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SOPHIA IS GOD (or at least she thinks she is)
on August 18, 2014
I mean, ugh... I hate writing this in the face of so much fanfare, but felt like I needed to get some frustration off my chest.
+ This book is incredibly compelling. I finished the entire thing on one 4-hour flight on 3 hours of sleep. She (or her ghostwriter) is a great storyteller.
+ It truly is inspiring to read about a type of success not born of traditional privilege or ambition - I hope this book gets a lot of other young women out there to kick-start their dreams.
+ I really appreciate that she didn't focus on gender at all - this wasn't a "girl power!" book so much as it was an "entrepreneur power!" book written by a girl.
The less good:
+ I had never heard of Nasty Gal before I picked this up. Never mind that I'm a fashion-oriented mid-20s female - I'll assume this is on me. Sophia seems to think her company is God's gift to Earth - I found her completely presumptuous both in her evaluation of her own brand equity, and hyperbolic in her descriptions of Nasty Gal as a "huge, explosive success" (I live and work in Silicon Valley, where nonprofits get $20M in funding annually easy and companies grow from 1 to 350 employees in two years - let's have a sense of scale here.)
+ There was a consistent thread of put-downs and humblebrags in here, which happen to be two stylistic choices I absolutely deplore. Sophia claims to have done poorly in school because of the rigid system and been fired from jobs because she didn't care enough to try (essentially excusing herself from blame). She disses investors/VC culture, MySpace (the original foundation for her business), "boring" people with 9-to-5s, eBay, and several poor unnamed employees of hers. I get it - she loves herself. I just pray to God that no young woman reading this ever thinks it's ok to be this self-righteous.
+ She never once thanks anyone. She had some nice words about some coworkers, but she never acknowledges the support her family gave her even as she was essentially a parenting failure, never thanks her customers for driving awareness of her brand, never admits that some of her colleagues are at least part of the reason behind her company's success.
+ She plays the victim so much but never acknowledges any real failures (and now, hiring someone you thought was right for the role and then having to fire them isn't a failure - it's a rhetorical device used to assert your authority in this book.) She whines about "catty" retailers and petty competitors and never once steps down from her high horse to admit to the very real failures that affect every new business (like screwing up orders, dissatisfied customers, mis-spending capital, etc.)
In sum, I hope I never get stuck in an elevator with Sophia, but I'm glad my flight went by quickly.