5 Must-Read Books by Female Entrepreneurs
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with memoirs. I love the glimpse into the lives of women who have ventured to places that I haven’t been or built empires that I can only dream about. More than ever, women are rising to awe-inspiring heights and taking their rightful place in history.
You may have heard of prominent women like Sheryl Sandberg or Oprah Winfrey – and their best-selling books – but there are many other brilliant female entrepreneurs that have opened my mind to new perspectives and changed the way that I think about building a business. Here are five must-read memoirs to inspire and motivate you to create the career of your dreams:
1. Body and Soul: Profits with Principles–The Amazing Success Story of Anita Roddick & The Body Shop by Anita Roddick
Before there was “ethical consumerism” or “conscious companies,” there was Anita Roddick. Forty years ago, Anita opened a humble shop in the UK selling all-natural cosmetics in refillable bottles. By the end of 1992, there were more than 700 Body Shop stores generating $231 million in sales. Anita was one of the first to ban animal testing and she believed that business should be dedicated to the pursuit of social change. She used her stores and her products as a platform to promote human rights and environmental issues. This amazing book chronicles the rise of The Body Shop and how Anita created success by differentiating herself in the marketplace through her strong sense of ethics.
Why read this? If you want to do business with a conscience, this story will not only inspire you but it will also empower you to follow in the footsteps of this successful entrepreneur.
2. Let IT Go – The Memoirs of Dame Stephanie Shirley
Before I read her book, I saw her TED talk: Why do ambitious women have flat heads? I was so impressed with her humor and tenacity that I immediately downloaded her memoir. More than 50 years ago, this pioneering tech entrepreneur founded an all-female software company that was ultimately valued at $3 billion. It didn’t happen overnight. Dame Shirley gives us the play-by-play of starting with a few stay-at-home-moms in her living room to growing a global company with thousands of employees. Equally admirable is the fact that she has donated most of her wealth to autism research.
Why read this? If you’ve ever felt that you need to compromise your values to get ahead, this story is the perfect example of ‘stay true to who you are’ and you will not only create big success for yourself but you’ll also have a mega-positive impact in the world.
3. The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It Into a Global Brand by Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor
Juicy Couture tracksuits were all the rage when I lived in Los Angeles about 10 years ago. I had no knowledge of the dynamic duo behind this fashion frenzy until I read The Glitter Plan. Pamela and Gela built a coveted empire from the ground up with carnival-like fun and teenager-like escapades. This story takes us from making maternity jeans on the floor of a one-bedroom Hollywood apartment to launching collections on the runways in Paris with so much momentum that you just can’t put the book down. In these pages, you’ll discover important insights about being an entrepreneur like finding the right partner and setting up an environment that is inspiring and true to you.
Why read this? If you’ve ever doubted that you can’t make millions with just your passion and drive, Pamela and Gela will show you exactly how that can be done.
4. Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business by Barbara Corcoran
I like Shark Tank almost as much as I like memoirs. The combination of the suspenseful, dramatic pitches with the rags-to-riches success stories is utterly captivating to me. Until I read Shark Tales, I had no idea the journey that Barbara traveled to make it to that plush leather chair. After failing at twenty-two jobs, she borrowed $1,000 from her boyfriend, quit her job as a diner waitress, and started doing real estate out of her NYC studio apartment. Her story is one of boundless creativity, shrewd business tactics, and shameless self-promotion. She learned everything she knows by watching her parents raise 10 kids – and we see those life-lessons unfold in adorable flashbacks throughout the book.
Why read this? If you want to master the powers of influence and persuasion, look no further than this memoir. Barbara will make you feel like anything is possible.
5. Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth
Book by Mika Brzezinski
This book holds a special place in my heart because I was a finalist in the Know Your Value competition in Washington, D.C. Although Mika may not fit the traditional definition of entrepreneur because of her role at MSNBC, she has built a career on inspiring women to advocate on behalf of themselves and get paid what they’re worth. Her personal story of being overworked and underpaid, failing a dozen times to get a raise and finally quitting before she got what she deserved is a testament to the power of determination and persistence. She also shares this message in her conferences which have featured big names like Arianna Huffington, Brooke Shields, Amy Cuddy and Elizabeth Warren to name a few.
Why read this? If you’ve ever struggled to assess or obtain your worth at work, this book has true insight about what it takes to grow your value to a whole new level.