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Christina DeGuardi Headshot

Note From The Desk of The HBIC

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I had never heard the expression HBIC until one summer, my nephew was interning for the marketing team I head up at Crunch Fitness and reported back to our family that he didn't realize I was the HBIC. I questioned whether this was a compliment or an insult and settled on the fact that it was probably a little bit of both which at the end of the day is the way it is with many things in business and life for that matter, so no need to dwell on the negative. Being in charge of a department or a group of people certainly presents its challenges but if you have been working your way there for some time and if you tend toward being a bit controlling, then getting to that leadership position can be incredibly rewarding.

What I find interesting is that I don't think in the earlier phases of my career I actually ever strove to be in charge. Don't get me wrong, I was determined to succeed, to get promoted to the next level, to get a raise and to get recognized for being great at what I do. My lack of vision for higher levels of management could be attributed to being female or to the fact that I didn't have any executive type role models in my family. Everyone in my family is very good at what they do and through drive and hard work; are very successful. However, none of them did so within the framework of a business environment, there were surgeons and professors, but no CEO's or VP's in my immediate sphere of influence.

The lack of executive examples in my life and my new HBIC moniker came to mind once again when I was "encouraged" to write a Palanca for my niece while she was away at camp. Apparently, a Palanca is when loved ones are asked to write heartfelt letters to kids when they are away on some kind of retreat. Letters of encouragement and praise are not really my style; so my Palancas have always been a bit more humorous (aka inappropriate). My thought here is that a good laugh can help most people feel better in any uneasy or challenging situation. So, I decided to make use of the fact that unlike me, my niece does have an executive role model in her life and hopefully will help her use that to her advantage once she begins her own career path. My advice to her was to start working on her HBIC skills sooner rather than later. Here are a few of the excerpts from my tutorial:

School

At school, teachers always think they are in charge, and technically I guess they are, but there are ways to establish your supremacy and begin to let them know that they may be paid to be in charge but you are a real HBIC in the making. You might think they would be mad, but they will admire your moxie and applaud your leadership skills.

Friends

Friends are great, but it's good to establish who the HBIC is off the bat, but also to do it without them really knowing you are doing it. It sounds difficult, but once you master the ability to subtly control everything it will easily fall into place. Start with the simple things, if you are meeting up with a friend and you agree to meet at 5 o'clock, ask them to text you if they are going to be late because your schedule is tight. The key here is, that you don't have to do the same for her. Voila, now your friend is reporting to you, it's that simple.

Home

This one is a little trickier, because your parents are "officially" the head of the household.

Which is fine, even the best HBIC (e.g. me) has a "boss." But you can be in charge of certain domains, like design, activities and menus. Start making suggestions for dinner menus, and then help cook it, helping makes it seem like you are being nice, but in actuality you are controlling what the family eats. Being controlling is a very important HBIC skill. Try controlling things like the décor, make so-called suggestions such as: wouldn't the bathroom be nicer if it was painted green instead of blue as it's a good color to match her skin. Once she decides to go with your suggestion, you are now in charge of design. Now you've got this rolling, your domain of control will just grow from there.

General tips

Make people come to you. I often, use "Sorry I can't hear you," or "Can you come here for a sec, I want to show you something" or "If you could come in here that would be great, I would love your opinion."

Opinions: Always have one, no matter what, never say, "I don't know" or "I don't care." It's also good to give your opinion last, this way you've heard what everyone else thinks, and you can decide whose side you want to be on and how the majority is voting. This gives you a chance to be the final vote or to overrule everyone.

Keep the b#*$h under wraps: This is the most important way to be the HBIC. Never be just a flat out bitch, everyone hates a bitch, so in order to be the HBIC you need to obscure your bitchiness with humor and compliments. Crack a joke, tell someone you like their hair, then and only then can you start ordering them around. Don't forget to be helpful too, part of the job is to help people sort out their problems, that's why they will start working for you, whether it's helping them with sound advice for their silly problems, or just offering to lighten their load, once you give them a little help you will ultimately become their leader.

So of course I wrote this to make her laugh, but as I look back on it now, I sort of wish someone had written this for me. Perhaps I would have had a bit more vision as to how I could be a true leader someday, I got there eventually, but a bit of a road map would have been extremely valuable.