Transitions – can’t live without them, am I right? To put it in summary, it can be the equivalent of jumping off a cliff, catching a flight or changing clothes. I’m somewhere midway right now, in case you’re wondering. Sure. It’s scary. But we all know I’ll survive. I have a no-broken-limbs guarantee. Sort of.
Anyway, in September 2014 as I was doing my usual rounds on the interwebs wildy gathering wisdom, I stumbled upon reviews of Sophia Amoruso’s book. It wasn’t that hard to, actually, as news about it practically littered every corner of the internet. Sophia happens to be the Founder and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, one of the fastest growing online retailers worth over $100 million dollars (though I think that’s changed now).
I first heard of NastyGal in 2010. Back then, I was blogging about my life and keeping a close eye on the latest US season fashion trends. At the time, I was obsessed with Jeffrey Campbell’s booties that were exclusively sold on NastyGal. Her eminently name-droppable lookbooks boasted eclectic bits of vintage items with a fresh and modern touch. It was electric and I was hooked.
In Sophia’s words: “The smattering of stores screaming “normal” from their windows just did not cut it for me, and the thought of paying to look like everyone else seemed utterly ridiculous.” And different is what Nasty Gal brings to the online retail fashion landscape. Today, the company not only sells vintage clothing, but has their own label while still selling major brands. Her success story is captured brilliantly in her memoir (she says it’s not but it is, c’mon) Plus it’s quite the read. Especially since it sounds much like she wrote it instead of going the ghost writer route. In a nutshell, Sophia went from college drop out to shoplifter, broke hitch hiker, e-bay vintage store owner to successful entrepreneur. Her unique off the beaten path experience offers some notable advice for those who might find Lean In a bit too ‘serious’ (guys, with all the power outages I can’t seem to finish Sheryl’s book. I think I need the ebook version coz my hard copy isn’t cutting it).
The gorgeous and memorable illustrations in Girlbos are a bit too rocker and young but that’s her demographic, I guess. PS: I loved the illustrations and book layout. I’ll share some nuggets of wisdom that she offers in her book and share my personal thoughts concerning them but trust me, you need to read it yourself to get the full breadth of it.
Okay then. Here goes.
1. Fortune favours action
We all know that no one becomes successful by accident. We need to be prepared and courageous to maximize on the opportunities that come our way. It’s that whole element of risk that I mentioned in a previous post (here) Life favours the risk taker. That’s why safer is always slower. In reality, sometimes you’ll raise your hand and not get picked. So what do you do? You create your own opportunities and make the best of them.
2. On failure
There are secret opportunities hidden inside every failure and I believe we miss a larger chunk of the opportunities and chances we get in life because of how we react to our circumstances. Often times, we turn around too quick when we fail such that we end up not seeing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. With Sophie, this came in the form of homelessness and the inability to keep steady jobs. Her situation forced her to become intentional in her approach to making money (a girl’s gotta eat, right?) Put together thrift stores, e-bay, a good eye for vintage items and a remarkable fashion sense and that was the makings of her empire. In many ways, one can probably conclude that failure is our own invention.
3. On career
This is by far the best career advice that I have read so far, especially for graduates. In high school and University, we’re taught to find our one thing. As I grow older, I’m learning that our one thing is not necessarily a profession but an expression of who we are (our purpose) that is multi-faceted. Passion trumps profession. Your passion can find expression in several professions. It’s all about the who, what, where. A profession on the other hand helps to contextualize how your passion expresses itself. To go back to Sophia’s quote, when we approach the job market with a sense of tourism, we’re bound to be open to learning, to taking on roles that at first sight seem unfitting. Ones which, in time set our careers on an unexpected but brilliant trajectory.
4. Right work mindset
No one likes to lose. The feeling is such a drag and even though it’s hard for us to admit this, it’s always worse in our minds than how it plays out in real life. Outcomes and expectations at work and in life can add undue pressure to us but if we carry a learner’s perspective in every task and project, we eliminate any possible room for failure. So don’t beat yourself down if you’re still getting the hang of things career wise. No one’s ever a pro during the process. The truth is, we’re always learning. Do the time keep the right attitude and success will chase you pants down. Hi five if you got my movie inference.
5. Taking the step toward change
There’s always a first step needed to get from where we are to where we need to be. It needs us to be intentional. It needs us to act. For you, it might be being bold enough to ask for a promotion or a pay rise. Or it might be beginning that project that you’ve been putting on hold as you wait for the right time. Many times, we give mixed signals about where we want to be in life when we say one thing and then do the opposite. We can truly be the greatest enemies to our success. Look at the frustrations in your life and consider that they’re pointing to new doors that you have yet to open. Be brave. Make that move today.
I just realized at the end of this post that I sound very much like a motivational speaker. Well, what can I say? #Girlboss is a rich book. And I’ve barely scratched the surface. There’s a lot more that Sophia Amoruso shares on how to get funding and negotiate in Silicon Valley, how to run a business and more career nuggets. Such a rich book. Plus it’s an easy and fun read. To say that it spoke to me would be watering down my experience. I mean, it was light bulbs with every turning page. Shaaaaah!
I hope this post was helpful. If you’ve read the book, let me know your favourite take outs from it.