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11 Books by 11 Badass Women All Aspiring Boss Chicks Should Read

My best teachers in life have been experience and books. Everything that I learned and that has helped me develop as a professional came...

Good Reads

Between undergrad and graduate school, I spent well over $60,000 for two pieces of paper to prove that I was smart enough to earn a degree. The road to getting these two pieces of paper wasn't easy (or cheap). When I started working as a professional, I thought I knew it all, I mean I went to college and earned a Bachelors degree and, hell, I even had my MBA. However, between earning both degrees, I realized that I didn't know as much as I thought I did.

The thing that you are not told as you are writing that expensive check for college, or applying for that dreadful loan, is that you will not learn everything to prepare yourself for a career. There will be so many things that you wish you would've learned in school instead of taking boring Government or Biology classes.

My best teachers in life have been experience and reading I've done. Everything that I learned and that has helped me develop as a professional came from soaking in knowledge from amazing books and of course the butt-kicking that life casually gives me from time to time.

Each book below is overflowing with business and self-help gems that you can apply to your life as you evolve as a professional. It doesn't matter if you are a self-made boss or a working woman climbing the corporate ladder, each book listed below will give you genuine keys to success.

Before 2017 ends, grab 1, 2, 3, or all of these books to channel your inner girlboss and jumpstart your career to elevate the year ahead.

1. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

Filled with entertaining and inspiring stories of her own personal failures and successes, You Are a Badass walks the reader through Sincero's own journey to success. This book is career-focused, but the elements in the book can be applied to your personal life as well. With advice like, “Procrastination is the easiest form of self-sabotage – you'll either find a way or an excuse" or “Fear lives in the future. It hasn't happened yet so why create the drama," this book will have you ready to take on the world.

Find it here>>>

2. Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P Frankel

This book by Executive Coach Lois Frankel is for any woman that has wanted to get ahead in her career, but has found doing so difficult and doesn't understand why. Often as women, we unconsciously demonstrate behaviors that don't serve us or helps us shine. In her book, Frankel tackles this and teaches us powerful lessons on our image and communication style, and she shows us how it effects us as women in the workplace.

Find it here>>>

3. WERK 101: Get-Your-Life-Together Guide by Koereyelle DuBose

One of the things that I love most about this book is that it is a short, easy read. Often, many self-help books are hundreds and hundreds of pages long and sometimes when you are busy with work and life's responsibilities, it seems impossible to find time to finish a book that is the size of a PhD thesis.

WERK 101 delivers boldness that empowers you to WERK for what you want by first WERKing on you. From discussing how to WERK on you to get the love you want to the career you want, Koereyelle offers a wealth of knowledge for the modern Millennial woman.

Find it here>>>

4. Miss Jessie's: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch - Naturally by Miko Branch with Titi Branch

This book is a must-read for aspiring entrepreneurs or for anyone that wants to get a wealth of knowledge on what it really means to build a business with no money or resources. In the book, the co-founder of Miss Jessie's Miko proves that success doesn't happen overnight and that when you do what you were destined to do, your achievements will fall right into place - even with the hiccups along the way.

Find it here>>>

5. The Power Playbook: Rules for Independence, Money and Success by La La Anthony

“What makes people powerful is finding your inner power, because so many people out there give themselves every reason in the world why they can't do something. You have this inner power within you that can take you to the next level. It's all about finding it." - La La Anthony

In her book, The Power Playbook, this radio and TV personality, actress, and business woman proves that with resilience, confidence, and perseverance success is attainable. Through her humble beginnings, La La has made a household name for her success by creating her own career that she loves and she teaches us her own keys to success.

Find it here>>>

6. Eat. Pray. Hustle.: Chasing Dreams God's Way by Havilah Cunnington

This book is very encouraging and inspirational, and it challenges you to think deeper and bigger in not only your career, but also in your personal and spiritual life. I think so often we get caught up in day to day living that we fail to see what we were destined to do by God. In this book turned 20 day Bible study inspired by the life of Abraham, Havilah teaches us to step out on faith and have the courage to do what we were created to do. Havilah shows us that just like Abraham, we are all on the road to the promise of life that God has for us. Similar to Abraham, we are all on the journey of eating, praying, and hustling our way to the top.

Find it here>>>

7. Be You and Live Civil: Tools for Unlocking Your Potential & Living Your Purpose by Karen Civil

"Understanding Motivation," “Self Motivation," “Positive Attitude," and “Living Civil" are chapters in the book by CEO and digital powerhouse Karen Civil that will teach you how to become your own best version of yourself. By discussing her own personal story and how she worked her way from the bottom to the top, Karen shows us all how to unlock our own potential and use it it the most effective way.

Find it here>>>

8. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

Through her meaningful and inspirational stories, this book is perfect for someone that needs an extra boost of motivation and encouragement in their lives. "What I Know For Sure" is the name of Oprah's monthly column from her magazine, O. The idea for the column was inspired in 1998, after she was lost for words when asked 'what she knew for sure' in an interview. Through her series of essays in the book, Oprah drops gems like, "Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive" and a host of others.

Find it here>>>

9. Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media. by Aliza Licht

Leave Your Mark is the perfect book for millennials that will help you find your personal brand and learn how to communicate it effectively so that you can land your dream job and be a badass at the same time. Listed on Amazon as one of the top-selling books for job hunting and career guides, Aliza's Leave Your Mark dishes out actionable advice with her own life experiences and stories.

Find it here>>>

10. #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso

As Sophia said it best in her book, “A #GIRLBOSS is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it." In her book, through hilarious and motivating stories and advice, Sophia teaches us how to become a #girlboss in our own space. As the founder of the vintage clothing company, Nasty Gal, Sophia shows how she turned her hobby into a successful company, while dishing out her blunt realities and experiences along the way.

Find it here>>>

11. Unbought and Unbossed by Shirley Chisholm

In this autobiography, Shirley Chisholm shares her life journey from a young girl from Brooklyn to being the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress and the first woman and first African-American to have a bid for President of the United States.

Shirley lived a remarkable life and accomplished so much that would have appeared to be impossible during her life in the heart of racial discrimination and violence in the United States. Shirley's life and book will inspire you to never lose your conviction or put a price tag on your values and beliefs. Through her successes, Shirley proves that by standing up for what you believe in and daring to be yourself, you can achieve more than you ever dreamed.

Find it here>>>

What other inspirational books do you recommend for the modern girlboss? Share the knowledge with us below! #xoReads

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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