In case you are unaware, I work at a New York technology start-up. A female-run, beginning from nothing, bound to be great (fingers crossed!) start-up. And to answer some previously posed questions, no, we do not have liquor carts delivering us drinks in the afternoon, or omelet and coffee bars greeting us every morning. We have instead one cubicle space rented from a co-start up pal, a couple of macintosh laptops, and days that run from 7am to 7pm – with any luck. Can you now see why I decided to read this book?
The Gilt Girls – lovingly referred to in the book (by themselves and their friends) as A&A – were in my shoes back in 2007 (metaphorically speaking as I wear converse and they wore Louboutins). They were two young, hard-working woman who came together because they had:
‘… a powerful human desire: to create something and to watch it grow into something larger than oneself … proof that amazing things can happen when you team up with the right people to take risks and act on them.’
I was longing for the point of view of someone who has been there … been in the trenches – and did so with a pair of breasts in a largely male-dominated field. And in this book, I found the comfort and inspiration I needed. I really enjoyed this book and the sound-bites of advice that I found in its pages. Now, it is your lucky day because in case you are too busy to read this novel yourself, I am going to provide you with a quick little cheat sheet of the top eight lessons I took from this book.
- Guard your Reputation – ‘If you let your reputation slip, it evaporates quickly.’
- Education Counts – ‘No matter what happens, no one can take away your education.’
- Trust Matters – ‘Side conversations hindered productivity and degraded trust, tearing at the fibers of the team.’
- Surround Yourself with Smart, Dedicated People – ‘In most cases you’re only as successful as the people around you want you to be.’
- Be Real – ‘She discovered that being herself, especially in male-dominated arenas, actually gave her an edge … she got respect by being herself.’
- Be Prepared – ‘Always prepare for the worst in a start-up, and have a backup plan.’
- Take into account ALL Feedback, especially Negative Feedback – ‘In getting to the best decision, plan or proposition, the friction and doubt cast by contrarians are usually critical to vetting all potential angles and counterpoints before moving forward. Hard feedback inevitable helps you to arrive at the best possible plan.’
- Make Mistakes, Take Responsibility, And Move On – ‘You learn more from fixing a bad decision than by making the right call in the first place. A leader needs to be comfortable making a decision and owning an outcome … anyone who doesn’t have a few failures in his track record has likely played it too safe.’
If you are sitting in your bedroom or on your couch, dreaming about your brilliant idea then this book might be just this thing to get you motivated, get you off your tushie, and get you ready to take a risk.
And A&A, if you happen to read this, I hear you still mentor start-ups once in a while. If that is true, I am hoping you drop me a line.