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March 2015




by Sophia Amoruso (Penguin, 2014)


What are the big take-aways?


A call-to-action for millennial women, #GIRLBOSS is partly a memoir and partly a career-advice book for her generation.


On page 11, Amoruso – who built a $100-million fashion company in seven years, before she even turned 30 – defines what a “#GIRLBOSS” is:


A #GIRLBOSS is someone who’s in charge of her own life.  She gets what she wants because she works for it.  As a #GIRLBOSS, you take control and accept responsibility.  You’re a fighter – you know when to throw punches and when to roll with them.  Sometimes you break the rules, sometimes you follow them, but always on your own terms.  You know where you’re going, but can’t do it without having some fun along the way.  You value honesty over perfection.  You ask questions.  You take your life seriously, but you don’t take yourself too seriously.  You’re going to take over the world, and change it in the process.   You’re a badass.


The lessons she offers from starting her company and leading its phenomenal growth are geared toward women but work just as well for men.  Later in the book, she refers to #DUDEBOSSes, too.


Why do I like it?


I like this book because it describes and demonstrates effective leadership: authentic, accountable, mission-driven, inspiring, inclusive and – to use Amoruso’s language – “gets shit done.”  It is also a bit of a treatise about developing confidence and how to use it productively.


Amoruso’s writing about leadership – in business and in life – is very frank and open and engaging.  She uses the vocabulary of someone born in 1984 to tell a fascinating rags-to-riches story that weaves timeless wisdom (e.g., be yourself, work hard, don’t take anything for granted) with contemporary cultural relevance (e.g., believe in the power of magical thinking, exploit social media, embrace entrepreneurialism).  Her vision of what a #GIRLBOSS is – and does for herself and the world – is compelling.


In what situations would this be useful?


If you are a woman or a man (youthful or venerable), seeking basic career advice and inspiration, this book will probably be useful to you.  It may also be useful to you if you are interested in studying confidence and how to cultivate it in yourself.


It is tempting to suggest that #GIRLBOSS is the equivalent of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In for the next generation, and/or for the retail industry context rather the high-tech corporate space.  To some extent, it is true: they are similar books in that they both provide blueprints and how-to’s for women (and the men who support them), based on the author’s observations and authentic lived experience.  But where they differ is in their relate-ability, which ultimately makes #GIRLBOSS more accessible and powerful.  While I appreciated and learned a great deal from Lean In, I never fully bought into the idea that Sandberg – who operates in such an elite milieu – understands what less affluent women’s lives are like, what motivates average women and men in corporate America, and what women need to do in order to achieve “success” (whatever that may mean to each individual).  By contrast, when I read #GIRLBOSS, I did not find myself wondering whether Amoruso is out-of-touch.


What other resources might “pair” well with it?


In addition to Lean In, a few other books on related topics that I would recommend include Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio, and Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.  You can find books and articles by all of these authors in the Leadership Library.



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