Elaine Culotti Has Some Advice For Career-Driven Women - Exclusive

What should career-driven women strive to be? Autonomous? Independent? According to Elaine Culotti, the best thing a professional woman can be is herself. One of the stars of discovery+'s second season of Undercover Billionaire, Culotti is the literal definition of a successful, career-driven woman. The designer behind iconic structures like the House of Rock in Los Angeles, Culotti has dedicated herself to defying the odds and creating a career that is 100 percent her.

But of course, it did not come without its challenges. Culotti navigated the choppy waters of design and construction — two very heavily male-dominated work environments — to create her success. Many professional and career-driven women have, or will at some point, found themselves in male-heavy industries where it feels as if the odds are stacked against them, a reality that Culotti knows well. So how did she make it?

Culotti sat down with The List to talk about her career and her time on Undercover Billionaire. In a moment of self-reflection and conversation, she shared with The List her thoughts on being a professional woman and what she would tell others like her. So strap in ladies, because Elaine Culotti has some advice for career-driven women.

What Elaine Culotti thinks about people opening the door to women in business

We've all seen the movie montages where the leading lady goes into the salon, ventures into the nail place, finally gets her eyebrows done, and ditches the scary glasses, only to come out looking like an entirely new boss — we're thinking Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality specifically — but according to Elaine Culotti, vanity will only get you so far in your career. Not only that, but she told The List that it's important to be wary of the people who value looks over capability. 

Culotti told The List that firstly, beauty doesn't last, and looking the part will only get you so far in your professional career. "It'll open doors for you, but it's as superficial as the person that opened the door," she said, and we couldn't agree more. She elaborated, saying that if the only reason someone allows you in the door of a business venture is due to your appearance, then "you've got a whole other set of problems." 

"Be aware of that," Culotti said. "In construction and in design, it's just a door opener. It doesn't do anything else." So you heard it hear first, first impressions and lasting impressions are two very different things that get you very different results.

What is the biggest piece of advice that Elaine Culotti has for working women?

As women are becoming more and more integrated into the fabric of the professional world, it's becoming increasingly important to listen to the trailblazing women who  navigated that world when it wasn't nearly as welcoming. Elaine Culotti has spent the entirety of her career defying the odds, working in areas that have been dominated by men. Throughout her journey, she has gained incredible insight and as such, has formulated some sound advice. 

When asked what she would tell fellow career-driven women who want to make a name for themselves in their field, Culotti told The List that one should never doubt the power of being underestimated. "Never underestimate the value of being underestimated. It's an incredibly strong position," Culotti said. "To be a lot smarter than everyone thinks you are, that's completely fine. Do not strive to be the smartest person in the room. You've got nothing to prove." 

Culotti elaborated, saying that women can assert themselves in ways that others can't. "Show your power in a very positive way, in a way that's humble but powerful," she said. So here's the sign you need to take what Culotti said, write it in your manifestation journal, and get to work.

Elaine Culotti thinks that professional women shouldn't be too hard on themselves

It's really easy to look at the job market, at the prospects of employment and professional success, and get discouraged. Progressing in the professional world is difficult enough, let alone adding the pressures and expectations of being a career-driven woman. And it really seems like women can't win — if you're a career-driven lady, people ask you when you're getting married and having kids. If you love your life as a wife and mom, people ask you when you're making your way back to work. 

The societal pressures are enormous and at times can feel impossible to assuage. That's where Elaine Culotti comes in. She told The List that women, no matter the walk of life, should give themselves some grace. "All change comes with adversity, and all good things are hard to get to," she said, which makes us feel a little bit better. She continued, saying that there's no easy or right path to take in your career and life, there's just the path you forge for yourself. "We're learning as we go," she said. And if Culotti, who is the literal definition of a boss lady, lives by that logic — then we all can, too.

Undercover Billionaire is now streaming on discovery+.