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30 Days of Genius

Lesson 18 of 30

Sophia Amoruso

Chase Jarvis

30 Days of Genius

Chase Jarvis

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Lesson Info

18. Sophia Amoruso

Lesson Info

Sophia Amoruso

Hey, everybody, how's it going? I'm Chase Jarvis. Welcome to another episode of Chase Jarvis Live here on CreativeLive. You're tuned into the 30 Days of Genius series. If you're new to this series, man, it's a doozy. In this series, I sit down with the world's creative and entrepreneurial legends, the leaders, the thought leaders in these disciplines and unpack them and grab out some actionable insights and give them to you to help you live your dreams in career, hobby, and life. If you're new to the series, go to The number 3-0, daysofgenius. Click the little blue button there that says signup, and you'll get one of these interviews every day in your inbox for 30 days. My guest today, you will know her because you've seen here in the news. You've seen her... Gosh, she's been a powerhouse in the entrepreneurial world for some time. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling book GirlBoss. She is the founder and executive chairman of Nasty Gal, ...

one of the top online retailers, and they've also got some real, physical stores here in Los Angeles. Two of 'em? Two. Two. Don't look yet, don't look yet. She's right over there. And finally, the GirlBoss thing, that book, they're also doing a TV series on Netflix that we can't talk too much about, but we'll go into it in this interview. My guest today, none other than Sophia Amoruso. Welcome to the show. This is where we shake hands. (uptempo rock music) (audience applauds) They love you! Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Super, super happy to have you. (Chase sighs) It's been a long time coming, actually. We have a lot of friends in common, and I've been admiring you from afar, not in a creepy way, but in a god way, in sort of an aspirational girlboss, badass. Likewise. Congratulations on everything. Thanks, it's good. It's been good fun. The series is super fun. I'm happy to have you on the show. I'm flattered. We were talking just a little bit ago about making stuff and what you have made for yourself this show is basically to help people on the other side of the camera who consider themselves creative or wanna be more creative, but they're building not just sort of design, art, photography, things like that. They're also building businesses and lives. I think a good way to start out, I like to do this occasionally on the show, give us a little bit of backstory. You have done all the things I said in your intro, created a $100-million business in Nasty Gal, which is, that's nuts, by the way. I know. I know, tell me about it. That's crazy. But you've done so many things, and now, you know, culminating most recently and upcoming you've got a book. You're also a podcast. But we're going to talk about a lot of this stuff. Yeah. But talk to me about early life. What's the beginning? Yeah, early life. I think that's one of the things people wanna know about it. 'Cause I'm me. I'm sitting in the Midwest, I'm stuck in my life, and I wanna do something more, better, or different. Yeah. So give us the early life. Yeah, it's been 10 years now since I started Nasty Gal. I started it as an eBay store when I was 22. My last job was working in a lobby of an art school called the Academy of Art University in San Francisco at 79 New Montgomery. I know it, yeah. I worked in the lobby. My job was being a campus safety host, which was just like a cheaper version of a security guard that they could have hired through an agency. A campus security host. Safety host. Safety host. Doesn't mean anything, does it? That's just a weird title. It's like a nothing non-nothing nothing. So, I was the person that like chases you down and says like, hey, you need to sign in. Do you have your student ID? Which floor are you going to? Oh, admissions is on the third floor. It didn't take much to do that job quite honestly. Yeah, that's below your pay grade. But at the time... It is now, yeah. At that time, I was like, 12 bucks an hour? This is amazing. So I had been in community college. I wanted to be a photographer. I had shot a portfolio. I had gotten into the San Francisco Art Institute in North Beach. I got nominated for a scholarship, but I didn't get one, and I just like, didn't understand it. No one probably would have even given me a student loan, so I didn't end up going to school. So I was just kind of... I was a very frustrated 22-year-old who didn't know what my talent was, but I knew I was talented in something. And I wasn't particularly going to school for it. I'd taken some photo classes at San Francisco City College and was, you know, tooling around on the internet at this boring job and was getting friend requests on Myspace. So this is before Facebook really took off, before Twitter, before Etsy. I was getting friend requests from eBay sellers who were promoting their businesses on Myspace. And it was like, you know, the little thing would like, light up. It was moving. It was like, you have a message, or you have a new friend request. So exciting. Constant refreshing, right? You had to refresh at that point. Remember that? Yeah, remember refreshing? You know, you don't have to do that anymore. So, I was getting friend requests from Ebay sellers, these girls that had eBay stores. I didn't invent selling vintage on Ebay. And they were using Myspace to promote themselves. And I clicked through, and I was