7 pieces of advice from Dolly Jones, Condé Nast Digital Strategy Director

Dolly Jones

A week ago, last Thursday evening I had a fantastic opportunity to hear Dolly Jones, the newly appointed Digital Strategy Director at Condé Nast Digital, speak about her career. After Dolly’s talk, Niki Mossman from Colour Me Beautiful image consultancy did a session asking ‘Can what you wear make a difference in business’, which I’ve also blogged about here.

But back to Dolly. For those of you who don’t know (and I didn’t before last week), Dolly Jones has risen through the ranks at Vogue.com taking it from a time when, in her words, “everyone in fashion was scared of the internet and if you used it your were either very uncool or a porn addict” to Britain’s most successful fashion website. In 2005 she was appointed Editor of vogue.com, then whilst still editing vogue.com she became Executive Editor of Condé Nast Digital in 2008 and 2015 sees her return from her second maternity leave to take on the role of Digital Strategy Director of Condé Nast Digital.

Translating from my scribbles in my trusty
notepad to macbook ready to write this blog post!

What a career! After doing a bit of research about her prior to the event I was really excited to meet Dolly and I wasn’t disappointed. I came away from the event feeling inspired and motivated, there were so many great pieces of advice that we can all take back to our work.

I’ve picked my some favourite pearls of Dolly’s wisdom below. These aren’t direct quotes but my paraphrasing as I couldn’t quite scribble fast enough to get word for word!

1. If you’re a bit scared about something then it’s more satisfying when you achieve it.
I completely resonate with this. A few weeks ago I had a week to complete a task at work using a tool I’d never used before and that normally takes teams 2-3 weeks to complete. To say I was scared and nervous was an understatement. But, I got my head down and leant on those who could help me to actually achieve the task a day early. That apprehension and nervousness really does give you a kick up the backside and the result is, as Dolly says, so much more satisfying.

2. You don’t need to pretend to be a machine in the workplace; be a human and people will appreciate the fact that you care. 
Dolly talked about the fact that the best people listen and actually care about you as a person – we should all make an effort to show we’re listening, ask about people and really listen to the answer. If your colleague can remember to ask after *the name of your sick child/dog/granny* then we feel they really care about us as individuals and that builds a solid foundation for any relationship.

3. Don’t fear talented people, in fact you should always aim to hire people who are more talented than you. 
In answering a question about her inspirations, Dolly spoke about the impact Ruth Chapman (Matches Fashion) and how Ruth truly had no fear of talented people. All too often we can feel threatened in work by bringing people into the team who are ‘better’ than we are but Dolly spoke about how Ruth’s rule was to always hire people who could do things better than her. That way, she never stopped being challenged and created an environment of constant learning.

4. Don’t pretend you know everything, be honest and learn from your team. 
One of the striking things I noticed about Dolly was her humility. She was honest about her mistakes and how she’d learnt from them. Dolly told a story about how she used to think being a manager meant you had to know everything and had to be the go-to expert for each key decision. In her words “I was a rubbish manager, it was a terrible way to work!” She explained that once she realised she wasn’t expected to know everything, the team became a lot more collaborative and successful. Humility, Dolly taught me, is a vital quality.

5. Don’t get too comfortable. When you feel like you’ve outgrown your job, it’s time to move onto the next challenge. 
This one’s pretty simple, but one we often forget. We justify staying within our comport zone saying ‘The grass is always greener’ and ‘There’s still lots I want to achieve in this role’. But Dolly’s right, you’ll know when you’ve outgrown your job and then it’s time to move on – and fast.

6. Be confident enough to negotiate higher pay. 
This is an interesting point, and one that Sheryl Sandberg makes in Lean In. All too often talking about money makes women embarrassed and it shouldn’t. We sit back from negotiating higher pay because we thing it will make us seem arrogant or too money-focused. Dolly’s message was to go for it, if you don’t ask then you don’t get and if you think you deserve more then the only person stopping you from asking is you!

7. Take care of you. 
One of the final questions Dolly answered was around the inevitable ‘how does she do it all’ saga. Dolly’s answer was simple: focusing on your wellbeing will help you to focus on the things that really matter, making you more effective and efficient as a result. I definitely agree this can have a very positive effect on your life and I had a detox in Devon recently.

So there you go: some of my most memorable pieces of advice from Dolly Jones. It was amazing to hear someone so successful and yet so humble and personable give up their time to come and speak with us. Thank you Dolly!

“Before you ask, my skirt is Matthew Williamson!”

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