Saturday, 11 October 2014

LOOK magazine feature – “I use to shoplift to survive, now I’m worth £70 million” Sophia Amoruso

I have been thinking a lot about my career recently - from my roller coaster journey last year to the opening of my newest chapter last month. I’ve spent a while reflecting on my working life and what it means to have a successful career. In my commute home one day, I stumbled across a feature in LOOK magazine that I found interesting and so thought I would share it with you. It was an article about someone who had found success, unlike the way I had, in a very unconventional way.

The feature was about Sophie Amoruso, a woman who shoplifted to survive, but now is the Founder and CEO of her own fashion company Nasty Gal.  In the article she offers up some insight into her far from ordinary journey from dropout to Ebay success, making the point that not all successes are bred from the traditional career path. She explains, “I’ve been told the path to success was paved with a series of boxes you checked off, starting with a degree and a job”. I hadn’t looked at it that way before, simply a degree and a job does seem to be a common route to getting there, but by no means does it guarantee success. I know there’s more to it than just a checklist. However, her unique story is definitely inspiring; she states, “I’m telling my story to remind you that the straight and narrow is not the only path to success”. Her comments interested me because it seems like such a stark contrast to how I found success, in her words, through the ‘straight and narrow’.

What I loved most about the article was that it gave some inspiring words of wisdom. Tips like, “it takes a special kind of stubbornness to succeed”, “be your own idol” and that “none of this (her journey) has been by accident”. This last line particularly stood out to me, because although there is an element of luck in everything, opportunities don’t just fall into people’s laps nor are they ‘just lucky’. There’s something to be said about making your own luck. This is where I find commonality between Amoruso and myself, as despite our differing journeys, there’s an overwhelming sense that nothing is by accident, and that everything is deliberate. For me, this commonality highlights that the route to success is far greater than a simple checklist. It’s other crucial ingredients like determination and inspiration.

These crucial ingredients led to what I found most poignant in the article - Amoruso’s view on role models. She reveals, “I’m still not sure how to feel because most of my life I didn’t believe in the concept of role models, I was a dropout… ”. Reading this made me feel lucky that throughout my life so far, I have managed to surround myself by those I consider to be inspiring figures. For me, inspiration has been key to my success so far and it started early on when I was still in education, by my ultimate role model - my Dad. Without him, I know I wouldn’t have got to where I am today. I believe everyone can only benefit from having such a role model in his or her life. Whether it’s someone close to home or not so close, as long as it’s someone who can inspire you to believe in something greater. My advice is grasp it and keep hold of it. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher”. For me, the only way is up.

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