April 3, 2019
New Releases: Business Books to Watch in April 2019
In order of their release date, these are 20 books—along with the publishers' descriptions—to choose from to kick off your Spring reading.
Women's Work: A Reckoning with Work and Home by Megan K. Stack, Doubleday
From National Book Award finalist Megan K. Stack, a stunning memoir of raising her children abroad with the help of Chinese and Indian women who are also working mothers.
When Megan Stack was living in Beijing, she left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to have her first child and work from home writing a book. She quickly realized that caring for a baby and keeping up with the housework while her husband went to the office each day was consuming the time she needed to write. This dilemma was resolved in the manner of many upper-class families and large corporations: she availed herself of cheap Chinese labor. The housekeeper Stack hired was a migrant from the countryside, a mother who had left her daughter in a precarious situation to earn desperately needed cash in the capital. As Stack’s family grew and her husband’s job took them to Dehli, a series of Chinese and Indian women cooked, cleaned, and babysat in her home. Stack grew increasingly aware of the brutal realities of their lives: domestic abuse, alcoholism, unplanned pregnancies. Hiring poor women had given her the ability to work while raising her children, but what ethical compromise had she made?
Determined to confront the truth, Stack traveled to her employees’ homes, met their parents and children, and turned a journalistic eye on the tradeoffs they’d been forced to make as working mothers seeking upward mobility—and on the cost to the children who were left behind.
Women's Work is an unforgettable story of four women as well as an electrifying meditation on the evasions of marriage, motherhood, feminism, and privilege.
Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall, Harvard Business Review Press
Forget what you know about the world of work.
You crave feedback. Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic planning is essential. Your competencies should be measured and your weaknesses shored up. Leadership is a thing.
These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. But actually, they're lies. As strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Leadership and Team Intelligence head Ashley Goodall show in this provocative, inspiring book, there are some big lies—distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking—that we encounter every time we show up for work. Nine lies, to be exact. They cause dysfunction and frustration, ultimately resulting in workplaces that are a pale shadow of what they could be.
But there are those who can get past the lies and discover what's real. These freethinking leaders recognize the power and beauty of our individual uniqueness. They know that emergent patterns are more valuable than received wisdom and that evidence is more powerful than dogma.
With engaging stories and incisive analysis, the authors reveal the essential truths that such freethinking leaders will recognize immediately: that it is the strength and cohesiveness of your team, not your company's culture, that matter most; that we should focus less on top-down planning and more on giving our people reliable, real-time intelligence; that rather than trying to align people's goals we should strive to align people's sense of purpose and meaning; that people don't want constant feedback, they want helpful attention.
This is the real world of work, as it is and as it should be. Nine Lies About Work reveals the few core truths that will help you show just how good you are to those who truly rely on you.
New to Big: How Companies Can Create Like Entrepreneurs, Invest Like VCs, and Install a Permanent Operating System for Growth by David Kidder & Christina Wallace, Currency
Serial entrepreneurs David Kidder and Christina Wallace reveal their revolutionary playbook for igniting growth inside established companies.
Most established companies face a key survival challenge, says David Kidder, CEO of Bionic, lifelong entrepreneur, and angel investor in more than thirty startups: operational efficiency and outdated bureaucracy are at war with new growth. Legacy companies are skilled at growing big businesses into even bigger ones. But they are less adept at discovering new opportunities and turning them into big businesses, the way entrepreneurs and early-stage investors must. In New to Big, Kidder and Wallace reveal their proprietary blueprint for installing a permanent growth capability inside any company—the Growth Operating System.
The Growth OS borrows the best tools, systems, and mind-sets from entrepreneurship and venture capital and adapts them for established organizations, leveraging these two distinct skills as a form of management for building in a future that is uncertain. By focusing on what consumers do rather than what they say, celebrating productive failure, embracing a portfolio approach, and learning from the outside-in, Kidder and Wallace argue any company can go on offense and win the future.
This isn’t about a one-off innovation moonshot. It’s about building a permanent ladder to the moon.
The Skills: From First Job to Dream Job—What Every Woman Needs to Know by Mishal Husain, Harper Business
Acclaimed BBC anchor, Mishal Husain, inspires, champions, and encourages women to make their ambitions a reality by focusing on practical skills they can use throughout their careers, whether they are new graduates, working mothers, re-entering the workforce, or simply seeking a career change.
