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Sunday, October 25, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Mireille Guiliano, Internationally best-selling author and former CEO of Clicquot, Inc.

Internationally best-selling author Mireille Guiliano was for over 20 years the spokesperson for Champagne Veuve Clicquot and a senior executive at LVMH as well as CEO of Clicquot, Inc., the US firm she helped found in 1984 and was its first employee. Her first book, French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, became a runaway best seller around the globe in 2005. She followed up this book in fall 2006 with French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure. In both, through her personal stories and illustrations, she espouses living life to the fullest by embracing quality, sensitivity, seasonality and pleasure while maintaining a healthy equilibrium.
Mireille recently completed her third book, entitled Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility, a guide (with plenty of stories) for women in business, based on her experiences and years at Veuve Clicquot, and it has been highly recommended by Whom You Know:

In September 2008 Hilary Swank's production company bought the film rights to French Women Don't Get Fat; the plan is to make a romantic comedy with Mireille's famous French lifestyle message. The script is being adapted and should be ready soon. Stay tuned!
One of the few women who have reached the top echelon of the wine and spirits as well as luxury goods industry, Mireille is credited with growing Champagne Veuve Clicquot's top image and overseeing a remarkable pattern of double digit growth in the USA year after year after year. She wrote the initial marketing plan, and under her leadership, Veuve Clicquot's market share in America grew from less than one percent to more than 25%. Her casebook strategic approach to positioning and growing ultra-premium brands is often cited and followed in the industry.
Mireille has been called a champion of women in business, belongs to the Committee of 200 and works with groups promoting business opportunities and education for women. She frequently presents nationally and internationally on business topics, especially related to the luxury goods sector, as well as on wine and gastronomy.
A sought-after guest on radio and television in the USA and abroad, Mireille has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CBS' The Early Show, NBC's Dateline and CNN, among many national broadcasts, and has been profiled in The New York TimesUSA TodayTIME, Newsweek, The Robb Report, Business Week, Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine and dozens more. For years she has also contributed articles on food, wine, travel and lifestyle to a wide range of publications, including Town & Country and The Quarterly Review of Wines.
A native of France, Mireille grew up amidst cooks, chefs and restaurateurs in provincial France and was educated in Paris, where she studied French and English literature at the Sorbonne and languages at the Institut Supérieur d'Interprétariat et de Traduction. Mireille holds the French equivalent of a master's degree in English and German and a certification as a translator/interpreter. She also has a command of Italian and several other languages. She currently resides in Manhattan with her husband, Edward, president and CEO of New York Institute of Technology, and makes frequent trips to their homes in Paris and Provence for business and pleasure...always pleasure.
Mireille is passionate about food and wine and cites breakfast, lunch and dinner as her favorite pastimes. The sound of corks popping truly is music to her ears.  We are so pleased to present her as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Mireille Guiliano for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What is your first memory of Champagne?
Mireille Guiliano: It is described in French Women Dont Get Fat. I was in elementary school and was taught how to hold the glass properly by my parents' friend and bon vivant, a famous architect in Reims, and had my first teaspoon-size sip which spoiled me for life!

How has living in America changed you?
It made me discover pumpkin pie. What a shame it's only served around Thanksgiving! Of course it has sensitized me to language and culture and perhaps given me a keener critical eye and perspective with which to view my world locally and globally.

What makes a corporation successful?
The talent of its people for sure. Good leadership and management are part of that. Excellent work and a staff who live the brand bring about a successful difference. And they create a winning corporate culture.

In this economy, how do you think the luxury goods market is faring?
Some are doing well, many are not. The larger companies on the whole are the ones doing better--they have the financial resources to stay the course and use this period of economic adversity as an opportunity, especially to increase market share against weaker brands. Also, the larger firms are international brands so can capitalize on the newly found cravings for luxury goods in China and to an extent Russia. For most luxury brands it is getting ready for the post recession, though I doubt we'll ever go back to the excess of the turn of the century. Still the best will grow, the rest will go.

How is the movie of your first book coming along? Will you be in it?
Well, there is real time and Hollywood time. It's a work in progress and quality takes time. Apparently it is moving along routinely. The script continues to be worked on and now directors are being considered. Let's hope the message is delivered with humor and beauty. Unless the script takes a strange turn, a major (but not the main) character is based upon me, so I will be interested in seeing who will play the role when we get to that stage.

We agree that walking is great exercise and we practice what we preach; what do you tell Americans that don't believe it is "real" exercise?
I am doing my best, literally daily, to convince people that walking is the healthiest movement (followed up in my opinion by swimming and biking), and in our 21st-century life we all need to move. Plus it's free. Besides what it does to your waist down, that you can do it anywhere, at any time, for any length of time, in street clothes, is very appealing. And it can be much more than that: I welcome it as meditative--I leisurely use the time to plan my day, dream, enjoy the beauty of the city or county, and relax. A multiple win, don't you think?

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My mother, my husband, a few teachers in high school and grad school, and via the printed page the Greeks starting with Aristotle who defined excellence a few thousand years ago. Basically he said excellence is not an art but a habit. So I say, practice, practice, practice. You don't have to be a genius to do excellent work. Also, my first US boss who had a sign on his desk "Don't take yourself seriously but take your work seriously" (a practical American way of putting things in perspective).

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
My home for the pleasures and comfort and the magnificent view of my adoptive city. I am fortunate to have that.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Well, that depends on my mood and needs, but La Maison du Chocolat is certainly always appealing.

What is your favorite drink?
Water, water, water and, bien sur, Champagne and red Burgundy in moderation.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
It changes, but Jean-Georges, 11 Madison, Scarpetta, Mirimoto just to name a few top spots where quality is of paramount importance, service superb, and where no one invited to them ever turns down my invitation. It is a treat to be able to go to these restaurants.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Walking in the West Village and along the Hudson River. Though, I volunteer that perhaps once a year I go to a New York Knicks basketball game and enjoy the spectacle and athleticism.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Walk on the High Line on a fine summer evening or fall Saturday.
What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
I love the theater, Broadway and off Broadway, jazz at the Village Vanguard, as well as dance. particularly the small troops at the Joyce Theater, where, for example, I've been a fan and supporter of Eliot Feld Ballet Company since I moved to NYC.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Noise pollution is underrated (as in being underappreciated for just how much unpleasant, intrusive noise there is) and the subway is both underrated and overrated.
Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
Reviewing the site to consider my response, the obvious winner is the site itself...that it is there period in all its glory with all its columns...and even advertisements. You never know when you need someone to clean your upholstry.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I am the person in my books.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Through my web sites, and/or Facebook.

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