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Girlboss CEO Sophia Amoruso Reveals Her Struggles With Self-Doubt

by 
author image Lindsay Farber
Lindsay Farber is a writer and content creator specializing in celebrity relations, health and wellness. Lindsay's expertise and knowledge of the entertainment industry helps to connect media brands with celebrities for written articles, videos and social content. In addition to LIVESTRONG.COM, her writing has appeared on E! News, BuzzFeed and OK! Magazine. Follow Lindsay on Instagram at @lindsaypaigefarber.
Girlboss CEO Sophia Amoruso Reveals Her Struggles With Self-Doubt
Girlboss CEO Sophia Amoruso speaks with LIVESTRONG.COM about overcoming self-doubt in the age of social media. Photo Credit: livestrong

As a successful entrepreneur and all-around female powerhouse, Girlboss CEO Sophia Amoruso knows a thing or two about staying strong and persistent in the wild world of business.

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Since the remarkable rise and fall of her first company, fashion brand and online retailer Nasty Gal, which she started back in 2006, the mogul has come to learn the importance of not only investing in her companies, but also in herself. From taking some well-deserved breaks from social media and dealing with self-doubt to a new partnership with Invisalign that she hopes inspires others to practice self-care, LIVESTRONG.COM caught up with Amoruso exclusively and learned the steps she takes to live as healthily as possible — both mentally and physically — while running a digital media empire.

Amoruso’s Tips for Overcoming Self-Doubt

There are few who can say they’ve built a company from the ground up, surpassing $300 million in revenue in just a few short years, an accomplishment that Amoruso admits wasn’t necessarily a life goal before starting Nasty Gal at 22 years old. But following the collapse of her first business venture (the company filed for bankruptcy in 2016), Amoruso did’t skip a beat. Instead, the entrepreneur kept pushing forward, raising more than $3.1 million for her current brand, Girlboss, a website, podcast and social experience with a mission to help get women ahead.

And while it may appear that Amoruso is invincible after starting yet another company, the CEO admits that she is most certainly human. “I’m a generally confident person, but I’ve been through enough to know how hard things really are. I miss being naive to a certain extent,” she tells LIVESTRONG.COM. “I’ve had a wild ride building businesses as someone who’s not a graduate of college, who never really set out to start my first business. I struggle with self-doubt every day. I don’t think that ever escapes anybody. If they say it does, they’re lying.”

Despite feeling the weight of her past business hurdles on a daily basis, Amoruso has kept going, even when the odds weren’t in her favor. “I’d say having been in positions where I’ve failed relatively publicly — and again, it’s not failure I think that’s a really difficult word because nothing’s final and we learn from everything,” she explains. “I think fear can hinder you, and you have to make decisions quickly. I think having a chip on your shoulder is really good, and I definitely have one. I want to pull off whatever it is that I strive to do. But it’s a scary thing to try to do every day, and that fear does kind of propel you if you let it.”

The Importance of Self-Care

When it comes to maintaining a sense of self while running a company, Amoruso has more recently discovered the importance of taking some much-needed time off. “I’m a big fan of self-care. It’s something that I never really craved and I wasn’t very good at it early in my career, but I experienced burnout and I realized how important it is,” she tells LIVESTRONG.COM.

“We live in a world where we’ve been told that success is just work and money, and that’s not really the case. How we feel inside, how we’re taking care of ourselves, is just as important as what we’re accomplishing. That definition is different for everybody, and really breaking down and debunking the theory that everyone should be marching to the same goals is a really dangerous thing.”

So what does Amoruso do when practicing self-care? “My counter is flooded with skin care products,” she laughs. “We always want that beautiful countertop that’s clean in our bathroom, and I just absolutely gave up on that, so I’m always trying new things. I love a good infrared sauna, and I love a short run in the morning. Even if I get 20 minutes, it’s something that makes me feel great for the day.”

Amoruso also credits self-care for helping her stay positive and focused — two things that she says are key when it comes to building a brand. “I’ve had a lot of criticism throughout the course of my career, and it goes back to taking care of yourself,” she explains. “The world around you and what people say about you isn’t what really matters, it’s how you feel inside. And so taking time to reflect, taking time to sometimes retreat and to invest in yourself, to take care of yourself, to find ways to boost your confidence, is something that can protect us and can insulate us from the scary world that’s out there. People are always going to be judging us, but how we feel on the inside is really what matters.”

Staying Sane in the Age of Social Media

In a world of selfies and filtered photos, Amoruso says she struggles with the all-too-familiar stresses from social media. “I spend too much time comparing myself on social media — I’m as guilty as anybody else,” she admits. “It’s really hard to watch people’s Instagram stories where they’re at a fancy dinner or their vacation. It just feels like everybody’s always on vacation, and that’s what we want to share. Even when I look at my own social media, it’s a lot of self-congratulatory stuff because it’s more photogenic, but it’s a dangerous slippery slope for everybody to think that everyone else is constantly winning.”

Because of the constant idea that everyone is living a seemingly perfect life, Amoruso advises not to let social media cause unnecessary pressure. “It’s really easy to feel like we should accomplish everything at once. We’re watching some of our friends do things sooner than we are, and it sometimes takes time to know what you want to do. Maybe you’re not where you want to be by the time you’re 30. I don’t think people realize how young 30 really is and that in the past 40-ish was where women really started hitting their strides. Because of what we’re seeing on social media, it’s easy to feel like we’re not keeping up. But everybody has a different path, and that’s something we should embrace.”

Instead of posting only highlights from her life, Amoruso makes it a point to share her not-so-glamorous moments as well. “I think sharing our vulnerabilities is really important, and that’s something I’ve tried to do.” She adds, “I’ve done social media detoxes. I’ve been in times where the things that are said about me are really challenging to read — that’s something that comes with the territory even when you’re the CEO of a company that everybody’s looking at — so I’ve deleted the app for weeks at a time. I make it really hard for myself to look at what’s happening.”

Business Advice, Straight From a Girlboss

After the success of her first book, “#Girlboss,” in 2014, Amoruso instantly knew there was an audience of women seeking more female-empowered content centered around career, finance and self-worth. The hashtag, which has been used more than 12 million times on Instagram, has become somewhat of a cultural badge of honor and one that Amoruso is proud to have created. “Our community inspires me. They’re why we’re here. They’re why we’re building this,” she says of her brand. “We’re not building this to please ourselves, we’re building this to create the tools, resources and connections that they’re really kind of craving.”

So what advice does the CEO have for women striving to create the same kind of success? Be loud and keep going. “Everything in life is difficult, and getting anything done is difficult,” she says. “You have to ask for things over and over and over again to remind people that you’re still there, and I don’t think a lot of people understand that. It’s almost to the point of just being annoying. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, so that’s something we really try to talk about at Girlboss and make sure that women’s voices are being heard.”

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