Book Review: Girl Code

I’m super excited to be back with another book review! Today’s post is going to be part review/part reflection on my own life and what this book taught me. It’s going to get a little personal, but I think this conversation is important and is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while!

GIRL CODE: CARA ALWILL LEYBA

Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba is a self-help book that focuses on inspiring and empowering female entrepreneurs. Although my future career in public relations probably won’t set me up to be a technical entrepreneur at any point, I still see the value in branding yourself, much like you would a business. Because of the personal branding aspect, I think that this book is a great read for any young businesswoman wanting to learn how to set herself apart from the crowd, even if she isn’t taking the leap to start her own business just yet.

Something unique about this book that I appreciate are the interviews it features at the end of every chapter. Cara chooses a female entrepreneur that inspires her and features them in her book, tying their personal stories and business journeys back into the lesson she is trying to teach in that chapter. I liked the personal aspect that these interviews bring to the book, and also helps me learn and connect with other female entrepreneurs along the way.

My favorite topic that Cara talks about in this book actually occurs in chapter one, and it’s something that has stuck with me ever since I read through it for the very first time. (I come back to this chapter frequently, because this is a message I think I need reminding of every so often.) And that message is simple: there’s enough for all of us.

When I switched majors from journalism to public relations in the fall of my junior year, I felt so behind. In my mind, everyone my age had more experience than me, were taking more advanced classes than me, and were landing better internships than me. It was easy to get caught up in a comparison game: comparing my resume to someone else’s, comparing my portfolio to someone else’s. I felt so far behind that I thought I may never catch up and be as successful as my peers who had been PR majors since freshman year.

This chapter taught me that the comparison game does no one any favors. As Cara says,

“We have to let go of the notion that another woman’s success is our failure.”

Just because someone else is getting X internship or Y experience, doesn’t mean that I am inherently a failure. I am working at my own pace, and doing things my own way. And that’s okay.

The idea that “just because someone else has it, there is none left for us” is wrong. Cara stresses “limitless luxe,” meaning that we can achieve anything we desire as long as we believe that they can happen for us.

Another important point in this chapter is that

“Whatever your gift is, no one can do it quite like you.”

Just because other people in my major want to do fashion and lifestyle public relations does not mean we are competitors. No one can do my job exactly like me. I have no competition but the competition with myself- to get better and be better every single day. It’s easy for me to see some people in my major with very similar life goals, and start to view them as competition. But that’s simply not the case! Because of Girl Code, I’ve been making a conscious effort to think of everyone in my industry as connections, rather than just the next person to beat. And that is helping me stay positive when the stress of my future starts to get to me.

I hope you enjoyed this book review and my commentary on how it influenced my life! I highly recommend it to any young professional, entrepreneur or not. It taught me so much and I’m going to be bringing it along with me to Austin this summer so I can read through it from time to time as a reminder!

You can purchase Girl Code here.

To connect with Cara Awill Leyba, you can visit her website, Instagram, or listen to her podcast (another favorite of mine!)

-K

Book Review: Leave Your Mark

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2019 was to read one new book a month. When I was younger, I would churn through books at an almost alarming pace- 3-5 chapter books a week. But through high school and college, reading for pleasure got pushed to the side in favor of “more important” things, like homework and extracurriculars.

Recently, my literary obsession has been self-help books. I have what seems like a million saved on my wish list on Amazon, and am always thinking about which one I’ll buy next (despite having many, many unread ones sitting on my bedside table.) I love a good fiction book, but I’m at a point in my life where I’m getting serious about advancing myself professionally and personally. Because of that, self-help books are becoming my go-to.

But enough about me. On to the review!

Leave Your Mark: Aliza Licht

To be honest, I bought this book based solely off the cover. Beyond the tagline on the front, I didn’t really have an idea of what this book was about. I figured it would generally give me advice on growing professionally and building a social media presence- all things important in the PR field, but not specifically targeted towards me.

How wrong I would be. It’s like Aliza wrote this book specifically targeted towards me. With every page I turned, I was shocked at how relevant this book was to me and where I’m at in my career. I actually almost started crying because of how perfect it was: it’s targeted towards people starting out in the fashion public relations world, and details everything from getting your first internship to building your personal brand.

Aliza Licht started out as a pre-med major in college and eventually realized that medicine was not the path for her. At a crossroads, she dove into the world of fashion journalism and worked at Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire before ultimately switching careers to public relations. As a senior vice president of global communications for Donna Karan and DKNY, she was a pioneer in the social media industry when she created the twitter account “DKNY PR GIRL.” DKNY PR GIRL shared a behind-the-scenes look at the DKNY brand and built a loyal following by interacting with her followers, which she lovingly called “friends.” She uses what she’s learned through her multiple careers to mentor young professionals and share her secrets to success.

Aliza’s story (and advice) resonated with me because it was so similar to my own. I started as a broadcast journalism major, before switching to online journalism and finally realizing my true fit was in PR. Sometimes, I feel as though I switched majors too late in my college career and am struggling to catch up with my peers. But this book reassured me that you can succeed in a PR career no matter when (or how “late”) you begin.

For me, my favorite part of the book was the Gossip Girl references. Gossip Girl was a huge inspiration for Aliza when she started the DKNY PR GIRL Twitter account and she often channeled Gossip Girl’s catty writing style in her tweets. Getting to see my favorite show of all-time referenced in a book I was already obsessed with was an unexpected (but very happy) surprise.

Another part of the book I enjoyed was the section on personal style. Aliza gives this advice in Chapter 16:

“Record best outfits. Believe it or not, a good style moment can be forgotten in a nanosecond. If you find a great look that made you feel wonderful that day, write it down, or better yet photograph it. Trust me, your brain won’t remember it otherwise.”

When I read that, all the photos I’ve ever taken of my OOTDs were suddenly so validated. By making sure to record my outfits and keep them handy, I’m making sure to keep snapshots of outfit combinations that made me feel good. It’s not weird, in fact, it’s encouraged.

I would recommend this book to all young professionals trying to build their brand, but especially people in PR. Honestly, I feel like I learned more in this book than I did in my entire semester of Intro to Public Relations. It’s a game changer, and is helping to set me on the path to growing my personal brand and securing an amazing internship!

You can purchase Leave Your Mark here.

To connect with Aliza Licht, you can visit her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

-K