DISCLAIMER: this is not necessarily a review of #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, but more of an examination. Although I recently read the book and enjoyed it, I wanted to share five of my favorite takeaways. Hopefully this post will inspire you to buy the book, if not, I hope the information I share will inspire you in other ways. Either way, it’s a Win-Win.
Have you heard of Sophia Amoruso? As a young man I have to admit, I hadn’t. Sophia is the founder of Nasty Gal, which is one of the most popular eCommerce sites online to find vintage women’s clothing. By all accounts her success story is unconventional. Her unique journey to the top is filled with crazy stories like, her seven-hundred-mile hitchhiking adventure from Sacramento, CA to Olympia, WA. When you look at some of her life choices they don’t seem like they would add up to success, but they do. Why? Because, deep down inside she has two important pieces of the puzzle, drive and determination.
Sophia jumped from one dead-end job to another, and then one day decided to start a Passion Project. It’s no secret that the Fratzke brothers are huge advocates of Passion Projects, and Sophia’s story is a prime example of just how powerful they can be. Her small eBay store, which sold vintage clothing, evolved into a $250 million business. Once a hitch hiker, Sophia is now worth millions. After reading the first chapter of #GIRLBOSS I quickly realized that although it’s written for young women, it’s filled with amazing insights and takeaways for everyone. Here are five of my favorites:
#1 – Shitty Jobs Can (and will) Save Your Life (if you let them)
A lot of college students and recent graduates that we coach have less than stellar things to say about their current jobs. Listen, I get it, but Sophia makes a great point. Sometimes it’s the worst jobs that teach you the most. For example, Sophia worked at a Borders bookstore, although she wasn’t the biggest fan, she credits them for polishing her customer service skills and more importantly her interpersonal communication skills. She learned simple things like saying “yes” instead of “sure.” It’s important to find the silver lining.
While attending college I worked at Disneyland. My very first role at the park was to perform a show every ten minutes to a group of about seventy people. Problem was, the scripts were written more like sleazy sales pitches. Our attraction was literally voted the least enjoyable in the park and that made it the least desirable gig to work. Yes, it was tough at times, but I loved the idea of public speaking and this was a perfect platform for me to hone my craft. I performed these cheesy shows for thousands of people, one after the other, logging hours upon hours of practice a day.
Let’s shift gears for a moment, in Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book Outliers, he shows us that highly successful people aren’t necessarily just born that way, it takes practice. How much practice? Roughly ten-thousand hours. Even the mainstream hip-hop artist Macklemore points this out in his hit song aptly named “Ten-Thousand Hours”. I directly credit my college job, silly costume and all, for my strong speaking skills today. If I had quit because I thought it was stupid, I wouldn’t be able to leverage my countless hours of hard-fought practice for Twin Talks today.
What “Shitty” job are you working today? Are you a server, barista, do you work in retail? Let’s start connecting the dots. Maybe being a server isn’t your dream job, but what’s your silver lining? A lot of students want to hide their college jobs from their resume. In reality you just need to position it the right way. With the right touches you can make your serving job standout. I’ll be writing a whole post on this in the future, but here’s a quick example:
Let’s say you’re a server, start tracking your tips. The average tip is fifteen-percent of the total bill. But you find out that your average tips are thirty-percent of the bill. Boom, now you can highlight that on your resume! It could look something like this “Tips on average exceed 30% of total bill, passing the industry standard by 15%, due to strong customer service skills.” Now you’re speaking the language of business, recruiters love that.
#2 – Money Looks Better in the Bank Than on Your Feet (Or Other Places)
I’ve noticed that millennials like to spend money on nice things. As your parents probably said to you more than once “that money is going to burn a hole in your pocket.” I heard a country song the other day by Chase Rice where he sings “I made a nickel and spent a dime.” In my experience this is what a lot of college students and recent grads do, spend more than they make. Sophia and I agree, it’s better to make a nickel and save it all.
We live in a world where “free” money is a few clicks away. Student loans and credit cards make it easy for millennials to buy the fully loaded Mac Book Pro, instead of the cheaper PC alternative. Remember that ego is the enemy! It’s better to spend less money now, so you can take that trip to Europe in the future. Sure I can afford to drive around a BMW, but I made the decision to buy a KIA instead. Focus on results instead of ego and ask yourself “Is it a tool or toy?” It’s ok to spend on tools that help you grow, but we should pass on toys that inflate our egos. What are some ways you can start spending more responsibly? Here’s a few tips:
Sophia shares a great framework for saving - “Start making smart decisions now to avoid paying for stupid ones later.” Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to “Treat Yo Self” every once in awhile, as Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation would say, but back to Sophia’s point “money spells freedom.”
#3 – The Power of Magical Thinking
Sophia has a unique theory she refers to as magical thinking, or magic. Basically it boils down to the power of positive thinking. If you want something in life, write it down, and let the universe go to work. If you want it bad enough the universe will manifest it for you. If you’re a fan of Oprah Winfrey, which I am, then you’ve probably heard her talk about The Secret. From what I can tell, magical thinking is another take on the same idea.
