Currently, I am a student have been a student for as long as memory serves. You could almost say I am a professional. One thing I have never been good at however, is being a student of the self. You know, that self-improvement “rah rah” be your best self kind of sentiment that comes from the WELLNESS section at Indigo.
Truth is, for the longest time I thought it was a load of crap. How could “loving yourself”, and “being your best self” put me in the corner office? After taking the first leap into the self-improvement world I can definitely say there is advice that should make anyone feel board-room ready. These 5 books have me ready to strut down Bay Street (Canadian Wall- Street if you’re curious) with my long, blonde, basic hair and dominate the board-room while working my side-hustle from my rose-gold iPhone.
- #GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso I KNOW shocker right? One of the trendiest Instagram hashtags, millenial pink cover, woman crushing it in fashion. How much more cliché could I be? Truth is, probably quite a bit, but regardless this book is a great injection of unapologetic confidence into your psyche, and a joy to read.The number one thing I love about this book was not even intended when it was first written. #Girlboss chronicles Amoruso’s ascent into the fashion world via her empire NastyGal after starting off selling vintage clothes on eBay out of a garage. No formal education, constantly going against the grain, Amoruso crushed it and was on prestigious lists such as Inc magazine’s 30 under 30. Now however, NastyGal, went bankrupt, and Amoruso has gone through a divorce after a one year marriage. The book ends before this point while Amoruso is still on top.One of the key themes that Amoruso lives by is”when to roll with the punches and when to throw them” and she has definitely proven through the demise of her company that she does just that. She has started fresh with a new digital media company Girlboss, and played to her strengths.With the key message of this book stating that you have to do the dirty work to come out clean on the other side, and that in the end it if what you’re doing is not true to do you don’t do it I think it is a good read to get you fired up! Know when to break the rules, so that in the end, you can be the one making them.
- You are a Badass at Making Money – Jen SinceroI LOVE THIS BOOK. There, I said it. Roll credits, review over. Never mind, I suppose I should explain a bit about why. Jen Sincero is the #1 NYT best-selling author of a little yellow book called “You are a Badass” which is easily found by searching #Badass on Instagram. I read it, and I enjoyed it but I love this sister book even more. It is branded as “A life-changing guide to making the kind of money you’ve only ever dreamed of”, but I think it provides some valuable lessons about business and career success too.One of the first things I loved is that it jumps right into crushing the notion that wanting to be wealthy is bad. The whole “money can’t buy happiness” mantra was certainly taught to me growing up, and boy did I ever believe it. Sincero covers a couple other common thoughts such as “You can’t be rich and spiritual”, “Never go into debt”, “If you get excited about making money it means you’re shallow”. HELL NO. Money in this western society is definitely a cause of stress, but it opens us up to freedom. Transactions to put towards experiences are based on it, and we have one life to work with so filling it with experiences is pretty dang important.Instead of thinking that “money can’t buy happiness” reframe it as “money supports my happiness” as it is the vehicle that allows you to do what you want to do. People who have money are not shallow, shallow is a fundamental characteristic of the individual. Many wealthy people start charities, donate millions in seed funding, and give until it hurts. They couldn’t do it however, if they weren’t rich. Think about it.Briefly, my second takeaway is that “working hard” and keeping your head down are not the keys to wealth. You could go into work every single day, work until your bones ache and your fingers bled, but if you are not willing to take a risk, you will be stuck in routine. Sincero rightly notes “We’ve been raised to believe that you have to work hard to make money, and certainly there are times when this is true, but the real secret is you have to take huge, uncomfy risks”. Key message: GET UNCOMFORTABLE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Our world is constantly evolving, and the only way to keep up is to change with it. You never know unless you try, and if you keep doing the same shit, you will be in the same place 5 years from now.
You are a Badass at Making Money @ Indigo
- The Magic of Thinking Big – David J Schwartz, PH.D.YES I love the idea of thinking big, manifestation, visualization, relaxation, you are what you eat and you are what you think. I never used to though. This was the second book I ever read in the self-improvement spectrum, and honestly I only read it because the author, David Schwartz, had a PH.D. and a consulting firm specializing in leadership development. He came across as an expert, and frankly at the time if I was going to give into this mindset garbage I may as well try to learn from the best.The key takeaway of this book is right on the back cover “Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals, and win big success”. Sounds easy enough right? Well let me tell you this book put me through the ringer in terms of self-evaluation and I sure am thankful for it. Though the cover has some of the key advertising lines that make it sound like a scam (“acquire the secrets of success” for instance) it has a surprisingly large amount of merit and useful information as you grow into a leader in your field. For instance, Chapter 2 “Cure Yourself of Excusitis, the Failure Disease” puts it all in perspective. Yes you have to dream, yes you have to want it, yes you have to try and sometimes you will fail but they key to success truly is to stop making excuses for your failures. P. Your case is not different, you do not “attract bad luck”. Preparation, planning and learning are key. When faced with a setback, successful people assess it, learn from it, and prepare and plan a new tactic to rectify it. Others succumb to the idea that they “just can’t” and do not take the time to sit back and evaluate. It is a hard thing to do, and takes lots of practice, but Dr. Schwartz is right when he says you are better for it in the end. With lots of self-reflection questions, excellent life anecdotes, and good action plans for moving forward there is a reason 6 million copies of this book have been sold.
