percentage of women on our nautical team from 5% 18 months ago to almost 20% today. I am fortunate to work with people who share a common vision. And you need to hire for that.

Launching a new ship class- Lisa Lutoff-Perlo does it again!

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo led the development of the Edge Class, a ship that completely changes de travel experience.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo led the development of the Edge Class, a ship that completely changes de travel experience.

Ten years ago you launched the Solstice Class. This March you launched the Edge Class. What does it take to bring a project like that to fruition?

Launching ANYTHING new has its own unique challenges. For the Edge launch, I had a few key objectives. This new Class of ships had to transform Celebrity and the industry. And it had to transform the financial performance of my Brand. All of the feedback and booking activity has validated that mission was accomplished. From the design to the engineering and technology, we threw away the rulebook and took away every barrier for the sake of creating the most refined ship ever built. It took vision, determination, resilience and a village of outstanding people on my team and across our organization to make Edge happen. And a Chairman (my boss) who supported us every step of the way. We did it, I can’t wait for guests to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor, and I can’t tell you how.

Follow Lisa Lutoff-Perlo on Twitter.

 

5 Easy Ways to Eliminate Stereotype Threat

Stereotype threats are real. They affects performance and morale. Luckily, research shows you can drastically reduce their impact with pretty simple interventions. Read on!

Defined as “a situational predicament in which individuals are at risk of confirming negative stereotypes about their group,” stereotype threats have a harmful effect on women in the workplace.

Red Shoe Movement’s Principle #7 Addresses Stereotype Threat

Labels refer to any word or expression we use (even tongue-in-cheek) that has an overt or subtle derogatory undertone: Bitch, bossy, competitive, etc. These labels reflect deep-held beliefs we contribute to perpetuate every time we use them. So when women don’t conform to the social norm expected of them and are interested in power, or when they are decisive and have a strong will to carry out their vision, we collectively bring them down a notch or two by calling them names.

In other words, certain expressions can have very detrimental —even if unintended— consequences. Identifying this effect goes a long way to changing our choice of words.

Principle 7 of the Red Shoe Movement deals with stereotype threat

Principle 7 of the Red Shoe Movement deals with stereotype threat

With the help of a nuanced infographic created by Catalyst, we review how to flip five common labels used on women to reduce stereotype threat.

1She’s Too Abrasive or She’s Too Aggressive

This is a case of damn if you do, damn if you don’t, if there ever was one. Women are told that they need to be assertive and express themselves and what they want clearly. Yet, when they do, they are penalized for not being warm and fuzzy. Finding the sweet spot can be quite hard.

Solution

Catalyst: Rather than focusing on their style you should focus on their work performance.

In addition: Some research shows that when it comes to feedback, women get more negative personality criticism than men. Things like: “You can come across as aggressive sometimes.” So may I also suggest that you think twice before providing this kind of feedback? Would you say the same thing to Tom that you’re about to say to Lisa? That’s an easy way to assess if you’re about to fall into a stereotype threat.

Knowing the stereotype threat definition helps you guard off any words that may lead to it

Knowing the stereotype threat definition helps you guard off any words that may lead to it

2She’s So Helpful

One of the ways in which organizations can facilitate the promotion of women to positions of more responsibility is by creating opportunities for exposure. Those seldom lie in a support position. When women are viewed as part of the “back office” or the support team, they are less likely to be perceived as leadership material. So although it’s good to appreciate the support of your team members when warranted, if that’s all you do for them, they won’t go as far in their careers as they could.

Solution

Catalyst: When you speak of the women in your team, be specific about their contributions.

In addition: Find real opportunities for every woman on your team to develop and exercise leadership skills regardless of their position. Admins and support staff can be put in charge of leading projects that give them the exposure they deserve. You might be surprised at how people rise to the occasion once you raise your expectations.

Flip the Script Women

Courtesy Catalyst

3She Gets Overly Emotional

I don’t need to tell you that women tend to be more in touch with their emotions than their male counterparts. Or that often, when we are angry we cry. And although this may be a biological response, both tears and displays of anger in the workplace tend to be frowned upon. When it’s women who are doing either, obviously. The social norm that affects men expects them to exhibit anger, assertiveness, and aggression as part of the attributes of male leadership. Not so much for women.

Solution

Catalyst: Rather than calling her “emotional” take the time to describe to women the consequences of their behavior.

