40+ Quotes from How to be a Bawse: a guide to conquering life by Lilly Singh

Videogames are a great analogy for life. You go through levels, get thrown off by obstacles, and face several enemies. The game will become harder and harder, but it’s okay because you become smarter, faster, and more skilled. When playing a videogame, you control a character by making it jump, run, duck, and attack. I mean, that was back in my day when my Super Nintendo controller had two buttons. Today videogame controllers have as many buttons as a keyboard, so who knows what you can do. You can probably press A + Y + Z while twirling your left joystick and your character will sing the national anthem. Either way, the fact remains that your character is the only thing you can control in the game. The enemies will keep coming, the walls will keep shrinking, and the time will keep ticking away. It’s your job to navigate your character through a situation you cannot control. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 4

Have you ever played a videogame, then lost because you realized you were looking at the wrong part of the screen the whole time? You were so confused as to why your controller wasn’t working, but really you were just trying to control the wrong character. That’s what trying to control people is like in real life. We’re so often fixated on getting people to behave in accordance with what we want that we forget to focus on ourselves. The best way to stop people from pushing your buttons is to start pushing your own. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 7

Conquering your thoughts is not a task that can be accomplished overnight, or over many nights, to be honest. It’s an ongoing process that requires frequent readjustment because your mind is constantly evolving. It requires you to ask yourself a lot of questions and to analyse the answers honestly. From now on start asking yourself WHY you feel a certain way, WHAT made you perform a certain action, and HOW you could do things differently. The information you discover is powerful because it helps you to discover patterns and in turn use your mind productively and efficiently. After all, your mind is your most powerful tool, but it’s not useful if you don’t know how to use it. It’s like trying to fix a printer with a stapler: it doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried.

- Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 13

So, what’s my point?
Daenerys didn’t obtain some dragon power one day by luck. She knew she had dragon blood within her all along, but she never told anyone until she could capitalize on that power. While she was being forced into marriage, beaten, and disrespected, she held on to the knowledge that she was the mighty Mother of Dragons. Daenerys kept her strengths and powers a secret from everyone, including her brother and husband, until it was the perfect moment for her to make her move. Had she disclosed her powers from the beginning, her brother might have tried killing her, people might have tried kidnapping her, and she probably wouldn’t have been gifted with dragon eggs (that’s be like giving thor a hammer and expecting him not to use it). Daenerys knew her own power and kept it a secret so that she could deploy that power as effectively as possible. And she uses this strategy repeatedly to get what she wants.
Long story short, if you’re selectively secretive, you might become a queen, have dragons, and get to sleep with a very sexy man named Khal Drogo who rides a horse - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 18

What I’m saying is you must think of yourself as a powerful fort. That’s how you should view your mind, body, and spirit. You should know all the entrances and secret passageways of your fort, aka your strengths, weaknesses, fears, etc. Feel free to welcome people into your fort for banquets or balls or whatever other fancy party you might have. But the more you tell people about your fort, the more information you reveal about the secret passageways, the weaker your fort becomes and the easier it is for people to attack you. The lesson being: don’t give away all your secrets or reveal all your vulnerabilities. Don’t trick yourself into believing that you are obligated to share everything with everyone. It’s up to you to decide what to reveal and when. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 18

I can confidently say that I’m skilled at making YouTube videos, and that’s only because I went through the horrifying experience of making my first ten videos. I went through the horrifying experience of making my first ten videos. I had to go through the awkward process of figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Although it was terrifying, if I hadn’t made those first ten videos, I would never have been able to make the 500 videos that are online today and that now have over 1 billion views combined. It’s easy to look back and see how far I’ve come, but it’s harder to remember that I need to keep pushing myself. If I know that stepping outside my comfort zone helped me become a YouTube success, then why am I so scared to do it again when auditioning for film roles?
Well, I answered my own question: because it’s scary! And sitting in a tense room reciting lines to a complete stranger isn’t exactly a comfortable situation. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 22

The thing is, I am not suggesting that you become mechanical and turn off your heart. I am suggesting that you train your brain to focus less on feelings and more on productivity when things need to get done. When you need to get your hustle on, be driven by goals, not emotions. When you’re working with a group and feel any type of negative emotion, ask yourself, “Does this emotion help get the task done?” If not, then put it away. Sometimes we get angry or annoyed at people we’re working with, and so we retaliate. Ask yourself again, does retaliation help get the task done? It’s a hard pill to swallow, but in the battle between pride versus productivity, sometimes you need to let your pride lose. It’s not about rights and wrongs when you have two hours left to capture four more hours of footage; it’s about getting it done. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 30

