I don’t know how to say this but I think I may be in love with Tim Gunn. Alas, it is doomed to be a distant unrequited sort of thing as I’m not exactly his type, and I’ve been married since I was a zygote, but still there it is. He’s been one of my primary reasons for watching Project Runway for ages, and I am an enthusiastic follower of his video blogs on Facebook. But now, with the release of his new book Gunn’s Golden Rules, my feelings have grown deeper and more ardent.
You see, in our classes Laurel and I always include a little segment that we call the Ten Commandments of Schmoozing, where we talk about the basics of navigating the world of networking in the arts. While there are ten very witty commandments (one day we’ll share them with you) they all boil down to this: “Be nice and use good manners”. Over the course of our careers, we’ve seen people behave in appalling ways when they are trying to make themselves known. We once saw an actress back a director into a corner while delivering a ten minute verbal resumé without once stopping to draw breath (she DID make herself known, but perhaps not in the way in which she’d hoped). We’re really disturbed by things like this because we feel that there are ways of networking and self-promotion that don’t make people run away from you in horror.
While Mr. Gunn gives fifteen rules for appropriate behavior in his new book, they are right in line with our Ten Commandments of Schmoozing. He doesn’t just give you the rules, but he backs them up with examples and names names! The tales of entitlement run amok in the book are enough to keep you up at night wondering what’s becoming of the world. The people he calls out in his book (Anna Wintour and several other prominent fashionistas are among them) are not people who simply don’t know any better. They are privileged souls with every reason to be grateful and gracious. Yet they seem to delight in being petulant and nasty. Anonymous makes a few appearances here too, doing things like refusing to give way to passengers exiting the subway before getting on (why IS that?), and causing scenes in various temples of retail. Not all of his examples are negative, there are enough random acts of etiquette in the book to give you hope for humanity.
It makes a redhead’s heart happy to know that there is someone else in the world who is taking up the cause of good manners. Instead of “can’t we all just get along?” perhaps our rallying cry should be “why don't we all just behave ourselves?” Maybe if we did, the getting along part would solve itself.