The Career Climber Blog

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Olivia Phillips is the Senior Fashion Assistant at Stylist Magazine. Her fun, colourful fashion and lifestyle blog My New Favourite Thing features everything from stunning accessories to exciting holidays.

Career Climbers are high earners who prioritise their career and reaching the top of their profession. They often opt for high end brands and seek out new products to try alongside their familiar classics. Travelling on business is frequent but enjoyable and they often find themselves on long-haul trips. At the end of a busy working day, you will find this tribe out for cocktails in chic city bars and restaurants.

Representing the Career Climbers tribe, Olivia will demonstrate over the next few weeks how to work hard and play hard in the city while getting yourself to the top of the career ladder.

When I decided to make the jump from full time at Stylist to freelance at, er, my bedroom, I had the idea in the back of my mind that I needed a mentor. Or at the very least, that I needed to speak to some inspirational and confident women who’ve built something that they’re proud of. One such woman is Emma Stratton, who with her two sisters has created luxury eco hotel The Scarlet ( overlooking the ocean in Cornwall. I spoke to her about her beautiful hotel, the story behind it and tips she has for fellow female entrepreneurs…

What do you think the secret is to a great hotel?

When we set out to create The Scarlet, we wrote down what would make a great hotel for us. One that we’d love to visit with our husbands to remind us why we married them! We wanted to disregard the superficial opulence that a lot of luxe hotels have and create something more precious. Somewhere you feel really cared for and welcome. We didn’t want the spa to seem superficial either; it’s more about inner beauty that makes you smile! We’re also quite greedy so we wanted to have amazing food!

What are your tips to other women who want to set up a business?

It’s important to do what you love and believe in. You should also really think through how you want to find balance – I have three kids and a really supportive husband that has helped tremendously.

Do you think it’s harder or easier for women to create their own business? Do we see/ do things that men don’t?

I think any business that doesn’t have women in its top team is risking making their product not as attractive to 50% of the population. They’re missing a huge opportunity at their peril! We’re a very female-dominated company - they like our working style as we’re family friendly. I think that’s why entrepreneurialism suits women so much – they can work from home, pick up their kids – be flexible and be there when it matters.

What are you fave bits of the hotel?

I love the natural pool as it was a real challenge to build – there hadn’t been one built by the coast in the UK before so it was a real gamble that we pulled off!, 01637 861 800

We constantly have to prove ourselves throughout our careers, from interviews, appraisals and presentations to generally making a good impression on a day to day basis. In a working environment, we need to get to know others quickly, so we are always actively trying to find shortcuts. Your personality points are important, so this is whether you look confident, open and positive in your body language, as well as through what you are saying.

Talk the Talk

• If you are looking for a promotion or persuading investors with a new business venture, make sure to plan your key points before you speak and make sure you can sell yourself in a confident but authentic way

• Many influencers can see beyond the verbal bluff, so focus on the role specifics and the skills and competencies needed for that

• Match your skills to these criteria and then add the proof, i.e. the stories and examples you will use to back up your claims

Walk the Walk

• Use body language signals of confidence and competence, like eye contact, open gestures and smiling as you meet and speak with people, and work on your listening signals

• Body language can be extremely important when getting ahead in business. On average, it comes out as about 55% of the perceived impact of any message in a face to face conversation - so even if we’re saying all the right things, it might not be convincing. Try to avoid folded arms or hunched shoulders, as this can make you come across as defensive and stand offish, not a good trait in business

• In any meeting, learning the art of ‘performance smiling’ is key. There are many occasions when we have to deal with colleagues in a critical or motivational way, and both situations require the correct smile. These ‘performance smiles’ need to convey an overtly positive message and above all an understanding of the person you’re directing it at

Samuel Johnson once said, ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. What he failed to add was that London itself, as wonderful as it is, can make you pretty tired just by being there. The first place it shows? Your skin. So when I’m running around doing appointments all day, I come to rely on my make-up bag as a pretty hefty crutch to make me look, well, as sprightly as possible. Here are my critical components…

1. St Tropez Radiance Self Tan for Face

This little pot of joy moisturises, gives me a sun-kissed look and is replete with little golden illuminating particles. I put it on before my foundation and it just helps my face look so much brighter and more awake. The next best thing to a holiday on the beach.

2. Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection SPF 50 PA+++ Primer

I have it on good authority that ain’t nothing getting through this industrial-strength primer and SPF cream. Take THAT sun/ environment/ bus fumes.

3. Benefit Boi-ing Concealer

I’ve been a loyal fan of this since I was about 17; it’s the perfect colour-match for me, doesn’t crease and covers the most obnoxious of under-eye bags or blemishes like it’s not even trying. If I could only put one thing on my face before I left the house, this would probably be it.

4. Argentum Apothecary La Potion Infinie

As well as having a wonderfully mystical name, La Potion Infinie is borderline-magical in its abilities, too. It’s super-hydrating and uses silver (anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory) and a few other all-natural ingredients to totally transform your complexion. I’ve tried a lot, and this is the best moisturiser I’ve come across.

5. MAC Russian Red Lipstick

When all else fails, a bold red lip is a one-stop way to brighten up your whole face and make you look like you’ve had a great night’s sleep. MAC’s iconic Russian Red is dramatic with a tinge of blue which, weirdly, always makes my teeth look whiter, too. Team with a confident smile to works wonders on your overall appearance and state of mind; you will exude power and be ready for anything London throws at you.

In terms of dishing out advice, being on the other side of successful plastic surgery can be a rather dangerous place. It means whenever people ask you about it, you’re evangelical about how life-changing it can be. You forget the dangers. You exclusively focus on the positive and, being freed from the shackles of potential risk, you can posthumously decree it to be the best thing since sliced bread.

I’m fortunate enough to be in that position, after a nose job (sadly, I’d inherited the Phillips family hooter, as my Dad solemnly put it), and maxillofacial surgery to fix my underbite and teeth.

I’ve spent years attempting to, essentially, look better. My rhinoplasty was straightforward in that, if I wanted a smaller nose, there was only one thing to do. My teeth and jaw on the other hand, were a little more complex. In Athens, where I had my nose done, my surgeon told me not to operate on my jaw. In London, another told me that I’d done it the wrong way round – it should’ve been jaw, then nose. A third insisted that the only way I’d ever have perfect teeth would be to have 2 years of braces (again – I’d already pointlessly had one set at 15) and then major jaw surgery.

Deciding to have braces again in my 20s was a huge step. Sadly, because of the complex surgery I was going to have I was doomed to getting train tracks – vastly more obvious (and more embarrassing) than getting Invisalign, which was my original option. At least with Invisalign no one would really be able to see the clear aligners and my confidence wouldn’t have taken a further knock.

It was hard at first. I was used to going out partying a lot; that died down. I was used to smiling like a village idiot at people. That kind of stopped too. And then the day of the surgery arrived.

I won’t lie, the two weeks directly afterwards were hellish. I convinced myself that I’d ruined my face. I couldn’t talk, eat or brush my teeth. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through, let alone been responsible for doing it to myself. But, like most things, the harder they are to achieve, the more rewarding they are in the end. The swelling started to subside and the bruising faded. Eventually my braces came off to reveal completely flawless teeth. I went straight from the orthodontist’s chair to a laser whitening one, and then made a beeline for MAC where I bought the brightest red lipstick imaginable.

Then I went out and partied. And smiled. Village idiot, yes, but at least one with perfect teeth.

This week, I spoke to Invisalign ambassador and body language expert Judi James to find out her secrets to success and tips on boosting your confidence.

What’s the number one mistake people often make with their body language?

Most people assume body language is a bit of a party trick and that you can read peoples’ minds via specific gestures or facial expressions. People often want to know what it means when someone crosses their legs to the left for example, but you have to see these gestures in context to try to define a specific meaning – it’s actually much more complicated than it sounds!

What are the 3 points you should remember for your body language?

1. The most important moment will be your arrival - I always suggest people make impactful entrances, but making sure not to come across arrogant. Pull up to full height, roll your shoulders back and down and smile a genuine smile to show you are confident and approachable.

2. Next, focus on your greeting rituals – this will either be a handshake in business or a small kiss on the cheek for a first date. Your handshake should be firm but not aggressive and you should offer your hand in an intentional gesture just before you get close.

3. The last point would be your spatial awareness and body gestures. Avoid self-diminishing gestures as it displays a lack in confidence. Keep your elbows held slightly away from your torso and slightly raised to avoid hiding yourself behind your body – this will only make you look shy and uninterested.

What’s the secret to small talk?

