When I first cracked open “Eat, Pray, Love,” I was riding the subway uptown to my communal-living apartment in the heart of Harlem in New York City. I was an ambitious 23-year-old with big dreams of becoming a “real” journalist, still fresh to the concrete jungle I had selected as my home. My meager entry-level editor salary barely covered my rent, and as I paged through this book by Elizabeth Gilbert, her life seemed unimaginable: She was an author who had the financial freedom to turn her life upside down in pursuit of happiness via travel. At this point, I had yet to get a passport, and had very few bylines to my name. Her writing style was so fluid and inspiring, it made me want to run home and scribble down my own thoughts … and so I did. And, truth be told, I never really stopped.
Fast forward eight years to 2020, and I’ve been lucky to travel and report stories about 37 countries and counting. I’m my own boss, with a lucrative career as a journalist and co-founder of a content development agency. I’ve had many divine adventures, just like Gilbert did, even visiting Bali and Italy in search of what drives me. There were plenty of twists and turns along the way, but when I think of these humble beginnings — getting by on boiled pasta with olive oil and dry parmesan for dinner — I can’t believe how my professional life has unfolded.
I’m not alone. These 11 female entrepreneurs found their push of faith via the words of someone else. Here, they recommend their most motivating reads:
“Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“This book made me take the leap into my life—into the great unknown. It’s about stepping into your power as a woman. It tells the story through many stories about embarking on a Heroine’s journey, including potential pitfalls, obstacles and unearthing your gifts and skills, defining what it means to be a woman by your own standards. This book really made me take the leap of faith into my life and life’s potential, including relationships, reflecting on my childhood traumas, raising a family, career, the inner life, the individualization process, and becoming the “heroine of your own life” transformation. It has had a profound impact on my life, and it is a book I return to over and over again, reading the stories and seeing them with fresh eyes at various stages in my life. I think this is a must-read for every woman.”
Recommended by: Shel Pink, who in 2004 founded SPARITUAL, which creates sustainable, vegan, clean beauty products.
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
“This book tells the journey of a shepherd boy in his pursuit of his dreams. Along the way, he encounters immense hardship and obstacles, but through it all there are constant reminders that he should continue to take his destiny into his own hands and persevere. ‘When you want something, the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’ This sentiment was extremely encouraging for me to take the leap and build the solution that I wanted to see in this challenging world of parenting and health. It solidified my belief that we as individuals can create any future or version of ourselves that we want. We just have to be bold enough to take our future into our own hands.”
Recommended by: Lisa Barnett, president, CMO and co-founder, Little Spoon. Founded in 2017, her company is a national direct-to-consumer children’s food and nutrition company offering fresh, organic baby food, vitamins, natural remedies and probiotics.
“Not to sound obvious, but this book really made me want to do cool sh*t. So many books about starting a business are scary, filled with anecdotes about the perils of starting a business or stats about why most small companies fail. ‘Do Cool Sh*t’ is a story about an entrepreneur who, with a shoestring budget and limited experience, pursued her passion to create multiple mission-driven businesses like WILD and Thinx. This book encouraged me to take the leap because it helped me to reflect on my reasons for wanting to start a business in the first place and allowed me to conceptualize what the road from idea to reality could look like. Miki emphasizes the importance of the entrepreneurial journey. She speaks to the themes of learning from failure and the power of community in a fresh way. Most importantly, as I read, I was inspired to explore the questions, ‘What does a life I love look like?’ and ‘Is Rose & Rex a part of that life?’ The answer was ‘yes’ to both, and that propelled me forward.”
Recommended by: Allison Klein, founder and CEO of Rose & Rex, founded in 2017. This company provides educational, design-focused toys to support learning through play.
“A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking
“When I was twelve, I told my American cousin that I wanted to become an astrophysicist. (I’m French and grew up in Paris’s outskirts.) So he sent me a copy of ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking. It was actually the first book I read in English. I learned the idea of thinking boldly about ideas that are bigger than ourselves. Fast forward to when I was searching for more meaningful work. Remembering this book and its message — that our existence is but a tiny blip in the universe — sparked me to go for my big dreams. To do it now, before it’s too late.”
Recommended by: Phnam Bagley, co-founder and creative director of Nonfiction Design. This San Francisco-based product design firm, created in 2016, is focused on building a better future for humans.
“Frequency: The Power of Personal Vibration” by Penney Peirce
“I was once a member of an adrenaline-pumping late-night rollerblade skate club. We met once a week at 10 p.m. and used downtown Atlanta as our playground. Two months before I joined this daredevil rollerblade crew, I received this book for my birthday. When I began reading it, I initially dismissed the book as lame and boring — until I hit a metal ledge on the sidewalk while skating going 30 mph. Ouch! The next day I woke up and to my surprise, I had a sudden urge to start re-reading it. The book is about metaphysics, intuition and energy essentially how to go in the direction that life is pointing you. I was feeling like it was time for me to leave my job and exit my comfort zone. My inner voice was talking to me: I was trying to escape my life of dread by finding new excitement. As I continued to read the book, chapter by chapter, it was like the author was talking directly to me. It was surreal.”
