The list of prominent female entrepreneurs in product and design businesses is short. Martha Stewart? Sara Blakely of Spanx? And yet there is no shortage of tales of successful male entrepreneurs in these fields. While I find many of their stories interesting and informative, they too often end the same way: some dude kicking back with his millions of dollars, luxury watches and a fleet of sportscars. Yawn. Just because I want something else as my endgame does that mean my aspirations are any less important or my business acumen any less acute? No, of course not, but if you listen solely to these dudes, you might think so. If women define success differently than men, what is the female equivalent to this vision of “making it”?
I was thumbing through a copy of Sophia Amoruso‘s #GIRLBOSS in the bookstore and read the phrase “I stopped feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, and realized that I actually belonged anywhere I wanted to be.” That sentence really struck a nerve with me. Here I had this idea for these great Po Campo bags that I was so excited about and passionate about and then for five years had to listen daily that they didn’t quite fit into the current marketplace and that it probably wasn’t going to work. When so many people tell you “probably not” for so long, and people that you respect, it takes awhile to build up the courage and turn that dialogue around and say, “Well, actually, yes it will!!” That’s kind of where I am now, which was why I was eager to read about how Amoruso made that transition herself.
First, #GIRLBOSS is not really a business book, even though it was in the business section of the bookstore and about her business Nasty Gal. Regardless it was certainly fun to read, as the writing style is distinctly her own and about as different from a normal business book as possible. In the book, she candidly talks about the qualities that she possesses that helped get her to where she is despite not having a college degree or even a prior office job. I think I would have absolutely adored this book when I was 17 years old, wanting to believe I had greatness in my future but not being able to imagine how a 17 year old pimply dork with no boyfriend could ever become great.
While I suspect my 17 year old self would be happy with where I am now, my 37 year old self craves more. Despite feeling like the book left me a little empty-handed as far as business lessons go, there was one meme in #GIRLBOSS that I’m taking with me, and that is that you have to believe in yourself whole-heartedly before you can ask other people to believe in you. That’s certainly not a new idea, but coming from Amoruso, a most unlikely powerful CEO, it really rang true and was incredibly persuasive. All those years of people doubting me (and me doubting myself) have definitely left their marks on my psyche, but Po Campo needs a thoroughly confident leader to attain its goals, so that is what I will be.