Why do we love to read the memoirs of business leaders? The best ones are often a mix of relatable life stories, of the drama of persistent struggles, and of the excitement of eventual success. This month we have been offering ideas around starting your own business – so for those of you on that career / business journey, here are some great stories about business leaders that offer a great balance of entertainment, education and inspiration.
Herding Tigers: Be the Leader that Creative People Need by Todd Henry
Todd Henry compares managing creatives to herding tigers – these brilliant, driven people are powerful beings who cannot be corralled but must be carefully, individually, and strategically led. Creatives are usually valued for their individuality, originality, unconventional thinking – traits that may seem ‘difficult’ in more conventional teams.Herding Tigers shows that, by carefully balancing three key conditions – stability, challenge and freedom – managers can create a work environment that allows creatives to flourish, both individually and as a team. While Herding Tigers is aimed at managers of creative teams – and is particularly useful for creatives-turned-managers – it offers thoughtful advice for anyone needing to manage a variety of personalities and working styles.
#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
Sophia Amoruso’s journey, from school dropout and shoplifter to successful entrepreneur, is so resonant that it has inspired a cultural movement and a Netflix show. Being a #girlboss is about being in charge of your own life, and this memoir / business guide offers ideas on how to achieve this regardless of your talents and interests. Luck and timing does play a part in Sophia’s success, but kudos to her for not shying away from the hard stuff – she clearly emphasises the importance of personal responsibility, vision, grit and patience. #Girlboss is a fun, sassy read, with pithy advice grounded in good sense. Great for young women looking for moral support as they enter the grownup world of work and business. And if you are ready to put Sophia’s ideas into practice, there’s The Girlboss Workbook, packed with exercises, lists, ideas, and scribble room, to help you turn dreams into goals and plans.
Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton
Once you’ve read this, you will want to share it with all your girlfriends and all the younger women you know. Everything I Know About Love is the story of Dolly Alderton’s life as a twenty-something – hilarious, moving, and unapologetically messy; and not just about romantic love, but about grief and the life-saving power of friendship too. Dolly writes with an honesty that makes it super-relatable, yet better – because the clarity of her prose expresses everything better than you or I ever could. This new edition of Everything I Know About Love, published this year, contains a new chapter capturing Dolly’s thoughts on turning 30.
Who wouldn’t want to be a Badass Babe? Ann Shoket has written The Big Life for millenial women, but her book offers value to smart and ambitious women of any age. Being the former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine, Ann Shoket has spent years understanding what matters to Millenials; she understands that the definition of success is changing, and is more likely to be about having passion for your work, and control over your career direction, rather than about high status or income. Ann also offers valuable insights into the thoughts and attitudes of Gen X / Baby Boomer bosses, helping Millenials manage upwards, and dispel negative assumptions about their working style. Packed with actionable, personal advice from Ann and her group of Badass Babes – a networking community of high-profile, successful young women, The Big Life is like having your own big sister cheer squad.
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
The Glitter Plan shares some similarities with #Girlboss – both offer a mix of memoir and business advice, sharing the stories of resourceful and determined women who grew small ideas into successful fashion brands. Being the origin story of Juicy Couture, The Glitter Plan is also full of fun and glamour, celebrating its status as a celebrity favourite. Pamela and Gela’s friendship adds an interesting dimension to their success story – they work closely, as true equals, and their respect and regard for each other underpins their business decisions. A good balance of entertaining biography and practical business tips, The Glitter Plan is a must-read for anyone dreaming of starting their own fashion label.
Criticism is hard to both give and take – culturally we associate it with aggression and humiliation, even if it’s well-meaning. However, this is something a good leader and boss must learn to do – appropriate criticism can be essential to achieving good results and maintaining a cohesive team. Radical Candour is a framework for creating a safe and respectful environment to encourage constructive criticism. Kim Scott, a former executive at Google and at Apple, first experienced Radical Candour when she was given some harsh-but-enlightening feedback by her then-boss, Sheryl Sandberg. The key is for leaders to “Care Personally” – show that the criticism is to help the other person grow and improve – and “Challenge Directly” – be specific, focussing on behaviours rather than personality traits. More than just a guide on how to critique, Radical Candour helps to create a frank and positive culture that allows entire teams to thrive.