Thursday, October 8, 2015

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso~★★★

Author: Sophia Amoruso
Title: #Girlboss
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Portfolio
Genre: Non-fiction

Book Jacket: "The first thing Sophia Amoruso sold online wasn’t fashion—it was a stolen book. She spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and dumpster diving. By twenty-two, she had resigned herself to employment, but was still broke, directionless, and working a mediocre day job she’d taken for the health insurance.
It was there that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. Eight years later, she is the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal, a $100 million plus online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees. Sophia’s never been a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is winding as all hell and lined with naysayers.
#GIRLBOSS includes Sophia’s story, yet is infinitely bigger than Sophia. It’s deeply personal yet universal. Filled with brazen wake-up calls ('You are not a special snowflake'), cunning and frank observations ('Failure is your invention'), and behind-the-scenes stories from Nasty Gal’s meteoric rise, #GIRLBOSS covers a lot of ground. It proves that being successful isn’t about how popular you were in high school or where you went to college (if you went to college). Rather, success is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break.
A #GIRLBOSS takes her life seriously without taking herself too seriously. She takes chances and takes responsibility on her own terms. She knows when to throw punches and when to roll with them. When to button up and when to let her freak flag fly.
As Sophia 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.'"

Taryn's Review: Recently I took a cruise to celebrate my 30th birthday and I only brought a few magazines with me since I figured I'd be too busy vacationing to dedicate time to a book. Hurricane Joaquin threw a wrench in that plan and I found myself with an additional day at sea, having to skip our final stop in Turks and Caicos. The waves were pretty treacherous and television reception was spotty; I became desperate for a book. After asking around, I discovered our ship had a small library of books that I'm fairly certain was comprised of books left behind by previous cruisers. There were only about 30 books to chose from in the library, most of which appeared to be very political non-fiction reads. When I saw this title, I grabbed it and exhaled a sigh of relief. Entertainment! Sophia Amoruso looked pretty fierce on the cover, so I was excited to read what sort of advice she offered the world. I admit that I was not familiar with her company, NastyGal, before picking up the book. I know I had seen the logo before, but I couldn't have placed what exactly the company was or what it sold.

Amoruso's book is a mix of biography and advice on various aspects of life. That said, let me go ahead and say this: Amoruso is not a strong writer. The book read more like a stream of consciousness when talking to a friend rather than a well thought-out reading. The book felt jumpy in parts and some sections felt misplaced. But in this case, Amoruso's weakness may serve as a strength to the audience that would most benefit from the book: teenagers, mostly teen girls. Amoruso's war cries of female power, female leadership, and female domination were great to read, but not incredibly inspiring to my 30 year-old-self since her mode of communication came off with a juvenile aura. Amoruso often discussed her struggles with school and how that struggle shouldn't have been perceived as a personal deficit, which I completely agree with, but I'm not the audience that needs to hear that since I'm long past my school days (and to be honest, I loved school).

Amoruso's book created more questions for me than the amount of advice/answers it provided. If anything, the book can be a fun tool for encouraging young women to follow their dreams, especially since Amoruso pointed out that "being lost" can lead to valuable insight. Other than that, I didn't find the book incredibly useful as an adult woman. Amoruso should be admired for her willingness to learn and conquer new challenges as her business grew, but she also came off as rather cold when she had an employee sell new, very nice office chairs that had been purchased for NastyGal's new offices without consulting her; Amoruso felt her staff hadn't earned/didn't deserve such a luxury as amazing office chairs yet and this act would teach them they had to earn such niceties.

Her business advice didn't offer anything new. She was quick to give stats on how many businesses start each year and how many fail, but not really asking why hers was a success. Ultimately, Amoruso not only used but mastered the tools available to her on the internet before the internet became the monster it is today, but she continued to grow and adapt to the changing climate of internet buying and selling along with internet customer service. She took critique well and changed whatever wasn't working without taking it as a personal failure. She took advantage of a sweet spot that had opened thanks to the world wide web and combined her interests to make what would become a power-house of a retailer. Amoruso's drive, determination, and spirit are great. But for someone who is looking how to operationally start a business, look elsewhere for advice. And honestly, I disagree with her advice of "Don't grow up." The idea of not growing up implies one should stay stagnantly young, but as the saying goes, "Youth is often wasted on the young." Better advice might be to grow up, but stay youthful in what drives your passions, your hopes, your desires, and your dreams. Being a grown up gives you the tools to make those wants  a reality, which is why being a grown up can be pretty awesome. And one could argue that Amoruso didn't really succeed until she grew up in her realization of responsibilities, tackled them head on, which led to her success. When Amoruso hit a wall, she found a way to build a ladder or scale it. She also worked more hours in a week than most people work in a month to make her site a success.

So, in short, read the book as a light-hearted memoir of a company that surpassed expectations thanks to a leader who was willing to dedicate time, energy, and creativity into her brand. Then give it to a teen girl to use as a bit inspiration as she figures out what drives her own dreams and passions in life.

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