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5 Books Every Boss Lady Needs To Read

Whether you’re a boss lady juggling responsibilities, or an employee eyeing a leadership position, we surveyed some thriving businesswomen in MENA and these are their book recommendations.

"Run to the fire; don’t hide from it." That was Meg Whitman, CEO of a new venture backed by Jeffrey Katzenberg that aims to revolutionise entertainment with short-form premium content tailored for mobile consumption. Whitman, 61, is a Silicon Valley mogul, with more than three decades of experience leading huge brands including Hewlett Packard Enterprise and eBay. 

Women like Whitman tend to "run to the fire," a fire burning high against working women. We asked a bunch of women entrepreneurs about the books that have inspired and motivated them to "run to the fire" as they take their companies further, and elevate on the ladders of success.  

1. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly is the fruit of 12 years of research. Researcher and thought leader, Brene Brown, makes you take a good look at yourself through the lens of vulnerability, as Vested Summit co-founder Sherin Wafaai describes to Startup Scene ME. "Most people think that vulnerability means weakness, but that's the furthest thing from the truth."

According to Brown's Daring Greatly, to be vulnerable means to put yourself out there completely; to fall in love, to go to a job interview, or to move to a new country. "These things are terrifying because you're venturing into the unknown," she says. "In all these situations, Brene shows us that vulnerability actually means courage." Courage comes from Latin and it means to tell your story with your whole heart." The entrepreneur interprets that as being authentic, being who you are regardless of who's watching. One of the quotes that resonated most with Wafaafi was this: "What's the greater risk? Letting go of what people think - or letting go of how I feel, what I believe and who I am?"

You can buy the paperback here

2. HBR's On Strategy

"As I am a very detailed person, this was a great reminder that the bigger picture counts and the small actions needs to be aligned with it," Kamelizer's CEO Hanan Abdel Meguid tells Startup Scene ME. This collection of must-read Harvard Book Review articles emphasizes that it is key to cascade a strategy into small actions that one can operate and then dedicate time to review, progress, and draw lessons on what are our real show stoppers.

As she reads this book, Abdel Meguid discovers that the boring routine one carries out everyday makes the biggest difference in one's achievement, both as a company and as an individual. Doers learn more, especially if they stop at preset intervals and evaluate their progress against their set targets, she says. The book advises to set a benchmark, otherwise one falls into their dailies and executes without evaluation to give their insights on their progress and areas of improvements.

"I especially liked the 'who has the D' article and 'The secrets to successful strategy execution' because I am obsessing on tools and issues that help on building a solid execution muscle in a business or a personal goal," the CEO says.

You can buy the paperback here

3. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Abdel-Meguid gives us a second book recommendation in Creativity, Inc. Catmull who co-founded Pixar Animation Studios with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter, wrote an incisive book about creativity in business. "It is a sincere, real story by the founder of Pixar that humanizes the journey to success and failures as they come hand in hand in a lot of iterations - when someone makes it big, they call him/her genius but they don’t see the zillions of times in which s/he was wrong and stupid," she reflects.

The book also values qualities like honesty for reaching best results, the no-fear work environment, as well as openness. Creativity, Inc also remembers and honours the company's early investor, who persisted and stayed true to their mission, according to the book, even when he was losing a lot of his net-worth; Steve Jobs. "I cried in the chapter that they dedicated at the end of the book for him," the CEO tells us. 

You can buy the paperback here

4. Good to Great by Jim Collins

"Good to Great discusses the main features of great companies and what it takes to turn a mediocre one into a great one," Fustany's CEO Amira Azzouz tells Startup Scene ME. The book is a study conducted by a research team lead by the author, Jim Collins, and composed of 21 people who read and coded 6,000 articles and generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts to compile this book which took five years.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study, fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people,” comments Collins.

You can buy the paperback here.

5. It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

The second book on the Fustany CEO's recommended reading list is Paul Arden's It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be. "This book is mainly interesting for people in the marketing and advertising fields," Azzouz says, explaining that the book inspires the readers to shift their perspectives for better outcomes in the world of advertising. 

Beginning his career in advertising at the age of 16, Arden was Executive Creative Director at Saatchi and Saatchi for 14 years. During his time there, he was responsible for some of Britain's best known campaigns for the likes of British Airways, Silk Cut, Anchor Butter, InterCity and Fuji. In his book, Arden addresses issues as diverse as problem solving, responding to a brief, communicating, playing your cards right, making mistakes and creativity - all notions that can be applied to aspects of modern life.

You can buy the paperback here.  

Have you read any of these books? Tell us which you have read and how they have influenced your career paths.


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