October 22, 2012

Business 101: Lessons to Learn From Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile

Source: Google Images

I don't know about you all, but I'm excited for Halloween! I hope you are going to dress up and have a good time. I was thinking back to my costume last year, which was Cleopatra, Queen of the NIle and this year, Heidi Klum dressed as Cleopatra for her annual Halloween party. Many people think of Cleopatra as a tempting seductress who looks a bit like Elizabeth Taylor (thanks to the latter playing the Queen in the movie, Cleopatra), but there is more to her. Famous for her looks and feisty personality; Cleopatra was one of the most powerful rulers of Egypt. She was a pharaoh which was a rare occurrence, since most queens in those times did not rule a country - their husbands did. Although she lived some 2000 years ago, her skills and leadership still holds relevance in today's day and age. So here's my run down of Cleopatra and things we can learn from her:

1. If you want to, you can rule the world (and why wouldn't you want to?)
Cleopatra Vii Philopator, known to the whole entire world simply as Cleopatra, was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. Yes, she worked the first-name-only thing way before Madonna or BeyoncĂ©. In fact, she did this 2000 years before either of them. That alone should tell you something. More importantly though, she was the last ruler of Ancient Egypt, that's right, she basically ruled the world. In a time when women were regarded as merely beautiful objects, she didn't let society's views stop her - instead, she used her femininity and sexuality to her advantage, all to save her country and it's people from the Roman Empire. She believed she deserved the best, and she accepted the perks as well as the responsibilities of the job.

2. Know yourself and flaunt your strengths.
Cleopatra was a woman. She was a woman ruler, a pharaoh, and had to conduct business with people from her own country as well as others. Needless to say, they were all men. Yet, here she was, a woman, controlling the world. She had to assert herself, and show these people that her gender had nothing to do with her capability to rule them. If anything, she used her gender (what people thought was a weakness in politics) and it was, more often than not her greatest strength.

Source: vgitanacleopatra.blogspot.com
3. Woah, wait a minute. Using your femininity won't get you very far. You need to be smart and intelligent. Hone your intellect.
Sure, Cleopatra used her sexuality and charm, and a lot of emphasis has been given to this fact. But don't forget, her femininity was simply an outer covering for her true weapon - her mind. Cleopatra was very intelligent, fluent in many languages, and well-versed in politics. She used looks, charm and grace to get what she wanted along with wit and humor. Simply put, she was bewitching. It's no wonder she portrayed herself as the reincarnation of an Egyptian Goddess.

4. It's all about the timing. But sometimes, there is no time like the present. And age doesn't matter.
Our girl Cleo had to ascend the throne when she was just 18. Egypt was a wealthy country in those times and she was controlling a lot of land. While these communities and their work only enriched her coffers, she also had to protect them and make sure that her country and its lands kept thriving. Insert charm and wit here and the lady does a good job of keeping her country together.

5. Don't let the pressure and responsibility stop you from achieving your true potential and maintaining your greatness.
See lesson #3 above. When Egypt was under threat of a hostile takeover from Rome, what did the lovely Queen of the Nile do? She wrapped herself up in a carpet and got delivered to Caesar's room. Then she seduced him in an attempt to thwart this takeover and gain the sympathy and goodwill of the Romans. It worked. I wouldn't suggest doing exactly what she did, but the important lesson to learn is that she thought outside the box, and in those times, women didn't have a lot of resources. I guess she was using the resources she did have. But here in the present day, there is this little thing called ethics, so instead of fluttering your eyelashes and connecting the dots to success, know that hard work and effort will definitely be more rewarding. So don't use this as an excuse to throw yourself in a carpet or anything! 

6. On that same note, don't mix business with pleasure.
Yes, it bears repeating. 

Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra. Source: Google Images

7. Appearance matters.
Cleopatra and for that matter, Egyptian queens in general, had a distinct look - the long slanted eyeliner, the glamorous clothing, ornate gold jewelry and the heavy make-up. It all creates an aura. As I mentioned before, Cleopatra carried herself well and claimed she was a reincarnation of an Egyptian Goddess. This fits well with being the ruler of the country and she definitely looked the part. 

8. Network and maintain good relationships.
If not for the support of Caesar and later Mark Antony, Cleopatra would not have been able to take control of the Egyptian throne and expand her empire. Having the support of such high ranking Romans ensured that her interests were taken into consideration. She knew how to play the game, this one.

9. Master the wow factor!
Cleopatra knew how to make an entrance. When Mark Anthony first arrived in Rome, she got his attention by sailing down the Nile in all her glory, on an intricately decorated barge. Descriptions of this event point out the grandeur and luxury that Cleopatra exuded, dressed as Venus and her oarsmen as Cupids. Many of you, I'm sure, have heard the saying, "It is better to be overdressed than under-dressed." Similarly, it is better to be looked over and than overlooked, so go big or go home!

So there you have it, nine lessons to learn from Cleopatra. What are your thoughts on the great Queen of the Nile? I would love to see your comments :)

XOXO - Chrissy

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