When women are offered new opportunities, they often hesitate because of doubt—doubt that they are good enough or have the abilities to succeed. Mishal Husain has reached the pinnacle of her field, yet the British news presenter almost didn’t take her dream job because of doubt, and it took three years before she felt truly comfortable in her position. While men focus on advancement, women feel pressured to prove themselves. “It is clear that we need some better ideas about how more women can advance to levels comparable with men,” Husain writes. The Skills offers insight, practical knowledge, and encouragement to help women thrive.
Husain begins with a frank overview of where women are socially and professional today, and identifies the factors that influence how others perceive us—and how we think about ourselves. Drawing on her own experience and knowledge, along with interviews with experts and inspirational figures from Martha Lane Fox to Malala Yousafzai, The Skills explains:
- How to present yourself to maximum effect, in person and online
- How to prepare for big moments and plan for long-term goals
- How to gain confidence and authority
- How to use your voice and body language effectively
- How to navigate the ups and downs of a long working life, from engineering quick wins to building resilience
Wise, down-to-earth, and filled with vital advice, The Skills guides women in honing the abilities they need to thrive in whatever field they choose.
An Economist Walks into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk by Allison Schrager, Portfolio
Is it worth swimming in shark-infested waters to surf a 50-foot, career-record wave?
Is it riskier to make an action movie or a horror movie?
Should sex workers forfeit 50 percent of their income for added security or take a chance and keep the extra money?
Most people wouldn’t expect an economist to have an answer to these questions—or to other questions of daily life, such as who to date or how early to leave for the airport. But those people haven’t met Allison Schrager, an economist and award-winning journalist who has spent her career examining how people manage risk in their lives and careers.
Whether we realize it or not, we all take risks large and small every day. Even the most cautious among us cannot opt out—the question is always which risks to take, not whether to take them at all. What most of us don’t know is how to measure those risks and maximize the chances of getting what we want out of life.
In An Economist Walks into a Brothel, Schrager equips readers with five principles for dealing with risk, principles used by some of the world’s most interesting risk takers. For instance, she interviews a professional poker player about how to stay rational when the stakes are high, a paparazzo in Manhattan about how to spot different kinds of risk, horse breeders in Kentucky about how to diversify risk and minimize losses, and a war general who led troops in Iraq about how to prepare for what we don’t see coming.
When you start to look at risky decisions through Schrager’s new framework, you can increase the upside to any situation and better mitigate the downsides.
The Robots Are Coming!: The Future of Jobs in the Age of Automation by Andres Oppenheimer, translated by Ezra E. Fitz, Vintage
Staying true to his trademark journalistic approach, Andrés Oppenheimer takes his readers on yet another journey, this time across the globe, in a thought-provoking search to understand what the future holds for today’s jobs in the foreseeable age of automation.
The Robots Are Coming! centers around the issue of jobs and their future in the context of rapid automation and the growth of online products and services. As two of Oppenheimer’s interviewees—both experts in technology and economics from Oxford University—indicate, forty-seven percent of existing jobs are at risk of becoming automated or rendered obsolete by other technological changes in the next twenty years. Oppenheimer examines current changes in several fields, including the food business, legal work, banking, and medicine, speaking with experts in the field, and citing articles and literature on automation in various areas of the workforce. He contrasts the perspectives of “techno-optimists” with those of “techno-negativists” and generally attempts to find a middle ground between an alarmist vision of the future, and one that is too uncritical. A self-described “cautious optimist”, Oppenheimer believes that technology will not create massive unemployment, but rather will drastically change what work looks like.
The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise by David Kushner, Simon & Schuster
“An engrossing microcosm of the internet's Wild West years” (Kirkus Reviews), award-winning journalist David Kushner tells the incredible battle between the founder of Match.com and the con man who swindled him out of the website Sex.com, resulting in an all-out war for control for what still powers the internet today: love and sex.
In 1994, visionary entrepreneur Gary Kremen used a $2,500 loan to create the first online dating service, Match.com. Only 5 percent of Americans were using the internet at the time, and even fewer were looking online for love. He quickly bought the Sex.com domain too, betting the combination of love and sex would help propel the internet into the mainstream.
