When did feisty become a dirty word? Yesterday I wrote an article about a couple of impressive young women I had dined with earlier in the week. I described them as feisty and was challenged for doing so. A critic suggested I wouldn't describe a man that way and took offence..
There are two parts to this.
1. I have teenage sons, both of whom I am proud to say are feisty. So yes I would describe a man that way, especially one that I found to be impressive.
2. Feisty is a fantastic description of someone who is so passionate about their beliefs and endeavours that they are prepared to fight for them.
Feisty is how I dream of being described. When I think of the incredibly talented women I have worked with throughout my career, – the ones who have truly made a demonstrable difference to the business, – the best description for them would be feisty.
A classic example of feisty is our senior designer Jemma McMahon. I have known Jemma for four years. She is one of the people who caused me to fall in love with digital media. When you are fortunate to be shown the world through Jemma's prism you can't help but be engaged with it.
She is the opposite of groupthink. There have been many times where I have presented a concept to a nodding room of people with only Jemma there to challenge me. It might be a smoother path if she'd just agree but she's there badgering for the long-term good, rather than just a short-term gain.
And she won't be shy about her thoughts. She's feisty. So if Jemma thinks an idea is terrible she won't mince words. I have always appreciated that about her. I love to work with people like that because they make me better at what I do. But I also understand that not everyone can deal with feisty. For some, feisty is just far too confrontational. It can be the equivalent of a swear word.
I would love to be described as feisty. To be so passionate about your idea that you fight for it is the most that anyone can ask. I am generally calm and in control in the workplace but when I was younger I was less likely to remain composed for long if someone rattled my cage.
Everyone has a threshold. Mine is fairly high but I have and will fight for the right outcome.
As you can see I've chosen to flash my feisty face today because I believe that it's a positive trait for women. That doesn't mean that everyone needs to be but let's recognise the upside of those who are.
Are you feisty? Are you offended by this term as applied to women?
Marina Go is GM of Hearst-Bauer, publisher of Harper's Bazaar, ELLE and Cosmopolitan. She is also chair of the Wests Tigers, a director of Odyssey House McGrath Foundation and a member of the advisory boards of the Walkley Foundation, The Remarkables Group and Women's Agenda. She has an MBA from The AGSM and is a member of the AICD. Her new book is Break Through: 20 Success Strategies for Female Leaders.