I read a plethora of books to help me get to where I am. These are business books I believe every working woman needs for solid career advice whether you’re working up the company or branching out into your own business. I know, I know – business books are boring and bland and blah blah blah. Some books are really inspirational but business books have a bad reputation of being preachy and philosophical. I’ve read them all – the good, the bad, the surprising.
Whenever someone casually tells me that I’m successful, I remember all those years of hardships. I remember hearing a speaker at a conference say, “there’s no such as an overnight success.” Like everyone else, I’d roll my eyes and shift in my plastic chair. But it’s true. There are no overnight successes. If you have the energy to keep going, good things will eventually come. Except when success comes, everyone looking in forgets to see all the years you had to endure.
What always grounds me, brings me back to staying humble and working hard to reading phenomenal books that inspire, motivate and empower me to keep going.
No matter where you are in your career journey, books provide a great perspective and the really great ones offer practical advice. Below are some books that I continue to keep on my bookshelf and I hope that they help you on whatever business you’re chasing.
I’m a very complex person. It’s taken me years to say that with pride. I’m both incredibly creative and fluid and also shrewdly practical, strategic and tactile. Which is why I absolutely love Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It is a book every entrepreneur needs to read. Whether you want to follow his advice or not, it’s amazing how introspective Marcus was when you consider that he ran a majority of the human population at one point in history. He questioned his own behaviors and was on a quest to be a great leader, but more importantly, an upstanding person. This book is a new translation of notes he took throughout his reign and is read that way as well. It’s not formatted or read like a novel. Instead, it’s like a journal of notes and thoughts he would jot down.
If you’ve ever looked yourself in the mirror and thought, “why not me?” then this book is for you. When people become famous or successful there is something about them that feels untouchable. They’ve made it to the upper echelons. No matter what goal you are trying to chase, this is a great coffee table book to flip through. It’s a great reminder that being great is a mindset. It’s a mind game with yourself. You have to be bold and allow yourself to believe that you can be the very best. Everyone who we consider great started somewhere and it all begins in your mind.
This is an oldie, but a goodie. It provides really basic information about starting a business. Nowadays there is plenty of free information online about choosing a business model, licenses, proposals, and more. However, this book is a concise guide that buttons everything up with frank points about starting and running a business. Their new updated edition is a great guide to keep on your bookshelf whenever you’re in a pickle.
Mary Kay is a household name in the United States. It symbolizes beauty, freedom, and independence for women. My mother grew up buying Mary Kay products from women who sold it at the factory she worked at. At first, I didn’t understand the concept until I watched her co-worker, a blue-collar working woman, go from working alongside my mom in the factory, into driving a pink Mary Kay car and becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur. The Mary Kay book is written with timeless principles that you should practice when starting a business. It is a really great book on selling, marketing, and leadership for men and women alike. I especially love the tips on team motivation since I’ve worked with large and small sales teams.
This is a great book by Cathie Black, former chairwoman of Heart Magazines. She oversaw the publication of 20 popular magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Elle and O, The Oprah Magazine. If you love the magazine industry, you’ll love reading about her rise from magazine sales at Holiday magazine all the way to the top of the industry at Hearst. What I enjoy most about her job is that it provides very practical advice that any woman (or man) can take and use right now. Many career advice books have a bad reputation of being too pie-in-the-sky and philosophical. This book gives you clear advice about how to be taken seriously, dealing with power, how to conduct yourself in meetings. This is a must read – highly recommend.
One of the best fashion business stories of our times is the rise of Gilt. These two savvy college grads, along with their friends, turned the fashion industry on its head when they started their website Gilt selling high-end fashion merchandise with the concept of the “flash sale.” I still remember when I saw their logo for the first time with a “members only” web page promising deals on luxury goods. Since then, there has been a huge (no joke, huge) influx of competitors to their business model. However, they really were an e-commerce unicorn for their time and it’s a great David versus Goliath story. They’re a multi-million dollar corporation now but it’s enlightening to read about their early days when the site first went live and everyone sat around the computer wondering – is anyone going to buy?
I was completely dumbstruck the other day when someone referred to me as a “blogger.” Now, I don’t have anything against that title, but I never really considered myself as a blogger. I didn’t set out to be a blogger, and my main business is still Les Naly Creative Group (LNCG), my B2B Tech Marketing Agency. Professionally, marketing has been my tried and true, my bread and butter, my love and hate. It’s been a tumultuous 10 years, but at the end of the day, I still consider myself a business owner first and foremost and then a writer or designer above the title of blogger.
Focus on the goal, strategy, and task at hand. Focus on working hard and being the best version of yourself every single day. Be better than you were yesterday. Do better than you did before. Every day.
And when you run out of energy – relax, grab a book and get some inspiration.