When I was 20 years old, I thought Sophia Amoruso’s book #GIRLBOSS… was pure genius. A manifesto for the modern business woman. This is when I had dreams and aspirations but no real plan. When I wanted to work for myself but I had no idea doing what. I find it safe to say that Nasty Gal is still much like my 20 year old self…
Re-reading her book at 24, and close to considering myself an embodiment of what she preaches – a ‘girlboss’, who only started her business to make money without having to deal with people. (I mean… that’s basically my by-line.) But I find a lot of her book is entirely hypocritical. You cannot expect yourself to find wonderful workers when you, yourself, were not one.
One of the biggest things that got me: She didn’t believe in a capitalist world. She was almost entirely against capitalism, often finding herself stealing and just basically hating giving it to the man. Until… Nasty Gal’s success. She became a major contributor to the capitalist regime and thrives off of a society who fall into that trap. Coming from a place of privilege: she chose to steal, she didn’t do it for her livelihood. She chose to be a bad employee, because she didn’t care enough. She considered herself some sort of ‘bad chick’, a trope I find quite tiresome.
One of her chapters is named Money looks better on your bank than your feet. I understand the sentiment for teaching those who want to be a CEO, a girlboss if you will, to save your money. It’s definitely sound advice. Hey, it’s one of the best lessons to teach… But you cannot be such a large factor in the forces of fast fashion and preach to people to save their money. She largely bases her success on the idea that women will want to spend their money on Nasty Gal’s creations.
She has found her way to the top after treating her own jobs like nothing, and then writing of expecting others to work their assess off for her. She feeds into mass production and in no way gives any information on their sourcing policy or practices. And many, upon many, past employees of hers have taken to the Internet to claim how shit Nasty Gal treated them. You are not a #GIRLBOSS if you walk upon others and attempt to stand above them all.
You are not a queen if your throne is made out of all those you stepped on to make yourself look superior.
I’m not trying to take anything away from Amoruso or her success, because with an attitude and a passion, she definitely created an empire. I am just suggesting that we don’t have to take advice, or even necessarily look up to, CEO’s and people with a lot of money. Let’s face it, there are multiple people we can think of off the top of our heads who do not embody the ideal type of leadership, yet are in the top tier leadership positions/have shit tonnes of money.
Even more recently, you may have heard or read about Roxy Jacenko, PR Queen with multiple businesses under her wing, claiming that many Australian workers – particularly millennials – are ‘lazy and entitled’ and ‘unwilling to work all hours of the day’.
I have worked for one of those types of bosses, who expected everyone to be there on his beck and call. The weeks you were not available as often as possible, your shifts would be cut back even more the week after. I ended up hating that job, and many of my coworkers were the same. I would have panic attacks the mornings before my shifts. I once had a minor car accident on my way to work and all they could say to me when I walked in was ‘we need you here on time’. It’s those bosses who may be finding financial happiness now, but implode on themselves later. Expecting your employees to work as hard as you can lead to resentment and a high turnover. Expecting people to want what you want in your business, for your business, is just plain unrealistic. These are people in the spotlight who do not believe in Mental Health Days. Who probably don’t believe in burnout. Who care more for their business than their workers’ wellbeing.
I absolutely adore Jacenko’s tenacity and hunger for more. There is absolutely no doubt that she has worked her ass off to get where she is, and she still has so much more to do. But that is all for her own businesses; that is what she has decided she wanted to spend her time, money and life growing into. Her thirst for an empire is what to others may be to work a 9-5 life and dedicate the rest of their time to their hobby, their family, themselves.
Not only the fact that Millennial Burnout is a genuine thing – there have been many studies towards it – it downplays what we have been working toward for years: caring about our mental health. A healthy relationship between employer and employee. A real work-life balance. Being married to your work is a personal choice, not one taken by everyone. This shouldn’t punish those who choose not to make work their life, if they are turning up and doing what they are required to do and not a minute more. People have different priorities; that is literally what makes the world go around.
I may not yet be at the top of my game, and I don’t have even one – let alone hundreds, if not thousands – of workers beneath me to be able to comment on having my own staff. But I want to believe with the most of me that you do not get to the top of it by not being kind to others. Not being understanding. Not bloody well firing people because of them living their lives.
You want to be a #Girlboss? Cool, go get it girl; get yourself there. Work your ass off. Yes, other people are going to help you get there, but it is ultimately down to you. No one is going to want this for you as much as you are. Don’t expect everyone else to get you where you want to be.