Sometimes it’s not about the book. It’s about the person writing the book. And it’s about the person reading the book. I’ll let you think about that for a moment while I go about the business of sharing my experience of “Divas Doing Business” by Monique Hayward.
Monique contacted me a few months ago about reviewing her book. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a book on “women in business.”
While I happen to be a “woman in business,” I’m just not motivated or inspired by women-centered books, organizations or anything like that. I support it, I belong to women’s organizations and all those good things– it just isn’t a topic that I’m drawn to. In other words, this is a book that I received and am reading because I support women in business, authors and the spirit of entrepreneurship and not because it’s a subject I’m especially interested in.
A lesson became obvious to me in this process: we all need to expand our reading horizons, because sometimes the biggest lessons aren’t found in the topics that interest you most. Real innovation and inspiration can come from the place you least expect.
And this is what happened to me — even before I started reading the actual book. I’m going to tell you about my experience in the hopes that this review not only inspires you to read this book, but inspires you to do something you didn’t really feel like doing.
First Impressions Can be Misleading
I don’t happen to like the word “Diva.” The word makes me think of women who expect everything and contribute nothing. Talk about being off the mark! “Divas Doing Business” is about the complete OPPOSITE. This book is a compilation of stories, lessons and experiences from a total of ten amazing, dynamic, persistent and inspiring people (who happen to be women).
Then there’s the sub-headline “What the Guidebooks Don’t Tell You About Being a Woman Entrepreneur.” OK, now you have my attention. I hope it’s something juicy like a recommendation to eat a cheeseburger before your big client meeting! No chance.
Turns out that what the guidebooks don’t tell you is the truth; you need to be a certain kind of person to start, grow and run a successful business. You don’t need to be the smartest (although that helps). You don’t need to be the richest; Monique watched her grandmother transform herself from a beauty shop owner to a nurse every day for 30 years. You simply need to have the drive and spirit to do what it takes and be willing to learn, change and think creatively to reach your goal.
So, you see, I haven’t gotten past the foreword and I’m already experiencing a change in attitude and learning some necessary lessons.
I’m the kind of person that loves to read the foreword, the dedication and the acknowledgments. I feel like it gives me this little peek into who the author is as a person by what they write in their acknowledgments. I can see that Monique’s bedrock is her family and her inner circle. When I saw that Morgan Freeman wrote the foreword, I was curious about the connection until I saw that he was not only a customer of Monique’s restaurant and bistro, but that they had worked together on a charity that she started. Once again, I continue to be inspired – not by what’s in the book, but by the quality of the people I’m about to meet inside its pages.
The Nitty Gritty
There are nine chapters in the book and some basic business planning and market planning tools in the appendix. Each chapter is a lesson on the entrepreneur’s journey that features a woman entrepreneur who best represents all aspects of the lesson. In Chapter Four, “The Real Deal on Raising Money”, Monique goes through her entire experience on actually snooping out a scam investment firm that offered her money. Her detailed account of checking out the e-mail, the internet, blogs and reaching out to members of the internet community taught me two important lessons: (1) don’t ignore offers for money and (2) dig and check and confirm and verify every tidbit of information before you consider any offers.
Chapter Nine is dedicated to “Making Mistakes.” Monique openly shares several mistakes and lessons she learned by making the choice to purchase product from a large multi-million dollar food supplier. With just one strategic decision, she outlines three mistakes and lessons. In addition to that, she featured Jacqueline Rhinehart, from Organic Soul Marketing. Jacqueline takes it one step further and shares how her persistence keeps her from spinning out over mistakes.
Is This Book for You?
I already told you that when I picked up this book I didn’t think it was “for me.” But I’ve also told you that it has given me new perspective, energy and insight as to who I have to be to build my business into everything that it’s capable of.
If you are a startup woman-owned business, you really ought to pick this book up. The stories and women that are featured will feed your entrepreneurial soul (especially since there are quite a few restaurant owners featured). If you’re a male business owner, this book will give you an inside look into how women business owners live and what’s important to them. Since women-owned businesses tend to fare better then men’s — you might learn a few things about how to keep your business going in this economy.
“Divas Doing Business” isn’t just a book you’ll read and put away. It’s a book you’ll flip through, read over coffee and keep on your desk.
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About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers. Her blog is Strategy Stew.