Not too long ago I compiled a list of 10 business books that every savvy entrepreneur should read. Although each of the books on the list is an excellent resource, as one reader kindly took the time to point out, I hadn’t included a single book written by a woman.
This simultaneously horrified and surprised me. How had I forgotten to include a woman’s voice?
I’m a woman; I work for a company run by a female CEO who frequently talks about running a business as a mother and who believes in speaking out about gender inequality; I’m an advocate of encouraging women to branch out in fields in which they are underrepresented; and I’ve felt first-hand the effect of being marginalized in almost imperceptible ways, simply for being a woman.
The truth is, unless we make a concerted effort to shine the spotlight on those that are doing well, particularly in areas where gender equality is a problem, we risk the possibility of not changing anything.
And, given the difference in leadership and management style by women—whether that’s biological or cultural—change still needs to happen if we’re ever going to feel truly comfortable leading in the way we prefer, and not the way we’ve been taught will help us get ahead.
So, in the spirit of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and leading in the style that best suits you, here’s a list of books, written by women but that are equally applicable and relevant to men.
Our Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Reading List
Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together
Author: Pamela Slim
The world we live and work in today is a far cry from the Cubicle Nation of yesteryear. Pamela Slim’s book will help you find connections between the seemingly disconnected projects you have undertaken, and provide you with knowledge of how to sell your story, and how to reinvent and relaunch your brand.
If “escaping from cubicle nation”—another bestselling book by Pam—is your goal, this book is well worth the read, as is Pam’s blog. And, as with anyone that’s made their mark, there’s a great TEDx video to go along with it.
Follow Pam on Twitter @pamslim
The ParentPreneur Edge: What Parenting Teaches About Building a Successful Business
Author: Julie Lenzer Kirk
In “The ParentPreneur Edge,” Julie likens the role of being a parent to that of being an entrepreneur. In fact, she believes it’s actually an advantage. The five key traits that Julie identifies as a direct result of parenting that will give you an edge in your career include: resourcefulness, perseverance, patience, passion, and vision.
For anyone wondering whether it’s possible to take their business to the next level while still maintaining a balanced family life, the answer lies within.
Follow Julie on Twitter @chiefmuse
3 Weeks to Startup
Authors: Sabrina Parsons and Tim Berry
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, streamlined approach to getting up and running, this step-by-step guide will help you fast-track the process. Each chapter includes a wealth of online resources and tools as well as valuable tips that will save you time, money, and potential hassles in the future.
To top it off, you’ll have access to weekly checklists so that you can note exactly what you’ve done and what you still need to work on. For anyone that has traditionally thought of starting a business as a prolonged process, this book is a good way to disillusion yourself of such a notion.
Follow Sabrina on Twitter @mommyceo and Tim @timberry
Power Through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together
Authors: Betsy Polk and Maggie Ellis Chotas
There’s power in working together and, according to the authors, particularly if you’re a woman working with other women. Drawing on their own experience and interviews with 125 women business partners, Betsy and Maggie have discovered that when women work together, they receive a level of support, confidence, flexibility, and accountability that they rarely find in other working relationships.
On a side note, if this topic is of particular interest to you, I recommend reading through a short study published by the Simmons School of Management, “Women Working Together: Understanding Women’s Relationships at Work.” Drawing on 115 in-depth interviews with women in a wide range of working environments, author Anne Litwin finds there are five patterns to the way that women work together that we need to understand if we are to resist being affected by these forces, and so that we can improve our ability to support one another.
Simply put, this is one area worth exploring. So, if you’re a woman wondering how to improve your own relationships at work, or how to find the best partner, perhaps these are topics you should contemplate.
Follow the Betsy-Maggie duo on Twitter @powership (yes, it’s even possible to run a Twitter account together).
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Author: Brené Brown
You may already know of Brené thanks to a couple of very well-known TEDx talks: The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame.
In “Daring Greatly,” Brené encourages us to embrace vulnerability and imperfection in order to live courageously and wholeheartedly.
Based on 12 years of research, Brené argues that contrary to what we think, vulnerability is not a weakness, but in fact a strength and one of the most meaningful ways to make connections, encourage engagement, and foster courage.
For organizations and individuals alike, this is a book that will hopefully spark a quite revolution that allows us to lead in ways that feel more natural and more honest.
Brené has published a number of books on the subject of vulnerability and imperfection and maintains a website full of interesting information on this topic and others. You can even take a peek at the books on Brené’s own nightstand here, including The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and Empathy: Why It Matters and How to Get It by Roman Krznaric.
For anyone that wants to embrace the aspect of themselves they have always thought a weakness, this is one woman you don’t want to pass by.
Follow Brené on Twitter @BreneBrown
Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology
Authors: Vivek Wadhwa and Farai Chideya
In this recently-released book, professor, researcher, and entrepreneur Vivek, and award-winning journalist Farai, collate a number of essays and anecdotes from women leaders around the globe, each of whom shares their experience as a woman in their industry.
This book will give you insight into how the presence of women in innovative industries is framing the future of entrepreneurship; insight into the challenges women face; strategies that they employ or can employ to overcome these challenges in the workplace; and insights into how an organization can succeed or fail in its attempts to support the career advancement of women.
This book is a good fit for leaders and managers (male and female) looking to encourage women to lead and advance.
Follow Vivek on Twitter @Wadhwa and Farai @farai
The 10 Laws of Enduring Success
Author: Maria Bartiromo
Maria’s book is touted as a “guide for the extraordinary times we are living in,” in which success can be taken away as quickly as it can be achieved.
As a financial journalist during the 2000 financial crisis, Maria had a front-row seat for everything happening at the New York Stock Exchange. She witnessed the rise and fall of many of those considered successful.
This experience, the fleeting nature of success as we traditionally define it (money and status), as well as dozens of interviews with classically successful people like Condoleezza Rice, Bill Gates, Goldie Hawn, and so on, prompted her to come up with a new set of rules to help us re-assess the meaning of success as a durable, lifelong pursuit, and not a singular achievement.
Follow Maria on Twitter @MariaBartiromo
And finally, this month’s giveaway:
Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner
Authors: Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn
Every failure is a learning opportunity. This idea isn’t new, but accepting it as a necessary part of innovation and smart leadership is. In “Fail Better,” Anjali and Kara reveal how it’s possible to create the conditions, culture, and habits that will help you quickly figure out what is and isn’t working.
You will learn to design your efforts to test the boundaries of your thinking and learn to identify factors that could help you make ground-breaking discoveries. Whether you’re in the market of making products, of developing software, or coming up with new ideas or ways to manage, you’ll find valuable lessons in this book.
A Q&A session with Anjali on the MIT Sloan School of Management site will give you a rapid overview of the book and of key takeaways, including how to get into the habit of “reflecting,” how to sell the idea that “failure is okay” to superiors at work, and other tips on how to “fail right.”
While Kara is not on Twitter, you can follow Anjali on Twitter @anjalisastry.
Enter the Book Giveaway
To enter the book giveaway and stand a chance of winning one of our three copies of “Fail Better,” add a comment to this post below, telling us why you think it’s important to fail or the opposite. Make sure to complete the competition form once you have done this. Please use the same name when you comment as the one you used to complete the form, so that we can attach your comment to your entry.