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Book Review #4 Girl Code

Reviewed by Sharon McGann

Girl Code

by Cara Alwill Leyba

This wasn’t the book I was expecting – there are a couple of books with the same title about girl coders. This is more about the secret success code of girls’ clubs. What it does very well is highlight the benefits of being part of a network like Chooks.

The main chapters tease out what is different about women in business and how we can support and encourage each other, especially when dealing with the ‘confidence cringe’ that many women have.

The format is short interviews with successful women and their philosophies and lessons. I can imagine us eventually writing a book together about our amazing Chooks SA movement, with short stories of learnings and advice from each of us.

What women need more of: Connection and contribution – we each succeed when we help others succeed. Plus, Confidence - the confidence to be who we are. It’s actually harder covering up our quirkiness in order to fit in. Chooks can be a safe space to test and confirm we are okay just as we are.

What women need less of: Insecurity - no one who is great now, was great when they started. Excuses -it’s only discomfort, you won’t die if they say no, so just ask. Cattiness and envy – you can have what others are having, you just have to work hard and consistently for it.

We also fear that we won’t be able to cope but we can, we are women!

My new take on the Helen Ready anthem:

We are women, watch us soar, in a brood that’s too big to ignore!

And for some more detail if you have a bit more time to read :

Connection is the key. Chapter 3 is all about collaboration. Keep thinking about how we can connect and together create activities and events that give women in business and social enterprise hope and visibility, as well as the opportunity to cross promote ourselves and our services.

Be willing to ask for help. But don’t expect the other person/s to do all the work and even if you are a newbie, think about how you could help them in return – e.g. we can all use a bit of encouragement, or an offer to do something specific.

We fear failure. Learn to tolerate it. What’s the worst that’s happened to you? List some of your failures and what you’ve learnt and how you’ve grown. Do you know that you can learn to shift your energy from fear to appreciation? It’s like a muscle, a mental skill that you can learn. Plus, when you handle stress better, it’s good for your mental and your physical health.

Dealing with Haters. Learn to use the ‘block’ and ‘delete’ buttons – don’t let detractors push your buttons. Learn to talk yourself out of ruminating on negative comments so you stay in a positive frame of mind.

If you find yourself envying or disparaging another woman, ask: Why does this bother me? Often the answer will be that you’ve told yourself: “I can’t be or have that”. Or, “I shouldn’t be like that”. Or “That’s too much work”. When you feel envy, find an opportunity to genuinely congratulate or compliment the person and allow yourself the possibility that you too could have that.

Admit how hard it is. Let’s all be honest with how hard it is and the dilemmas we face so we know we aren’t the only one who finds things hard. Stop with the perfect face!

Copycats. Putting it out there also means people can copy what you’ve done but not if you are continually innovating they can’t keep up. Inspiration is different. We can all acknowledge where we’ve been inspired by others in the network.

Self-compassion. We women often punish ourselves for the sins of the past but we can use our ‘herstories’ (our messes) to spread the message that to be ‘huwoman’ is to mess up and then clean it up.

Unshakeable confidence. Even if you are not 100% confident that you can do what you want to do, be confident that you can learn, you can reach out and you cope with messing up, cleaning up and starting again. Confidence is a muscle. Do things even if you are scared because you build the muscle.

Be prepared to hustle. It’s all about the hustle and I’ve been a princess for too long, not wanting to get my hands dirty, e.g. with marketing. You have to be prepared to ask and do the work. If you don’t ask the answer is always no. If you do ask, you have a chance for a positive response.

Invite yourself to the party. Don’t wait for a personal invite. Ask “me too”. Don’t take “no” personally. E.g if Moira doesn’t mention you it isn’t personal, she just doesn’t know you yet. Reach out to let others know what you can or want to do. Hear “no” as “not now”. Ask if it’s okay to come back and ask again and when is a likely timeframe.

It’s the audience stupid. Be your own Publicist but make it about your audience – what you can tell them that will be valuable to them. If you fear you are being annoying then you haven’t thought enough about “value for my audience” – how do they benefit from knowing this.

Aim for Wow. How do you get to the point where you absolutely believe in your product, service and you? Do what you love and love what you do. Create things that make you salivate – aim for ‘wow’. Start with prototypes, drafts and get early feedback.

Guest blogger and book reviewer: Sharon McGann

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