If there is a term I hate in the world of online business, it has to be ‘girlboss’. I don’t know what it is, but it just makes me cringe each time I hear it. Yet, when I picked up this book from a friend’s bookcase and she let me have it, I was interested to read about a woman who started her own business from nothing and shared her lessons along the way.
In this review, I’ll share some of my favourite insights and quotes from the book!
What we'll cover in this article
#GIRLBOSS BOOK REVIEW
About the Writer
#GIRLBOSS tells the story of Nasty Gal’s founder Sophia Amoruso. This American businesswoman that started selling vintage clothing online at the age of 22, which turned into a huge success and launched her business ‘Nasty Gal’, one of the fastest growing companies of this millennium. In 2016, she was named one of the richest self-made women in the world by Forbes…
The Content of the Book
I read the book after I watched the Netflix series with the same name, which I didn’t really like, but still ended up watching from start to end because it somehow fascinated me. I didn’t like the main character (Sophia) from the series at all, I am not into fashion and I’m definitely not into the term ‘girlboss’ (I mean, come on), but I was still curious to read the story of a woman who started from nothing and build a successful company…
…until she blew it of course and she stepped down as CEO and had to file for bankruptcy, but that’s not something the books goes into, so for the purpose of this review, let’s blatantly ignore those facts here as well.
I’ll go through each chapter of the book and share some of my favourite quotes and insights with you:
Chapter 1 – So You Want to Be a #GIRLBOSS?
Ok, so what is a ‘girlboss’ exactly? Sophia tells you: “A #GIRLBOSS is someone who’s in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it.”
From the start of this book, it’s clear that this is not a book telling you to get a website, wear some nice clothes and get rich by sitting back and watching the money roll in. A business is something you work hard for, which is something I really appreciated throughout the book. The writer is honest and clear about what needs to get done to make it this far -and staying on top: “It takes a lot of hard work to get there, and then once you arrive, it takes even more hard work to stay there. But then, who’s scared of hard work?”
The second thing that’s really clear, is that Sophia has a strong opinion on how you should run your business, and it’s not by doing what everyone else is doing. Instead, she is an advocate of living life with your own rules: “Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t ever let the Man get to you.”
She tells you right from the get-go that comparison is the thief of joy (“The energy you’ll expend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own.”), that you need to confront your limiting beliefs (“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back.”) and, perhaps most importantly, the you should believe in yourself, because “When you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you, too.”
Chapter 2 – How I Became a #GIRLBOSS
In this book, you learn a lot about the past of Sophia, how she didn’t function in a normal school setting, how she had some dubious friends, did loads of shoplifting and how she had a passion for fashion that resulted in her starting an eBay shop and later her own website.
Along the way, she gave some splendid business tips between the lines, such as: “Two keys to running a successful business: knowing your customer and knowing how to get free marketing.”, “Many companies were spending millions of dollars trying to nail social media, but I just went with my instincts and treated my customers like they were my friends.” and “Instead of spending my time trolling the forums and obsessing about what other sellers were doing, I focused on making my store as unique as possible.”
I liked how she really understood the importance of looking at the details and putting her customers/fans first (“When you hold yourself to the same standard in your work that you do as a friend, girlfriend, student, or otherwise, it pays off.”) and also how she was really smart about her branding from the start (“I always knew that Nasty Gal Vintage was about more than just selling stuff, but this proved it: What we were really doing was helping girls to look and feel awesome before they left the house.”)
Chapter 3 – Shitty Jobs Saved My Life
Chapter 4 – Shoplifting (and Hitchhiking) Saved My Life
Sophia talks about her former jobs, and there were A LOT. I personally never had many jobs in my life, but from the jobs that I did do, and especially the parts of them that I didn’t like, I grew to understand better which things I did like doing and what I was good at! I really agree with Sophia that you should take each opportunity you get to seek out what you are good at and find a place where you can flourish doing just that.
She also goes into her shoplifting and hitchhiking past, which I couldn’t relate to at all, but gave an interesting insight in her behaviour and life lessons learned.
