When I first saw this book from one of my favorite bloggers from the states, I knew I had to have it. It’s no doubt, #Girlboss is one of the most powerful book I have ever read. As I recently just become a #Girlboss myself (at least I’d like to think so!), this book could have not come to me at a better time. This theft turned millionaire chick has more than just a success story, she tells it like it is, sugarcoats nothing and gives real advice like a sister.
Before you assume this will be my review of the book, let me tell you why I decided to do a blog post on this fierce businesswoman. As I flipped through her book, something resonated with me. I can relate to her in so many ways that you can probably too. Allow me to share the strongest points in her book that I found amazingly coincidental with my life and not only that, reading her inspiring story gives me so much energy that moves me that I too and YOU, can be as great or even greater.
1. ACADEMIC FAILURE
Sophia Amaruso the #Girlboss was a drop out, in and out of schools so many times. She was just an average girl. In fact, she felt she was always a little weird and insignificant. Her grades were never impressive, the teachers believed she had behavioral problem that they sent her to the schools psychologist in which the doctor prescribed her with anti depressants. She was a troubled student who hated school and continued to live a tough time being a nomad in her early teens crashing from home to home. After one shitty job to another, who knew that seven years later she is now the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, a company she started at age twenty-two with only fifty dollar and no debt.
That part right there just simply blew my mind. Not because she is now a millionaire but because as if she came out of nowhere. Though she may seem an underdog but she was nowhere near a loser. Her courage to stay truthful to her past yet managed to get back up and kick herself in the butt to pay all those years failing is driving me nuts (in a good way!). Because let me tell you something, I was an underdog. I was just an average student at school, as a matter of fact, I was never into studying and I hated school too. In high school, I hated most of the teachers; I thought they were just greedy hypocrite people who lack of nurturing. I am not embarrassed to admit now that I had a hard time catching up with subjects like math and physics, while art and English were the only subjects I enjoyed and REALLY good at. I don’t know whether I was slow or was just completely lazy, I still can’t tell the difference. One thing for sure, I felt I wasn’t cut out for it. Only until I entered college, life took me by surprise. I took the media and photography as my major, for the first time in my life I felt like a real student and I enjoyed studying.
I wanted to high-five Sophia when she stated in the book, “the pure mechanics of the traditional school system were spirit crushing”. And I said to myself, now how true is that?
“It’s unfortunate that school is often regarded as one-size-fits-all kind of deal. And, if it doesn’t fit, you’re treated as if there is something wrong with you, so it is you, not the system, which is failing”.
Don’t get me wrong, I am now a parent and of course I won’t disregard the importance of academics, but I now have the consciousness that it’s okay if my kid doesn’t excel in all subjects. Instead of focusing on her weaknesses, I know she will be good at something and it’s my job to make sure she will be VERY damn good at it.
2. PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
Back at home in my country, I had people asking about what I studied, usually followed with questions like “why do you want to be a photographer?” and “how far can you go with photography?” As annoying as it is, but the reality in our society there are still people out there with traditional mind-sets that people who take majors like accounting, economy or business are most likely to succeed. Majors like art? Forget about it.
Actually, it never crossed my mind that I would consider to be a professional photographer but I knew deep inside my heart that somehow, this would be my tool to do something with my life. So, NO, I didn’t want to be a photographer but I still like taking pretty pictures, I wanted to learn the history and aesthetics, I wanted all that because it simply made me happy. While those people were still wondering why in the world I would take photography as my major and not something more serious like economy, my grades were like shooting stars, I naturally always got distinctions to high distinctions (that’s like A or B+). I had always offered joint exhibitions where they display the top students works and usually that’s where we got recognized by the media. So I spent my final year at Uni working on my final project while also working part time as a waiter in a fine dining Italian restaurant called Vino Vino, and working as the youngest contributor at a local art magazine. I was so tired and busy but felt like I was on top of the world. That’s when I finally felt like a somebody!