Imagine Kremen’s surprise when he learned that someone named Stephen Michael Cohen had stolen the rights to Sex.com and was already making millions that Kremen would never see. Thus follows the wild true story of Kremen’s and Cohen’s decade-long battle for control. In The Players Ball, author and journalist David Kushner provides a front seat to these must-read Wild West years online, when innovators and outlaws battled for power and money.
This cat-and-mouse game between a genius and a con man changed the way people connect forever, and is key to understanding the rise and future of the online world.
Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World's Riskiest Business by Matt Lee & Ted Lee, Henry Holt and Co.
The beloved Lee Brothers take on the competitive and wild world of high-end catering, exposing the secrets of the food business that no home cook or restaurant chef has ever experienced.
Hotbox reveals the real-life drama that takes place behind cavernous event spaces and soaring white tents, where cooking conditions have more in common with a mobile army hospital than a restaurant (think M.A.S.H instead of Top Chef) and clients tend to be highly emotional and demanding (think mother-of-the-bride). The Lee Brothers, known for their hip take on Southern cooking, steeped themselves in the culture of catering for four years, getting to know the business from the inside-out. It’s a realm where you find eccentric characters, working in extreme conditions, under insane stress, who must produce magical events and instantly adapt when, for instance, the host’s toast runs for a full hour or a hail storm suddenly erupts.
Working undercover at a catering firm, the Lee Brothers take you from black-tie galas to celebrity-filled Hamptons cookouts, investigating the outer reaches of the industries that make the galas happen, such as an industrial park in New Jersey, where a party rental company’s warehouse flashes to life every day at 3am with the arrival of the silverware crew. They also introduce you to the incredible DeSoto Brothers who pioneered hotbox cooking, and trace the history of catering back to when crepe parties were all the rage. You’ll never attend a party—or entertain on your own—in the same way after reading this book.
Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream by Jonathan Gruber & Simon Johnson, PublicAffairs
The untold story of how America once created the most successful economy the world has ever seen and how we can do it again.
The American economy glitters on the outside, but the reality is quite different. Job opportunities and economic growth are increasingly concentrated in a few crowded coastal enclaves. Corporations and investors are disproportionately developing technologies that benefit the wealthiest Americans in the most prosperous areas—and destroying middle class jobs elsewhere. To turn this tide, we must look to a brilliant and all-but-forgotten American success story and embark on a plan that will create the industries of the future—and the jobs that go with them.
Beginning in 1940, massive public investment generated breakthroughs in science and technology that first helped win WWII and then created the most successful economy the world has ever seen. Private enterprise then built on these breakthroughs to create new industries—such as radar, jet engines, digital computers, mobile telecommunications, life-saving medicines, and the internet—that became the catalyst for broader economic growth that generated millions of good jobs. We lifted almost all boats, not just the yachts.
Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson tell the story of this first American growth engine and provide the blueprint for a second. It's a visionary, pragmatic, sure-to-be controversial plan that will lead to job growth and a new American economy in places now left behind.
Balance is B.S.: How to Have a Work. Life. Blend. by Tamara Loehr, Wiley
Combine the best parts of your personal and professional life to live the life you really want.
Balance is B.S. is an unflinching and honest look at the challenges today’s working woman faces in balancing her professional and personal lives. In the United States, women comprise over 40% of household income. Increased gender diversity in the modern business landscape continues to have a positive impact on bottom lines and revenue reports across the economy, and offers significant benefits for ambitious women in the workplace. This increase of women in the workforce does present a serious problem—women are working longer and harder outside of the home, but their workload has not lessened inside of the home. While their career prospects rise, expectations of their family and personal lives remain flat. Women pursue the mythical “work-life” balance, and feel guilty for not reaching it. There is a better way.
This insightful book provides working women with real-world advice, enabling them to blend their personal and professional lives, avoid burning out, and raise expectations of themselves and those around them. Every chapter presents practical exercises to identify values, and focus on what matters most. Following the path laid out by this essential guide, you will learn how to:
- Blend business and personal lives together without compromising your values
- Adjust expectations of yourself and others around you
- Use practical exercises and effective techniques to combine work, social, family, and parenting lives
- Stop feeling guilty about your work-life balance, and embrace the best parts of both
Balance is B.S. is an invaluable resource for working women regardless of profession, experience, and status. Author Tamara Loehr draws on her years of entrepreneurial success to share her proven methods of merging work, play, and family to map out and reach the life you actually want to live.
How Change Happens by Cass R. Sunstein, The MIT Press
The different ways that social change happens, from unleashing to nudging to social cascades.