In addition: Help them learn to explain the reason for their tears while they are shedding them, so their audience is aware they are not a sign of weakness, rather a sign of anger, frustration, etc. Help your male employees identify their different responses to anger when expressed by each gender so they understand women can get angry yet be effective leaders.

4She Lacks Leadership Gravitas or She Lacks Executive Presence

This is frequently code for “she doesn’t look like the current leadership,” which tends to be white, and male. This expression particularly affects women of color because they face a double whammy. Gender and race or ethnicity. It’s trully quite a stereotype threat when you wish to promote more women to the top.

So if you are truly committed to diversity and inclusion at the top of your organization, the current leadership will have to look beyond the traditional definition of executive presence.

Solution

Catalyst: Rather than just crossing a woman off explain exactly what you mean.

In addition: If you continue using the old definition of the attributes, abilities, experience you look for in a leader, you’ll probably continue to recruit the same type of person. Get rid of unstructured interviews where “cultural fit” can become an unspoken way to hire people who look like you or your current leadership team. Instead, create a list of specific requirements for the position and a list of questions that you ask all interviewees. Assign points to each answer and have someone else tally all the answers from all interviewees to get you the finalist. There are many concrete, simple interventions you can implement to make sure you hire the best person for the job rather than someone who fits some old stereotype.

5She’s Too Judgmental

Often, when women give critical feedback others consider her incompetent. This stereotype threat undermines women’s leadership chances.

Solution

Catalyst: Rather than making it about her leadership style, focus on whether she’s demonstrating good judgment.

In addition: Everyone should understand that human beings are all judgmental. We can’t see the world other than through our individual lens. That lens places a layer of judgment on everything as we can only perceive people, circumstances and situations through our own experiences, emotions, knowledge, culture, social context and so on. So, rather than impose another stereotype threat, which might stop women’s impetus to grow, why not acknowledge that we are all equally judgmental.

As I said in a recent post about an entirely different subject, words matter. They build our reality. Choosing the right ones will guarantee we create a more promising future for everyone.

Be a great leader in difficult times and expand your influence

In times of social, political or economic uncertainty, everyone looks for a great leader. If you stand up, you will not only lead your people but expand your influence in the process. Here’s how.

There’s an enormous amount of discord, improvisation and overall uncertainty in America and the world right now. So what do you do if you are in charge of an organization or a group of people who are increasingly nervous? It’s not easy or simple to be a great leader in times like this. After all, you have to protect your employees and your stakeholders’ interest and those two things can often be at odds. Yet this need not interfere with the role you can play as a great leader who inspires confidence and trust.

Case in point, in the face of the current negative narrative being built around immigrants and women, you have an opportunity to become a beacon of stability and stand out as a great leader. You have a chance to inspire unity at a time when many of your employees  dread getting out of bed in the morning. If they feel their workplace embraces their uniqueness, respects differences, and encourages an ongoing dialog about difficult topics, they will feel safe.  As a result, not only will you retain your best talent, but you will also attract employees and customers who value a company that stands for true diversity and inclusion.

If you want to be considered a great leader, you can't hide in difficult times. You must take a stand.

If you want to be considered a great leader, you can’t hide in difficult times. You must take a stand.

Learn more on leadership from Sergio Kaufman of Accenture

How do you show you are a great leader?

There was never a better time to double down on your diversity and inclusion efforts. To make sure they don’t stay as mere rhetoric but that they are real, palpable initiatives, procedures, mindsets, etc. Here are a few ways to do it.

1Get sponsorship for your D&I initiatives from the very top. Be consistent. Get your C-suite team behind any initiatives wholeheartedly.

2Establish clear D&I goals and tie them to executive compensation. When you tie in performance and compensation, you create a shortcut for getting people behind initiatives they may have considered “nice haves.” Suddenly, these become business priorities.

3Measure your initiatives, scale up and expand those that work well. We all know the saying, “That which gets measured gets done.” So find the right way to measure the success of your initiatives so you can quickly build on them.

4Offer opportunities of exposure to women and minorities. If you’re promoting the virtues of more inclusion at the top, you must offer your diverse talent opportunities for visibility. Again, consistency is the name of the game. If you offer people training and development programs and then fall short of bringing them along for the ride, you’re not putting your money where your mouth is.

5Highlight publicly the work your women & minorities do. Public praise goes a long way to attracting visibility to people who might otherwise go unnoticed.

