Now Reading
Anna Wintour’s MasterClass Review: Relatable Themes that SEOs & PMs Can Take Away From A Fashion Legend

Anna Wintour’s MasterClass Review: Relatable Themes that SEOs & PMs Can Take Away From A Fashion Legend

My Review = Watch it! (Class Trailer | Class Sample)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’m starting my executive MBA at the University of Southern California in just two short weeks. And as if I needed any assistance pushing my anxiety levels to new heights, a recent chat with the school’s Academic Director assured me that school would sometimes feel like “I’m getting hit with a 2X4.”

To gear up for this beating, I’ve been bumbling my way through the optional MBA Math coursework they provided my cohort for the last month or so. But to diversify my preparation, I decided I would finally cave into my YouTube ads for MasterClass and watch some of the business “greats” discuss leadership. The logic being, that these would be more surely be entertaining than marginal analysis, ye more educational than Gilmore Girls re-runs (#teamjess).

Even though I fully expected to like it – I’m a big fan of Vogue and Architecture Digest magazines – I was surprised at just how much relatable advice she had for someone that doesn’t work in journalism or fashion

Two days later, I’ve just finished Anna Wintour’s 12-part MasterClass (they’re 10 minute episodes, OK?!). And even though I fully expected to like it – I’m a big fan of Vogue and Architecture Digest magazines – I was surprised at just how much relatable advice she had for someone that doesn’t work in journalism or fashion… (For those who need a quick introduction to Wintour, the short version is that she is the previous editor in chief at Vogue and now as artistic director at Conde Nast. The long version can be found on her Wikipedia page or biography).

While I insist you watch the class yourself to hear her advice and stories recommends in her own words – that include the Met Gala, supermodels, and peacocks – I DO wanted to share 5 quick themes that I found helpful to me as a SEO and Product Manager.



Takeaway 1: Talent comes with time.

Wintour insists that it’s rare for somebody, in whatever industry, to start out GREAT. Rather, she assures her audience that it, naturally, will take time. She follows up this thought by explaining that in order to achieve greatness, you have to be true to yourself – rather than a watered-down version of someone else. (Citing several famous designers as examples).

How it could relate to SEOs & PMs:

I mean… who can’t relate to this? Does anyone else remember logging into Google Analytics for the first time, typing [command+option+i] to inspect source code for the first time, or writing their first meta description? Lmao! And look at us all now, consulting for big clients and solving big problems and stuff! (If you’re new to the industry and reading this, your day will come!) Greatness takes time – and even Anna Wintour agrees.

And as it relates to her note on originality, this is shrewd advice for people who are interested in becoming a “personality” in our industry. Don’t grow a handsome mustache out and try to be the next Rand Fishkin, or start DJing on the side and try to be the next Lily Rae, and also don’t try to become a veterinarian just so you can have a fascinating second act as an SEO like Dr. Marie Haynes! I’m being facetious of course – but you get what I’m saying. Find your own voice and be unmistakably you.

Don’t grow a handsome mustache out and try to be the next Rand Fishkin, or start DJing on the side and try to be the next Lily Ray, and also don’t try to become a veterinarian just so you can have a fascinating second act as an SEO like Dr. Marie Haynes! I’m being facetious of course – but you get what I’m saying. Find your own voice and be unmistakably you.



Takeaway 2: Take criticism in stride, it’s unavoidable. But also, own the mistakes

Wintour is a great reminder that even the most successful leaders are criticized from time to time. And she is quick to acknowledge this point herself in her MasterClass. But, she says, you can’t let all criticism worry you. You have to trust your convictions. And, when warranted, own up to a mistake. But then, move on – rather than dwelling and agonizing over it.

How it could relate to SEOs & PMs:

Have I ever made a decision that was subsequently criticized on a national scale? Uh, not even remotely close. But have I been criticized professionally before, and many a manager of mine has reinforced the idea of extreme ownership (to borrow a phrase from Jocko Willink’s book – also great). I think the big reminder here for us as SEOs and PMs is that as we move up in leadership positions, we can’t allow ourselves to become defensive or blame others when our work is criticized or we’ve clearly made a mistake. This is particularly true as your responsibilities get larger, and we are responsible for not only OUR quality of work, but our team’s quality of work also.

Have I ever made a decision that was subsequently criticized on a national scale? Uh, not even remotely close. But have I been criticized professionally before, and many a manager of mine has reinforced the idea of extreme ownership



Takeaway 3: Understand that opportunities can come to you in unexpected ways

Among Anna Wintour’s most well-known work is her role in the annual Met Gala in NYC she’s done since the 90’s. And while i won’t give any spoilers, the opportunity really all started with an unexpected phone call and a favor for a friend.

