Panache, Feminism, What Women Want, How to Host A Dinner Party, How To Build the Future, Relationships and Other Topics Discussed in “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are” and in “Zero to One” – a book report by Gary S. Smolker


The challenge presented to you in this post is to answer the following questions.

  1. What do men need to know about women?
  2. What should fathers tell their sons about women?
  3. What should fathers tell their daughters about women?
  4. What should mothers tell their daughters about women?
  5. What is feminism?
  6. Where does feminism come from?
  7. Where is feminism going?
  8. Is there a psychology of personality?
  9. What is the strongest human drive?
  10. What is style?
  11. What is a thinking man’s well-balanced attitude towards life?
  12. What is a thinking woman’s well-balanced attitude towards life?
  13. What do people need to know about the importance of relationships in their social and business lives?
  14. What are your bad habits?
  15. How are you going to build your future?
  16. What should parents/teachers tell children/students about how to build the future?


“How To Be A Parisian Wherever You Are” is written with verve and wit, and is spiced by wisdom and style.

It is written by four Frenchwomen (Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas).

It is about values, good taste, attitude, having fun, style, enjoying life as a continuing delight, and relationships.

It is about the art of living, from the point of view of four Frenchwoman who are Parisians and feminists.

According to Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie:

“Being a feminist and appreciating gallantry are not necessarily incompatible – on the contrary.  Making an effort, being attentive: it doesn’t take much and yet it makes a world of difference…When you encourage his chivalry, a man becomes more a man, a woman more a woman.

“And so its only normal that:

“He hold the door for you.

“He carry your suitcases and your shopping – a woman only ever carriers her handbag.

“He pour your wine; you should never have to touch the bottle.  It suits him – that way you’ll get drunk faster.”


“How To Be A Parisian Wherever You Are” is a fun read, full of good advice, humor, humorous advice and witty social commentary, examples follow, beginning with what the authors – who are quintessential Frenchwomen/feminists – Anne, Audrey, Caroline, and Sophie describe as The Art of Making A Man Believe You Need Him.

“The secret of making a man know you need him:

“Of course you can open a bottle of wine by yourself.

“But let him do it.  That’s equality too.”


The Frenchwomen I know believe in gender equality.

For example, I read the following quote from “How To Be A Parisian Wherever You Are” to a female friend of mine who is a Parisienne:

“When it comes to driving, there’s only one rule the Parisienne follows: may the best driver win.

“Sometimes she’ll cut off a male driver, for the sake of gender equality; to prove that she too has balls.”

She replied:

“I have many balls.  That is probably why I can wear pants easily.

“I usually cut or race people with my car if they annoyed me or I think they had an inappropriate driving attitude to me, no matter what gender they have.”More Fun Witty and Often Wise Advice

More Fun Witty and Often Wise Advice

from Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie


“One must live with the opposite sex, not against them.  Except when making love.”


A stunningly beautiful intelligent and witty Frenchwoman, told me, after reading the original version of this post:

“I did not know that the reason behind men pouring you wine in your glass was to make you drunk quicker.  I’ll be careful next time!!!”


In “How To Be A Parisian Wherever You Are”, Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie quote the following statement made by Marcel Proust.

“When you work to please others you can’t succeed, but the things you do to satisfy yourself stand a chance of catching someone’s interest.” – Marcel Proust, PASTICHES ET MELANGES

I agree with the sentiment expressed by Marcel Proust in that statement.

That sentiment is dramatized in Chris Rock’s new movie “Top Five.”

In “Top Five”, the main character, albeit he is a fictional character, is true to himself, is true to who he really is.

The main character in “Top Five” doesn’t sell out to a desire to make money and/or to a desire to keep his fame.

He decides he wants to be a “serious actor” and although he is a successful comedian he goes for it.

The movie shows us what this fictional character has to (and/or might have to) give up in order to become who he wants to be.

Recently released movies, “The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game”, also dramatize that theme.

Both “The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game”  are about “real people.” –

“The Theory of Everything” is about Stephen Hawking.  “The Imitation Game” is about Alan Turing.

Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing never gave up being who they really are.

I believe Stephen Hawking has been fantastically successful and Alan Turing was so fantastically successful because each one of them took the time to figure out who he really is/was and what he really wants/wanted.

Each of these two movies (“The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game”), in its own way, is an exceptional love story.

Each of these two movies is a positive testimony to the human spirit.

During their lifetime, while still young men, each one of these two men (Hawking and Turing) met a woman who was a unique match for him personally.

Hawking and Turing each love(d) each of these unique women with the greatest passion and sincere feelings for the rest of their lives.

These unique women, in turn, who would love them with equal passion and sincere caring for the rest of their lives.

You are invited to read my movie reviews of “Top Five”, “The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game” posted on the “Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange Blog” at


Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie advise:

  • Take the time to ask yourself who you are and what you want.
  • Take the time to listen and to get to know yourself.
  • Take the time to change, to grow, to rest.
  • Take the time to take the time because no one else will do it for you.

I wholeheartedly agree.


In “How to Be A Parisian Wherever You Are”, in addition to giving advice and making social commentary, Anne, Audrey, Caroline, and Sophie also ask and answer important questions.

For example, they ask the very important question: Why live life halfway?

Their advice: “Cultivate your allure.”

According to Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie, the place to go on a date is:

“A painting in front of which you arrange to meet your date so that he knows your true intentions.  For example: ‘LIBERTY LEADING THE PEOPLE’ by Delacroix: a woman not afraid to show her breasts.”

Musee du Louvre, 75001 Paris


According to Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie:

“During the reigns of Louis XIII and XIV, some women of the court created a feminist movement to fight against the prevailing misogyny of the era.  These women sought tenderness and restraint.  They wanted to hear sweet nothings whispered in their ears – to be charmed and won over with wit and grace, before being whisked off to bed.

“The writer Madeleine de Scudery was the leader of this movement.  She drew a map of an imaginary country called Tenderness.  In order to reach the city of Love, one had to pass through several small villages, each one a step toward winning the heart of one’s beloved.”

It is my experience, in the industrialized world, that women of today still want that.


I believe to invite people to dine with us is to make ourselves responsible for their well-being as long as they are under our roof, that includes guiding  (provoking) them to talk about interesting topics.

I believe Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie agree with that sentiment too.

In their book (“How To Be A Parisian Wherever You Are”), Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie advise that you do your utmost to avoid dinner parties with more than six guests around the table, and suggest that, if possible, you get the conversation with a controversial statement before dinner is served, provide examples of controversial topics to get the conversation flowing, suggest topics to discuss with the main course (as well as what to serve as a main course) and suggest and provide other topics to discuss with desert (as well as what to serve as desert), provide recipes for each dish and provide descriptions of games they suggest you should play together with your guests (and how to play them) after dinner.

I have my own ideas on how to dine with friends and guests.

See my (Gary S. Smolker’s) comments on dinning with friends and guests in my post entitled “The Pure Essence of the Good Life” posted on this blog (“The Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange Blog”, at on December 9, 2011, an excerpt of which is quoted below.


If you want to experience the effect of gourmandism on happiness, I highly recommend eating a meal with someone who wishes to eat with joy who you wish to please and who wishes to please you or with a group of people who wish to please each other.

When gourmandism is shared by such people, as by eating a meal … by any … great chef  – or prepared by someone who loves you or prepared by you for someone you love – you will find it has the most marked influence, on the happiness which can be found in being with another person.

People who share the pleasure of the table have, at least on that occasion, a pleasant opportunity to be together; they have a subject of conversation which is forever new; they can talk not only of what they are eating, but also of what they have eaten, what they will eat, and what they have noticed at other tables if they are in a restaurant or cafe or bistro or bar or at a party in a private home; they can discuss fashionable dishes, new recipes, and so on and so on – whatever is on their mind.

It is well known that intimate table talk [CHITCHAT] is full of its own charm.