Great leaders like Richard Branson understand that his role is to impact people's lives.

Great leaders like Richard Branson understand that his role is to impact people’s lives.

Expand your leadership reach

A great leader exercises leadership both inside and outside of their organizations. So flaunt your leadership by sending strong inclusion messages to your current and potential clients on traditional and social media.

1Create marketing campaigns directed to women and minorities. They must underscore respectful, empowering, positive, optimistic messages regarding people with different backgrounds, religions and points of view.

2Clearly condemn messages that stereotype different groups and messages that promote fear  of the other, or hatred.

3Support the work of other organizations. Align yourself with organizations like the Red Shoe Movement that promote issues of equality in a positive way.

By taking these very simple steps you will be standing out as a great leader. One who stands on the right side of history.

 

 

 

Dresses for work: 3 fashionable options that will surprise you!

Tired of wearing the same boring outfits to the office? Time to renew your look. Try these three dresses for work to leave an indelible mark!

If you feel that your look doesn’t project your essence and your leadership style, don’t ignore these concerns. You might need to update your image to make the right impression. Here are three dresses for work that are a far cry from the classic office number.

Use your clothes to help people focus their attention on you.

Use your clothes to help people focus their attention on you.

In a recent interview, the fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, former creative director of Givenchy, said that people who are not bold with their working clothes, are unlikely to drive growth for the company for which they work. “When you’re a leader, you need to be heard and anything that helps focus the attention of the people who work for you is key,” he said.

Serge Brunschwig, Chief Operating Officer for Christian Dior, said that, ultimately, people remember how you look and not what you say. “We always say that one image is worth 1,000 words. Leaders are going to use thousands and thousands of words but the way they dress should be used to enhance their speech. Nobody’s going to listen really, so at the end what’s going to stay is the appearance,” he said.

While these statements may be a bit over the top, I want to emphasize the importance of your image as an ally of your professionalism and leadership. And this image that you project through your clothes, should be unique to you. Therefore, it should stand apart from any uniformed looks. Especially if you are still following style parameters created by men for men.

Dresses for work that help you leave your mark

Let me show you some dresses for work with original twists, that move away from the traditional and sometimes boring work attire.

1Bare shoulders

Who said dresses for work don’t leave room for you to be fashionable? Photo: polyvore.com/pilitapia

Who said dresses for work don’t leave room for you to be fashionable? Photo: polyvore.com/pilitapia

 

The off the shoulder style is the star of this season and you can easily incorporate it into your work wardrobe. Ideally, you can wear it in a classic shade: black, white, brown or nude. Avoid prints if you don’t want to look too flashy. This style is ideal for curvy women and hourglass figures.

Beware not to go overboard with accessories. The beauty of this dress lies in it underscoring your torso. Therefore, it is best to leave that area free of accessories.

If you feel too exposed when wearing skintight dresses for work, you can always throw a blazer on to cover your derriere and hips. Use the one I chose for this occasion as an example.

Don't miss these business casuals dos and don'ts!

2Take a chance with ruffles

 

Consider dresses for work that can be used for the after hours cocktail party. Photo: polyvore.com/pilitapia

Consider dresses for work that can be used for the after hours cocktail party. Photo: polyvore.com/pilitapia

A woolen cardigan, a cocktail dress and a leather belt in the same look? Yes, I didn’t go nuts. Just creative and bold. Mixing textures and garments that are intended for different occasions is key to putting together a distinctive look.

I invite you to consider this flattering cocktail dress with a cardigan and to finish the look off with a belt, to accentuate your waist. This resource is called layering and is a strong trend this fall-winter season.

3A bit of sparkle on your work outfit won’t hurt

Sometimes, it is good to break the mold with your work wardrobe. Just like I did with this great looking gold dress. Photo: polyvore.com/pilitapia

Sometimes, it is good to break the mold with your work wardrobe. Just like I did with this great looking gold dress. Photo: polyvore.com/pilitapia

Did you buy a wonderful dress for a formal dinner and you have never used it again because you can’t find the right opportunity to wear it? Take it to the office! Yes! Make the most of your investment and wear that outfit to work and feel like a diva.

Obviously, make sure the dress is not too elegant or too provocative (super short or with a plunging neckline, for example) or that it’s not covered with paillettes.

A perfect dress for work. Combine it with a smooth coat to give it a more formal touch.

