*This post was originally published on Fashion Journal. In light of COVID-19, we’re republishing career-related content we’ve previously written for Fashion Journal to help those whose jobs and businesses have been affected.
Before Netflix and podcasts and Ted Talks — even before the Internet — books were our go-to source for education and escapism, but for many of us that have grown up in the digital age, books are an old-timey object consisting of one too many pages.
For decades, people have relied on business and self-help books to give them the advice and motivation they need to pull themselves out of a career rut, guide them to be better leaders, teach them about side-hustle life, and just generally help them achieve their goals.
Until a few years ago, these books were often found on the bottom shelf at a dusty bookshop, their front covers sporting a carefree-looking character who seemed to have life all figured out, with a poorly-designed ladder or clock motif symbolising the rat race and a suspenseful subheading that made success sound way easier than it actually is.
These days? Business and self-help books are as realistic as they are varied. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re scared of failure, you’re a serial apologiser or you’re working three jobs trying to make your side hustle happen. Here are my picks.
1. How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong
Inspired by her hugely popular podcast How to Fail, Elizabeth Day’s book of the same name is described as a “brilliantly funny, painfully honest and insightful celebration of things going wrong”. As someone who will let the most minor inconvenience derail my entire day, this speaks to me. It’s both a memoir and a manifesto covering all aspects of life, from dating to work to friendship, with the intention of teaching us to embrace and learn from our mistakes (rather than drowning our sorrows in a tub of choc-chip ice cream for three days straight every time something annoying happens).
2. My Creative (Side) Business: The insightful guide to turning your side projects into a full-time creative business
This book is like reading my diary. Its blurb asks some tough, personal questions which I feel personally attacked by: Are you sick of being a freelancer with an irregular income? (Yes.) Do you ask yourself every single month how much you’ll earn? (Yes.) Worried you won’t have any new upcoming clients at all? (Even when I’m sleeping, yes.) Meant for anyone who has dreams of working for themselves, it promises to help you create a foolproof plan to become a creative freelancer and/or create regular income streams doing what you actually want to be doing. On top of all the tips and tricks, there are lots of stories from entrepreneurial women who’ve managed to turn their creative side-project into a bonafide biz.
3. Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals
Sorry, Rachel. What’s with us always apologising for things we shouldn’t be sorry for? Like, when someone bumps into us in a cafe spilling our $5 coffee? Or when we try to squeeze past a group of people having a leisurely chat in the middle of a supermarket aisle? Or when we’re determined to reach a career goal, create a successful life for ourselves or be more than a label we’ve been given? In this book, Rachel Hollis says we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are all the time. She identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviours to adopt and the skills to acquire in order to build confidence and start believing in ourselves.
4. The Courage to be Disliked: The Japanese phenomenon that shows you how to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness
Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
Alfred Adler was one of three heavyweights of 19th-century psychology alongside Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Obviously, he’s got some profound shit to teach us. In The Courage to be Disliked, aspiring philosopher, Ichiro Kishimi, and an award-winning writer, Fumitake Koga, bring us some of Adler’s most life-changing theories that we can apply to life and work. Basically, he explains how we’re able to determine our own lives, move on from past experiences, overcome doubts and expectations of others and build the courage to completely change our way of thinking. It’s an enormous bestseller in Asia (now dubbed a ‘Japanese phenomenon’) and has been said to be so powerful it might change your life. Probably worth giving it a try instead of watching Married At First Sight every night for the next three months.
5. The Upside of Being Down: How Mental Health Struggles Led to My Greatest Successes in Work and Life
You know that cute lifestyle brand ban.do? Well, its founder Jen Gotch wrote a book (due to be released in March 2020) and it’s creating a bit of buzz. Cleverly titled The Upside of Being Down, it’s a funny, inspiring and honest memoir that dives into Jen’s mental struggles — and more specifically, how they helped her build a multi-million dollar brand and become an inspiration to many women. She walks us through her life, which admittedly does not read like that of a regular CEO. It was peppered with multiple mental illnesses and episodes—including a hallucination that caused her to believe she was Shrek-green—and a string of jobs before she eventually discovered a path to success in business and life. Naturally, it includes all of the tips and tricks that helped get her there, so we can straight-up steal them and build our own impressive life.