In the past couple of weeks, I've been feeling a little uninspired by my stacks of reading material. Ever since making it through February having read only one (!!!) book, I've been stuck in a serious slump, that was only recently remedied by way of a trip to the local library. Thankfully, it was there where I found this: a perky career-growth-meets-life-coach account of a life lovingly lived, written by a web superstar.
Lisa Sugar is no stranger to the pressures of having her words read by thousands of people: that's exactly how she grew her celebrity and lifestyle website, PopSugar, into an Internet phenomenon, multimedia powerhouse, and marketing mecca, with numerous sub-channels and purchasing projects backing its clout. In her book, Power Your Happy, the advice and information she shares with her readers every day is transformed, into a personal account of a career and life defined by optimism, and always looking forward for the next biggest and brightest thing.
Power Your Happy is a cheerful mix of career biography and inspirational guide, complete with advice on such topics as work/life balance, building your own team, and discovering work that inspires you. Lisa Sugar has lived a charmed life, and she knows it, and it's the bubbly voice that has attracted so many people to her website, PopSugar, over the years that makes this book good to read.
At first, it was a little frustrating, in the way that many overly-cheerful inspirational guides are: it refuses to bow to the idea that life is harder for some than others, and in Lisa, this was only more apparent. Despite early struggles with reading, she comes from a well-off Jewish East Coast family, was a George Washington University graduate, who immediately scored jobs in New York out of college, met her future husband when she was 17 and stayed with him ever since, has three beautiful daughters, and started her own website and company when she was living in San Francisco. The most tragic moment of her life was when one of her dogs died.
So that rankled me a bit. It definitely got a bit frustrating when she would give advice about going on dates and building a relationship, when she's been together with her guy since she was literally fresh out of high school. Or how she touts the importance of healthy body image and exercise, when she also readily admits she was born with a genetically-gifted petite frame and addictive fondness for athletics, leading her to have never dealt with body issues until after she had given birth to her second child.
However, despite these criticisms - which definitely come with a dose of "damn, how can a person be so lucky?" while also acknowledging Lisa's strengths and serious smarts - the book's powerful sense of kindness, optimism, and gratitude were really too endearing to stay frustrated with for too long. As someone who was raised on the life-changing power of Disney Princesses, I get it: attitude is everything, smiles are addictive, and life is too short to listen to people who say otherwise. And that really was the takeaway theme from the book: be happy.
And, of course, power that happy yourself!
My favorite part of this book, on the whole, was Sugar's adept career insight and information. Having skillfully navigated several career areas before landing her own brand of entrepreneurial genius - which has since blossomed into a lifestyle brand empire, complete with its own ties to fashion and beauty commerce - I knew she would dispense vital advice for constructing a career... but I wasn't quite prepared for how skillfully she implemented those elements into her daily life, as well.
From discussing how to build a team in an office environment, to how to construct your own set of personal cheerleaders, from emphasizing the importance of leaving work a little early to renew yourself, to touting the idea that it's not taking work home if it's something you really enjoy, what really stood out to me the most about Sugar's passion for a life fully lived was definitely not just her work practices, but how these translate into other parts of her day, when she's not at the office.
|Stars added to obscure the library stickers on the outside from view!|
And speaking of working at home, one element I particularly loved about the book were the mini-questionnaires at the end of each chapter, which reminded me of something between a self-interview and a magazine quizlet. These guiding questions were perfectly placed for self-reflection in the midst of all of this reading about someone else's life, and gave you opportunities to connect to what she was preaching, while also making room for those kinds of practices in your own day-to-day. As you can see from the above picture, I wasted no time in jotting down my favorite responses in a page of my bullet journal!
In total, did I enjoy reading this book? Absolutely! It takes less than a day to read, and you can probably make it in one sitting, even while writing down journal responses, as I'd recommend you'd do.
And if there was a question of Lisa ever writing a second book, I'd have to say, I'd probably pick up that one, as well. However, as my favorite elements - by far - leaned more towards Sugar's concrete advice, rather than her own personal components, I'd want it to focus more on self-development and goal setting, rather than a biography.
Final Verdict: While her advice sometimes sticks to the overly sunny side of the street, Lisa Sugar's lifestyle guide is powerful not for its biographical aspects, but in her sage managerial and personal advice. A great read for not just those looking to up their career game, but also anyone interested in behind-the-scenes looks at what makes Internet brands work!
(PS: Not included in this blog post: a joke about taking a shot every time Lisa mentions SoulCycle. You would seriously die of alcohol poisoning.)
Do you like to read PopSugar? What's your favorite career-oriented nonfiction? Let me know, in the comments below!