#GIRLBOSS: Sophia Amoruso's Best Advice

 

When I was a sophomore in high school in 2013, I discovered the (then-online-only) fashion retailer Nasty Gal. After months of window shopping, my first purchase was a long sleeve mini dress. It had a wide v-neck, was short as hell, and covered entirely in purple sequins. I wore it for four hours in my high school’s auditorium. The pictures from that night will reveal that I paired the party dress with some too-tall-for-me nude peep-toes and that I still hadn’t learned to fill in my eyebrows. Three years later, I have absolutely no idea where that dress went, I’ve sold my soul to Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Nasty Gal’s name (as well as its number of brick and mortar stores) is ever-growing. By now you’ve probably heard of Sophia Amoruso, its founder and executive chairman. After all, she didn’t go from managing an one-woman eBay shop to running a multi-million dollar operation without turning a few heads. In 2014, she published her book, #GIRLBOSS, a New York Times Bestseller in which she tells us all How She Did It. The back cover reads:

“Sophia Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school–a job she’d taken for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay.

Flash forward ten years to today, and she’s the founder and executive chairman of Nasty Gal, a $250-million-plus fashion retailer with more than four hundred employees. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is as windy as hell and lined with naysayers.

#GIRLBOSS proves that being successful isn’t about where you went to college or how popular you were in high school. It’s about trusting your instincts and following your gut; knowing which rules to follow and which to break; when to button up and when to let your freak flag fly.”

10% soul-searching, 90% get-shit-done, there isn’t a more motivating or real-world insightful book I’ve read than #GIRLBOSS. As a young female college student, there couldn’t have been a better time for me to pick it up than my freshman year. Here’s some of my favorite advice she’s wrapped up in that little pink paperback.

“Each time you make a good decision or do something nice or take care of yourself; each time you show up to work and work hard and do your best at everything you can so, you’re planting the seeds for a life that you can only hope will grow beyond your wildest dreams. Take care of the little things–even the little things that you hate–and treat them as promises to your own future. Soon you’ll see that fortune favors the bold who get shit done.”  

First things first: There’s a difference between wanting something and working for it. When you’re working toward a goal–whether it be personal, academic, or professional–every tiny step toward what might be success matters, even if that means you have to suck it up for awhile until you can get to the good stuff. Amoruso reminds us that simply waiting on the lives we want to come calling for us might mean that we’ll be waiting forever.

“If you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, stop for a second: Have you actually flat-out asked for it? If you haven’t, stop complaining. You can’t expect the world to read your mind. You have to put it out there, and sometimes putting it out there is as simple as just saying, “Hey, can I have that?”

All of us are really just out to get what we want. And that doesn’t have to mean in the cutthroat steamroller-bitch way–though it could. But when we don’t have what we want and can’t figure out how to get it? That’s when we get stressed out. That’s also the time when we should remember that we don’t have to do everything alone. When asking for things, the worst answer we could get is “No.” And when the answer does turn out to be “No,” we just put on our #GIRLBOSS pants and find another way.

“I think everyone should tap into their entrepreneurial spirit. However, I don’t think that everyone should be an entrepreneur…You can be entrepreneurial without being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial people are passionate about what they do, comfortable with taking risks, and quick at moving on from failures.”  

What got Amoruso where she is today were creativity, innovation, and hard work. “Hey!” you’re thinking, “I can be creative! I can innovate! I work hard as long as I’m not mid-Netflix binge!” Whether you’re looking to be a self-made millionaire by the time you’re thirty or just score a summer internship, that entrepreneurial spirit Amoruso writes about is a vital part of a can-do attitude, no matter what you’re doing.

“Frankly, even if that girl your boyfriend used to make out with suddenly gets hit by a car (like you’re secretly hoping she will), who cares? You’re still you. The same goes for business: There’s no karmic law that dictates your business will succeed if others fail, so why not just wish them well and get on with it?”

She’s talking about business here (and bar fights–no, really), but this is an especially good rule to apply toward all aspects of life. We spend so much of our time comparing ourselves to others, but why get worked up about what everybody else is doing when we could be spending all of that energy driving ourselves forward? Unless someone’s deliberately trying to sabotage-your-whole-life-and-ruin-everything-and-steal-all-of-your-friends! But there probably isn’t. We’re all just trying to get where we’re going. Why compete and compare where we don’t have to?

“I stopped feeling as if I didn’t belong anywhere, and realized that I belonged anywhere I wanted to be–whether that’s a boardroom, business class, or on stage at a Women’s Wear Daily CEO Summit.”

Are you ever intimidated by what you want? Sophia Amoruso was. Sometimes it’s very easy to look at where you want to be and what you want to be doing and just be, well, scared. But that should never stop you from thinking that doors are closed to you just because you haven’t taken the first step through them yet. Something Amoruso writes about in her book is that if you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you, too. And hey, even if you haven’t quite sold your act to yourself, fake it ‘till you make it.

If you haven’t read #GIRLBOSS yet, now’s a better time than any to pick it up and get to reading. In the first pages of her book, Amoruso tells us “I don’t know shit…But if I can pull any of this off, so can you.” Just like Nasty Gal used to operate out of Amoruso’s bedroom, everyone has to start somewhere. But hey, you’re probably already further along than you think.