like, hey, like, I only wear vintage. I can find that thing for way cheaper than these people are paying for it. I know how to use a camera. And at the time I didn't even lave a laptop. I remember buying my first laptop after I started the eBay store. I think I started on one of those dome iMacs. It was like my high school graduation gift. Oh, wow, nice. Was it green or blue? It was, no, it was the white... Well, the white dome. It wasn't those eMacs. Those colored ones were the eMacs. I know. You know your Mac vintage. Everything vintage you know. I know. I know everything. No, and so, I was like, okay, fine. You know, I'd gotten that job because I had a hernia, and this was, I guess this is no longer the case, but you could not... If you had a pre-existing condition, you couldn't get health insurance. I remember all that. I just found out like two weeks ago this has changed, but I had to go get... I needed surgery, and I had to get a job from... This is cider, by the way. It's really good, but it's alcoholic. It's very tasty, very tasty. I had to get a job because I needed group health insurance. They basically, you have cancer, you've got AIDS, you've got a hernia. I had a hernia. You have to go get a job with group health insurance to get it fixed. Otherwise, you have to pay completely out of pocket. So, that's why I got that job. But after three months, I got my insurance, my 90 days insurance. I got my hernia fixed. I was out of there. And I wasn't like, I'm going to be an entrepreneur. I'm going to be a founder. I was like, what the fuck am I doing with my life? Maybe I'll try selling some shit on eBay for now, 'cause that last job wasn't so great. Was it survival? Were you thinking about it as survival, like, I need to make enough money to actually live? I think I was like, squatting with my... I was like living with my boyfriend here and there. I was... I mean, it wasn't like, oh my God, I've got mortgage. What am I going to do with myself. It was like, I'm 22. I need to do something instead of nothing. Yeah, let me see if I can, you know, work by myself and not have to deal with other people and still like, make a living. That would be amazing. That's no longer the case. But yes, got a book called eBay for Dummies, started an eBay stor called Nasty Gal Vintage. I did not expect to be talking about it 10 years later. Being an entrepreneur was not... This show wouldn't exist 10 years ago. Oh my God. We've outlasted so many things. Yeah, I know, thank God. And just started like, you know, peddling some of my own stuff. Went and bought stuff, stuff I thought people would like in the beginning. Some of it sold, some of it didn't. It all went online for $9.99, starting bid. So I could have paid $9.99 for it, and if it sold for $9.99, I was kind of screwed. I put all that work into it. And it's a ton of work to sell something online. You have to buy it, steam it, shoot it on a person. This is for one one-of-a-kind item. Edit the photos, write a description, measure it, weigh it, put in the weight, write a title for it, all the kind of search terms that help you sell something on eBay. And anyway, I learned very quickly because that was so much work what worked and what didn't, and just kept moving towards things that worked and kept moving away from the things that weren't selling, 'cause this would never have worked out had I been like, my dream is to sell these things that nobody wants because they're the things that I love. I was like, what do they want? What are people into? And that's how I learned. And the beauty of selling vintage, especially non-designer vintage, is that there is no real value. Like, it's something that can be five dollars at a Salvation Army or $ because a girl in Australia and a girl in London are duking it out and both want this weird anorak that looks like a runway piece that's $5,000 or whatever. So that was kind of like a magical lesson in perceived value. Yeah, you know, my career is the same, art. Like, you can literally charge any price for that stuff, and vintage, I think there's a category of that where it's what someone will pay. So you probably got really good at trying to position things in a way that highlighted value. Before we go there, was this sort of survival mechanism or a way to like make money, was it an overlap? Clearly you had a sense of your skillset. I didn't know you were a photographer. That's badass. That's what I wanted to do, yeah. And I still... I mean, I think I have like, a good eye, but I'm not like a really technical photographer. I think people pay for the eye, not for the technical part. I mean, it's nice to put it together. But you're a host now. Yeah, both. Well, we'll talk about that. I'm many things, and I think we're all hyphens now. You, too, are... Multi hyphens. Yeah, yeah, multi hyphen. You're a this, a that, a that, and a that. There's many of those things. I couldn't even get through all of them in your intro. You noticed that. I know. But is it fair to say that you had this background in photography, a little interest, passion there. You needed to make some money. You got tipped off to a market opportunity, you thought you could invest cheaply and sell something for a higher price than you bought it for. So it's like this overlap of circles in this Venn diagram. Is it fair to say that that is just sort of, that you original stumbled into something as opposed to set out to become Nasty Gal? Yeah. Absolutely. To me, that is, that is a powerful concept for anyone who's on the other end of these cameras, because I believe that they believe that there's this