Do Nice Girls Finish Last? Fran Hauser Says No in “The Myth of the Nice Girl”


After 15 years of consistent growth in the media industry, digital executive Fran Hauser was writing a post-grad playbook of how to launch a successful career when she received an overwhelming response from a blog post she published on succeeding as a “nice" girl.

“It's not just about winning, it's about how you win," shares Hauser on her decision to pivot her book's message to shatter the nuances between the correlation of success and kindness with “The Myth of the Nice Girl."

“It became clear I had struck a chord; this was a topic women were thinking about and they were struggling with."

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The original idea came to Hauser in 2009 when she was serving as the President of Digital at Time Inc. and realized connections from earlier in her career were reappearing in her professional life, which she ultimately ties back to how she built her brand. “If you win in a way that is not aligned with your values and you are hurting people in the process, that's going to come back to bite you; people's memories are long."

For Hauser, these values were kindness and strength--defying the mentality that you need one or the other in order to be successful. This, therefore, became a key message in “The Myth of the Nice Girl" as Hauser highlights the potential to lead with both kindness and strength through a combination of personal stories and anecdotes from notable names in her personal circle. Among them are Mindy Grossman, Susan Canavari, and Blake Lively, who support Hauser's personal narrative with tips and techniques from topics in their relevant fields, addressing mentorship to evidence-based confidence. “They are all women that really 'walk the talk' in terms of bringing both kindness and strength into their professional lives," says Hauser. “I really wanted them to share something that would deeply and richly support one chapter."

“It's not just about winning, it's about how you win," shares Hauser on her decision to pivot her book's message to shatter the nuances between the correlation of success and kindness with “The Myth of the Nice Girl."

Hauser, herself, is seemingly a woman who “walks the talk" as she shares her experiences from building PEOPLE.com to advising consumer-facing companies, while remaining true to some of her strongest character attributes, which she defines as empathetic, collaborative and confident that there are enough opportunities to go around. “The last part is really important because it's this whole abundance attitude rather than a scarce mindset; when you have that [abundance], you're more generous."

Relating it to an experience in her early career at AOL, Hauser explained how she was promoted frequently but there was a coworker who viewed this growth as “overly ambitious." In one of the key messages of “The Myth of the Nice Girl," Hauser explores the idea that you can be ambitious and likable. “I didn't do it in a way where I was stepping on toes or being disrespectful. I was doing good work and, in that process, developing really great relationships with people."

She explains the ambitious-likeability factor as a double standard that you can take control of based on how you create “opportunities for yourself, while also elevating others." Along with describing this correlation, Hauser highlights the necessary balance between direct and kind feedback; firm and collaborative decisions; caring too much and setting boundaries; as well as strategic and empathetic negotiations.

“I'm not a pushover or a people pleaser. I'm direct," she says on the ability to depict the book's chapters on these coexisting qualities that are often overlooked.

She concludes with the take-home message, which is also the underlying theme throughout her book; finding the balance boils down to the interactions you have and relationships you develop. “Try to get into the other person's head, understand what's motivating them, what they value," she says, “because when you do that, it's empathy, and that will allow you to connect with anyone on a much deeper level."

“The Myth of the Nice Girl" is in bookstores now, and while Hauser first published it to encourage women in their early careers to excel with kindness, she's found a response from women of all ages as a transformative, learning experience.

3 min read

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.


Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.

I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!

- The Armchair Psychologist

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