Are you a female founder? Being any kind of founder can be tough, but it can feel especially so for female founders, who face unique challenges when starting a company, seeking funding, and leading and scaling their teams. It’s easy to let any of these endeavors swallow one up — but before that happens, make sure you take the time to enrich yourself with quality content that empowers you, inspires you, and most importantly advises you on your vision and strategy. Here’s our round-up of 10 incredible books that will revolutionize the inner game of fellow female founders.
1. For a serious mindset shift: “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t,” by Simon Sinek
You’ve probably heard of Sinek’s book “Start With Why.” Here he explains how five primary survival hormones (Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Cortisol) are used within human physiology and psychology to give one a whole new understanding of the underlying reasons why certain team-building techniques work so effectively. But most importantly the book imparts a certain flavor humility that’s pivotal in authentic leadership.
2. For a reality check: “Own It: The Power of Women At Work,”Sallie Krawcheck
“Sallie argues that being a woman and approaching business differently from others in the room are related – and a good thing for business. How do women approach business differently? “Advanced risk awareness; a holistic perspective and ability to juggle complexity and multitask; long-term thinking; a focus on relationships and team building; a love of lifelong learning; and acute awareness of meaning, purpose and social impact” —Verified Reader
Krawcheck is a legend of Wall Street and more recently, the founder of Ellevest. She argues that many of the qualities that have traditionally disadvantaged women in the meeting room are actually their greatest assets. Once you get into the meat of the book, you’ll learn how to weaponize traits you might have originally seen as disadvantages into true strengths.
3. For expansive vision: “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” Elizabeth Gilbert
“The most honest discussions about the creative process that I’ve ever read. Gilbert strikes a playful and conversational tone, but make no mistake, this is all straight talk. Her no-BS attitude helps do away with the unrealistic expectations and unnecessary melodrama attached to the concept of “creative living”. And in its place, she asks all people who feel called to create to quietly and joyfully accept their creative inclinations and ideas as gifts from the universe.”—Verified Reader
Let’s get one thing straight, as an entrepreneur you are inherently creative— you’re like a demi-goddess using her creative talents to build a concrete product or service and a tiny universe around it —so we cannot forget the importance of creativity— as this is integral to problem-solving at every stage of your company. This book helps you work nimbly all while maintaining high-level vision.
4. For becoming a truly authentic and respected leader: “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility,” Patty McCord
“This book challenges a lot of long-held notions about “best practices” in organizations. Each point made me think and re-think these practices so entrenched in organizations that they are taken as necessary as if no other options are available — the ubiquitous annual evaluations, tying evals to pay raises, etc. McCord challenges us to reflect carefully on these long-held approaches and whether they are or not really ‘best practices…” —Verified Reader
McCord has long been revolutionizing Human Resources practices—she’s more concerned with the “Human” designation in the field and is a champion of inverting long-held best practices for the health of orgs, and for the overall health of companies everywhere. If you’re hiring or scaling a team, you must read this book, it will change the way you build and lead teams. Also, Patty McCord is amazing to follow daily on Twitter.
5. “The Creator’s Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs,” by Amy Wilkinson
“You know that sense you get when something has the ring of deep truth to it? That’s the feeling I got a couple of months ago when listening to Amy Wilkinson’s talk about her upcoming book. So I pre-ordered the book, and when it came out, went through it like lightning through tofu, devouring it in 1.5 sittings.”— Verified Reader
Based on in-depth interviews with more than 200 leading entrepreneurs a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business identifies the six essential disciplines needed to transform your ideas into real-world successes.
6. For your daily mental mantras: “Salt,” by Nayirah Waheed
“I usually highlight passages that resonate…With this anthology I found myself highlighting so much that it didn’t make sense to keep highlighting as there would be nothing left… Powerful, poignant. A highly recommended piece.” — Verified Reader
You may not realize it but you’ve seen her work already — her concise, striking poetry has become the mantra of many leaders and public figures, just check instagram. For content that fortifies your mind, your “inner-game” your independence as an entrepreneur, but also feeds your soul, look no further, than Ms. Waheed. Our tip: go ahead and get the soft copy, you will want to tab and underline her work.
7. For an extra dose of Resilience: “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,” Roy F. Baumeister
Not just an extensive thinkpiece on what Baumeister argues is the most important human trait, this book is filled with an abundance of helpful strategies for founders, especially when they’re between a rock and a hard place, or struggling with an obstacle. Hundreds of scientific examples and use-cases will help you invert the way you think about your obstacles, and better access your willpower.
8. For the ultimate heart-to-heart use cases: “Dear Female Founder: 66 Letters of Advice from Women Entrepreneurs Who Have Made $1 Billion in Revenue,” by Li Liu
It’s like getting emails straight into your inbox from the most successful female founders yet. Not heavily copy edited (as emails aren’t) but it holds truth and insights that are poignant for women founders everywhere.
9. For when you don’t know what to do next: “On Grand Strategy,” by John Lewis Gaddis
Gaddis is a historian, but this read is not a dusty snooze—the book is filled with vivid examples of leadership and strategic thinking in historical examples from the likes of OG leaders; queens and kings, philosophers, senators, popes, and emperors.
10. For Continuous Inner Comms Strategy: “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know,” by Katty Kay
“I was incredibly surprised by how scientific this book is. It was a perfect combination of real life women who are in positions of prestige (politicians, army generals, financiers, ,etc) and how they’ve struggled with confidence issues and what they’ve overcome with the science of how DNA affects our tepidness towards decisions and nature vs nurture.”—Verified Reader
Because confidence is key when your venture relies entirely on you —it’s important to regularly mentally check in with yourself whenever confidence is the least bit undermined. Armed with scientific research on the confidence factor, Kay provides a solid road-map for navigating and bolstering it.