Take this for example: Scott Addams, the creator of Dilbert, participates in a similar practice he calls affirmations. I think the principles behind his affirmations explain the “behind the scenes” psychology of Sophia’s magic theory. Once a day Scott writes his goals down repeatedly ten times (envision Bart Simpson writing on the chalk board). Why you ask? To condition his brain to identify opportunities when they present themselves. Whether you call it luck, The Secret, magic, or affirmations I think it’s important to Start with the End in Mind.
Beginning with the end in mind comes from one of my favorite books, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. Starting with the end in mind basically equates to; if you want something in the future, start living, breathing, and chasing it today. It’s not enough to just want something, you need to make decisions today that help position you to achieve your goals in the future. Covey’s principle ties in nicely with Sophia’s magic theory. Write down your goals and constantly remind yourself what the “end” or goal looks like. When you finally achieve your goal I bet it will feel like magic, but in reality it was your hard work and determination.
#4 – You Are Not a Special Snowflake
Sophia’s argument about “special snowflakes” is on point. She explains:
“A lot of people in my generation don’t seem to get that you have to work your way up… An entry level job is just that – entry level… You’re not going to be running the show.”
I’m the first person to stand up for our generation. One of my personal missions is to prove todays anti-millennial stereotypes wrong. Not every twenty something in the workforce is lazy, disloyal, and entitled. The unfortunate truth about stereotypes though, is that they don’t just appear out of thin air. I know that for every old school go-getter like me, there are three millennials out there expecting a raise every three months, whether they’ve exceeding expectations or not.
It’s important to think you’re special, because the fact of the matter is, you are! But it’s good to get a healthy dose of reality every once in a while. Remember that when you start a new job you’re the new kid on the block. There are other team members who have been busting their asses for years to earn their spot and move up the ladder. Even if you have great ideas you need to take a step back. Coming into a new company or stepping into a leadership role guns blazing can be a dangerous career move.
The marks of a true trail blazer are two-fold; one-part confidence, one-part humility. You need to be confident of the value you bring to the team, but don’t go around telling everyone about it. Let your actions speak louder than your words. There are a lot of misconceptions in the workplace, but here’s a proven fact: no one likes the arrogant millennial who constantly touts how awesome they are. People will learn to respect the hard working, determined millennial, with a good head on their shoulders. Your goal should be to get your older coworkers to say “your parents did a great job with you.” That my friends, is respect. You need to kick ass and stay humble. If you ever need a good reminder, read page 164 of #GIRLBOSS.
#5 – Be Prepared to Get Real
I’d be willing to bet that you’ve been asked this question in an interview before, “What’s your biggest weakness?” It’s human nature to spin this question into a positive. Most respondents will rattle something off like “I care too much” or “I work too hard.” If someone hasn’t told you yet, and I’m sorry to break the bad news, but those responses are weak. Sophia describes those types of responses as “getting caught with your pants down.” She explains that a good interviewee should “have smart answers to smart questions.”
In my experience, it appears that today’s job hunter takes a “reactive” approach to the interview process. They show up, sit down and react to each question as it’s asked. The critical error here is a lack of preparation. This results in responses that have poor structure and seemingly no point. A strong interview performance requires you to be proactive, instead of reactive.
In our Twin Talks we call this Connecting the Dots. This strategy is all about connecting the value you will bring to the team with what the firm is looking for. To execute this effectively you must do your research. Read the job description. Check the company’s website and social profiles. I even recommend stalking your future coworkers on LinkedIn. Once you’ve done all the research you can start to put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. What questions might they ask you? Start making a list of potential questions, and more importantly, your answers. Now when these questions come up you’re prepared to deliver a well thought out and sophisticated response. Every answer you give is an opportunity to Connect the Dots.
Now let’s talk about getting real. The last thing you want to do is reverse engineer the weakness question. Don’t try to bait and switch a weakness for a strength. Instead share a true weakness and accompany it with the steps you’re actively taking to strengthen that part of your game. It’s okay to admit you’re not perfect. Here’s an example from one of the greats, Walt Disney:
"I am in no sense of the word a great artist, not even a great animator; I have always had men working for me whose skills were greater than my own. I am an idea man."
Notice how even someone as accomplished as Mr. Disney can reflect on his own perceived weaknesses and find a way to pragmatically use it to his advantage. He isn’t a great artist, but that doesn’t mean he can’t find great ones to realize his grand vision. Think about how you can utilize this mindset in your own life and leverage your adversity into a strength.
Those are my five takeaways from #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso. Do you have any stories, examples, or quotes that you feel would be a good fit for this article and would add to the discussion? If so, reach out and leave a comment. We envision all of our posts to be living documents that are constantly updated. Your feedback and input would be very much appreciated.
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About the Fratzke Brothers:
As Strategic Account Managers at Brandify, a national marketing firm, the Fratzke Brothers work directly with Fortune 500 brands to perfect their digital strategies. As Digital Marketing Experts the Fratzke's share experience, advice, and best practices through engaging content across multiple platforms, including: Videos, Blog Posts, Podcasts, Speaking Engagements & Workshops.