Basically, I believe in getting hurt efficiently.
This means that I thoroughly believe in crying, yelling, pulling my hair out, and experiencing heartache, BUT once I’m done I dissect the pain and learn lessons from it. Heartache is never going to go away and every person will continue to experience it. Not learning anything from pain because you are too overwhelmed with emotion is inefficient, especially since you’ll continue to encounter pain in life. When you get hurt, use that hurt as body armour for future battles. That doesn’t mean close yourself off and turn it an ice queen (or king); it simply means you should reason with yourself and try to remember that getting hurt today makes you more resilient tomorrow. Pain is good. Heartache is good. These things provide you with knowledge that will help you grow and deal with future struggles. To waste a painful moment and let emotion overwhelm you so much that you gain absolutely no insight is to get hurt inefficiently. Make every struggle count and remember that experience will always be a silver lining. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 31

Unfortunately, though, we don’t always follow our gut. Sometimes when we’re passionate about something or in some kind of bind, we tend to think a lot about the “what, where, when, how, and why” of the situation, to the point that it becomes unproductive. It happens to the best of us. Overthinking is a natural enemy of efficiency because it prevents us from getting things done. A Bawse should know when to take the time to think something through and when to simply make a quick decision. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 34

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There seems to be this misconception that making mistakes makes you weak, or stupid, or somehow less of a person, but the truth is, making mistakes brings you one step closer to success. No one has the answer key to life and so when we want to accomplish anything, whether it’s learning a new braid or becoming a CEO of a marketing company, we must make mistakes along the way. It’s the only way we can learn what works and what doesn’t. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 40

If you didn’t hand in the project on time, ask yourself why, before someone else does. You should know yourself best, so why wait until someone else calls you out to scramble to find the answer? Before you answer to your boss, answer to your inner Bawse. You should want to identify the cause of your mistake so that you can understand how to prevent it, not because your supervisor is going to need an explanation. And when you give yourself a reason for why you make a mistake, be real and honest. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 41

No mistake is too big or small to apologize for, and no ego should be too big to make that apology. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking an apology doesn’t matter. And apology indicates that you care and, to be blunt, that you’re a responsible adult - not a six-year-old child. So whether you did something small like forget to respond to an email, or something much larger, like hurt a friend, take the time to deliver an honest apology and explain how you’ll prevent your mistake from happening again in the future. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 42

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We even have specific days dedicated to loving specific people: anniversaries are for lovers, Mother’s Day is for mothers, Father’s Day is for fathers, and Valentine’s day is for florists. But love shouldn’t just be reserved for other people. First and foremost, you must learn to love yourself. It’s only when you love yourself that you can truly love others. When you don’t love yourself, you will project your insecurities and internal issues onto others, preventing you from ever genuinely seeing them for who they are. In addition, if you don’t love yourself, you’re probably not the happiest version of yourself, and thus you’re unable to love someone to the best of your ability. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 64

You might be wondering, “Okay, honestly, does loving yourself really relate to being a Bawse?” And my response it, “It relates so much that they're basically first cousins.” Loving yourself means you care about yourself. And someone who is well taken care of is more likely to be happy, healthy, and productive. Loving yourself means wanting to make yourself proud. Loving yourself means consoling yourself and encouraging yourself when you face failure, which you inevitably will. And most importantly, loving yourself means that you advocate for yourself, ensuring that you’re treated the way a Baswe should be treated. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 65

I didn’t always love myself. I had to fall in love with myself, and it was a really awkward first date. There I was, depressed and wanting to end my life, unmotivated, and scared. When you’re all alone, not by force but by choice, because you don’t feel any desire to be around anyone, the only person you have to rely on is yourself. I don’t know what caused me to do it, nor do I know how I convinced myself to, but on one of my worst nights, I started to hug myself. I felt so sorry for myself and for how I was feeling. I could almost see myself as a character in a movie, and my natural reaction was to wrap my arms around myself. After all, that’s what you do when you see someone who’s sad, right? I hugged myself to sleep and survived the night. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 65

When we’re dealing with difficult situations we tend to think about how our actions will affect others. If I make this decision, how will my mom feel? How will my husband feel? How will it affect my brother? Will anyone be mad? It’s great to consider other people’s feelings, but don’t forget that you’re also a person who deserved to be considered. It’s essential for your to stop and think about how something makes YOU feel. Then you can make a decision based on EVERYONE you love. That’s the difference between being selfish and loving yourself. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 66