How it could relate to SEOs & PMs:

I think that any SEO or PM who has been at it long enough can relate to this one: Whether it’s an industry friend – born out of a corporate seating chart – that six months later helped you land your career-changing gig. Or, a thoughtful previous boss that winds up being your MBA school recommendation (that you didn’t even know you were going to apply to one day while you worked together). Or whatever “it” is”… my point is that you can plan all you want – and that’s important. But also, some of your biggest career wins can come in ways you didn’t expect. Keep your eyes open for stuff like this 🙂

You can plan all you want – and that’s important. But also, some of your biggest career wins can come in ways you didn’t expect



Takeaway 4: Take care with who you hire (and who you’re hired by!)

Wintour believes that it’s important to take care in who you, as a leader, choose to hire. As well as who you, as an employee, chose to work for. E.g., when you hire talent (preferably in areas that you don’t have skills/interest in), it’s vital that you let them take the lead in that area. And similarly, prioritizing choosing the right boss over the right company.

How it could relate to SEOs & PMs:

The first part of Wintour’s advice struck me as a friendly leadership reminder. Like yeah, totally, fill in gaps and don’t micromanage kind of thing. While the second part of her advice really made me sit back in my chair and nod my head. Ha. I think a lot of SEOs and PMs can probably (maybe?) relate to the idea of chasing down the next big title, or the next big company they want to showcase on their LinkedIn resumes or Twitter bios. But – taking Annas advice and running with it – you can’t let this come with the tradeoff of working for a crummy boss.

See Also

I think a lot of SEOs and PMs can relate to the idea of chasing down the next big title, or the next big company they want to showcase on their LinkedIn resumes or Twitter bios. But you can’t let this come with the tradeoff of working for a crummy boss



Takeaway 5: Step away from your phone. And laptop. And TV. And couch.

Wintour believes that as important as it is to work hard in the office, it’s equally valuable for your career to step away from your screen(s) and immerse yourself in what’s going on in the world. Movies, theater, sports, reading, travel – whatever you enjoy. Doing so, in her opinion, helps you better relate to those you are leading and also gain inspiration for what you do.

How it could relate to SEOs & PMs:

As a self-proclaimed productivity addict of sorts, this one is – hilariously and sadly enough – the one that I must say I have the most trouble with. With talk at the end of the night like ‘Let me send just one more email… let me finish this one blog post, let me proof this last Jira ticket…’ before closing my laptop for the night. So when she highlighted this piece of advice, this tip kind of felt like permission, and even a productive REASON, to chill the f out… if that makes sense? And maybe some of ya’ll can relate.

Another thing that this tip made me think of is what’s going on in Europe right now re: the 4-day work week that they’re experimenting with over there. It will be interesting to see the end result of this experiment. And how leaders will be measuring success // understanding the practical value of work-life balance in the years to come.

So, the gist for workaholic SEOs and PMs? I get it, we love our screens. But here’s your friendly reminder to go out n’ do stuff. Wintour wants you to. And I dunno, so does Psychology Today. Ha.

The gist for workaholic SEOs and PMs? I get it, we love our screens. But here’s your friendly reminder to go out n’ do stuff. Wintour wants you to.



Conclusion

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to relate to Wintour’s advice and stories (again, albeit at a much smaller and less inspirational scale). While the MasterClass is probably most helpful for people that specifically work in the fashion editorial industry, I caught myself saying “yeah, yeah, totally” to my TV screen several times throughout the 12-part mini series. So yeah, I don’t know, go check it out I guess. I also have guest passes that MasterClass keeps reminding me are “expiring soon!” so if we’re friends just DM me.

If somehow you’ve made it to the end of this post and are still interested in what I’m writing (namely, probably my only two friends that read my articles in their entirety @Louisa and @Ariel haha) … I’m * planning * on doing another MasterClass review before school starts. I’m thinking Kris Jenner 🙂 Let’s see if I can fit in in.



Final Q&A

No, Anna Wintour's MasterClass isn't free. Membership is $15/month for the individual annual individual plan I got ($180/year paid up front). The site offers a few different membership options – including the individual annual plan, duo annual plan, family annual plan. And as far as I know, there isn't any student discounts available. That said, they do offer a 30-day guarantee in case you change your mind.

If you have a friend with a subscription, one option is to ask them to send you a free, 14-day trial and binge it. Or, pester them to upgrade to a Duo or Family plan.



References: This was a review of “Anna Wintour Teaches Creativity and Leadership”, taught by Anna Wintour (Lessons 1-12) on MasterClass.com. Watched in August, 2022 via my Masterclass Individual subscription

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Scroll To Top