#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
Published by Penguin Books on May 6, 2014
Length: 4 hours 44 minutes
Narrated by Sara Jes Austell
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The founder of Nasty Gal offers a sassy and irreverent manifesto for ambitious young women
At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.
This aspirational book doesn’t patronize young women the way many business experts do. Amoruso shows readers how to channel their passion and hard work, while keeping their insecurities from getting in the way. She offers straight talk about making your voice heard and doing meaningful work.
She’s proof that you can be a huge success without giving up your spirit of adventure or distinctive style. As she writes, "I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.”
I’m not much of a memoir reader. Nor am I particularly fond of audio books…but I do a lot of driving. A lot. This made me join Ford’s Audiobook Club at Goodreads. #GIRLBOSS was one of the books selected as a BotM. I did not read #GIRLBOSS with the group (they read it before I joined) but when I recently had to take a solo road-trip, #GIRLBOSS was one of the first books that came to mind. I have not heard of Sophia Amoruso nor her company NastyGal outside of Goodreads. #GIRLBOSS has been heavily lauded across Goodreads – even winning a 2014 Goodread’s Choice award for business – so I went into this read with some hefty expectations.
#GIRLBOSS is a hard book to categorize: It’s part biography (but Amoruso is very young so there is little information) and it’s part inspirational. There are no real tips as to getting started in business but there is clear information as to how Amoruso started her business. It feels as if #GIRLBOSS has a bit of a personality issue in that there’s no real focus in the book. The reader spends time with a young Amoruso as she screws around. Then the reader learns about the start and incredibly fast rise of her business. THEN the reader gets to spend more time listen to Amoruso discuss her life again. Then the reader gets fashion advice. More of Amoruso’s new life is interspersed with little segments called “Portrait of a Girlboss.” The portraits – little write ups about various women entrepreneurs – were a bit annoying (especially with the audio) as it was hard to tell the portraits from Amoruso’s life.
I enjoyed #GIRLBOSS for what it was but I felt it was…a lot younger than I expected. I expected that Amoruso’s unconventional life and unexpected success would have aged her mentally a bit. I can’t say why – especially with a book title like “#GIRLBOSS.” I do admit that I thought #GIRLBOSS was just a catchy title used to grab the attention younger readers. I thought the title was more of a gimmick with the book being focused on the details of business. Instead, I found the word “girlboss” used incessantly throughout the book – and I didn’t expect it would bother me as much as it did. I guess – at my age – I don’t want to be considered a “girlboss” but instead I just want to be a BOSS. I found most of the advice given to be very focused on the younger readers and just a little trite: double check for typos; keep your credit clean; work hard and make it count; take pride in your work; think outside the box; have passion; be polite but focused, etc.
I was surprised that Amoruso gave a lot of “do as I say, not as I did” advice. Amoruso clearly has lead a very unconventional life. Some of the stories of how she has lived could make your hair stand on end: job hopping, stealing, dumpster diving and hitchhiking – Amoruso made it her lifestyle to not work hard and to get as much for free as possible. With that being the case, I found it odd that Amoruso has become a true champion of hard work, not stealing and managing money in responsible ways. Now, don’t get me wrong – these are things I agree with and I’m glad she focused on them BUT I feel that…it’s more than possible that Amoruso’s bad behavior and unconventional/illegal ways actually informed the way she created and ran her business. I can’t help to believe that if Amoruso had followed the advice she gives out, she would have not become the success that she is today.
I did notice that…Amoruso seems to lack a bit of self-awareness and empathy. She spends quite a lot of time telling the reader how she was a horrible slacker that stole things for years and years but in later chapters tells all of the ways she would look down on a potential hire who would have been anything like herself. Amoruso states she learned a lot from her jobs and that she always worked hard in one breath…but then tells the reader she has been fired or quit every job she has ever had EXCEPT for the one she created. The person Amoruso was could never work for the person Amoruso is – that person would be fired so very quickly and would never have the chance to learn anything.
That being said, I love the fact that she was able to find something she was passionate about and make it work. The most profound thing I think the book puts across – for me – was that the success of NastyGal was not [just] luck nor did it “just happen.” It took a lot of passion and hard work to make it happen. Of course, the timing was perfect so that didn’t hurt a bit.
The advice that Amoruso gave that was the most helpful for me was that sometimes you have to let go of your fears and just do it. That pulling together a business plan (and things like that) are great but sometimes things like business plans can bog you down in the details – keeping you strangled by your fear of failure.
#GIRLBOSS is a decent book and I would recommend for very young women – especially highs school and college aged – who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs and have some confidence issues. I do think that #GIRLBOSS could be inspirational for some older women but a lot of the “life lessons” are things we (older women) have already faced in life.