People often ask me if I have a clone - how do I manage to get so much done? A true Bawse is able to get a LOT done in one day, and as a result, people can’t help but wonder, “Do they sleep?” I get that question a lot. The answer is yes, I sleep. I love sleep. But when I’m awake, I’m awake 2.0. That means I treat my waking hous like I’m making up for the time I’ve spent asleep. I want to do so much in a day that when my head hits the pillow at night, I’m exhaused and feel I’ve earned the right to catch some z’s. Many people I admire all share this quality, this relentless work ethic that allows them to complete tasks back to back througout their day. My friends always joke that they need to pretend to be doing work around me in order to keep up. I’m not telling you this to brag (although, heyyy); I’m telling you because I’m now going to let you in on what keeps me going. The key to hustling hard is to pause. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 70

That’s the result of going and going and going and not giving yourself a moment to pause and reflect on why you’re even going in the first place. The reason I “go” is because I crave amazing life experiences. My most prized accomplishments have nothing to do with money or status and everything to do with meeting cool people and experiencing unique things in different places around the world. Yet there I was, having an amazing experience but yearning for my bed. What a sad thing it is to work so hard and yet be unable to enjoy the fruits of your labour. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 72

When I meet people I admire, I take ten minutes out of my day to think about the meeting, smile about it, and fangirl. If I win an award, I will go through the rounds of speeches, media, and celebrations, but then I will sit by myself and hold the trophy for a few minutes in silence. If I want to continue working as hard as possible, I need to FEEL and truly EXPERIENCE the fruits of my labour. Inspiration fuels the hustle, and what better inspiration than enjoying the results of your hard work? Don’t cheat yourself by blazing through your life. Reflection is necessary and should be on your to-do list. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 75

Aside from beating my chest, pumping myself up, and humming the Rocky theme music, I say something very specific: “Fear and nervousness are nowhere on the path to success.” I then hold up my left index finger and say, “You are here right now.” I lift my right index finger, hold it apart from the left one, and say, “This is the goal.” When I look at my reflection in the mirror, I can see that the space between my two fingers is filled with nothing but air. There is no fear, nervousness, or distraction in that space. I suggest you try this the next time you have to do something scary, because most of the obstacles we face are the ones we make up in our minds. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 86

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In addition to watching shows, I also schedule inspiration by taking breaks from my work and using that time to watch interviews of people I admire. If I’m struggling to write a comedy script, I’ll watch an interview with Rebel Wilson or Amy Schumer. If I’m struggling to write lyrics, I’ll watch an interview with Nicki Minaj or Drake. I think there’s something so inspirational about hearing about other people’s experiences and what drives them. It’s almost like they’re lending you some of their fuel or giving you a boost with spiritual jumper cables. Hearing someone so accomplished talk about their struggles and successes has definitely become crucial inspirational fuel for me. Therefore, I make time to watch a decent number of interviews every week. It’s my version of taking a break in a meaningful way - a productive break, if you will. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 98

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People often say “words lie and actions speak the truth.” I used to think that was a great saying, but then I heard a motivational speaker by the name of Trant Shelton say something even better. He said, “Words lie; actions can lie too. Consistency speaks the truth.” My jaw dropped at the accuracy of these words. Talking about something doesn’t make it true. And action is only meaningful if it’s consistent. A Bawse knows that if you want to be taken seriously, you need to show people who you are, and then keep showing them. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 121

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We’re always trying to look for shortcuts. It’s in our nature. I don’t have to unlock my phone to take a picture because I can just swipe up. When my GPS can save me sixty seconds on the road, it’ll reroute me. Worst-case scenario, if I do have to unlock my phone (annoying!), then I can just scan my finger because who has time to input four numbers? I don’t even have to type a full sentence when TXTING b/c abbreviations are v easy 2 understand FYI and acceptable AF BTW. Who has time to meet new people and establish meaningful relationships? Instead, I can just swipe left or right on your image and let superficial computing do the work. Shortcuts save us time and energy; let’s face it, they’re convenient. However, a Bawse knows that shortcuts do not exist when it comes to success. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 136

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Hear me when I say you MUST start climbing and do the work. No ifs, ands, or buts. Remember all those things you had a major project to finish and you just started at it, thinking, “What if I get a doctor’s note?” All right, great, you faked a stomachache and got a note. Now what? You still have to do the assignment. Then you think, “Maybe I’ll just copy off a friend.” Your teacher caught you and now you have to do the assignment again. No matter how many times you stare at this project, it’s not going anywhere. Why? Because you just need to buckle down and do the work. There is no other way, so stop wasting time convincing yourself there is. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 137