The Magic of Thinking Big @ Indigo
- 201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions – Linda MatiasAlright, now it is time to get a bit practical. Since this book is actually 201 questions and answers there won’t be many musings from me regarding it. Why I love it though, especially as a woman new to the workforce, is that 201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions helps you through competency based interviewing easily and effectively.One of the mandatory components of both my current Master’s degree and my Undergraduate degree is to complete co-op placements to gain real-life experience. These are paid positions, and if you do well, you can end up with a lot of responsibility and a really amazing network, on top of some cash to pay your next semester. How though do you stand out when everyone interviewing for the position is doing the same dang degree? THE INTERVIEW! Sometimes, it is just based on a feeling the recruiter has about you, but it is also based on how you relate your experience to the task at hand, and how you display confidence answering questions.Especially in my case, and the case of many new graduates (or those switching careers) you may not have the experience in your current industry of choice. Competency based interviewing allows for recruiters to watch you demonstrate core skills and problem-solving techniques that will be key to your job. Often, hard skills can be taught but these “soft skills” are harder to evaluate, which is why relating previous job and life experience effectively to your potential new role is the key to being the winning candidate.Matias’s book was an excellent jumping off point for me preparing for co-op interviews. It walks you through in-depth logic behind competency based interviewing, highlights key skills such as Project Management, People Skills, and Personal Motivation, and even has industry-specific questions to help you along your way. Work through the book, take it all in, and practice the worksheets that come enclosed. You will walk into that interview confident in yourself and able to back up your confidence with some concrete examples of how awesome you are. That my friends, is half the battle.
- The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch AlbomNow you may think I have lost it as this book is a fiction novel but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to uncover some great lessons. Every single one of Mitch Albom’s books has taught me something. Who knows, maybe I will do a strictly Mitc Albom post. I love his books, and I love him as a human being. He uses his WEALTH and SUCCESS to give back to the community, and has started 8 charities in Detroit as well as founded an orphanage in Haiti.So why The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto? It is a fantastic story about rising to the top of course! Narrated by the voice of “Music”, the story follows Music’s favourite disciple and most beloved creation, Frankie. He was a Spanish war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in an attic. At 9 he arrives in America via the bowels of a boat, with nothing but a guitar with six precious strings. Each time Frankie touches someone’s life, one of the precious strings turns blue, indicating that he has altered their life path. Frankie became a rock star through some of the most amazing musical decades, his musical prowess affecting the likes of Elvis and Duke Ellington. When Frankie passes on, those at his funeral reflect on him with fond memories, and speak of his magic “Je ne sais quoi” and the profound impact he had in their lives.A key business/success learning in this book is that everyone joins a group in life where they begin to build their network. This could be your family, your workplace, your friends, your dance group, anything. The connections you make in these situations have the ability to change the world if you accept that you have the ability to do it. Yes, it is difficult, and sometimes, much like Frankie, we do not feel good enough for the situation that we are in, but we are. Each connection we make is going to shape us, but it is also going to shape someone else. Take time to make good, meaningful connections. Treat others with respect and dignity, and always stay true to who you are. Those you meet in your life will appreciate your authenticity, as long as you appreciate theirs, and you never know where that appreciation will take you in life. In Frankie’s case: it came in the form of accolades from the likes of Paul Stanely, founding member of KISS, and a chance to meet the Beatles thanks to making a connection with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Roger McGuinn. Treat your connections with respect, and value your network. It will be worth it, I promise.
So that’s my 5 book round-up. Something annoying I read in an article the other day was “A girl who’s a basic bitch will make you a better person. You’ll browse the Self Improvement aisle at Barnes & Noble together and buy books that stand half-read but colour-coordinated on a Pottery Barn bookshelf in your condo.”
Well screw that, I read every single one of these books, some more than once. When I am at the top one day, and some judgey bear is asking what some of my keys to success are, I guarantee you that it’ll be “Reading the books that I bought in The Self Improvement Aisle cover to freaking cover and actually learning to be a better business woman”.
….Oh, and treating myself to a good Rosé after a long day.
So call it “basic” all you want, you can only get better if you learn and grow.