grand script. You have to have like a giant business plan and like be a CEO with zero employees who's like, I'm a CEO of my own nothing. Like, watch me. Here I go. No, yeah. Tell me more about that. It starts with rubbing two sticks together. I wrote a whole book. So this is like, you know. Perfect entree into the book. We can go there. I wrote a book. You wrote a book about it. I wrote a book called GirlBoss. Which is badass, GirlBoss. And the first page talks about the time I pooped my pants. Or actually, I'm sorry, the first page... The second book talks about the time I pooped my pants. The first books opens... Which is forthcoming. Forthcoming. So let's not go to pooping your pants. Let's go to the first book. Let's just not even talk... We don't even have to talk about the poop. It's fine. I'm not finished with my first cider yet. The second one is right over there on the table. (Sophia laughs) It's called GirlBoss, and it's a little bit memoir, little bit business advice, a little comedy. There's some illustrations. It's a fun book. So all this is in there. But, to build the business, I mean, I was on Myspace. There was no Facebook. You couldn't even pay for Facebook advertising, as far as I know. And while eBay has its own kind of, you know, cohort of customers who just are trolling for vintage all the time who may or may not be loyal to you, I was also harvesting people from other places, namely Myspace. And so I downloaded a program that would add friends on Myspace that you weren't supposed to use. It was against Myspace's policy. I don't think... I don't even know if it was necessarily illegal, but I've talked about it plenty and no one's come after me. Yeah, no one's hit you over the head yet. But, you know, the stuff that companies that has built Myspace into a giant business by being these lookalikes, or oh, I wanna target people that like this other business that I think is akin to mine or who like this kind of music or who might follow this magazine. I would go on, find like a fashion magazine or a cool Australian brand or whatever it may be. You could type in like the user ID into this program, and Myspace had all the data, like woman, what her age was, where she lived, and I could literally filter everyone who's friends with this fashion magazine who's a woman between ages 18 and 30 who's in California and New York and Sydney and London or whatever it may be, and I could push add, and it would literally just start adding those people. And every like, six friends, I'd have to enter a CAPTCHA code to like, prove I wasn't a robot. So you just sat there entering CAPTCHA code? For hours. Hours and hours and hours. For free, you know, but like, these people accepted friend requests, they discover your Myspace profile, they click through, they see your auctions, they're like, oh my God, I want that, and then you're bringing more competition to your auctions. Did you actively have an understanding that you were hacking the system? I mean, yeah, I knew that I wasn't supposed to be doing that. I'm trying to understand the difference between sort of survival, I gotta eat, I gotta build this business more than anything now, and like, oh, this is just, this is, I found a loop in the system, and this is a really smart way for me to grow. I was like, this is fun. How can I do more with all the work that I'm already doing? How can I bring more people? How can I find better stuff? How can I take better pictures? How can I write better product descriptions? How can I make sure that people are happy when the stuff actually reaches them? I think it just, you know, it became this kind of like obsession, and you can monitor everything. If I put something live and, I mean, the thumbnails on eBay used to be like, so tiny. Literally the size of your thumbnail. So tiny! Yeah. And if people, if something I knew was amazing wasn't getting the traction that I thought it was supposed to, you can thumb out like the lead, the listing photo, before there's any bids. So once there's a bid, you can't edit your auction at all. But before anyone bids on it, you can like tweak it as much as you want. And I would like, reupload. Like, I was testing things, but I didn't really know that that was what it was called. You didn't have it... Yeah, we're iterating on, we're testing A/B. It was just like, oh, this one's brighter. This one might show the silhouette better. Let's see what happens. And I'd like, you know, I was like, this is definitely why it's not working. I'd upload a different one, and it would be like, one bid. Ding. Wow. So let's talk about the power of photography for a second, 'cause clearly you were motivated. You had a photography desire. Clearly, photography moves units, to speak in the most sort of brutish terms. We've heard about companies like Airbnb that as soon as they went to professional photos of spaces, that their business took off. What do you think about the power of photography? Is it still important to you? Do you feel like it's a core to Nasty Gal and to... I feel like the power of photography is really, really... It's real. It's massive. I mean, again, like my auction photos were not... They were not professional photos by any means. I did have a digital SLR, but I was, you know, I was shooting a random girl in front of like, a garage in like, a driveway. Where'd you get the random girl? Myspace, and I just was like, hey. And at that time, it was like, ooh, cool. She gets like more photos for her Myspace profile. This was like, pre-selfie, for the most part. Pre iPhone. So she would have like, cool, cute new photos of