Quoting from “The Physiology of Taste” by Brillant-Savarin:

“Gourmandism is one of the most important influences in the social life; it gradually spreads the spirit of conviviality which brings together day-to-day differing kinds of people, melts them into a whole, animates their conversation, and softens the sharp corners of the conventional inequalities of position and breeding.

“It is gourmandism, too, which motivates the effort any host must make to take good care of his guests, as well as their own gratitude when they perceive that he has employed all his knowledge and tact to please them; and it is fitting at this very place to point out with scorn those stupid diners who gulp down in disgraceful indifference the most nobly prepared dishes, or who inhale with impious inattention the bouquet of a limpid nectar.”

General Rule: “Any preparation which springs from a high intelligence demands explicit praise, and a tactful expression of appreciation must always be made whenever it is plain that there is any attempt to please.”

 Controversial Political Statements

Anne, Audrey, Caroline and Sophie recommend that a dinner party begin with the discussion of a controversial political statement:

“If possible, get the [dinner party] conversation flowing with a controversial political statement.

– As a matter of fact, we’re witnessing a shift in the class struggle.  It’s no longer workers against employers; it’s about immigration.  And at the end of the day it’s the poor against the poor. 

– Capitalism has succeeded in its aim of making sure that the workers are no longer battling against those above them, but instead, those below them.  Marx was right all along.

– Explain to me the difference between the right and the left.

– It’s very simple!  For the right, if the individual thrives, so does society.  For the left, if society thrives, so does the individual.

Once the guests have stopped arguing and the conversation is beginning to thin, to avoid veering towards the topic of children [or the gender gap, marriage, or the Middle East, Islam, education or gun control] the hostess should suggest that everyone take their seats at the dinner table.

The portions should be generous and the table should look pretty.  Don’t forget the flowers.  Above all the cook should never appear stressed out – everything must look effortless.”

In December, 2014, after the grand juries decided not to indict the police in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, Columbia Law School Interim Dean Robert Scott announced to students that Columbia Law School will permit them to postpone finals due to trauma from grand jury results and will be providing counselling sessions to handle the “traumatic effects” of the non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.

When I mentioned this to “friends” I got fantastic results.

One friend wrote to me:

“What a crock!  If I were calling the shots at Columbia Law School I would make that ‘interim’ Dean Robert Scott reign would end by sundown.  He probably has a great need to go home to his Mother and nurse his trauma.”

Another friend wrote me:

“Pathetic!  Will the gutless pandering never cease?  Culturally we have gone off the deep end and are too stupefied to scream!!”

A third friend wrote to me:

“The Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have been horrifying – not only for the events of the cases themselves but also the aftermath and the comments of the people around me.

“I have listened to white and non-white friends alike about their thoughts.  The white friends hae shown me in a vast group to be on the side of the police and ‘the law.’

“These events which have only solidified my loss of faith in cops and the law show us the direction our country is moving in – control people with force and violence so as to not shake the powers that be.

“At least Columbia Law School is recognizing the personal trauma law students are particularly facing.  If I was a law student at this time, I would be writing essays and cases studies that try to make fun of the law, the courts, and the people who are supposed to enforce it all by poking at philosophical holes.  I doubt I would be popular with my professors; at least, I would have my sanity.

“Despite my absence, I have been keeping up with your emails as I have time to read.  I hope we can meet up soon!  Sounds like you are doing well stirring the pot of ideas and encouraging engagement and critical thinking.  I may want my own school, but you are more than ready for yours!”


In “Zero to One”, Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal) advises:

  • “Because every innovation is new and unique, no authority can prescribe in concrete terms how to be innovative. Indeed, the single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking … [thinking  from first principles.]
  • “Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in ever shorter supply than genius.
  • “The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.
  • Be so good at what it is you/your company do/does that no other firm/person can offer a close substitute.
  • Do not lose sight of competitive reality.
  • In the real world, every business is successful exactly to the extent it does something others cannot.
  • “The hazards of imitative competition may partially explain why individuals with an Asperger’s-like social ineptitude seem to be at an advantage in Silicon Valley today.  If you’re less sensitive to social cues, you’re less likely to do the same thing as everyone around you.
  • “Success is never accidental.
  • “Ralph Waldo Emerson captured this ethos when he wrote: ‘Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances….Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
  • Do not overrate the power of chance and underrate the power of planning.
  • Determine the one best thing to do and then do it.
  • Strive to be great at something substantive, to be a monopoly of one.
  • Think for yourself.
  • “Statistics don’t work when the sample size is one.
  • “If you treat the future as something definite, it makes sense to understand it in advance and to work to shape it.  But if you expect an indefinite future ruled by randomness, you’ll give up on trying to master it.
  • Why should you expect to succeed [or your own business to succeed] without a plan to make it happen?
  • Make concrete plans for a better future.
  • “A business with a good definite plan will always be underrated in a world where people see the future as random.
  • You can change the world through careful planning, not by listening to focus group feedback or copying others’ success.
  • Don’t expect your business to succeed without a plan to make it happen.
  • “This extraordinary stark pattern, in which a small few radically outstrip all rivals, surrounds us everywhere in the natural and social world.
  • “It does matter what you do.  You should focus relentlessly on something you’re good at doing, but before doing that you must think hard about whether it will be valuable in the future.
  • “…total VC [Venture Capital] accounts for less than 0.2% of GDP.  But the results of those investments disproportionately propel the entire economy.  Venture-backed companies create 11% of all private sector jobs.  They generate annual revenues equivalent to an astounding 21% of GDP.  Indeed, the dozen largest tech companies were all venture-backed.  Together those 12 companies are worth more than $2 trillion, more than all other tech companies combined.”

Who Is Peter Thiel?

Here is a quote, from Peter Thiel’s book, “Zero to One”:

“The first team that I built has become known in Silicon Valley as the ‘PayPal Mafia’ because so many of my former colleagues have gone on to help each other start and invest in tech companies.  We sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.  Since then, Elon Musk ahs founded SpaceX and co-founded Tesla Motors; Reid Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn; Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim together founded YouTube; Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons founded Yelp; David Sacks co-founded Yammer; and I co-founded Palantir.  Today all seven of those companies are worth more than $1 billion each.  PayPal’s office amenities never got much press, but the team has done extraordinary well, both together and individually: the culture was strong enough to transcend the original company. 

“We didn’t assemble a mafia by sorting through resumes and simply hiring the most talented people.  I had seen the mixed results of that approach firsthand when I worked at a New York law firm.  The lawyers I worked with ran a valuable business, and they were impressive individuals one by one.  But the relationships between them were oddly thin.  They spent all day together, but few of them seemed to have much to say to each other outside the office.  Why work with a group of people who don’t even like each other?  Many seem to think it’s a sacrifice necessary for making money.  But taking a merely professional view of the workplace, in which free agents check in and check out on a transactional basis, is worse than cold: it’s not even rational.  Since time is your most valuable asset, it’s odd to spend it working with people who don’t envision any long-term future together.  If you can’t count durable relationships among the fruits of your time at work, you haven’t invested your time well – even in purely financial terms.

“From the start, I wanted PayPal to be tightly knit instead of transactional.  I thought stronger relationships would make us not just happier and better at work but also more successful in our careers beyond PayPal.  So we set out to hire people who would actually enjoy working together.  They had to be talented, but even more than that they had to be excited about working specifically about working with us.  That was the start of the PayPal Mafia.”

Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and inventor.  He started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002.

In 2004 he made the first outside investment in Facebook, where he serves as a director.

He has provided early funding for LinkedIn, Yelp and other technology startups.

He is a partner at Founders Fund, a venture capital firm that has funded companies like SpaceX and Airbnb.

Peter Thiel with Blake Masters is the author of “Zero to One” published in 2014.

He leads the Thiel Foundation, which encourages people to build a better future, to work to advance technological progress and long-term thinkg about the future.


Good living is an act of intelligence.

Don’t forget to daydream in the bath and to enjoy dinning with friends.

Copyright © 2014 by Gary S. Smolker

About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail

Posted on December 14, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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