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Gail Evans

      . . . CNN Executive Vice President. At CNN since its inception in 1981, Ms. Evans oversees all of the CNN‚s talk shows. She created the first central booking department for a TV network, the first TV talk show to feature women discussing major news issues, she co-developed the first interactive TV news show and played a pivotal role in creating the first daily legal talk show on network TV. The recipient of numerous awards and Emmy nominations, Ms. Evans is on a number of not-for-profit and university boards. Her business book is called Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman.

Excerpts3:45 secs

      Ignorance is not bliss. At least not in the business world, according to Gail Evans, Executive Vice President at CNN.  She wants women -- who are leaving the corporate world in droves these days -- to stay and learn what most men already know: how to play the Game. Why? Because Ms. Evans is convinced that the Fortune 1000 shape our lives and our world. The future of both, she believes, may be threatened as women go on to greener (and smaller) pastures.

      What's important, Ms. Evans believes, is to be able to gain power inside large organizations, to make them more open to everybody. Because these are transnational corporations, it‚s a global challenge. The more women drop out, the less pressure there is to respond to the concerns women have traditionally represented. They relinquish the moral authority they might wield to shape the future from inside those companies.

      We all -- women and men -- are affected by these rules, Ms. Evans believes, but many of us are blind to them. Once you learn the rules, incorporate the ones that work for you and not the others. If you choose not to play by them, compensate, but be aware of the rules.  Don't play in ignorance. Knowing these rules doesn‚t turn women into men, says Ms. Evans. It allows women to use their own skills -- to be smart, thoughtful and relationship-oriented. Integrity need not be lost, Ms. Evans hastens to add. Take what you are and don‚t try to become somebody else.

      Feminization of the workplace has been much heralded in books and magazines, says Ms. Evans, but she hasn‚t seen it. What she does see is stereotypes which continue to have a fast hold on most of the business world. And, she says, she‚s lived through most of them. Not being straight forward acknowledging this reality troubles her.

      How did it come to pass that most men know how to function in the work world and most women don‚t? Ms. Evans believes it goes back to how we were acculturated. This is not a new theory, she assures us, but it is what she has observed through a lifetime of working inside politics and business. For the most part, men think the object of the game of business is to win. Women, in her experience, are more likely to focus on keeping the game going, keeping relationships working, keeping everyone involved. These two very different perspectives on life, she has found, have a profound affect in the workplace. She has a book full of examples.

      What‚s Gail Evans‚ secret?  She wrote her book about the rules of the business game because we ALL need to know how the Game is played. Women just got lucky.

Conversation 1

Gail Evans tells Paula Gordon and Bill Russell about the excitement of being involved in CNN creating a global conversation. She explains why they chose to use a common language -- English -- and how that contributed to their early success. She builds on the importance of being able to communicate, pointing to ways women and men in business often fail to speak the same language. She tells why it is important to bring a variety of voices to the table, in business and in reporting the news.


Conversation 2

None of us are objective, Ms. Evans believes, explaining why the appropriate measure in journalism is to be fair and balanced. She remembers her experience in the political world and relates it to business. She explores what she believes is the real question in politics, then weighs the relative importance of politics and business. She explains why she wrote her book now, urging women to stay inside large corporations and to learn how to succeed there (not to drop out) in order to counter-act undesirable global corporate trends. She describes the New Economy, dominated by the same people who dominated the Old. She dismisses the idea that women have changed the business world as fantasy.


Conversation 3

Women, according to Ms. Evans, have learned well how to do jobs effectively but failed to learn how to play the Game of business. She suggests reasons why, using examples from the course she teaches in business school. She explains why she thinks women need to get beyond being ignorant of the rules of that Game, rules by which they must play to succeed. She expresses surprise at how little business has changed. She recalls the interviews she conducted for her book, many of which confirmed stereotypes. She gives a realistic assessment of how surprisingly simple business is. She argues against anguishing.


Conversation 4

Professionalism is vital, according to Ms. Evans, who continues with examples of counterproductive anguish and guilt. She distinguishes between doing a job and nurturing personal relationships. She gives examples of learning from mistakes and moving on, offering advice for how to deal with our worst fears. She tells the secret of her book. She distinguishes between who she is and what she does and counsels people on how to anticipate retirement.  She explains why she thinks business needs to reflect society, not try to solve its problems, and in so doing can address some social issues. She uses diversity in the workplace as her example and expands. She describes the power of titles and of grandchildren.


Conversation 5

Ms. Evans considers women‚s issues globally. She considers how her book will be received in translation. She applauds the fact that men and women are different. She summarizes the message she wants women and men to take from her book. She uses golf as an example of making good decisions about what you will and will not do, suggesting alternative approaches to business relationships, offering us her own solution. She addresses society‚s double standards, and calls for us to be straight with each other.


Conversation 6

Ms. Evans describes the responsibility she feels, working at CNN and as a highly placed woman in a very large corporation.  She encourages women to share what they‚ve learned in business with other women. She urges women to raise their expectations. She expresses her admiration for Ted Turner‚s vision and recounts how CNN has grown.


Acknowledgements

We were delighted that Gail and several of her CNN colleagues could slip away from CNN‚s international headquarters in downtown Atlanta for this conversation, recorded at The Commerce Club also a feature of Atlanta‚s downtown.

David Drake, publicist at Broadway Books, was especially helpful in getting us all together.  We thank him.

The Commerce Club‚s hospitality was, as always, flawless. We thank all the people it takes to make such great service look easy.

We also thank Pat Mitchell, formerly President of Turn Original Productions and now President of PBS, for introducing us to Gail.

Related Links:
Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman, is published by Broadway Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell.
You will find the results of Gail‚s ideas and work at the CNN website, and on cable television systems all over the world.


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