I just graduated, and like many of you facing a big turning point — surprise! — I don’t have it all figured out. So, like any red-blooded male facing something new and difficult, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, put my nose to the grindstone, and picked up a copy of #GirlBoss (Portfolio, 2015), a look at Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso’s unconventional path to becoming a multi-million dollar, entrepreneurial success story, and how other girls can use their individuality to find their own path to success. OK, so it’s not what I had in mind, but my girlfriend promised it was “really good,” and you can only watch so much Netflix before you question your sanity.
So, without further ado, here are four lessons that this guy took away #GirlBoss:
Sophia often felt like she was destined for a “life in the loser lane” because she failed repeatedly at meeting traditional benchmarks of success like doing well in high school, going to college, or getting and keeping a steady job. However, by determining what didn’t work for her early on, she avoided the trap that many of us fall into: chasing success from one check box to the next. Whether you’re like me, someone whose thoughts often jump to “my only chance at success is grad school” when I’m feeling unsure about my future, or like Sophia, who quickly realized that traditional paths like college didn’t cater to her strengths, it’s important to remember that success isn’t given to you by others in the form of a degree or promotion, but by being honest about what you actually want and by working as hard as you can to achieve that.
2) When you believe in yourself, others will believe in you as well.
Creating a multi-million dollar brand isn’t a one man — ahem, woman — job, but before Sophia got others to believe in her vision, she had to believe in herself. Sophia said that, “The world loves to tell you how difficult things are,” and that, “If you listen only to those around you, the chances of your dreams coming true are very small.” We’ve all told someone our master plan only to be discouraged by their lack of enthusiasm, but believing in yourself means taking action, because when people see someone in action, they start to believe. After all, a mediocre high school career and a resume that included dumpster diving and shoplifting didn’t scream future self-made millionaire, but that’s exactly what Sophia Amoruso became, and she didn’t do it by waiting for anyone to give her their approval.
3) Take an incremental approach to problems.
Out of nowhere it hits you: that award-winning, million dollar, [Insert Your Name]’s future empire idea. So after taking the previous advice of not telling everyone you know, you confidently visualize the end result, prepare to get started, and freeze up as you realize the metaphorical mountain you’ll have to climb to accomplish it. Sophia never set out to create a multi-million dollar brand, she started by selling used clothes on eBay, which then organically grew into what it is today. She said that if someone had told her what Nasty Gal and her #GirlBoss brand was going to become, she would have said, “Hell no, that is way too much work.” So instead, don’t start with the finish line in mind, take care of one little thing and then another until you’re pleasantly surprised at how those little things have grown into big results.
4) Work Hard.
Obvious, right? Sophia says a “#GirlBoss works hard,” because “Out of the bajillions of things in this universe you can’t control, what you can control is how hard you try,” and it’s simple, but true. If you find something that you are passionate about, believe in yourself, and take an incremental approach to each problem, the final piece of the puzzle is to stop daydreaming, roll up your sleeves, and take care of business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will H. is a Los Angeles based freelance writer with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.