I’ve always been a bookworm, so when I decided to start my own blog and website I knew I wanted to include posts about books that inspire me. Why? What does this have to do with my role as a marketing specialist and female entrepreneur? Everything.
Reading fuels our brains, and allows us to become inspired by ideas and by other people. It helps keep our brains active, while being an enriching source of entertainment. I read as much as I can in order to become inspired by the world and people around me.
I decided to focus here on authors and works who have influenced my life and work in a deeply personal way. While I’ve read numerous fiction pieces and more traditional non-fiction business books that have also inspired me, those are tales for another day!
In this post, I look at the works of 5 female authors I have read over the past few years that have truly shaped me as a female entrepreneur, and as a woman.
I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Brené Brown and her work, and I’ve recommended her books numerous times to both friends and family. Her work encourages us to be mindful each and every day, which is a practice I’ve adopted, and benefited from immensely in my own health and happiness as a female entrepreneur.
Dr. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She’s written numerous books, many of which I’ve enjoyed! Brown has herself become a female entrepreneur to watch, with her hugely successful TedTalks and the creation of The Daring Way, a training and certification program.
Here’s a bit about each of her pieces that I’ve read so far, as well as an inspirational tidbit from each:
I was blown away by how much I learned about myself in this piece. Brown focuses this book around 10 central guideposts that provide a roadmap for us to cultivate courage, compassion, and compassion with ourselves and those around us.
“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.“
(Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, page 6)
I continued my progression through Brown’s body of work with Daring Greatly (there is a suggested order of which books to read first on Brown’s blog). My first thought upon completing the book was, “Wow. This book should be required reading for every single person.” I learned so much more again about myself in this book, building upon what I’d already learned in The Gifts of Imperfection. In this work, Brown focuses on the importance of vulnerability and of shifting away from seeing it as a weakness, to instead embracing it as a directional path for courage, engagement and connection.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.”
(Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, page 34)
In this next piece, Brown deals with the ultimate reality of being brave and daring greatly in today’s world; the fall. She discusses how we must own our stories in order to create our new endings. What I loved most about this piece was its down-to-earth real message. If we are going to take chances in our live and careers as female entrepreneurs, of course we will fall. Here, Brown helps us pick ourselves back up.
“If you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
(Brené Brown, Rising Strong, page 4)
This was my first book of 2019, and I was delighted to start the year off on such a great note! In this piece, Brown acknowledges the unique position we are in today – with polarization and disconnection more rampant than ever before – and how its more important than ever before to dig deeper for courage, vulnerability and empathy within ourselves and others. For me, the biggest take away of this book was finding that courage to stand alone as Brown mentions in the title. That, is true strength.
“To know you can navigate the wilderness on your own – to know that you can stay true to your beliefs, trust yourself, and survive it. That is true belonging”
(Brené Brown, Braving The Wilderness, page 102)
For more information on Dr. Brown’s work, and to order copies of any of her books, please visit BrenéBrown.com
My admiration of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was first sparked by her revolutionary 2012 TedTalk, “We Should All Be Feminists,” which was made into a book in 2014. This was actually her second TedTalk, with her first one, “The Danger of a Single Story” also an astounding piece.
Adichie is a novelist, activist, teacher and feminist from Nigeria. Her poignant, real discussions about gender, race, and literature in contemporary society are necessary conversations and topics to continue to surround ourselves with.
I had the opportunity to hear Adichie speak in person at Hubspot Inbound in September 2018. In her keynote speech (which you can check out here!), Adichie inspired me beyond belief.
Here are some of her works I’ve had the opportunity to read, and highly recommend:
Dear Ijeawaele is the product of a letter to a close friend. According to Adichie, a few years ago a childhood friend sent her a letter asking how to raise her baby girl as a feminist in today’s world. Adichie’s response is Dear Ijeawaele. This short piece is inspiring, poetic, insightful, and a must-read.
“Her job is not to make herself likeable. Her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people.”
(Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawaele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Page 36)
As I mentioned already, this essay is adapted from Adichie’s infamous TedTalk and should be on every single person’s bookshelf! Why? Because Adichie offers a unique and tangible ideology of what feminism should mean in today’s world… and why it should be something we all care about.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves. To make themselves smaller. We say to girls ‘you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.”
(Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists, Page 28)
For more information on Ms. Adichie’s work, and to order copies of any of her books, please visit Chimamanda.com
The late Dr. Angelou is another incredible author to inspire any female entrepreneur. With poetry, autobiographies and novels on difficult and important conversations, her work exemplifies the true beauty of the human spirit. In her life, Dr. Angelou was awarded over 50 honorary doctorate degrees, had over 30 bestselling books, and empowered many through her writing and activism.
In this autobiography of her early childhood, Angelou recounts stories of her difficult upbringing. This book made me smile at times, and saddened at others. It is unbelievably eloquent, and a tale of fighting tooth and nail to triumph – a story everyone should read.
“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with the shades of deeper meaning.”
(Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Page 98)
For more information on Dr. Angelou’s work, and to order copies of any of her books, please visit mayaangelou.com
My fellow Canadian, Rupi Kaur, is another to make my list of works that every female entrepreneur should read! Kaur is a young Indian-Canadian who writes and illustrates poetry collections based on her own experiences. Her works touch on themes including loss, trauma, healing and migration. I polished off both of her collections in one weekend, completely enraptured by her words and art.
In this first poetry collection, I was able to find my own vulnerability in that of Kaur. She led me to some important introspective self-discoveries, and inspired me as a woman.
“If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise”
(Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey, Page 156)
In her second collection, Kaur provides an incredibly moving portrait of a first-generation Canadian feminist. This was the perfect follow-up to Milk and Honey, dealing with similar themes, but in a unique style that focuses on the different stages of the life of a flower. A beautiful and poignant must-read!
“Since day one she’s already had everything she needs within herself – it’s the world that convinced her she did not.”
(Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers Page 233)
For more information on Ms. Kaur’s work, and to order copies of any of her books, please visit rupikaur.com
British novelist, Zadie Smith is the final member of my (what could be infinite) list of authors that every female entrepreneur should familiarize herself with. Smith is a highly-acclaimed novelist with numerous accolades, 6 novels, and a collection of essays on the way!
What I found most inspiring about this work was the fact that it was Smith’s literary debut. Its depth, strength and courage blow me a way when I consider that it was a debut… and that’s definitely something I remind myself as a young woman starting her own business! This important novel deals with serious topics relaying to culture and diversity, while adding a comedic element to the aspects of our daily lives.
“You are never stronger, then when you land on the other side of despair”
(Zadie Smith, White Teeth, Page 115)
For more information on Ms. Smith’s work, and to order copies of any of her books, please visit zadiesmith.com
As I said before, this list could be infinite. There is no shortage of inspiring authors for us female entrepreneurs to look to for words of wisdom! That said, these 5 women in particular have really touched my life with their work, taught me a lot about myself, and have inspired me to be the best at what I do – just as they all are themselves!
Have you read anything by any of these badass female authors? Comment below!
Want to read together?