The most important skill when using small-talk is active listening, as this will indicate an interest in the other person. When you ask a question, look genuinely interested in the answer. To achieve this, make sure to use eye contact at all times, encouraging slight nods of the head and of course, a genuine smile.

What’s the most recent thing you’ve discovered/ learned that’s helped you that you couldn’t wait to share?

There’s nothing more boring than a behavioral expert who acts like a guru when they’re out socially. The only thing I usually can’t wait to share is news or celebrity gossip and working out the stories behind their body language!

If you could only give one piece of advice to someone going into a crucial business meeting, what would it be?

Make sure you speak within the first three minutes. It gets your voice out into the air and makes it easy to carry on talking. The longer you wait the harder it gets to start discussing your points and having a say in the discussion.

...make sure to use eye contact at all times, encouraging slight nods of the head and of course, a genuine smile.

What’s the best bit about your job?

I love working on Big Brother. Last year I got to go in the BB house while the housemates were in there too!

How did you get into it? What has been your career highlight so far?

I started out as a catwalk model, where I was asked to write books on body language and models’ behavior. From there, I moved into television where I was responsible for editing and scripting my own series. I loved sifting through hours of footage and looking at famous people’s body language to work out a story behind their mannerisms.

You’ve written books about boosting your confidence – what are the secrets?

1. Tough love. It’s pretty stupid to allow yourself to marinate in shyness - I did for a lot of my life and the only way out of it is to be firm with yourself. The more indulgent we are, the less likely we are to become brave.

2. My second tip would be to change your state. If you look nervous and lacking in confidence you’ll feel it too as the way we stand and move has a strong effect on our inner feelings. I always tackle any situation that might make me feel less confident with a look of confidence which means standing full height and relaxing your facial expression into a smile.

3. My third tip would be to stop allowing other people to control your life. We blame others for making us feel less confident, but the moment you realise it’s all up you become so much more powerful

Is there one tip/ secret you can action through communication/ body language which means you’ll always get your way?

I wish there was! Sadly it doesn’t work like that. My top tip would be to know what you want and go for it. Having goals in life will encourage motivation and confidence in ourselves and remember a genuine smile will go a long way.

The worrying thing about freelance (one worrying thing, anyway) is the strong possibility that, if working from home, you’ll stay dressed in your pyjamas until 4pm. How best to counteract this? Buying a whole new-season wardrobe of course! Here are my picks, from the classic-with-a-twist jumper to the kind of coat that updates everything…

1. Carven’s zebra-print felt skirt, £310

Along with J-Dubs, Carven is another invaluable contemporary brand – chic, covetable, but importantly, affordable whilst still offering a level of luxury. Beautifully made separates like this zebra-print skirt look, well, expensive. And looking expensive is never a bad thing when you’re working for yourself. Impressions, as they say, are everything, and you need to look like the boss.

2. 3.1 Phillip Lim’s bag, £985

I can never resist Phillip Lim’s swaggeringly cool approach to urban dressing. For me, every piece he creates is a winner – practical, interesting and just a touch nonchalant. This bag epitomises all of that, fits my Filofax, my iPad and my unfathomably large make-up bag, and has a shoulder strap to boot. It’s also slightly brand-discreet and un-showy. Much cooler these days.

3. Eudon Choi’s blue coat, £755

A winter coat is the biggest sartorial choice you’ll make all year (no pressure). Everyone will be opting for bubblegum pink but I think it’s key as a freelancer to stand out from the crowd. That’s why this textured Eudon Choi number – in all its cerulean glory – is my choice. I’d layer it over a black leather pencil skirt and sporty, slightly structured sweatshirt.

4. IRO’s black wedge boots, £315

It can’t all be chic tailoring and ladylike heels. Sometimes, it’s just about looking cool and being comfortable. Enter in IRO’s black wedge ankle boots, an ode to Parisian cool-girl dressing. I’d wear them with the skinniest of jeans and an oversized sheepskin coat to run around town doing press days and appointments.

5. J.W. Anderson’s neon orange angora jumper, £545

It shows great fashion acumen to invest in a piece by the newest hot-shot designer on everyone’s lips. In this case, it’s J.W. Anderson (affectionately referred to as J-Dubs in fashion circles), the rumoured new club member at LVMH. This angora jumper is exactly the right blend of statement and classic – a perennially chic shape but in the boldest hue. It’s unforgettable, too – where it with a bright, genuine smile to make your mark on your short-term coworkers. Who says you have to be just another nameless freelancer?

