Female leaders and entrepreneurs on what it really means to be a #girlboss

(Photo: Getty Images)

Much like “postfeminism” and “leaning in”, many find the term “girlboss” problematic: women worry that the need to qualify female success with this phrase can be degrading, performative and not all that empowering.

Also, there must be something wrong with a term that’s been hashtagged over 15 million times on Insta, right?

It’s precisely because of how easy it is to identify with being a girlboss that the term’s stuck – anyone, of any age, can be a girlboss. Like it or not, the notion of the girlboss has launched a revolution of sorts, inspiring millions of women, from the YouTuber on the rise to the mumpreneur.

The term was originally coined by Sophia Amoruso, former CEO of Nasty Gal, whose bestselling memoir #Girlboss later became a show on Netflix. Nasty Gal reached $300 million in revenue before Amoruso had to file for bankruptcy and had a very public fall from grace. Since then, Amoruso has been rebuilding her brand with the launch of Girlboss Media, a lifestyle company with a podcast, online magazine, social network for entrepreneurs and events.

It’s clear that being your own girlboss is all about being resilient, determined, hard-working, and passionate – and it’s about embracing that side hustle to see where it can take you. Here’s some of our favourite advice from girlbosses we love.


Helena Morrissey

Helena Morrissey CBE, CEO Newton Investment Management UK presents during the Women in the Corporate World Plenary session at the World Islamic Economic in 2013 in London. (Photo: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images for 9th World Islamic Economic Forum)

“My best investment has been in myself. That sounds kind of selfish, but it isn't. You do have to invest in yourself to grow and develop to be more valuable and useful, whether that is by going to networking events, to the gym to invest in your fitness, or in learning new skills. If you don't invest in yourself, how can you be a good parent, how can you be good in your career? It is not just about me, me, me – it is about doing the best for my family and those around me. This is where we women have gone wrong. Men have been doing it for years.”


Susan Lyne

BBG Ventures managing partner Susan Lyne speaks onstage during Day 2 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at in San Francisco, California. (Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

“I see men pitch unicorns and women pitch businesses.”


Sarah Blakely

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Spanx Founder Sara Blakely speaks onstage for during day 3 of Fast Company Innovation Festival at 92nd Street Y on October 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Fast Company)

“Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”


Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., smiles during a Bloomberg Television interview at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., in 2019. (Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“There is no perfect fit when you're looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”


Sophia Amoruso

Sophia Amoruso speaks onstage at Girlboss Rally NYC 2018 at Knockdown Center in 2018 in Maspeth, New York. (Photo: JP Yim/Getty Images for Girlboss Rally NYC 2018)

“If you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, stop for a second: Have you actually flat-out asked for it? If you haven’t, stop complaining. You can’t expect the world to read your mind. You have to put it out there, and sometimes putting it out there is as simple as just saying, ‘Hey, can I have that?’”.


Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Celebrates 2019 Issue Launch at Myn-Tu in Miami, Florida in 2019. (Photo: John Parra/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

“You need to sit there and talk about your value. Talk about what you have done that has increased revenues, increased engagement, or how you've been working from nine to nine, even though you are only supposed to be working from nine to six. And that you are a salaried employee, so it's not like you're getting more money. And based on your input, into that company, and based on the metrics and the things that have happened because of the things that you were doing, that's why you deserve the raise. You don't need a raise, you deserve a raise,” Banks told Business Insider on her tips to negotiate a raise.

Martha Lane Fox

Baroness Martha Lane Fox attends the Harper's Bazaar lunch to celebrate International Women's Day at 34 Mayfair on March 8, 2018 in London, England. (Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

“Everyone battles inner demons and confidence can sometimes be one of these. I might appear confident with all that I have accomplished, but I just wake up and switch my brain on to confident daily… no matter who you are, you have something valuable to contribute so make sure you believe in yourself.”


Anita Roddick

Body Shop owner Anita Roddick talks to Michael Buerk at "The Guardian Hay Festival 2004" held at Hay on Wye in Wales, Great Britain. (Photo: Christopher Jackson/Getty Images)

“Whatever you do, be different – that was the advice my mother gave to me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out.”