How does social change happen? When do social movements take off? Sexual harassment was once something that women had to endure; now a movement has risen up against it. White nationalist sentiments, on the other hand, were largely kept out of mainstream discourse; now there is no shortage of media outlets for them. In this book, with the help of behavioral economics, psychology, and other fields, Cass Sunstein casts a bright new light on how change happens.
Sunstein focuses on the crucial role of social norms—and on their frequent collapse. When norms lead people to silence themselves, even an unpopular status quo can persist. Then one day, someone challenges the norm—a child who exclaims that the emperor has no clothes; a woman who says “me too.” Sometimes suppressed outrage is unleashed, and long-standing practices fall.
Sometimes change is more gradual, as “nudges” help produce new and different decisions—apps that count calories; texted reminders of deadlines; automatic enrollment in green energy or pension plans. Sunstein explores what kinds of nudges are effective and shows why nudges sometimes give way to bans and mandates. Finally, he considers social divisions, social cascades, and “partyism,” when identification with a political party creates a strong bias against all members of an opposing party—which can both fuel and block social change.
Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level by Leander Kahney, Portfolio
Journalist Leander Kahney reveals how CEO Tim Cook has led Apple to astronomical success after the death of Steve Jobs in 2011.
The death of Steve Jobs left a gaping void at one of the most innovative companies of all time. Jobs wasn’t merely Apple’s iconic founder and CEO; he was the living embodiment of a global megabrand. It was hard to imagine that anyone could fill his shoes—especially not Tim Cook, the intensely private executive who many thought of as Apple’s “operations drone.”
But seven years later, as journalist Leander Kahney reveals in this definitive book, things at Apple couldn’t be better. Its stock has nearly tripled, making it the world’s first trillion dollar company. Under Cook’s principled leadership, Apple is pushing hard into renewable energy, labor and environmentally-friendly supply chains, user privacy, and highly-recyclable products. From the massive growth of the iPhone to lesser-known victories like the Apple Watch, Cook is leading Apple to a new era of success.
Drawing on access with several Apple insiders, Kahney tells the inspiring story of how one man attempted to replace someone irreplaceable, and—through strong, humane leadership, supply chain savvy, and a commitment to his values—succeeded more than anyone had thought possible.
Labyrinth: The Art of Decision Making by Pawel Motyl, Page Two
The next decision you make could change your life.
Every day, we make countless choices, yet we rarely stop to consider how we arrive at those decisions as we speed through our lives. In Labyrinth, leadership expert Pawel Motyl believes it’s time to take a closer look at how we make decisions—and learn how to decide better. Motyl digs into the series of decisions that led to some of the modern world’s most dramatic events: from the Cuban missile crisis to the 1996 Mount Everest climbing disaster; from the Apollo 13 rescue mission to the ill-fated Daimler–Chrysler merger. Along the way, he reveals 16 rules for effective decision-making that will challenge your pre-existing beliefs, and change your outlook forever.
As technological advances transform our world at an ever-accelerating pace, we are all facing a complex labyrinth of decisions in business and life. Motyl’s insights will equip you with the knowledge and wisdom to face even the most high-stakes situation with confidence, and negotiate the labyrinth with ease.
Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport by Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” —Yvon Chouinard
For nearly 80 years, Yvon Chouinard has followed his own advice, pursuing, with equal fervor, sports adventures, business excellence, and environmental activism. Since 1950, he has captured the lessons and revelations he’s learned in articles and books, personal letters and poetry, introductions and eulogies. In this fascinating inside look, Chouinard himself has selected his favorites from years of reflection, all accompanied by illustrative photos, many never published before. The result reveals Chouinard’s iconoclastic and provocative thinking, skilled storytelling and sense of humor, and a picture of the evolution of his thoughts and philosophies. With articles on sports, from falconry to fishing and climbing to surfing, with musings on the purpose of business and the importance of environmental activism, this very personal book is like sitting on the couch with this amazing man, flipping through his photo album as he tells the stories of his life. Some Stories is an eclectic portrait of a unique life lived well. Yet the final pages of the book indicate that Chouinard will continue to challenge people, business, and the world. He presents the company's new simple but direct mission statement, revised for the first time in 27 years: "We are in business to save our home planet." With it he emphasizes the urgency of the climate crisis, then entreats every person's obligation to reflect on, commit to, and act on this mission.
Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement by Rich Karlgaard, Currency
A groundbreaking exploration of what it means to be a late bloomer in a culture obsessed with SAT scores and early success, and how finding one’s way later in life can be an advantage to long-term achievement and happiness.
We live in a society where kids and parents are obsessed with early achievement, from getting perfect scores on SATs to getting into Ivy League colleges to landing an amazing job at Google or Facebook—or even better, creating a startup with the potential to be the next Google or Facebook or Uber. We see software coders becoming millionaires or billionaires before age 30 and feel we are failing if we are not one of them.
Late bloomers, on the other hand, are undervalued—in popular culture, by educators and employers, and even unwittingly by parents. Yet the fact is a lot of us—most of us—do not explode out of the gates in life. We have to find our way. We have to discover our passions, and talents and gifts. That was true for author Rich Karlgaard, who had a mediocre academic career at Stanford (which he got into by a fluke), and after graduating, worked as a dishwasher and night watchman before finally finding the inner motivation and drive that ultimately led him to start up a high-tech magazine in Silicon Valley, and eventually to become the publisher of Forbes magazine.
There is a scientific explanation for why so many of us bloom later in life. The executive function of our brains doesn’t mature until age 25—and later for some. In fact, our brain’s capabilities peak at different ages. We actually enjoy multiple periods of blooming in our lives.
Based on several years of research, personal experience, and interviews with neuroscientists and psychologists, and countless people at different stages of their careers, Late Bloomers reveals how and when we achieve our full potential—and why today’s focus on early success is so misguided, and even harmful.
How We Make Stuff Now: Turn Ideas into Products That Build Successful Businesses by Jules Pieri, McGraw-Hill
This step-by-step DIY guide shows today’s entrepreneurs how to create and launch new products, package and market them to consumers, and build a thriving business.
Thanks to high-speed Internet, game-changing technology, and innovative new platforms, individuals with vision and heart can go from idea to marketplace on a shoestring budget. In How We Make Stuff Now, Jules Pieri—cofounder and CEO of The Grommet, a product launch platform that helps innovative products reach a community of millions—takes readers through the entire consumer product creation process, showing how individual Makers, inventors, and entrepreneurs have utilized technology, the Maker Movement, and perseverance to turn ideas for innovative consumer goods into thriving businesses, breaking the rules of traditional retailing in the process.
Jules details what goes into each of the steps they take: ideation, education, research, design and documentation, prototyping, funding, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, distribution, logistics, payments, customer service, financial and inventory management, and growth. Using case studies of successful startups, she reveals how entrepreneurs overcome obstacles, solve challenges, and rise above them to deliver innovations.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, Maker, or inventor, the first crucial step in your journey to turning your ideas into products that build thriving businesses is learning How We Make Stuff Now.
The Technology Fallacy: How People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation by Gerald C. Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan R. Copulsky, and Garth R. Andrus, The MIT Press
Why an organization's response to digital disruption should focus on people and processes and not necessarily on technology.
Digital technologies are disrupting organizations of every size and shape, leaving managers scrambling to find a technology fix that will help their organizations compete. This book offers managers and business leaders a guide for surviving digital disruptions—but it is not a book about technology. It is about the organizational changes required to harness the power of technology. The authors argue that digital disruption is primarily about people and that effective digital transformation involves changes to organizational dynamics and how work gets done. A focus only on selecting and implementing the right digital technologies is not likely to lead to success. The best way to respond to digital disruption is by changing the company culture to be more agile, risk tolerant, and experimental.
The authors draw on four years of research, conducted in partnership with MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, surveying more than 16,000 people and conducting interviews with managers at such companies as Walmart, Google, and Salesforce. They introduce the concept of digital maturity—the ability to take advantage of opportunities offered by the new technology—and address the specifics of digital transformation, including cultivating a digital environment, enabling intentional collaboration, and fostering an experimental mindset. Every organization needs to understand its “digital DNA” in order to stop “doing digital” and start “being digital.”
Digital disruption won't end anytime soon; the average worker will probably experience numerous waves of disruption during the course of a career. The insights offered by The Technology Fallacy will hold true through them all.
A book in the Management on the Cutting Edge series, published in cooperation with MIT Sloan Management Review.