6. Shourouk Pheonix rainbow necklace, £338

This has been on my wishlist for a few seasons and, as a treat to myself for going freelance, I finally added it to my small but perfectly formed collection of power piece necklaces. Statement jewellery is the quickest way to make a plain look sing – this, a white shirt and jeans is a no-brainer. It also serves as a conversation piece – and, not to get all ‘self help’ on you here, but statement jewellery is also a really opportunity to show your personality. In a business meeting, this can be critical, no?

• Take a moment before you leave the house, pause and pull yourself up to full height. Roll your shoulders back and down to release any built up tension or anxiety

• Keep your head straight and slightly raised to give that air of confidence in your pose – this will also naturally straighten your spine, making any outfit sit better on your frame

• Make sure to avoid defensive body language such as crossed arms, as this will cover up your new outfit and make you look stand-offish

• Finally, a smile can be the perfect accessory to any outfit and it can also work wonders on your inner confidence – make sure your smile reaches your eyes, to reveal the most genuine of smiles

I’ve never questioned my dedication to my career. It always seemed like the most natural thing in the world to want to have a goal in mind and go after it relentlessly. My parents, despite not particularly being cut from that kind of cloth, were instrumental in that they supported me every step of the way. They even allowed me to live at home for longer than was probably wise while I suffered the unpaid internships deemed necessary to break into the fashion industry. It wasn’t completely out of character, then, when I decided to make the leap from full time at Stylist magazine to fully-fledged freelancer; a career move that I thought of as empowering, if a little reckless. Still, exciting all the same.

The older I’ve got the more I’ve realised the meaning in creating something of your own, and the importance of constantly challenging yourself to progress and grow into who you really want to become. Cheesy, yes, but true nonetheless.

A leap of faith was required, a gamble and a prayer, but there are three mantras that have kept me going when I’ve woken up in cold sweats, plagued with self-doubt and wondering what the hell I was thinking…

1. “Think you can, think you can’t. Either way, you’re right.” Henry Ford said that. I’m ever-so-slightly ashamed to say that the first time I came across it was on Twitter. Regardless, it’s a quote that stuck with me and I love it’s pithy accuracy. It reminds me of the importance of positive thinking and having faith in yourself.

2. “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” This little gem was written by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female President. And yes, I discovered this via another extremely high-brow source; Pinterest. To me it means that a little fear is good, it keeps you moving forward.

3. “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” So said golfer Gary Player. I’m inclined to agree. I think that a total belief in fate can be dangerous; if you want something, graft until you get it – don’t wait for it to fall into your lap. That, and be nice. Simple, effective and brilliantly summarised in Anthony Burrill’s poster that now hangs in my makeshift home office. (See below).

I’ll go now before I start quoting ‘with great power comes great responsibility’…

'''Judi James, Invisalign ambassador and body language expert shares her top tips on how to ace a job interview.'''

If you’re looking for a career change, you may need to fine tune your interview skills. This will involve acing the performance of ‘you’ after having put a lot of work into interview etiquette and the act of marketing yourself.

1. It has been proven that the first few seconds of any interview are vital - always enter the room with a smile on your face, as people will make up their mind about you within the first few seconds of arrival.

2. Your body language prep needs to start by working on your inner thoughts and beliefs. If you’re just turning up with your fingers crossed, then this lack of authenticity will emerge in your body language signals.

3. As you answer questions it can make you look positive if you lean forward slightly, rather than staying back in the chair. Use your hands to emphasise your points but avoid any self-comforting gestures such as fiddling with a pen or playing with your hair.

4. Finally, think about your exit - stand, pause and smile at the panel. That smile might be their last memory of you when they sit down to discuss which candidate is successful.

One of the best things about living in London is the endless, heady litany of incredible culinary hot-spots available at our fingertips. They open at a rate of knots, have us all swapping notes and inspire entire food ‘movements’ across the capital, from Peruvian to all-American via Venetian small plates. And to my mind, one of the greatest things you can do with such bounteous choice is to find the exact right place to go for the exact right occasion. In fact, there’s nothing that puts a smile on my face in quite the same way. Here’s my pick, from when I need a quirky place to entertain my mum to a booze-filled breakfast complete with a pop star impersonator...

