It seems every female entrepreneur these days wants to do a Sheryl Sandberg and write a motivational business book. The latest is Jessica Herrin. The founder and CEO of direct sales jewellery company Stella & Dot, her Find Your Extraordinary is essentially a Lean In for the direct selling industry.
This is a quick and motivational read and it may even make you think of dabbling in direct selling – surely, at least in part, its aim – but the new Lean In? I'm afraid I leaned away before the end.
Ms Herrin set up Stella & Dot 12 years ago and says it now employs 50,000 “independent business owners” who have made US$300 million collectively in commission by selling $1 billion worth of her jewellery, accessories and now skin care. She previously co-founded a wedding planning guide and registry, WeddingChannel.com, at just 24, dropping out of Stanford Business School when a venture capitalist invested in the company, and selling it on nearly a decade ago for $78m.
Passing on nearly two decades of learning, Ms Herrin writes that it’s “not about having it all but having what matters most to you”.
While “ordinary success” is about making money, climbing the ladder and being well regarded, getting to extraordinary – in Ms Herrin’s world – is to do well at something you love and be well regarded by those who matter to you, “especially yourself”.
Pursuing your “own version of happiness”, she believes, will lead to success, and the best way to do that is by “embracing your entrepreneurial spirit”.
She says that doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a Silicon Valley entrepreneur (which “would not make most people happy”) but it does mean taking charge of your life.
“I see myself as a success today because I’ve learnt that only I decide what success looks like for me,” she writes.
Ms Herrin pledges not to sugar-coat it, but that’s very much what this book does, with glowing tales of sellers who have made a success of their Stella & Dot careers, creating the flexible workplace she says was at the heart of her building the company as a young mum herself.
Find Your Extraordinary is available in hardcover in the US from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Waterstones priced $16.85, or on UK Amazon in paperback for £13.48 (Dh61) or Kindle for £9.99. Note that the author is listed as Jessica DiLullo Herrin in US and Jessica Herrin in UK.
q&a entrepreneurial rules
How do I embrace my entrepreneurial spirit then?
The book breaks down the entrepreneurial spirit needed into “6 Ps” – finding a very personal “passion”, creating your own unique “path”, keeping a “positive” mindset, identifying the “people” who matter to you and inspire you, having “perseverance” and being “productive”. Pretty generic stuff, nothing too new, deep or insightful.
Which “P” should I pick?
Flip to the back and read the Productivity section – the best tips are here. The most valuable lesson Ms Herrin gives is to value your own time to be most productive. Business owners, she warns, often allocate their time to their least scary, or favourite, activity, and avoid doing higher-value, income-producing ones. So before cleaning your house, she says – a job you might pay someone else US$20 an hour for – think about the “opportunity cost” of what you could be doing instead for $20. Or even how you could spend that time learning something that might, in the future, pay you $50 an hour.
Who are some of the other female entrepreneurs who have written business books?
Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post has written Thrive; Annabel Karmel, the baby food queen, has written a book for mumpreneurs; the Body Shop's late founder, Anita Roddick, wrote Business As Unusual; Karren Brady, of West Ham football fame, has written Playing To Win and 10 Rules To Success; "shark" investor Barbara Corcoran, from US TV show Shark Tank, is the author of Shark Tales … it's a long list.
Follow The National's Business section on Twitter