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I had heard about this Karren Brady, although I didn't really know that much about her. To me she was just a 'tough talking business woman' and I wasn't that interested to know any more about her. However, being a Cosmopolitan magazine reader, which Karren has a career advice column in - I find her column to be hugely inspiring and so I started to become a fan of her. So when I recently found her autobiography selling for just £1 in a local charity shop, I couldn't wait to read it.
The book is called 'Strong Woman' and I like how it is aimed at women only. Karren is very against sexism against women in the workplace and so I think that it is great that she has written this book just for women - to inspire, encourage and motivate them towards being successful and 'putting themselves out there' in the business world.
I like the way that the book is written in a 'here and now' kind of way, rather than an actual life story. I like how she talks about it in a way such as 'I like to do this....I remember I time when I did this' rather than 'Back in 1980, I worked for so-and-so' etc. I like the style of writing as it makes it more direct and as though she is actually talking to you. I enjoyed the book so much that I just flew through it and had finished reading it within a couple of hours. I also like how the book is written in a simple and easy to read way with a 'no nonsense' and 'straight to the point' way.
Whilst I like the 'here and now' approach to her life, the book is all about 'work, work, work' which I did think was inspiring and definitely motivated me. However, at the same time, I would have preferred to have read more about her personal life rather than just her working life. Although, then again, as she says herself, she wrote the book to motivate other women to become business women, leaders and entrepreneurs after attending an event at Number 10, and seeing the same old male faces year after year. She always wondered where the new women leaders were and so she has written this book to inspire women - I have to say, this book has definitely inspired me.
Karren comes across just as she does on television; very honest and straight to the point. I certainly wouldn't like to get on the wrong side of her; come to think of it, I think she's probably even very scary when you are on the right side of her. She is very competitive and ambitious. To be honest, I don't think I would like to work with or for her as I could imagine her to be very picky; she even admits herself that she would rather do all tasks herself so that she knows they are going to be done well rather than letting someone else do them.
She does come across as being a bit of a big head. For example, she likes to mention several times that 'so and so company was in a right mess when I joined....and then I did this, this and that...and now it's a huge success. She also does seem to have a bit of a 'bob on herself'. For example I don't know how many times someone she works with has said 'oh I wouldn't tell anyone else, but I'll tell you Karen because you are so great' or 'I want you to do this task because you are so great', which is nice as she is great, but she just seem to be a bit smug about it which I did find slightly annoying - it's not enough to put me off her though which is quite surprising as she does big herself up a lot!
She comes across as being the smartest woman in the world; she talks about 'logic thinking' a lot and how companies do things and everythings going wrong...and then Karren and her logic thinking come along and rescue everything! But then again, she is right and knows what she is talking about, so I guess she has a right to be a big head. She does tend to repeat herself a lot in this book too; she mentions a few things and then a few chapters later I was thinking 'have I already read this bit?' She also tends to use the word 'logic' a million times. She comes across as the only person in the world with common sense as she likes to brag how she just comes long and says 'that's not logic, do it this way...the logic way' and then the other person says 'oh yeah' and then the business becomes a huge success because of Karren's logic thinking. Although, I have to say Karren's logic observations have encouraged me to start thinking a different way when I am at work.
While Karren is doing a great job, I don't envy her lifestyle at all. It all seems to be work, work and more work; yes she is very hard working, but to the extreme - I mean, to me staying in the office until 2am every day and working 20 hours every single say without a day off just seems a bit over the top to me. I felt tired just reading about her working days. I do admire her can-do attitude and 'just get on with it' attitude which I find positive and inspiring. She emphasises is to get far all you need is hard work and determination and if you work hard you will get somewhere.
Another thing which I find really refreshing is that while Karren is a sort of celebrity in her own right, she isn't at all interested in that side of things. She is certainly not fame hungry and is all about the business. I think that it is refreshing to see a business woman who isn't interested in being famous (unlike the likes of Celebrity businesswomen such as Katie Price, who rely on fame to sell their products) - not Karren and so I think that is very refreshing.
For those of you who like The Apprentice then you will like this. I have to say, The Apprentice has never really appealed to me before, but like I say since working in my current job I have become a lot more business minded, and so I think that due to that and after reading this book, I will definitely watch it in the future. I also liked the fact that Karren talks about Lord Sugar as a friend; he seems like a nice guy! I also like the fact that Karren has a sense of humour; she said 'Lord Sugar to you, Alan to me!' which I thought was quite comical.
I have to say I learn a lot from this book. I work in an office for a national company and love the idea of working my way up in the company so I really valued Karren's advice; I have certainly taken on board a lot of the advice she gives out and I'm sure that it will help me as it is pretty good advice. I like the fact that even if you are not business minded or not interested in running a business, you can still use Karren's advice to succeed in life; you can still apply her business advice to your own financial finances, such as when you are working for a company you need to know where every single penny is being sent and how to get in more money than is going out to be a success; so I think that is a good attitude to have towards your personal finances as well as your workplace's finances.
Karren has her fingers in lots of pies; football, television, newspapers, retailers etc, so I found out quite a bit of how these different types of business works which I thought was quite interesting. It was nice to have an honest opinion of view of how these business work.
At the end of the book there is an 'advice' section where Karren gives her top ten tips for being successful. I thought that these would be for those wanting to start up a business, but in fact they are aimed at everyone and include tips that you can even include to your personal life. For example she says that she has women coming up to her saying that they have been out of work for 10 years looking after their children and now they want to go back to work but don't know what they are good at and then Karren tells them that they are organised and know how to budget and know how to manage people. So we all have skills, we just have to work out what they are. I have definitely learnt a lot from this book - it's definitely given me a wake up call - so much that I am really looking forward to going back to the office next Monday and applying Karren's attitude to my work. I like how she doesn't wait for things to happen, she's goes out there and makes them happen which I think is great and definitely the way forward and the way to success. This book has been an amazing help to me.
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I can see why some people would find it boring. For example, I would never have considered myself to be the ambitious type and so if you had given me this book to read a couple of years ago, I probably would have given up after the first page. However, since working at my current job for the last year, I have become a bit more ambitious than I was and am much more interested in being a success than I used to be, so for me this book was definitely a must read. I think all woman should read this book - I cannot emphasise enough how much it will inspire you!
All in all, I would definitely recommend this book! I found it to be a huge inspiration, and at just £1 I think it was excellent money well spent! Karren is a great role model for women everywhere!
Thanks for reading!