herself to like, put on her social media. And yeah, I'd just like, find cute girls. And, you know, we'd hang out, and it was fun. Sometimes I'd give them clothes. Sometimes I'd buy 'em a hamburger, give 'em like 20 bucks, but it wasn't like, I wasn't like rolling in dough at that time. It wasn't like... It started to seem unfair at a certain point, and I was like, okay, I really need to start paying people. One thing that I find is a question that I get asked a lot, I find people on the show get asked a lot, is very much about sort of the break. And I have advocated that there really isn't a break. It's like a thousand little breaks. But that's, I'm intentionally seeding with you what I think. A, did you have a break, or B, is it more that there's a thousand breaks? And if you had some advice to give folks, 'cause I'm listening to you and I'm hearing words like sort of toil and, and, and take pictures and buy people hamburgers, and it doesn't really sound like you're building this... Like, glamorous? Yeah, it doesn't sound glamorous, and there's this sort of, I think again, as the world compares their real lives to the highlight reel of Sophia, there's this gap there. And help me break down that gap. Yeah, so one of the questions I'm asked most frequently is like, when was the moment that you knew it was taking off, or what was the pivotal moment, the break, per se, and I've gotta say I've answered that question a thousand times, and I've made it up a little differently every time, just to answer the question, 'cause it's not a hard question to answer. But again, like I said, I give a different response every time, because there is a thousand breaks. And that break can be, you know, a moment like an auction sells for more than it ever has before, or when you realize that people like, don't like you 'cause you're succeeding, like, your competition starts to, like, I had snarky eBay sellers like... I have no idea what you're talking about. Never heard of it. Writing about me like, in forums. Haters. You know, like that's not even vintage. You know, and it's like, when you're upsetting your peers or your competition, then like, that's a break. Yep, yep. Nice. Yeah. Or, you know, when I launched the website and it sold out like, instantly, and Kelly Ripa's stylist called from L.A., and that was like, that was like, that was like another planet at the time. I live in L.A. now, but that was like, what? She's on the television. She's on the TV! (Sophia laughs) Where was this happening? Where were you physically? I was... When I launched the website, which was in 2008, I was in Venetia. Do you know where that is? Nope. It's by Vallejo. Oh, wow, glamorous. Yeah, really glamorous. I was at like an old arsenal, like an old kind of like, shipyard or something, just this big old kind of drafty building that I had like, 1,000 square feet in, and that felt like, you know, I was like, I need to get like... I need a party in here. I could skateboard across the floor and no one would yell. It's like your first... It was my first space outside of my house, and yeah, that's where that happened. Everything existed in plastic bags, and, you know, those blue Ikea bags. Were you personally doing all the shopping at this point? I was, yeah, doing all the shopping, all the... I mean, I had zero employees when I launched the website. How long did you have zero employees? That's another question I get asked. I don't know about you, but like, oh, when do you know it's time to take on people? Not long after that, when I got sick, really, really sick, for a few days, 'cause I was just working like 15-, 16-hour days, and I had all these orders to ship, and I was doing it sick, and it was just like, this is, there's no way this is sustainable. When I launched the website, things could sell out the second I put them up. With eBay, there's 10-day auctions. I had 10-day auctions. So I'd put stuff up, they'd sit there for 10 days, and they'd get more and more expensive, hopefully. When I put stuff on the website, it would just disappear in a second, and it was just this constant like, oh shit, I have to ship it now. I have to ship it now. I have to ship it today and tomorrow and the next day, and so that really changed things. And I hired my first employee right after the website launched. I found her on Craigslist. Did you have a sense of scalability or lack of scalability at that point? Like, wait a minute, it's me, I'm going shopping, and... I started to feel that. I started to feel that, 'cause people were like, don't you have this in a medium? And I was like, no, it's one-of-a-kind. That's not how it works. So it was then that I was like, okay, people want... If I could take one photo and sell three of that thing or five of that thing, and now it's or sometimes, you know, thousands, whatever, then I can really like, make this work. Then I can get... I don't think I even understood the word scale, per se. Yeah, it's a very start-upy sort of term. It was clear that like, I could do this much work but then like, get this much more. That was the, you know, that was really, it was like... Yeah, it's the crocodile brain part of it. It's like, if I sell more stuff, I get more money. I mean, that's like, that is building a business. You don't have to have an MBA. But that's actually one of the things that I wanna debunk. So we're gonna, I'm gonna pull on this thread a little bit more, which is, there is, especially online where you've got access to you and to a lot of other people who are building great businesses and were in the startup ecosystem, and you've taken venture