#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso - Book Summary

256 pages

Print | eBook | Audiobook

I liked that Sophia talked about her trials and tribulations of attempting school, working part-time jobs, and working on her business. She gives an honest recollection of multiple perspectives in her life that not everyone can relate to (for example, I can relate to being in school and an employee, but I cannot relate to her experience of being a business owner with employees and $1M+ in revenue). She is straightforward and gives honest tips (especially in the section called “On Hiring, sTaying Employed, and Firing (pg. 151 - 177)”

Below I expand on my biggest lessons that came up for me while reading this book:

  1. You don’t get what you don’t ask for

  2. You can be entrepreneur without being an entrepreneur

  3. Be willing to let go

  4. Starting a business can be as easy as tiny tasks

  5. Know your weaknesses

  6. Zig-Zag & Speed Date through jobs until you find the right one

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#1 - You don’t get what you don’t ask for

“A friend and I once stuck our thumbs out in a half-serious attempt to hitchhike on a Greyhound bus. Lo and behold, the bus stopped, the door opened, and we climbed on. Wet with rain, we were met with faces of equal disbelief among our fellow passengers. You don’t get what you don’t ask for.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 112

Near the end of 2018, while working on a short project, I did something out of the ordinary.

I did something extremely far from what I was used to. It was worlds away from my comfort zone. My hands were sweaty, I stared at the computer screen where I prepared talking points, and I occasionally glanced out the window to a busy street out of nervousness. I tried not to stutter while we were talking about numbers.

So what did I do? What happened?

I had the audacity to ask to get paid MORE than what I needed.

I asked for MORE than what I wanted.

To some people, they say “Pffft! That’s it?!”. But those people don’t understand. I have skills that get paid $35/h, $50/hr, or more. I would work jobs that were honorarium-based and that would look like 1.5 hours prep, 3 hours doing the work, and 1.5 hour post. That would be an honorarium of $50-100. Sure, depending on how you look at it, it could be equal to or more than minimum wage, but I wasn’t being paid for my VALUE. The not-for-profit world drilled into me that my skills are not valuable (especially as a young person), but if I work hard enough, eventually I can succeed. The not-for-profit world also taught me to take what I can get, even if it is a tiny amount.

In 2016, I finally worked a job where I was paid $18/hr, which was equivalent to about $37,440 per year in a salaried position - they even felt bad because they wanted to pay me more but the budget wouldn’t allow it. It was the first time I felt VALUED for the work I did.

So yeah, asking for more money was scary to me. And at the age of 27, when I asked as well as received, I finally understood the Jim Rohn quote, “You don't get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”

I want to get paid for my value, not just for my time.

If I want it, I have to ask for it.

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#2 - You can be entrepreneur without being an entrepreneur

Hi my name is Fonna and I am not an entrepreneur.

I learned this late into 2018.

Here are a few things I realized:

  • I realize I am an intrapreneur and like working in larger team structures. I like to leverage my skills and be a valuable part of the team. Don’t get me wrong, I still have an entrepreneurial spirit, but I don’t care to lead the ship alone and that’s okay.

  • If you are an entrepreneur and hope to build a successful business, you NEED employees eventually.

  • Being an intrapreneur does not mean being a cog in the system. Here is an article listing 5 Traits of an Intrapreneur, see if they resonate with you.

Sophia said “Entrepreneurial people are passionate about what they do, comfortable with taking risks, and quick at moving on from failures. These are all things I look for in people I hire. I want problem solvers who take nothing at face value. I want people who fight for their ideas, even fight with me. I want people who are comfortable with disagreement. And I need people who sometimes, after all of that, hear the word “no” and get right back up to work even harder.”  - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 187

There is absolutely no shame in being an employee.

“What I’m getting at here is that 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. These are all things I look for in people I hire. I want problem solvers who take nothing at face value. I want people who fight for their ideas, even fight with me. I want people who are comfortable with disagreement. And I need people who sometimes, after all of that, hear the word “no” and get right back up to work even harder.”  - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 187

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#3 - Be willing to let go

I had a job that I loved. I was learning a lot, it was flexible, and I had amazing bosses.

They were trying something new and trusted me with the role.

I was getting into my stride and feeling good about it, but then things started changing. I started making mistakes because I wasn’t being transparent with my team about my health, my life was shifting, and it was all reflecting in my work.My bosses were patient with me but in the end, I ended up not being a good fit. They had to let me go because I was hindering their ability to make the company thrive. I was mortified for being the weakest link and letting down a team of people that I deeply respected.

