Lessons from the Devil, Part I

I wanted to share with you some lessons from the devil…the one that wears Prada, that is. For this segment I want to highlight a few things that, as an employee or a part of team, might help you succeed:

Being an expert is not a requirement to be successful. When Andrea joins the Runway team, she knew nothing of fashion, as evidenced by her unflattering blue sweater and frizzed hair. What mattered was character. Andrea had a strong work ethic, critical thinking skills, and the ability to problem solve. This eventually won the favor of the “devil” more than the more experienced, fashion-focused assistant.

Be candid, and don’t fake who you are.  People value honesty. In the moment they may not appreciate what you have to say, but in the end, the truth is more valuable than lies to placate them. Additionally, being fake is complicated and tiring to keep up. Being you is the best way to be successful. If your company or boss doesn’t like it, you are in the wrong place.

If you think you are above your work, you’ll only be going through the motions of your job. There is a scene where Andrea is complaining to Nigel about how unfairly she had been treated by the “devil.” But Nigel, rather candidly, points out that Andrea spends so much time believing that she is better than fashion (preferring to write for The New Yorker), how could she possibly be giving her best. To be successful, you need to believe in your work and not act like you are too good for the position you are in. People don’t respond well to haughtiness.

When you are open to suggestions and change, doors open. “You are not trying; you are whining,” Nigel says curtly. Andrea took his advice, embraced her role, and almost immediately positive (career) change started happening in her life.


Initiative is powerful. Staying one step ahead of your boss or client proves that you have thought about their needs and acted on them. To a client, this makes them feel valued. To a boss, they will feel more trust, and they will feel that they can worry less about your work. When Andrea took the initiative to confirm appointments, courier clothes, and meet the “devil’s” other needs, she was rewarded suddenly with more responsibility.

Don’t compromise your beliefs and values. In the end, Andrea sacrificed her friends and boyfriend in order to achieve success. It happened little by little. Each compromise she made pushed her further down a path that hurt those her were important to her. It wasn’t until she realized that her success at her job didn’t outweigh her values that she was happy again. Compromising values cannot be done without consequences.


Jana Axline is president and leadership coach at Axline Solutions and author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Axline Solutions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s