Work/Life: Trophy Wives and Honesty

  I’m sitting on the train to Connecticut and there’s a poster for Donald Trump’s PARC Tower framed in front of me. Executed in cerise pink and azure blue, it features a big ornate gold key and below it, a blousy blonde in a busty blouse. (Imagine it for yourself because the picture I took has disappeared) The headline is: AND NOW … THE TROPHY CONDO FOR YOUR TROPHY WIFE.




I’m sitting on the train to Connecticut and there’s a poster for Donald Trump’s PARC Tower framed in front of me. Executed in cerise pink and azure blue, it features a big ornate gold key and below it, a blousy blonde in a busty blouse.

(Imagine it for yourself because the picture I took has disappeared)


I’m going to be howled down for being crass, but I like it. Why? It’s exactly aligned with Donald Trump the brand, pretending to be nothing more or less and certainly no more noble than thou. It makes me almost like the guy even if I don’t want to, just for being authentic. I got almost as big a kick out of seeing it as stumbling across this Charmin’ Mega Toilet Roll ad (scroll down)


Charmin’ honesty – I know my ad pals will now call me a hack, but I couldn’t help but smile when I pulled this out of the 12-pack, and that’s more than 99% ads have done for me lately.

In advertising they say, ‘say it straight then say it great’. Perhaps it should be ‘tell the truth, then say it great’ but that doesn’t rhyme.

The truth, as I said before, is vastly underrated. I have to be truthful 24/7 in my seamless Work/Life – I’m staying under the roofs of customers, and there’s no way to slip into a persona more comfortable when I get home – it’s their home. It’s way easier to stick to one persona.

A friend and mentor, Siimon Reynolds, recently gifted me with a bootcamp run by Aussie public speaking guru Matt Church,

I was surrounded by a room full of success stories, many new ones already flying high on stratospheric incomes with an eye towards deep space. I know we’ve attended our fair share of motivational seminars and agree we always get something out of them – at most, a cathartic change with no going back;  at the very least, a shoulder rub by the registrant behind us, or a singed toe from a hot firewalk coal.


I was pleasantly surprised to see authenticity raise its Zen-like head in this boot camp, the notion of putting more ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ into your work. Let water find its level, rather than splash about!

We heard from a fireman, Peter Baines, who spent months at a time in a tsunami region helping reunite families – dead or alive – and how he uses the money he raises from giving boot camp speeches to build orphanages. Many times he faced a tough decision: should he heed the cries of his own kids who “missed their daddy” and get on the first jet home? Or stay and help thousands find and lay their lost relatives to rest in a place they can point to on a map? He chose the latter, time and time again.

We heard from Lorna, who does not allow her physical size be an excuse to shy from greatness. She knowingly nailed us all for thinking about her size while trying to listen to what she had to say, which immediately “dissolved the problem”. We were able to absorb her words of wisdom without our judgmental infant eyes distracting us.

Some may think it’s “woo woo” to do touchy-feely courses, but it “breaks up the concrete” as one of my customers put it. Or, as one friend put it: “Brainwashing? Yeah, I’ve got so much s*** on my brain I think it needs a bit of a wash.”

Right after I did the boot camp I had to negotiate on two assignments in the bicycle industry, an industry where people earn little and expect to pay even less for any kind of expertise.


The first assignment resulted in an all expenses paid door-to-door trip to Italy reporting on a tour, and the offer to be a part-time evangelist for that tour company. The blog I produced as agreed is at

The company wanted me to split the airfare with my employer and other tour company – not an unreasonable request; there’s no harm in asking. After my initial gentle giantess reaction – that is, to enter into plea bargaining – I calmly told them  they needed to feel really good about investing in me to do this work. That if the airfare was the problem, perhaps they should postpone my trip and channel their marketing budget into an alternative activity, and absolutely no offence would be taken on my part.

The result? They ended up paying for all my expenses door to door on this 5 star trip, and everyone is happy.

My second assignment was to be the keynote speaker at a major bicycle conference. Again, the committee wanted me to foot the airfare and speak for free – something I’d certainly relish for a good cause if I was able to. They wanted me to speak to 300 instructors on how
they could market their skills more effectively. Once again, the pang of being a good Samaritan rose its flower-wreathed head, put I remembered what I’d leared in the ThoughtLeaders bootcamp.

I put it like this: Can you expect me to speak with authority to 200 people about being commercially successful, when I can’t even get YOU to pay me?


The result? A bit of a silence, then they paid my expenses, and I think everyone was happy.

Even at the boot camp, I could tell that the core issue running through the mind of even very successful people is that deep seated question: am I good enough? Will you pay me for my skill?

They may have been dealing in thousands while I was dealing in tens or hundreds, but the feeling lurks in all of us at times, both in business and in personal relationships – am I good enough?

In all of the above examples I took the uncommon step of simply being honest. The boot camp empowered me to neither manipulate or cajole, but simply examine what true for me, and have the outcome be based on that. The breakthrough was being able to access my honesty rather than have have it obscured by the reflex action of always wanting to look good, to look right, appear noble at all times.

Trump clearly has no problem being honest in his ad campaign, but you never know what he’s really feeling inside. Only he knows.


What if someone asks you for a commitment and you’re not quite up for it? Who hasn’t churned over the obligation of overcommitting? Here’s one way to tackle it: a friend told me that when she is asked to commit and cannot, she will say ‘I like the idea, but I’d like to make a decision closer to the time, so if you need an answer now, it will have to be no.’

A corollary to honesty is being a person of your word. Things can still turn pear-shaped, but you will experience less stress – half truths rent valuable space in your brain.

The most successful man in Ireland, a real estate baron, was heard to say, ‘I don’t have a degree and I haven’t read any of those management books. All my success has come from making decisions quickly, and being a man of my word.’

I’m forever working on the first part, the second … just gets easier.

The Galfromdownunder is honest to a fault – but there’s honesty, and there’s oversharing. Or is there?


About the author

"Be social and the networking will follow." Lynette Chiang is an award-winning copywriter, brand evangelist, social media community manager, filmmaker, solo world bicycle adventurer and inventor of useful things. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Harvard University curriculums, the New York Times Book Review, FastCompany and the relationship marketing business press