As book guru for Girls Leadership, I occasionally get the chance to read a book that hasn’t hit the shelves yet. This kind of access is nothing short of miraculous for a book nerd like me! I recently had the pleasure of reading Girls Who Run the World by journalist Diana Kapp, illustrated by Bijou Karman.
Following in the footsteps of recent titles such as Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and Women In Science, Kapp’s Girls Who Run the World is a collection of illustrated mini-biographies profiling female entrepreneurs. Each biography includes a brief interview and the story of how each woman began her company, from seed idea to implementation and inevitable challenges.
I loved reading about the women behind some of my favorite companies – like Emily Weiss, founder and CEO of Glossier, and Emma Mcilroy, Co-founder and CEO of Wildfang. (Who knew that Emma Mcilroy loves Cadbury caramels?) My favorite part of the book, however, was learning about all the brilliant and determined women I’d never heard of before – and, without Kapp, might never have known anything about. For example, I learned about Jessica O. Matthews who was inspired during a routine blackout at a family wedding in Nigeria to invent a technology that harnesses kinetic energy—from everyday items like soccer balls!—to produce green electricity. I also learned about the mission-driven Jane Chen, founder of Embrace, a company which makes portable, easy-to-use blanket incubators for premature infants. Chen is a master networker, and at one point reached out to an acquaintance and fellow entrepreneur for help when her company was on the brink of collapse. Kapp’s book is full of exactly these kinds of lessons – women doing things that women have long been told not to do. These women don’t take no for an answer, don’t give up, and they do leverage the people they know for assistance.
My hope is that Kapp’s book, and others like it, will inspire and light a path for future entrepreneurs from marginalized groups. For readers interested in business, Kapp peppers her pages with savvy business tips such as, “Next time you’re feeling negative and listing all the ways your idea could flop, try the opposite instead.” There are two appendices at the end of her book. The first – “Now It’s Your Turn” – is geared toward teen and young adult readers and gives a thorough mooring in the language of business practices such as business plans, trademarks, investors, and networking. The second appendix – “Young Entrepreneur-Tested/Approved: Ideas You Can (and Should) Try In Your Neighborhood Right Now!” – has practical ideas for younger readers who are ready to dip their toes into the inventor/entrepreneurial waters.
I would put this book into the hands of kids who love to tinker, the ones who rush to set up their lemonade stands, or who are always drumming up business as pet sitters and lawn mowers. I’d give it to anyone who might benefit from the reminder that hard work and determination are key to success, no matter what the dream.
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