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When I decided to take control of my own life and become an entrepreneur, no one was around to tell me what to do when to do it. With that reality came a beautiful freedom. And with that freedom came the possibility of making bad choices. If it was a random Monday and I wanted to sleep the entire day, no one was going to stop me. I quickly learned taht I had to be my own boss and set deadlines for myself, or I would go nowhere fast. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 143

For example, instead of saying that you are going to “write a movie script,” break your goal down into smaller, more manageable pieces, such as “create a log line,” “finish character outline,” “create mood board,” etc. If you need to force yourself to stick to those deadlines, set meetings with partners or friends and commit to sharing your ideas with them on a certain date. Deadlines are always easier to follow when they’re public and you’re held accountable for them. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 144

Think of something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time but have never gotten around to. I want you to take a second and look deep inside yourself. Do you REALLY want to accomplish this task? Are you willing to work your absolute hardest for it? Are you willing to acknowledge that your hardest isn’t your hardest, and then work even harder than that? If the answer is yes, grab a calendar and set a deadline. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 144

My empire is made up of my YouTube channel, my book, my collaborations, my social campaigns, and my partnerships.
Having said all this, I’m not suggesting you should approach important opportunities with nonchalance. You should always give 110 percent of your energy and effort. But at the same time you want to be in a position where you cannot be impacted so easily. You can be the ruler of a strong empire but still have the mentality of a hunger hustler. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 151

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My career on YouTube was actually paving a new pathway to the same end goal. You see, the audition process is very gruelling and competitive. There can be ten people who are all great for a role and yet someone is chosen over the others for reasons no one will ever really understand. Looks, height, weight, accent, ethnicity - all of these characteristics can factor into the decision. My success on YouTube gives me something special, and that is a following. When I walk into an audition, the casting agent knows that I bring a very large online audience with me and that my audience is ready to support me in my future projects. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 155

Think about where you want to get in life, what you want to achieve, and where you want to be years from now. Now think about the directions you’ve been given to get there. I want you to pretend like there is an earthquake and the roads between you and your goal are cracking. How are you going to get to your destination? Find two or three more paths that all lead to the same place. That’s how you should view the road map to success. It’s not a straight line, but a loopy, curvy maze that resembles one of those puzzles on the back of a cereal box.
- Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 156

To take failure and turn it on its head, to make something unexpected out of it, is a beautiful thing. I could have abandoned the #GirlLove Challenge. I could have let my depression take me down a path that led nowhere. But instead I decided to get my hands dirty with some Play-Doh and create something new. Often we’re too busy being disappointed or upset to recognize that the tools we need to create a new masterpiece are right in front of us. They just require a little rearranging and assembly. Don’t let disappointment blind you to potential. Roll up your sleeves, use your creativity as glue, and mold your success. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 175

Well, I’m here to tell you two things: (1) you’re special and (2) you’re not special.
You’re special because you are a unique individual possessing a set of characteristics that no one else in the world has. Even if you have an identical twin born four minutes after you (in which case you should probably hug your mother’s uterus on a daily basis), there is still no one in the world exactly like you - and that makes you special. But that specialness goes away if you do not do anything with your unique characteristics. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 186 

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“People always say that if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room. Looking around, I can definitely say that I’m absolutely in the correct room, because you’re all so talented and inspirational.” At the end of the day, you can’t learn new things if you’re always the one giving the lessons. You need to be around people who challenge you, intimidate you, and teach you new things. Being a Bawse isn’t always about being the best; it’s about placing yourself in the best situations. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 201

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Live in the Moment: The best way to have presence is to be present (MIND = BLOWN). This means that when you’re at an event or talking to someone, be there entirely. Don’t constantly check your phone or be thinking about something else. Instead, take in your surroundings, meet new people, be interested in what’s going on and absorb the energy of the room. Not only will you probably have a better time, but you’ll appear more approachable. No one wants to approach someone who is scrolling through Instagram stalking their ex. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 218

Body language can often speak louder than words. Crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets will make you seem unapproachable. If you aren’t directly facing someone while they are talking to you, it will seem like you’re not paying full attention. Slouching makes you seem less confident. Walking slowly can make you seem less certain. Whenever you do anything with your body, I want you to feel purposeful and powerful. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 221

The same idea applies when you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while and they end the conversation with “Let’s grab a coffee soon. I’ll text you!” We both know I’m never  getting that text, but it sounds polite to say it. However, it’s actually no polite because it’s not sincere. A Bawse doesn’t make empty gestures; a Bawse says what they actually mean. A better response would be “It was really nice seeing you. Hope I run into you again.” That sounds just as polite, but it’s not filled with fake fluff. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 224

