We… us… them… or just simply professional women very well know that in a male-dominated world (up until just recently), it can be quite a challenge entering the workplace and making an attempt to climb the corporate ladder. Yet today, more and more women encompass the drive to achieve that success, either at a corporate level or independently via their own businesses, and they are making powerful strides to get there. With women becoming more dominant outside of the home than ever, several theories and suggestions have been developed as to how female leaders can work to improve themselves and ultimately the future of their career and business. This movement has led to countless number of inspiring books by female leaders and their journey to the top.

Here is my pick of 5 must-read books for the modern day aspiring businesswoman:

1.) GIRLBOSS: Sophia Amoruso

Sophia Amoruso is the Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, a fashion line that started as an eBay store for vintage clothing and then exploded into an ecommerce powerhouse. Amoruso took Nasty Gal’s once small fan base and turned it into a global one. In her book, she describes her journey from rebel shoplifter to multimillionaire. Amoruso’s voice in GirlBoss is relatable and charming, without losing the cool factor that has helped her to so famously brand her clothing line. Ultimately, Amoruso’s message is an attempt to prove that the new cool is playing by your own rules, while still winning by society’s standards. Amoruso emphasises how awesome it is for women to be true to themselves and makes introversion and hard work seem cooler than ever. The book is basically an outline of how girls can rule their own world and not be ruled by those around them. “It is she who listens to the rest of the world who fails, and it is she who has enough confidence to define success and failure for herself who succeeds,” says Amoruso.

2.) THRIVE & FEARLESS: Arianna Huffington

THRIVE

Arianna Huffington is author of fourteen books and Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post. In Thrive, Arianna Huffington makes a compelling case for the need to redefine what it means for women to be successful in today’s world. Thrive is a great read for women because it explores the traditional definitions of success and how the pursuit of money and power has led to an ever-saddening epidemic of stress-related illnesses and a decrease in the overall quality of life. Huffington urges for a greater focus on well being and happiness, rather than money and power, and lays out steps on how to create a lifestyle where such is attainable.

FEARLESS

Arianna Huffington also went on to author Fearless, a book to her daughters, Christina and Isabella, to encourage them to live openly and bravely. Huffington’s main message in this book is more or less that women have so much potential, yet hold themselves back. She would like to see women of all ages take their rightful place in society and become “fearless”. Huffington discusses the cultivation of fearlessness in all aspects of a woman’s life including body image, love, motherhood, work, illness and aging. She also includes contributions from other powerful females such as Nora Ephron and Diane Keaton.

3.) LEAN IN: Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg currently sits as Facebook’s COO, where before this she was Vice President at Google. She has been ranked as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and listed on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. In her best-selling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sandberg delivers a message that may be a tough pill for some women to swallow: that women have simply stopped making progress at the top of corporate America. Sandberg’s advice to women is to be more ambitious, addressing the self-doubt that still holds many women back. By saying, “lean in”, Sandberg means that in order for the professional world to become more accepting of women, we as women need to first prove ourselves. Sandberg tells a lot about her own story, including being insecure in college, bursting into tears at Google, and even on being afraid to negotiate her salary with Facebook.

4.) NICE GIRLS DON’T GET THE CORNER OFFICE

Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office focuses on the many ways that women often interfere with their career opportunities by conforming to societal stereotypes about how we should behave. Frankel’s message throughout Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office is that women do not have to act in the ways that we were once taught. She writes that female employees should rather, “quit being’ girls”. Frankel talks about how not only men, but women, too, have choices, and are very capable of growing into a role as a leader. Her book starts with a self-assessment in which readers mark how true certain statements are for them personally. By providing concrete suggestions for behavioural changes, Frankel demonstrates, in a diet-like way, how women can drop those unconsciously made mistakes and grow into stronger, more confident individuals within the workplace.

5.) A MINDFULNESS GUIDE FOR THE FRAZZLED

Last but not least, Ruby Wax is simply hilarious! It you are fighting with your demons up there (that’s right! In your head!) – this is the book for you. I read her first book called Sane New World and I must say that it made me think long and hard about the way I live my life. Unfortunately, for the magic dust to settle, I would need to read her book like a bible, on a daily basis… Ruby’s approach to handling difficult topics with a lot of laughter is exactly how we should handle our lives, with a smile, each day. Her latest book Frazzled is about us leading happier lives by noticing the world around us. Without going overboard, Ruby explains the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and sets out a 6-week programme to help convert us into mindful little selves. I still yet to do her course, but it is imminent.

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No matter what age or what stage in a career, we are always looking to groom ourselves to become better. These books can serve as a great guide to achieving balance and putting your best foot forward (hopefully in a heel ;)) within your professional and personal lives.