Chapter 5 – Money Looks Better in the Bank Than on Your Feet
Of course in a business book, even one with a quirky voice like this one, there needs to be a chapter on money. Sophia is very clear about this: “Learning how to manage your money is one of the most important things you’ll ever do.”
She goes from giving practical advice that you can implement right away: “A big no-no is increasing your spending as soon as your income increases.” and “Treat your savings account like just another bill. It has to be paid every month, or there are consequences.” to more inspirational advice, for example on books to read on this topic: “One of the best books I’ve read was George S. Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon, which offers financial advice in a collection of parables.”
At the same time, she also goes into the emotional side of money, which I think is SO important, and I agree on Sophia saying that we all should learn to separate our money from our emotions.
With her comment on not reaching (financial) goals, she makes a segway into her next chapter by saying: “If you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, stop for a second: Have you actually flat-out asked for it? If you haven’t, stop complaining. You can’t expect the world to read your mind.”
Chapter 6 – Hocus-pocus: The Power of Magical Thinking
This chapter was an interesting one, that I wish she would go a bit more in-depth into. She talks about how we control our thoughts and our thoughts control our lives and how all choices we made in our past have contributed to where we are now.
She goes briefly into the topic of “Chaos magic”, which I didn’t know about yet, but basically is the idea that a particular set of beliefs serve as an active force in the world. A big practice in chaos magic is the use of sigils, which are abstract words or symbols you create and embed with your wishes.
For example, Sophia tells how she uses her Internet passwords as a way to remind herself with wishes and promises to herself and goals for her company, which I thought was such a great idea. If you type in: MyPublishedBook123 every day, it really becomes part of your believe system.
Basically, this chapter is telling you to become really clear on what you want in life: “The more you know what you want, the less you’re willing to put up with what you don’t.”… and to then trust that the things can actually come true: “While I truly believe that you must have intentions to fulfill your dreams, I also think that you have to leave room for the universe to have its way and play around a bit.”
This is a topic that interests me a lot and I would have loved to read a lot more about how Sophia got her mindset and worked on her vision/focus for her company.
Chapter 7 – I Am the Antifashion
Going from vision and knowing what you want, this chapter talks more about being yourself and embracing your own unique style. Sophia tells us how she always felt like she didn’t belong anywhere, but grew to realise that she “belonged anywhere she wanted to be”.
She thinks that a large part of her success came from NOT trying to fit into the fashion industry, but from staying the outsider with a unique point of view and doing her own thing, she stood out more. Or, as she puts it: “The last thing the world needs is another boring person or another boring brand, so embrace all the things that make you different.”
Chapter 8 – On Hiring, Staying Employed, and Firing
While most of the chapters are more storytelling and have a more ‘general’ feel about them, this chapter is very specific and practical. If you’re looking for a job or looking to hire people, this is a must-read.
Her most important tips on getting hired are: “Unless you can sweep someone off his or her feet, unemployed you will stay. I have a business that is growing by the day, so I want to know what you can do for me. It’s as simple as that.” and in line with this: “No matter what you are hired to do, you will be infinitely better off if you are able to clearly communicate your ideas.”
But be careful, because you can also say too much: “Knowing when to speak up and when to shut up will get you very far not only in business, but in life. ”
She has this to say about your C.V: “We don’t need people who just have ideas; we need people who can also execute them. If you’ve made some shit happen, make sure your resumé reflects that -this is one of the few places where it’s actually good to brag a bit.” Sophia adds to this that your LinkedIn profile should be treated like an online resumé, where you also don’t wear sunglasses or use vague terms for what it is you can do.
She also explains what your cover letter should do: “A cover letter can connect the dots between where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re trying to go. Unless you spell out what that is in your cover letter, your potential employer may never know. ”
And what if you scored the job, but get fired some time later? Well, Sophia says than it was probably not the right spot for you and that you should use that experience as a much-needed wake-up call and a push in the right direction. Learn from it!
