Lessons I learned from reading the #Girlboss

Recently, I had great pleasure reading the #GIRLBOSS written by the CEO of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso. Being one of the most successful business women in the United States, she is now in charge of a $100 million plus online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees. But she is not always lucky. When she was in early twenties, she had been broke, directionless, and working a mediocre day job. This book is about the journey of how she started there and come to where she is today.

1. It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.

In the book, Sophia briefly explains the “business model” she used that brought her success with Nasty Gal when she was first starting off with her eBay vintage shop. Although there were many shops that sold the types of items she sold, hers was more successful for one reason, she put a lot of hard work, effort and thought into each and every item she listed for sale. From finding and styling models to wear the clothes, a good photographer to take the thumbnail shots, to using her knowledge of fashion and style to write awesome listings filled with styling tips, Sophia put effort into each and every aspect of her sale. This is a great lesson to learn because it really doesn’t matter what your job is, or what your business is, if you think about and put real effort into what you do, it will pay off! There is no substitution for hard work, even on the internet!

2. You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

This is a powerful one, especially for women to learn and really understand. I think ladies have a tendency to shy away from asking for things because we don’t want to come off one way or another, but when you boil it down for your business you won’t make any money or get any customers if you don’t ask for the sale or ask for the business. Sophia seemed to get everything she asked for, and while that may not be a fool proof strategy for your business, sometimes asking is the first step to getting what you want.

3. Never live above your means.

As someone who lives in a capitalist society, I witness commercialism and marketing all day every day! Things from food to luxury goods are thrown in your face and to be honest, I often find myself wanting everything I see, but that is no way to live. Sophia really does a nice job explaining that while she was building her business, she was very frugal and almost refused to spend money. Although she doesn’t really analyse this decision much,  I believe it had something to do with her previous freegan lifestyle, mixed with a sense of apprehension that at any moment the rug could be pulled from under her and her business could fall apart. At any rate, this is a great lesson for young women (all women, and men too) to learn! You can’t spend money you don’t have, and you shouldn’t spend all the money you earn either. It’s common sense, but I think coming from a nation in massive debt, it’s apparently an important tip we are consistently missing!

4. Find ways to keep your goals in your face so that you’re manifesting magic!

This lesson is one I employ and believe in, whole-heartedly! I do believe in magic, and I believe that magic is something you make for yourself. How? Well, by keeping your goals front in center in your face, as well as hidden strategically within your daily life, you begin to ingrain them into your psyche and over time that results in you actually taking steps and actions to make those goals real. For example, in the book, Sophia talks about making specific goals into short phrases that she would use as her passwords for her computer. Unconsciously, everyday, she would be reaffirming those goals whenever she typed her password. Eventually, those goals in password  form became one with her mind and her mind started acting accordingly so that she could achieve the goals. Now, none of this is science of course, that’s what makes it “magic” because it’s unknown. But boy does it work! Give it a try in your own life and see what benefits you reap by making your own dreams come true!

5. Don’t waste your time obsessing over people and things you can’t control.

This is another one of those difficult life lessons to learn, especially for women, whether you run your own business or not! The world is a really big place and there are billions of us living on it. Of course, from time to time, we are going to come across people and things we don’t like, and unfortunately, sometimes these things are unavoidable, as much as we wish we could just run away from them. They may be people or problems right in front of us that we can’t escape, and it’s so easy to fall into the trap of obsessing over them, wasting our own precious time thinking and worrying and guessing about outcomes we aren’t a part of. If we stopped focusing on the things we can’t control and started minding our own business and focusing on our own lives and the things we can control, we could do so much more. I know this is hard, I struggle with it too, but keeping your nose down and focused on your own work and your own life will really yield you so many benefits!

6. Define failure and success on your own terms.

In the book Sophia explains that failure is a concept of our own design. To fail means something different to each person and that definition is something you have established for yourself. When you go into a situation open-minded with the intent to learn and grow and experience something new, there is no failing at that. Letting go of expectations and results that are weighing us down really help us to lighten the load and soar higher. Likewise, success is also something we define for ourselves. If I asked each and every one of you to give me the name of a successful person in the world, I bet I would get more than one name. Why? Because what success looks like and means to each of us is different, so define your own success and redefine failure to something that doesn’t exist!

7. You can’t take back your actions, so be smart about what you do! 

My favorite quote from the book was when Sophia wrote “There is no AutoCorrect in life— think before texting the universe.” This was a very powerful message in my opinion because in our digital day and age I think many of us do and say things online and forget that our words and our actions have meaning in the real world. In life, there is no going back, the only option is forward, so it is so important to make sure you are thinking before taking action. Sophia documents some unsavory parts of her history within the book, things she’s done that she isn’t proud of, and these are things she has to live with. We all have things in our past that we wish we hadn’t done, and hopefully if we are lucky, these things didn’t have permanent or ongoing repercussions. Life isn’t easy, it just wasn’t designed to be, so it is very important that if you want to be happy in life and achieve all your goals that you stay focused, learn from your mistakes and try to make as few as possible of the bad kinds as you go along.

Good luck on your future everybody!

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2 Responses to Lessons I learned from reading the #Girlboss

  1. fbajet says:

    Thank you for the motivational post/pep talk, Tianyue!

    Although I’ve only had passing knowledge of Sophia Amaruso, I think she’s also an example of how branding culture has expanded beyond companies and transferred onto individuals. For better or worse, personal branding is an activity you feel compelled to undertake in or risk being lost in the crowd. I personally am ambivalent to this trend–I’d rather not be that prominent on Google, thanks–but I also can’t deny that those who do it well can only get ahead. Which is depressing and also motivating at the same time.

  2. kjvaugha says:

    Thanks for the great post. While I haven’t personally read the book, I resonate with not getting what you don’t ask for. Many times we go about working hard to accomplish our goals, sometimes too hard when all it takes is asking questions. I need to learn to not be afraid to ask questions about things I am unfamiliar with. In terms of marketing, I think this lesson stands true when thinking about what your customers want out of your product. And with that question in mind, I think you need to listen on social media to the sentiments and impressions created by actual customers. And in the end, by asking them what they want, you may just get what you need!