Long story short, I didn’t turn out to be a professional photographer. But my heart was right all along; I used my photography skill to help assist the director of photography when I was a senior creative at a TV company. I used my skill to correctly judged frame by frame when I was editing the programs I was producing when I was a producer. I confidently reviewed my subordinates work and gave advises to my superior about things that worked and what didn’t when it came to cinematography. Sending the correct visual message to the audience was very important to me, I was very mindful with my work. But most of all, my skill comes in handy when I started my own business.
Now back to Sophia, this girl started an E-bay business from a rented home and the only skill she had at that time was photography. Like me, she decided to follow her intuition and study photography. Her skill for photography benefited her in selling her Vintage stuff in E-bay, while other sellers didn’t really pay attention to detail; she took extra measure to put effort on styling, lighting and composition.
As I came to this point, I was, again, had that moment of “oh- my –GOD”, because this was how I also started my business. I always got extra excited on taking pictures for all the products that I was going to sell. It was my favorite part of business, the creative process. Because I couldn’t afford to hire professional photographer at that time I gladly and passionately took all the pictures myself and styled it with my heart. Not caring so much about whether it was going to sell or not, turned out every product I shot that goes online, was almost always a hit.
3. ONE MAN SHOW
When I started my own business, just like Sophia, I was practically a one-man show. It was truly overwhelming to bounce from being behind the camera to styling a bunch of colorful pillows to creating the graphics for a promo. Not to mention, replying emails, going extra miles to hunt for materials to designing a product. At this time, I was also a new mom. Let’s not even go into detail on how HARD managing time was (I will make a blog post on this!). But it was such a good first year that the business was taking off so quick that I could finally afford to hire people, including an admin and a professional photographer!
The other point why I could relate to Sophia’s story was, I was not so surprised that the reason of her business Nasty Gal has been successful is because her goals were never financial ones. She just simply loved doing what she was doing and just kept on doing it with all her heart as long as she can. Maybe some of you who read my previous post knew that I started my business out of my postnatal depression, I just simply needed a creative output. You know, to keep me sane. While of course, a business is not a business if you are not profitable, but it was never my main concern. I could finally push my self and maximize what my mother believed as my inner potential.
I finally found something that challenges my skill. I have always loved art, photography, writing as much as managing, scheduling, making timetables, producing something as much as getting shit done. I am a little OCD at organizing things. I never minded being a one-man show and I still don’t mind. I am truly inspired knowing although someone like Sophia Amaruso who now employed more than 350 people is still replying the official company’s twitter her self to cleaning up the entire stockroom until 2 am in the morning. The point is I believe you just got to be hands on. I treated everything with the utmost care. I loved how Sophia break it down to me, “It’s those small things that can make or break a business”.
This may seem like the longest post I have written but I could not describe any shorter how personal this book is to me. I can’t give you a better advice but to get the book and read for yourself. Doesn’t matter if you are into business or not, this book is about how to live if you want to survive, in your own terms. While I am not (yet!) as successful as her, but I know the road however long or far is really up to me, I define my own success, and if I want to go far, I should might as well go fast. I know I can do it and nobody can stop me. No high school teacher can stop me now.
She reminded me that starting a business takes a lot of personal sacrifice, when I do things because I want to do them not because I have to, I can accomplish a lot. You have to make sure that you are doing something you love doing not because what everyone else is doing, because truthfully, that’s what keeps your creative juice flowing. Being true to yourself is the chore of happiness.
Compete with yourself, not with others. If you start listening to yourself, you should find that your heart has known what’s up all along. You create a world, blink by blink. It is entirely yours to discover and yours to create. Go out there and kick ass. Because that’s what a real #Girlboss do!
Thank you again, for reading a little bit of my story!
How to get the book: Times, Kinokuniya, Periplus, or maybe Aksara. You can find them online too at Amazon.com! Happy Reading!