Communication should be relatively easy, but we often make things complicated by not saying what we mean. We convince ourselves that we need to sugarcoat things to such a degree that our actual message ends up buried in sprinkles. Or we beat around the bush and people have to solve a puzzle to understand what we’re saying. I believe you can be both charming and straightforward. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 225

I’m also a big believer in the phrase “Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” B
Being straightforward doesn’t mean you have to be rude or harsh. There’s always a way to be open and honest while also being respectful. Anyone who behaves otherwise is just being lazy. This mentality is particularly helpful when you need to confront someone. To be honest, I’ve never been any good when it comes to confrontation, but the more I focus on saying what I Actually mean, the easier it gets. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 225

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If you start a business with a partner and your personal goals are to do a lot of charity and social work, you may run into issues if your co-worker just wants to make a lot of money. Does wanting to make it big make him wrong? No. Some people want to be rich. Others want o make a social impact. Maybe both of your priorities will change and completely switch later in life, but for the moment they’re different. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 236

I’m expecting [Selena Gomez’s] response to be a giggle or smile alongside an obligatory “thanks,” but instead she calmly says, “It’s so raw and beautiful.” I can’t remember a time when someone spoke to me with that self awareness and confidence. She truly believed the cover was beautiful, and so she said it. I think many of us don’t own our own beauty because we fear sounding arrogant. But not Sel. She knows that calling yourself beautiful can be empowering, not necessarily cocky. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 241

I’ve changed in the years since I’ve gotten to know her. I understand the different between being yourself and being unapologetically yourself on a deeper level. Beyond the weird quirks and self-deprecating jokes I make in interviews, I’m learning to accept all facets of myself. If I’m upset and make a poor decision, I try not to be ashamed. I made that decision. My unique personality and life circumstances helped make that decision, and even if I have to fix whatever mess I caused, I own that decision. If I feel jealous or insecure, I embrace that side of me and proudly communicate it. That’s my insecurity and jealousy, and it’s who I am in that moment. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 243

What stood out to me was his behaviour around people he just met - in this case, my film crew. He shakes every person’s hand when he meets them. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone - from my sound gut to my producer, my assistant, and the security guard who is trying to pry me off Dwayne’s leg. Which, by the way, stop that and LET ME LIVE. Rock climbing has always been on my bucket list! - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 246

Before sitting down, I went around the room and introduced myself to the writer, the assistant, the sound technician, the camera man, and the security guard. I was shaking what my mamma gave me - and that’s my hand. I got more stares and shocked looks in that moment than all the other times I’ve shaken other things my mamma gave me. I’m serious. What? I like to have fun. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 248

The way I see it, it’s on you to create great opportunities. Whenever you meet someone for the first time, you have the opportunity to make a killer first impression and ensure they remember you. So you have two options. You can walk into a room and blend in with the crowd. I mean, this is cool too, you know, if you want to be all those other characters in a Where’s Waldo? book that people skim over. Or before you enter a room, you can take a deep breath and commit to making a great impression. Yes, it takes a lot of energy and time to make people feel important and valued. And to that I respond, “Boo-effing-hoo.” You’re a Bawse now, and you need to spend less energy stalking your ex on Instagram and more energy making phenomenal first impressions. Plus, there are so many famous puppies in Instagram now who are way cuter than your ex. Get your priorities straight. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 248

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Isn’t it such a shame that we have this amazing piece of machinery inside our skulls that is capable of so many amazing things, but we often use it to gossip about other people? Thomas Edison’s brain invented the lightbulb, and so I find it disrespectful when we use our brains to talk about how we dislike what the Kardashians are wearing. What a waste of a miracle. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 268

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Everything you encounter on your journey to becoming a Bawse is essential for you to succeed. Every all-nighter, financial investment, and milestone reached help shape who you are. In the same way, another sharp turns in the road. A Bawse should respect the art of hustling and make sure it doesn’t become extinct. If everyone who worked hard gave all the slackers a handout, the art of the hustle would die. Support those who work hard. The hustle depends on it. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 281

Have you ever met a person who was positive? I haven’t. That’s because people who aren’t nice exude negative energy. When you’re nice to people, you take control of the energy surrounding you. You are creating a positive environment that will help you be successful (and happy). Not being nice is like poisoning yourself with bad vibes. - Lilly Singh, How to be a bawse, p. 291

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