Pivot to the Future: Discovering Value and Creating Growth in a Disrupted World by Omar Abbosh, Paul Nunes, and Larry Downes, PublicAffairs
The proven, effective strategy for reinventing your business in the age of ever-present disruption.
Disruption by digital technologies? That's not a new story. But what is new is the "wise pivot," a replicable strategy for harnessing disruption to survive, grow, and be relevant to the future. It's a strategy for perpetual reinvention across the old, now, and new elements of any business.
Rapid recent advances in technology are forcing leaders in every business to rethink long-held beliefs about how to adapt to emerging technologies and new markets. What has become abundantly clear: in the digital age, conventional wisdom about business transformation no longer works, if it ever did.
Based on Accenture's own experience of reinventing itself in the face of disruption, the company's real world client work, and a rigorous two-year study of thousands of businesses across 30 industries, Pivot to the Future reveals methodical and bold moves for finding and releasing new sources of trapped value-unlocked by bridging the gap between what is technologically possible and how technologies are being used. The freed value enables companies to simultaneously reinvent their legacy, and current and new businesses.
Pivot to the Future is for leaders who seek to turn the existential threats of today and tomorrow into sustainable growth, with the courage to understand that a wise pivot strategy is not a one-time event, but a commitment to a future of perpetual reinvention, where one pivot is followed by the next and the next.
The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind by Janelle Bruland, Made for Success Publishing
Have you bought into the lie that success constantly requires more, more, and more? To achieve success, you must do more, work more hours, take on more projects, and accept more responsibilities? If so, you're probably experiencing a roller coaster ride of mixed results-being on top of the world one moment and crashing to earth at lightning speed the next.
The Success Lie was written for you. You recognize the gap between where you are now and your highest potential, but don't want to sacrifice your sanity to get there. Janelle Bruland has built a formidable bridge over that gap, proving that you can be successful in the business world and maintain balance in your personal life without constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
You know that everything in life is a result of the choices you've made, yet you're wondering if you're making the right choices. The proven strategies in this book will show you how to step away from the modern world's path to success and create a life of significance—one where you are loving your work and making a positive impact. The book will help you
- Determine what's truly important to you and then live by those values.
- Recognize what's gotten in the way of your success and take transformational steps to increase mindfulness, improve your skills, and become a better (and happier) version of yourself.
- Discover strategies to eliminate over-work, over-commitment, and overwhelm.
Take back your life! Stop allowing societal pressures to tell you what matters. Get back on the path to fulfillment and do it your way! Reduce stress, enjoy peace of mind, and create the life you have always wanted.
Don't buy into the lie anymore. You have the choice.
Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took On Silicon Valley's Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime by Julian Guthrie, Currency
An unforgettable story of four women who, through grit and ingenuity, became stars in the cutthroat, high-stakes, male dominated world of venture capital in Silicon Valley, and helped build some of the foremost companies of our time.
In Alpha Girls, award-winning journalist Julian Guthrie takes readers behind the closed doors of venture capital, an industry that transforms economies and shapes how we live. We follow the lives and careers of four women who were largely written out of history—until now.
Magdalena Yesil, who arrived in America from Turkey with $43 to her name, would go on to receive her electrical engineering degree from Stanford, found some of the first companies to commercialize internet access, and help Marc Benioff build Salesforce. Mary Jane Elmore went from the corn fields of Indiana to Stanford and on to the storied venture capital firm IVP—where she was one of the first women in the U.S. to make partner—only to be pulled back from the glass ceiling by expectations at home. Theresia Gouw, an overachieving first-generation Asian American from a working-class town, dominated the foosball tables at Brown (she would later reluctantly let Sergey Brin win to help Accel Partners court Google), before she helped land and build companies including Facebook, Trulia, Imperva, and ForeScout. Sonja Hoel, a Southerner who became the first woman investing partner at white-glove Menlo Ventures, invested in McAfee, Hotmail, Acme Packet, and F5 Networks. As her star was still rising at Menlo, a personal crisis would turn her into an activist overnight, inspiring her to found an all-women’s investment group and a national nonprofit for girls.
These women, juggling work and family, shaped the tech landscape we know today while overcoming unequal pay, actual punches, betrayals, and the sexist attitudes prevalent in Silicon Valley and in male-dominated industries everywhere. Despite the setbacks, they would rise again to rewrite the rules for an industry they love. In Alpha Girls, Guthrie reveals their untold stories.