As I look back on the experience, I have to admit, they made the perfect decision. It didn’t feel good at the time, but it was necessary. They ended up streamlining their processes and got help in another way.

I am so proud of these folks because they made the tough decision, put their foot down, and let me go.

“Getting fired can be a much-needed wake-up call, a push in the right direction, or an escape route. Or it can just plain suck. But no matter what the details of the situation, how much you learn from it is entirely up to you.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 173

#4 - Starting a business can be as easy as tiny tasks

“The framework of eBay presented me with a series of easy-to-complete tasks (take photo, upload photo, description) that eventually added up to a business. Starting it was as easy as picking a name and uploading the first auction. That instant gratification would never have come had my first step been to write a business plan. And without that instant gratification I might not have kept going. If you’re dreaming big, #GIRLBOSS, don’t be discouraged if you have to start small. It worked for me.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 208

I have friends who have EMPIRE-SIZED business ideas and get stuck in the idea that they need to plan, research, and gather all of the necessary supplies before they even start.

This has been their downfall.

Are you one of those people?

The problem with that strategy is that you can’t get to step #30 or step #300 if you haven’t even completed step #1.

Regardless of the direction, taking your first step is crucial. If it was a shitty first step, you will learn. If it was the right kind of step, you will begin building momentum. Get started with tiny, easy-to-complete tasks and increase as you go.

Sophia also talks about 10,000 hours. She got her 10k hours by just STARTING instead of pouring over a business plan first.

“Author Malcolm Gladwell believes that one can be an expert at something after putting in ten thousand hours of practice. Needles to say, my ten thousand hours are far behind me. Had I waited to finish a business plan, or waited for investors to validate my idea, my tn-thousand-hour clock might never have begun. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not knocking business plans. What I intend to illustrate is that just going to it can be much more rewarding. Business plans are just a starting point - the best entrepreneurs know to listen along the way and adjust things, including their business plan. This advice applies to life as well, dear #GIRLBOSS. Turn on the jests and ready, set,...listen.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 184

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#5 - Know your weaknesses

“I jokingly refer to the financial side of the business as “the boring stuff,” but that’s only because it’s boring to me. Our CFO loves to look at graphs and spreadsheets and all sorts of acronyms that I am only just beginning to understand. That’s fantastic, because if there weren’t people who found finance or international logistics fascinating, none of us at Nasty Gal would have a job.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 63

I outsource my weaknesses or pass off tasks to other team members who would love to complete the task.

For example, I have an accountant who helps me with my taxes every year, I will gladly pay people to transcribe audio or video recordings for projects using Go Transcript, or am willing to pay a small fee for someone else to choose my investments via Wealthsimple, sometimes I will pay good money to eat at a restaurant because I know I’m craving the food and I can’t make it. In the future, I hope to pay someone good money to clean my home!

This is also an opportunity for you to leverage your strengths.

I work with creative types that (1) have an idea but don’t know where to start, (2) are overflowing with their workload, so they pass on some tasks to me, (3) need someone to help plan a project, and/or (4) need an organized person to help manage a project schedule and budget.

It is a loving and reciprocal relationship.

“What I know now is that nothing is universally boring - what’s boring to you could be totally engaging to someone else. If you’re bored and hating it, it’s a big sign that you’re most likely just in the wrong place. There are some folks who just straight up hate work, no matter what kind of work it is. This book just isn’t for those people. Unless you’re born the child of a billionaire, work is something we all have to do. So hell, make it something you enjoy, because bored is not a #GIRLBOSS’s natural state. At all.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 62

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#6 - Zig-Zag & Speed Date through jobs until you find the right one

“My high school years were like speed dating, but for jobs. Maybe none of these shitty jobs really saved my life, but I do believe that my variety of short-lived failures, or as I prefer to call it, job promiscuity, made me an experienced young adult. When you have an attention span the length of an eyelash, it doesn’t take long to learn what you like and what you don’t. I generally have to throw a ton of shit at the wall before learning what sticks (and no, it is no longer literally shit). To the misfortune of all the employers I’ve left in my wake, it was well worth it. - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 55-56

I call it zig-zagging, Sophia calls it speed dating.

