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Book Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
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Book Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso - Executive Leadership Articles

Book Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Executive Leadership Articles

Book Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

“I never intended to be a role model, but there are parts of my story, and the lessons I’ve learned from it, that I want to share,” writes Sophia Amoruso, the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal. “I have three pieces of advice that I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t ever let the Man get to you. Okay? Cool. Then let’s do this. #GIRLBOSS for life.” You don’t have to be familiar with Nasty Gal or comfortable with hashtags in order to find something to like and relate to in #GIRLBOSS, the entrepreneur’s rags-to-riches story (Portfolio, 2014).

In a narrative voice that says, “Let’s take our paths seriously without taking ourselves too seriously,” Amoruso recounts a childhood spent as an outsider, finally leaving formal schooling altogether in favor of homeschooling and a job at a sandwich franchise. She tells of a long series of jobs she quits and gets fired from, wandering up and down the West Coast until being cooped up while recovering from surgery inspires her to sell some of her vintage clothing on eBay. Seven years later, Nasty Gal is a $100 million online business with 350 employees.

Structured more like a self-help book than a biography, #GIRLBOSS offers Amoruso’s takes on independence, responsibility, hard work, individuality, style, and running a business. She first defines a #GIRLBOSS as “someone who’s in charge of her own life; she gets what she wants because she works for it,” sharing within that framework her successes and failures on the way eventually to being on the covers of business magazines.

This approach, focusing on lifestyle and attitude as guidelines for professional success could get tiresome for those looking for some kind of business edge, but clearly the author’s audience is primarily young adults, Millennials like her who may just be starting out on their professional journeys. Yet there is something here, if only as a reminder, to the more seasoned among us, as when she writes, “When you approach everything as if it’s a big, fun experiment, then it’s not that big of a deal if things don’t work out. If the plan changes, that can be even better. There are secret opportunities hidden inside every failure.” Even those who have already earned success the old-fashioned way can relate to those parts of Amoruso’s story citing the unpleasant-but-necessary tasks we all must endure as we gain experience.

Amoruso even addresses the great, compromising sellouts we become, saying, “Eventually, I got sick of listening to my friends whine about living in poverty while refusing to get a job. Compromise is just a part of life. We all, at some point, find ourselves either directly or indirectly supporting something we disagree with.” Yet as a CEO, she doesn’t limit herself to advice about getting to the corner office: she adds personal perspective from someone who is already there, still espousing the virtues of knowing which rules to break in hanging on to the values that got her the big desk. In her final chapter, she spells it out, in case her readers have missed the big point in the previous ten: “Breaking the rules just for fun is too easy—the real challenge lies in perfecting the art of knowing which rules to accept and which to rewrite.“

#GIRLBOSS, one of Amazon’s twenty best business books of 2014 (so far) is a good, encouraging read for anyone setting out to establish a business or to jump into the upper tiers of existing businesses, and lest one be wary that the author’s target is strictly female, know that she eventually addresses the #DUDEBOSS, too. If nothing else, there is something to be gleaned here for both sexes simply from this one person’s amazing success.


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Book Review: #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso - Executive Leadership Articles

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