Where I go… for a girl’s night out

The Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square

The Prince Charles is a lesson in how to stay ‘in’ by really being ‘out’. They hold beer and pizza nights aplenty, all the while screening such glorious classics as Top Gun and Labyrinth. And if you’re lucky, you’ll also catch their pyjama parties; all night John Hughes marathons and the like.

Where I go… to take my mum for lunch

Sketch, Conduit St, W1

Despite nearly weeping when they stopped doing their exquisite Earl Gray macarons, Sketch is still a firm favourite for me. Off the wall, fun, unexpected (and with pods for toilets), it never fails to delight my mother and I in equal measure. Stay in the parlour and have the smoked salmon bagel.

Where I go… for a boozy brunch

Bunga Bunga, Battersea

Cheekily named after Italian ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous ‘naughty’ parties, cocktail and karaoke dive Bunga Bunga is equally as naughty, but for different reasons entirely. A £50 all you can drink champagne brunch, transvestite Britney impersonators and incredible pizza. If that won’t make you grin from ear to ear, I don’t know what will.

Where I go… for a first date

The Whistling Shop, Shoreditch

Lethal cocktails, shadowy corners and a secretive, prohibition-style ambiance all add up to make this one of the best first date spots in the city. It’s also unknown enough to imply you’re totally ahead of the curve and is flatteringly low-lit throughout. A total winner, even if your date isn’t.

'''Read below for my tips on how to make a quick but polite getaway from a date or event '''

Making a getaway from an event or first date is easy when you know how:

1. First, always give your host / date a deadline by telling them that you’d love to come but you might have to leave early. Avoid fabricating too much of a story, the more details you provide, the less genuine you’ll sound.

2. When it comes to making your exit, wait until there is a slight dip in conversation and make your excuse.

3. Body language is key. Maintaining a genuine and relaxed smile as you depart leaves you appearing more confident and self-assured, while keeping your back straight, shoulders square and head upright circumvents any signs of guilt or unease.

4. Keep your exit short but always maintain a polite tone of voice; this will enable you to continue the relationship on a friendly basis.

When the mysterious powers that be decreed that a change is as good as rest, I’m pretty sure they were talking about totally transforming your flat from bog-standard living space to interiors pleasuredome of dreams. The kind of place that will put a massive smile on your face the minute you step through the door. And that’s exactly what my (perhaps slightly over-adventurous) plans are at the moment – apart from instead of bog-standard living space, I have a completely blank canvas to work from, in the form of a brand-new, totally unfurnished Zone 2 flat.

My job compiling the Style List for Stylist magazine means I’m privy to the latest go-to spots for fabulous homeware – so I’ve opened up my address book-slash-shopping list for you to have a peek at. Here are the things I’ll be furnishing my new abode with, from the best places to buy right now…

1. Friend or Foe mugs from Culture Label (

Culture Label is a real behemoth – there is simply So. Much. Stuff. Expertly curated you can find edgy modern artwork, quirky ceramics and contemporary furniture – all with a healthy dose of irreverence. I’m in love with these cheeky mugs (£20 each) which each say something different, from ‘weirdo’ to ‘scrounger’. Tea, minus the sympathy.

2. Yeah jar from The Mint List (

I cannot say enough good things about this hidden gem of a site which specialises in all things offbeat, upcycled and painfully hip. From bespoke embellished furniture to cheeky vintage tea towels, if you’re looking for something to give your space a USP, you’ll find it here. This vintage glass jar (£125) has been hand-painted with a very optimistic ‘yeah’ in bold letters and is begging to be filled with schrapnel and put pride of place on the mantelpiece.

3. Barcelona sofa from Out There Interiors (

Out There Interiors does exactly what it says on the tin. If you’re looking for a chest of drawers that will make you smile, or an armchair that will become a talking point whenever you have guests, then this site has your name all over it. I’ve got my beady eye on this bright orange leather sofa (£495) which is based on an iconic 1929 design by architect Mies van der Rohe.

4. Industrial drawers from Alexander & Pearl (

Replete with the most beautiful, unique furniture on the market, Alexander & Pearl is one of those websites which you peruse dreamily, do a bit of fantasy shopping on and leave feeling thoroughly inspired. My pick is these artfully distressed industrial drawers (£495), helpfully numbered and perfect for organising my home office.

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