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11 Must-read Books on Business + the Lessons I Learned from Them

Posted by Paula Parisotto on

Irony shows up when you least expect it, and for this gal who never chose to pick up a book in her free time, it's ironic that I am coming at ya with a list of must-read books. If that isn't a plot twist, I don't know what is!


A lady sits on a rock at the beach reading a book, Best Books for Entrepreneurs

Speaking of plot twists, I'm a fan of them. There isn't anything better than a pivotal moment taking your story in a new direction, and my story reads like the map of a mountain pass. Were talking curves galore! You can read more about my journey from wellness executive to personal stylist to accessories designer HERE, but be sure to come back for my suggested reading list of business books that helped me navigate the twists and turns I encountered on the way! 

Though I haven't always been a reader, I've always loved learning - education for me is the most meaningful when I emerge, covered in the dust of my efforts. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and learning the ins and outs of how things work more so than the theory of why they work. But years of learning had taught me that sometimes you have to change things up. I knew that becoming a badass at starting and running a business all on my own, meant the time had come to take myself back to school (or Barns & Nobel as it happened to be) to brush up on what I knew as well as learn all that being a non-profit executive didn't teach me. Lean startups, capital acquisition, importing, manufacturing, marketing, leadership... despite trying to ease myself into brand-new subject matters, within weeks, I was up to my eyeballs in new terminology. I'm a sucker for color, so in no time, all those terms, phrases and nuggets of wisdom were highlighted and copied into a binder, which was growing into quite the road map for navigating my new industry. Like any good map, well-marked routes began to emerge as I found common strategies threading among all the reading I was doing. Eureka! My business plan had started to take shape! 

If you are a Boss Babe, or on your way to becoming one, I raise my glass to you (probably a vodka tonic, but possibly a margarita if it's Taco Tuesday) and offer a hearty "cheers!" - While I do love some hard work, I am also all about learning from others, and I wanted to share with you some of the business books (and some tidbits that I learned from them) that have shaped my mindset these past four years. 

“Use What You’ve Got”, Barbara Corcoran

My favorite piece of advice: “People really do judge a book by its cover. Dress for success.”

YES! What kind of a personal stylist would I be if I didn’t give this quote a standing ovation? But in all seriousness, not only will you be seen as confident and ready for success, you feel like it too. That's a win in anyone’s book! 

Other notes that made an impression: 

  • Imagine the life you want.
  • Delegate what you don’t like to do/what you’re not good at. 
  • Stay in your lane.
  • Hire great people then worry about where to put them.
  • Expand before you are ready. BE BOLD girlfriend!
  • Get away from private offices.
  • Be yourself. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Opportunities hide within the worst situations. (Plot Twist!)
  • Most success happens after you think you’ve given 100%
  • The joy really is in the getting there. In-joy it! 


“Show Your Work”, Austin Kleon

 My favorite piece of advice: “Blog your journey” 

This advice has been huge for me. Regular reflection has allowed me to review the ups and downs from this season of transition. I celebrate the wins with each story, my heart races just a little with each pivot, and I see new ways to improve the rough patches. Sharing it all with my readers lets me encourage fellow fremalepreneurs as they set out to follow their dreams. 

Some other key take aways from this book: 

  • Don’t post your lunch on social media. Show your work. 
  • Bring your tribe into your world.
  • Always credit and appreciate others. (Hell yes! Let’s build other babes up!)
  • Make stuff you love. (Have you met Yvonne? She’s my BFF) Talk about the stuff you love. (Hello cork accessories!) Attract people who love your stuff (Hey hey, that’s YOU!)
  • Don’t quit too early
  • Enjoy the journey to success -I can’t emphasize this enough. If you don’t enjoy it now, there is a good chance you won't enjoy it when you make it. Sure it can be hard, and it’s okay to cry, but celebrate every little win!


“You Are a Badass at Making Money,” Jen Sincero

My favorite piece of advice: “The universe wants people to be wealthy. The more you have, the more you can give. Everybody prospers.”

This is a powerful statement. Sit with it a minute and see how it applies to you. There were times the road we were on threw us such a curve that I thought I was going to topple down the mountain and have to start from the bottom, but each time, faith pulled me through, and I had what I needed to continue. What I learned was that it was okay….no actually GREAT to create and have financial wealth. I came from meager beginnings, so I often have guilt for having more than someone else. But the truth of that is, the more I have, the more I can give. Giving back is central to my core values, and accepting my success means I can help those along the way as an expression of gratitude for all those who have helped me! 

Other nuggets of wisdom from this badass boss babe: 

  • Wealth is freedom. It’s the ability to afford all the things and experiences required for a life fully lived. 
  • Be grateful for all that you have. Give as much as you can. 
  • Growth comes from fiction and challenge. Stay the course.


“The Greatest Salesman in the World” – Og Mandino

My favorite piece of advice: “All dreams, plans, and goals are useless unless you take action.” 

Can I hear an amen? Let me shout this one louder for the dreamers in the back. When was the last time someone you admired said they dreamed it and it just happened? Never, because it takes work to achieve those dreams. For me, that work involved taking my dream and turning it into a plan. I set goals, created a vision board, and practiced daily meditation on where I wanted to see my dream go. Add in a dash of belief in myself and then I took action! I dream big Baby! But what’s that saying? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! My elephant-sized dreams were accomplished through bite-sized pieces. 

Some other tasty bites for you from this author: 

  • Failure will never overtake you if your determination to succeed is strong enough. 
  • Persist until you succeed. The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not the beginning. One step at a time, and it is not too difficult. 


“Shortcut Your Startup,” Courtney and Carter Reum

My favorite piece of advice: “Pause and pivot when necessary.”

I love pivots. I wrote a blog piece all about it! But the best part of that statement is the word “pause.” - The key here is to not be in such a hurry that you can’t see a need for change when it arrives. So often our failure to make the turns needed in business is our inability to put the breaks on….screeeeech!.....and make a sharp turn to stay on the path to our dreams! 

Some additional notes for you to ponder:

  • Be a sailboat to market, not a speedboat. (Same idea above! Smooth movement, steady progress, ready to turn and keep the wind moving you forward. 
  • Which daily to-do’s render the biggest impact? They’re your MIT’s (Most Important To-do’s). Do them first. I have a whole thing written about this if you want to read more! 
  • Have closed and open office hours to enable focus and productivity. 
  • See challenges not as a test but as an opportunity to enhance your company. Embrace them. 
  • Enjoy the journey. (Hey, it’s a theme for my life, so I’m going to highlight it every chance I get!)

Some other great reads for which my notes are tucked away in storage {yes the remodel is still in progress….}

  • “#girlboss”, Sophia Amoruso
  • “Start Something that Matters”, Blake Mycoskie
  • “Girl, Wash Your Face”, Rachel Hollis
  • “By Invitation Only: How we Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop”, Alexis Maybank, Alexandra Wilson
  • “Good to Great”, Jim Collins
  • “Who Moved my Cheese?”, Spencer Johnson

And since we are summarizing some business wisdom, it is only fair to offer up a summary of what I have learned from my journey.  It goes something like this: Keep moving even if your GPS seems to be lagging. Go slow enough to take the corners life throws at you, but don't be afraid to turn up the radio and hit the gas when seeing your destination in sight. Roll down the windows, breathe deep the fresh air and face each pothole and roadblock with gratitude for the lessons they teach. Always carry a bag big enough to enjoy some unexpected adventures. And, if you need some suggestions, take a peek at our collection ready for just that! :)

P.S. If you have a favorite book that you think I’d enjoy, drop it in the comments, I’d love to read it! 



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