A Reading from the Book of Yes, According to Bethenny

When I think of Bethenny Frankel, I think of an empire, not unlike a miniature version of Martha Stewart’s mega-empire. When I picked up Bethenny Frankel’s, A Place of Yes, 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, I expected (hoped for) concrete advice on building a brand, juggling the demands of running a business (or, in Bethenny’s case, multiple, simultaneous businesses), all while balancing the numerous bits of life maintenance required for the success of a full and satisfying personal life.

Unfortunately, the end product was more of a relationship manual punctuated by memoir-ish accounts of Bethenny’s “noisy” past, often with quite a bit more information than necessary given the fact that we know so much about Bethenny (the brand, the chef, the author, the mom, the TV star) already.

In A Place of Yes, 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life, Bethenny shares 10 rules that are meant to help her followers through the “noise” of work, dysfunctional family systems, money issues, relationships, food, and any area of one’s life subjugated by emotional “noise” and in the way of fulfilling a dream. Ironically, these rules are clearly not rules Bethenny, herself, followed on the road to stardom. In fact, these rules are more advice-based than practiced since they were created by Bethenny in the wake of phenomenal success, not while on the road to success. Let’s face it, Bethenny didn’t have a list of rules stuck to the refrigerator door. She winged it.

As much as I love Bethenny and her spitfire, ever evolving, always expanding persona, there’s also the Bethenny most people can never relate to. In the book, she recounts the many ways she suffered through and survived every imaginable dysfunction (family noise, food noise, money noise, career noise, relationship noise, body image noise, etc.), but Bethenny also had what many of us would consider a privileged upbringing. By her teens, she had already traveled the world (first class), attended private schools, had access to high profile people (the Hiltons, for whom she worked as a chef/babysitter to Paris and Nicky, are just one example) and celebrities (she worked for a time on the show Saved by the Bell, later with Merv Griffin Productions, and appeared as a contestant on Martha Stewart: The Apprentice). In addition to Bethenny’s high-profile jobs in entertainment and other business ventures, she discusses, in detail, the string of well-connected men she dated on the road to yes: producers, directors, and creatives with glamorous jobs that often had her walking red carpets with people like Anne Hathaway, taking trips to Venice, and attending concerts in The Coliseum (yes, The Coliseum in Rome). She talks about having “rich boyfriends with big planes” and a sequence of others with seemingly limitless resources and connections. Herein lies the problem. Most of us are dealing with varying degrees of the same horrific “noise(s)” but without the benefit (or even prospect) of Bethenny’s rolodex or resources, rules or no rules.

While the advice derived from the 10 rules may inspire young, entrepreneurial women to “go for it” (it works on that level), the advice may not be applicable for others. The single mom struggling to feed and clothe her children in a bad economy or the young woman from one of the many economically depressed regions of our country without any resources whatsoever – monetary or otherwise – for further education or dream pursuance, may not benefit from the 10-rule approach.

The good news is Bethenny’s message, when boiled down, is never give up on your dreams. In Rule 3: Act on It, Bethenny discusses the importance of clearing the clutter and simplifying by ditching junk from one’s life. In other words, create the space for new opportunities to come in. She advises us to take steps – clean out the closets, clean off the desk, eat a salad, take a walk – literally and figuratively get rid of baggage that can weigh dreams down. She urges us to do it now, act now, and move forward no matter where you are at this very moment. If you follow only one of the 10 rules, this is the one.

A Place of Yes, 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life has “bestseller” stamped all over it for obvious reasons. But, in a way, this book does Bethenny a disservice because it attaches uncomfortable, cliché catchphrases like “finding your truth” and “coming from a place of yes” to her usually genuine, spontaneous personality and magnetic appeal. In fact, something about the language seems uncharacteristically inauthentic for Bethenny (I would love to read the original draft – the one Bethenny pitched on the grill – as I suspect it was from a more natural voice). As a memoir, this book gets high marks. But as the roadmap to a place of yes, you just might find yourself lost on the road to maybe.

Photos courtesy of Bravo TV

About Carol Toscano (8 Articles)
Native New Yorker and lover of all things New York, Carol Toscano is fiction and entertainment writer. She holds a BS in Journalism from St. John's University and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School University. Carol's work on the award-winning Woman Around Town website includes celebrity profiles, art, book and theatre reviews and travel and lifestyle pieces. Carol is a 2010 recipient of the prestigious Reverend Mychal Judge Heart of New York Journalism Award (for work that is most complementary of New York City) from the New York Press Club.