A perfect dress for work. Combine it with a smooth coat to give it a more formal touch.

“When we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it,”explained Professor Karen J. Pino, University of Hertfordshire, UK, in her book Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion.

In the studies conducted by this expert, one participant admitted: ““If I’m in casual clothes I relax and am tomboyish, but if I dress up for a meeting or a special occasion, it can alter the way I walk and hold myself.”

As you see, what you wear has the power to change your mood and your self-confidence. So, opt for dresses for work that make you feel attractive, and that reflect the charisma and leadership that make you unique and successful.

And if you need some help developing or strengthening key leadership skills, it may be time to explore our Step Up program.

Women Dress Code Decoded, Business Casual Dos and Don’ts

When the invite for that office activity requires “Business Casual” dress code, it doesn’t mean “dress as comfy as you want.” And as much as you would love to wear your beloved 2003 oversized jeans, when it comes to business, it is important to keep things professional. Starting with your outfit.

Do not mistake, however, business casual for boring casual. This is a dress code that intends to relax the formality of a business suit and allows you to dress more comfortable, but still professional. So yes, you can wear some color, take some fashion risks, and add your own personality to your business casual outfit.

Business Casual dress code, clothes and accesories in red and white

When it comes to dress code “business casual” consider a look with vintage flare – Photo: Polyvore @veromezzini

Dos and don’ts of an often-ambiguous dress code

Do know the basics. These pieces are the bread and butter for a business casual attire, and you should always have them handy in your closet:

  • A pair of dress pants with a matching jacket. Not necessarily the same color and fabric
  • A skirt with a twin set sweater
  • A classic dress to pair with a knitted jacket
  • Chino pants with a blouse and scarf

Do add some flavor.  Mix and match with your classic, solid color staples with some floral prints pieces, stripes or polka dot blouses, scarfs and shirts.

Read about beyond the traditional executive presence definition here.

Don’t show too much skin. If you think of your company’s Sunday brunch as an opportunity to boost your self-steam by feeling a little bit sexy, well… that is neither the time nor the place. We are not talking about looking boyish, but feminine, classy and appropriate all the time.

Avoid a neckline that falls 3–3 ½ inches below your clavicle line. For skirts, they shouldn’t be shorter than 3–4 inches above your knee.

Avoid wearing tight clothes, and save those romantic transparencies for that blind date your best friend is arranging for you. Always wear medium to long shirt sleeves and leave your favorite tank top at home unless a jacket conveniently covers it.

Business Casual attire with blue pant and white jacket

Cover your tank top with a blazer or jacket. Photo: Polyvore @veromezzini

Do use denim very carefully. Before jumping into a fabulous pair of jeans, consider the people you are meeting and where the event is taking place. My advice, don’t take the risk when the dress code is business casual. Just save them for casual Fridays.

Here's a great video with more dos and don'ts for business casual dress code.

Business Casual Accessories, the “Danger Zone”

Business casual is the perfect dress code to add some color and “fab factor” to your outfit.  Accessories are the right tools to do it. When it comes to work attire, however, the line between looking cool and modern, and dressing inappropriately, is too thin. So let’s be careful.

Shoes and bags. You are not going to a barbecue, a movie, or a restaurant with friends. Then, resist the temptation to wear those trendy, enormous platform shoes you are dying for, and choose a pair of shoes, sandals or boots that are nice, fashionable but suitable for business.

Women legs wearing white skirt and red shoes- business casual dress code

Add some color to your Business Casual outfit – A great dress code to show your personality. Photo: iStock

Say yes to high heels, but wear those with a medium height, 4 inches or less. You can always marry bright color shoes with a neutral outfit and matching jewelry.

When its come to bags, prefer medium size handbags or purses. However, an oversized tote as a focal point could be great if you keep the rest of the outfit as simple as possible.

Lola Ramona Purse vintage in black and white works well with a business casual dress code

Lola Ramona Purse, perfect for a business casual dress code

Jewelry. Avoid chunky necklaces, big earrings, and high fashion accessories in general, unless they are used as a subtle accent. For example, a touch of rose gold, a nice vintage piece of jewelry or a designer watch. Quality materials and impeccable design are the number one rule when it comes to business casual attires.

And last but not least, do pay attention to hair, makeup, mani-pedi and perfume. When in doubt, rely on the “less is more” mantra. I promise you will ace your business casual attire.