My hard drive houses a CV listing all the things I’ve done in my personal and professional career all the way from when I was winning music awards from piano competitions to my most recent gig as a production coordinator. I started officially working and volunteering when I was 15 (so that was in 2005). Until then, I’ve amassed a wide variety of work including, but not limited to:

  1. Salvation Army Thrift Store Volunteer

  2. High School Music Room Teacher’s Aid

  3. General laborer in a factory                       

  4. Zellers cashier

  5. Cedar Fair’s Canada’s Wonderland - Food and Beverage Cast Member & Assistant

  6. Supervisor

  7. Habitat for Humanity Construction and General Labor Volunteer

  8. Freelance Photographer

  9. Pride Planning Committee Member

  10. Gap Inc. Sales Associate

  11. Inside Out Film Festival Volunteer

  12. Centre for Women and Trans* People at York University Collective Member

  13. Frontline Partners in Youth Network Volunteer

  14. Archival Project Project Coordinator & Workshop Leader

  15. Hiring Committee team member

  16. Leave it T.O. us - food service worker

  17. SOY HEAT workshop designer, workshop facilitator and public speaker

  18. EMPOWER YOUTH - peer youth educator

  19. Fujifilm Photo Lab Staff Member

  20. AIDS Action Now Postering Team

  21. AVNU Youth Outreach Coordinator

  22. Graphic Recording for GYC

  23. Virtual Personal Assistant & Virtual Project Manager

  24. NIA Centre for the Arts’ Program Coordinator

  25. NiaZamar: Redefining Beauty - Social Media Manager

  26. Forever 21 Sales Associate

  27. LGBTQ Community Programs Promoter

  28. This is Worldtown’s Media Project coordinator

  29. Film Producer, Line Producer, Production Manager, Production Coordinator, and Travel Coordinator

That is fourteen years of working and volunteering (and those are just my highlight reel). Every single job and volunteer opportunity brought upon challenges, expanded my skills, introduced me to new people, and opened me up to more possibilities. Without all of those experiences, I wouldn’t know what I like and don’t like to do. It sucks having short-term contracts, but in today’s gig economy this is the perfect time to try a million things! Try over and over again until you find the right fit.

“What all of these jobs taught me is that you have to be willing to tolerate some shit you don’t like - at least for a while. This is what my parents’ generation would call “character building,” but I prefer to call it “#GIRLBOSS training.” I didn’t expect to love any of these jobs, but I learned a lot because I worked hard and grew to love things about them. Admittedly, some were way below anyone’s intelligence level. But no matter what, I approached them with a sense of tourism and experimentation. Rather than being tied to how it all worked out, I felt like I was just going to see where things went. When you approach everything as if it’s a big, fun experiment, then it’s not that big of a dal if things don’t work out. If the plan changes, that can be even better. There are secret opportunities hidden inside every failure, which I’ll get into in another chapter, but start looking now - they are everywhere!” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 65


That’s IS your job

“You want to know what four words I probably hate the most? “That’s not my job.” Nasty Gal is not a place where these four words fly. At the end of the day, we’re all here for one reason and one reason only - to make the company succeed - and there will undoubtedly be a day (perhaps every day) when you will have to roll up your sleeves and dive in where you’re needed. When a company is growing quickly, there will be times when there are holes - there is a job that needs to be done, and there is no one there to do it.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 163

Own up to your mistakes

“Own up to your mistakes and apologize for them. Everyone will make a mistake at some point, and the sooner you can admit where you went wrong, the sooner you can start to fix it. Be honest with yourself about yourself and your abilities. Many people accept titles that are beyond their experience to only later find themselves up to their neck in problems they can’t solve, and too embarrassed to admit they weren’t qualified in the first place. And what’s the first rule about holes? If you’re in one, stop digging.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 164

Your cover letter must tell the reader what YOU can do for THEM

“I don’t care about what a job will do for you and your personal development. I know that sounds harsh, but I don’t know you, so the fact that you want to work for my company does not automatically mean that I have an interest in helping you grow your career. I have a business that is growing by the day, so I want to know what you can do for me. It’s as simple as that.”  - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 153

Law of Attraction

“Chances are that you know someone who is really negative. You know the type: always complaining, getting fired, having her car broken into, his girlfriend is cheating on him. These people are convinced that life is shit...and so it is. It’s the age-old concept of like attracts like, or the law of attraction. You get back what you put out, so you might as well think positively, focus on visualizing what you want instead of getting distracted by what you don’t want, and send the universe your good intentions so that it can send them right back.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 120

“I’d put so much energy into thinking about what I didn’t want to happen that I’d caused that exact thing to happen.
I conjured that bitch.” - Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS, pg. 127