Chapter 9 – Taking Care of (Your) Business
Running a business is -as expected- not easy and I liked how Sophia was so honest about that she wasn’t a natural in leading a team and that she had to learn so many things as she went along. This was probably my favourite chapter. Especially when she said: “Nasty Gal would have surely failed had it been my goal to grow a business to the size that I have today. When you begin with the finish line in mind, you miss all the fun stuff along the way. The better approach is to tweak and grow, tweak and grow. Business plans are just a starting point – the best entrepreneurs know to listen along the way and adjust things, including their business plan.”
I also loved how she told us that entrepreneurs are people that are passionate about what they do, comfortable with taking risks, and quick at moving on from failures, which is something I can really relate to.
Chapter 10 – Creativity in Everything
It’s clear that in this chapter, Sophia is wrapping things up and she tells us a bit more about how she worked on the funding and branding of her business and the importance of staying creative.
My favourite quote from this chapter is: “The DNA of a successful image, and brand, must be encrypted into its tiniest representation while gracefully telling the same story in its largest incarnation.”
Chapter 11 – The Chances
The final chapter looks back on Sophia’s journey and encourages us to discover our own world and -more importantly- create it entirely in a way we want.
Yes, things might get difficult, but “Difficult doesn’t mean impossible, and out of the bajillions of things in this universe that you can’t control, what you can control is how hard you try, and if or when to pack it in. ”
When things don’t go her way, and she has faced many set-backs, Sophia reminds myself that if she really wants something badly enough, she has it within herself to make it happen. She concludes her story telling us that if we start listening to what it really is we want, our hearts will tell us, because they’ve known it all along.
And I think that is a great message from a book that might seem like fluff from the outside, but had a surprisingly strong and positive message on the inside! Can highly recommend reading it!
Photos & Illustrations
Before each chapter starts, there is a black page with a quote and a white page with a pen illustration showing you the main theme of the chapter, which I personally really liked. It shows the original character of the (person writing) the book and prepares you mentally on what there is to come.
The book gets broken up also by some case studies of other #GIRLBOSS entrepreneurs, as well as a few photographs of important moments in Sophia’s life. All together, this makes for a super easy read and you’ll fly through the pages!
Besides telling her life’s story, Sophia goes step-by-step into how she started her business, which choices she made and how she continues to run her business at a high level. I was surprised at how practical the book was (especially towards the end), so I can definitely recommend it to anyone (thinking of) starting their own business!
“Each time you make a good decision or do something nice or take care of yourself; each time you show up to work and work hard and do your best at everything you can do, you’re planting seeds for a life that you can only hope will grow beyond your wildest dreams. Take care of the little things -even the little things that you hate- and treat them as promises to your own future. Soon you’ll see that fortune favors the bold who get shit done.”
“Your challenge as a #GIRLBOSS is to dive headfirst into things without being too attached to the results. When your goal is to gain experience, perspective, and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility. Failure is your invention.”
“The things around you should represent the life that you’ve made for yourself.”
“Focus on the positive things in your life and you’ll be shocked at how many more positive things start happening. But before you start to think you just got lucky, remember that it’s magic, and you made it yourself.”
“You get back what you put out, so you might as well think positively, focus on visualizing what you want instead of getting distracted by what you don’t want, and send the universe your good intentions so that it can send them right back.”
The core message of this book is that true success lies in knowing your weaknesses and playing by your strengths. Sophia tells us that life is a great big experiment and encourages us to aim for the stars (“Why not see how long the red string of my imaginary kite can get? And why not let it whisk me up into the sky with it when my dreams start to become reality?“). When we see life this way, it’s not such a big deal if things don’t work out, because if we ‘fail’ or if the plan changes, we can find secret opportunities hidden inside. I think that’s such a good message and business mentality and I can highly encourage everyone with a businesses (idea) to read this book for motivation. Even if, like me, the term ‘#GIRLBOSS’ is still not your thing.
GET THIS BOOK YOURSELF!
Author: Sophia Amoruso
Publisher: Portfolio Penguin
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Disclaimer: I got this book from a friend.