Front Line

A career management briefing for
visionary women

She was 'just the wife'. Revisiting Martha Mitchell.

“If it hadn't been for Martha, there'd have been no Watergate”. In 1977, 3 years after his resignation, Nixon blamed one woman for the scandal that rocked America in 1972.

Martha Mitchell was married to John Mitchell, a close personal friend of Nixon's, and director of Nixon's 1972 presidential campaign. She was also an outspoken supporter of the Republican party and a popular socialite, appearing in numerous talk shows. This led to her nickname, “The Mouth of the South”.

Nixon's underestimation of Mitchell's power and influence, despite closely monitoring her, led to the scoop of the century. When Mitchell discovered that the break-in at the Democratic headquarters was orchestrated by the Nixon administration, she called Helen Thomas, a reporter.

The events that followed changed her life forever. She was assaulted, tranquilised against her will, and held in a hotel for 24 hours. Nixon's aides tried to discredit her by telling the press she had a drinking problem and had had a breakdown. When she was released, she wrote a angry letter to Parade, detailing her abuse. She and her husband soon divorced, and in 1975, he went to prison for 19 months for his involvement in the scandal. However, by 1976, she died from a rare bone cancer.

Throughout her life, Mitchell constantly had to defend herself and her experiences. Her treatment in the press as a woman was always problematic (“Why do they always call me outspoken? Can't they just say I'm frank?”), and her treatment at the hands of the Nixon administration was illegal and abusive. A psychological phenomenon is even named after her: The “Martha Mitchell effect” refers to the process by which a mental health professional misdiagnoses a patient as delusional when they are telling the truth.

Mitchell got her revenge when Nixon was exposed in 1974, and her legacy is one of bravery and strength in the face of injustice. However, Trump's appointment of the Nixon agent who assaulted her, Stephen King, as ambassador to the Czech Republic, casts yet another pall over the story of a woman who sought to be heard and believed.


Itchy feet: Tips for when you want to move job

When you are thinking about moving job, what are the most useful things to know? Firstly, ask yourself why you haven't done it earlier. If you can't find a reason, you seriously need to get your skates on and become very proactive about finding your next role. Chances are your job is enervating you or you're not gaining much more 'career capital' by staying there. Prepare your candidate profile (CV, LinkedIn profile, interview story), share it with the right recruiters, and start a structured job search. Secondly, time your job search to coincide with the best recruitment cycles for your industry and seniority level. Generally speaking, mid-September, and January through May, are better times to start a new search. Thirdly, get clear on the value of what you are taking with you from your current job. Here, think of your current job as an old car that you are about to trade in. How can you improve it a bit to boost it's value - new headlights, re-upholstered seats, throw in some hidden extras? Find ways to complete important projects (or get at least preliminary results in). Consolidate key client and other stakeholder relationships. Use the goodwill and respect you've built up to widen your mandate or to get a new project under your remit, then deliverable valuable, measurable outcomes against it over the next year (or relevant time period). It's often when people are ready to move on from their current firm that they have the ripest opportunities in front of them to build some solid 'career capital'.

Shame: A candid treatment. Part IX

How does envy differ from jealousy? Envy is about lacking a desired attribute, while jealousy is the threat of losing something and to someone else. With envy, we fixate on what someone has that we don't, be it a job, a certain lifestyle, or something else, and we feel resentment towards them. Envy can mean we treat others unfairly and miss career opportunities. In this week's article on shame, we consider how envy shows up and what it can mean for our careers.

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We help transformative leaders build successful careers and companies. We remove the particular obstacles they face, including building the right team around them, developing leadership capacities, and finding purpose in their careers. We offer consulting, coaching, and interventions. Previous clients include the BBC, Cass Business School, and Prodigy Finance.

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