Recommended by: Tiara Zolnierz, co-founder of EnrichHER, created in 2018. Her fintech company is changing how women-led ventures get access to working capital.
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Elizabeth Bennett has always inspired me. She was strong-willed and smart. She understood the kind of life that she wanted to live and would not allow anyone to pressure her into living the life she was expected to live. She was not afraid to speak her mind, which at the time was quite unique. Elizabeth Bennett made me realize that if a woman in the 1800s could be her own boss, I certainly could be in the 2000s. She was — and still is — an inspiration to me, and has influenced how I lead my organization on a daily basis.”
Recommended by: Amy Binder, CEO of RF|Binder, founded in 2001. This strategic communications consultancy works with global corporations, institutions and emerging growth companies to address business challenges and opportunities.
“All the Single Ladies” by Rebecca Traister
“The most important roles we have are who we become through the skill sets we refine and master. Our careers are important, and the cultural landscape now primes us to undertake risks, and challenges us to pursue our goals. Traister explained that we have to be comfortable with ourselves being single, comfortable with ourselves financially, comfortable with our appearance, jobs, homes, cars and relationships, before we think about marriage. We need to participate in the entrepreneur’s world and not get tied into the ignorant mindset that we need to marry well to reap some achievement, we need to go out and get our own, not borrow our husbands’ success. We need to create financial independence through ownership, and business management. We live in a world that needs constant improvement. I say take the reins and improve the world you live in, and you cannot do that in the back seat. It is important to take a leap.”
Recommended by: Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, a board-certified doctor of dental surgery, and owner of GLO Modern Dentistry in Hollywood, Ca.
“Super Genes” by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Rudoph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.
“This book explores the combination of the physiological, biological, and metaphysical way the mind and body function. The book illustrates how they operate in response to internal and external circumstances, and in optimal environments can transcend perceived ‘predetermined conditions.’ In reading this book I felt my body, a place where I live every day, is powerful and always working to get back to its optimal and highest self. My leap into entrepreneurship has been a calling to fulfill a greater purpose, and if my body is always automatically working to be at its highest vibration, then so should I.”
Recommended by: Love White, who founded Love & Snow in 2016, a natural hair and scalp line designed for all hair types and textures.
“Start With Why” by Simon Sinek
“Simon Sinek’s book evaluates why great leaders such as Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers have little in common at the surface, but when you dig deeper, they think and communicate the same. Most people are all about what they do and maybe even how they do it, but these great leaders start with ‘why.’ Their journey was conceived on the notion that if you lead with purpose, success will follow. I always knew I wanted to help others reach their entrepreneurial goals, and this book helped me better define how that could happen.”
Recommended by: Lais Pontes Green, founder and president of The Pontes Group, She created her agency in 2013 to provide solutions for public relations, social media and influencer marketing.
“Brave, Not Perfect” by Reshma Saujani
“I came across this book after it was highly recommended by friends on my Goodreads app. It was very refreshing to read a book by a fellow Asian woman and entrepreneur — she teaches women to be brave in what they do and shed the notion of being perfect, as society has taught. The themes of fearing less, failing more, and living bolder are consistent throughout her book and were relevant to my decision in taking the leap of faith. Working at my corporate job, I felt myself trying to please everyone, avoiding conflict, playing it safe which led to me feeling unfulfilled at a job I spent so many hours at each week. I was afraid of failure, and that was a big deterrent in taking the leap of faith. Her book really showed that by choosing bravery over perfection, I could have more agency over my voice and who I wanted to be. I wanted to challenge myself and strive for a greater mission of more Asian American Pacific Islander representation in fashion.”
Recommended by: Tanya Zhang, co-founder of Nimble-Made. This direct-to-consumer company provides dress shirts with in a variety of sizes to provide a fit for men of all shapes and sizes.
“Principles: Life and Work” by Ray Dalio
“I was born into an entrepreneurial family, so I was familiar with the mindset since I was little. I needed to follow my own path and chase my dreams without fear of failure. I feel comfortable with dealing with uncertainty and risk, which is very common when you are an entrepreneur. I have always wanted to make a difference while we are alive and create solutions that improve our everyday lives. This book shares the experience of Ray Dalio, starting up with a small team and all the positives and negatives that come with it. Ray was capable of building an empire with hard work, good team support and smart management, which is what really inspired me to take a leap. Being an entrepreneur is not easy, and you have to be ready to encounter many obstacles, many ‘no’s’ and many disappointments. I just remember at the end of the day, you only live once, so why not live a life that fulfills you and makes a difference?”
Recommended by: Andrea Lisbona Vives, CEO and founder of TOUCHLAND, which offers a beauty-forward hand sanitizer with skincare benefits.
Do you have a great read that inspired you to make a change in your life? Do tell! Share your book recs with us on Facebook.
More on HerMoney:
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- What Female Small Business Owners Are Doing to Make It Through the Covid-19 Crisis
- The $5 Million Women (And the 4 Steps Female Entrepreneurs Can Take to Get There)
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