capital and you're building a business. How about ecosystem. Let's not leave out the ecosystem. Yeah, there you go. The ecosystem, right? At the core, myself, most of the founders that I know, they're just trying to build something that they care about, that adds value to other people and themselves. How do you separate yourself, or do you separate yourself, from all of the bullshit? The like, Silicon Valley like, jargon-y stuff? Yeah, and it's, you know, again, what I love is the vision of you in this sort of drafty, to use your words, space, figuring shit out, because I think, again, I'm trying to unromanticize the vision of being an entrepreneur. We're sitting back and we're talking to venture capitalists, and we're very important, and we do this. Yeah. And turn it into like, honest, so it's like, oh, shit, I was supposed to ship this yesterday. They're like, Swiss. They're Swiss now. Yeah, they're Swiss, and they have mustaches and attache cases. No, but like, are you willing to debunk that? It sounds like you are. I guess. I don't wanna put words in your mouth. To debunk that. I mean, I've not met a lot of like, snooty venture capitalists necessarily. Yeah. I'm more talking about the people on the other end of... Like, what is that world? They think it's like this really foreign thing. Yeah, I think that the people who are at home trying to decide if they can go from zero to one. I'm in this job. Can I start? Can I be a kitchen counter entrepreneur and start a side hustle and just, then grow a business and not feel like I have to participate in some treadmill that's happening only in Silicon Valley between... Like, schmooze-fest? Yeah. Yeah, like building a business, even the term, a lot of the terms that get thrown around are, they're sort of a little bit misleading. What I know about people who are building businesses is just that they go to work. They dig a ditch and they make stuff. They make stuff happen. Yeah. I'm trying to take the romance out of it. You know, I didn't understand any of that. I started the company in late 2006. We didn't raise money until 2012. So, I bootstrapped the thing to like 28 million dollars in revenue. I had no... I had no debt. I had no one. No one would have given me a loan. I didn't have credit cards. I didn't have family money. I thought that building a business was you buy something and you sell it for more than you bought it for, and then you have some money, and then you invest a little, and then you do some stuff with it, like that same thing again, and then maybe the pile of money get a little bigger. That's what I did for six years, until we raised, initially, nine million, which at that time in the company's growth wasn't that much. It was like a growth-size round, and, you know, someone's ready to buy like, you know, a 20% stake in the business, and I was like, no, no, no, you know. E-commerce was in a very different place. It was a great time to raise money. But yeah. Business is just like, making money from your talent. That's it. You can be an entrepreneur and wax eyebrows and do the best fucking job that anyone's ever done. You can be a real estate agent and be an entrepreneur and a business person and have a business. You can be the CEO of whatever you wanna make up, the CEO of your own fucking bedroom. Just kidding. But titles mean nothing, right? It's what you're doing. In the real world, they're just invented. And how much it adds up to, and nobody knows that but you. That's building a business. That's being, you know, an entrepreneur. Did you feel like you tapped into your talent? 'Cause you just said that a second ago. It's like, using your talent to make money. Did you know that you had a talent in spotting vintage or fashion or... No, not necessarily, no. It was developed. It was, you know, a developed talent. I'm still not an amazing photographer. I have a good eye. I'm a decent writer. I have a voice that I put into everything that I did, so it felt consistent, and that's how I built a brand. But I didn't know any of those things until I started writing copy because I had to, because I had to list out the shipping rates for my customers. And then I was like, I might as well have fun with it and make it seem conversational and something that, like, I'll make sense and not make it really sterile. And I realized that I was good at building a brand, and then I realized I was building a brand. And I was like, why am I doing this on eBay? And then I started the website, and none of that was like, oh, I'm going to pivot. Like, I didn't know what that meant. The word is... Yeah. Like, what the fuck is that? No. I was just like, this seems like a better idea. You don't have to have all the lingo or all the friends. You know. That's the best, that's the best advice. I love that. Talk to me for a second about, you're now at 28 million in revenue. Yeah, that was the 2012. 2012, before raising money. Do you realize, do you say, holy shit, I have a hell of a business on my hands? Or you probably said that before then. I don't think I completely even realized that. I had just moved the company to L.A. maybe a year prior. It was when I went to meet venture capitalists for the first time who were like, what? You didn't go to college? You're profitable? What? I was like, I didn't know companies could lose money. How does that work? I've now learned. But they were just like... I'd never made a PowerPoint presentation. I didn't know how, which is kind of embarrassing, honestly. But I didn't really need to. I'd never pitched to anybody. And I was just curious, and I was like, sure, I'll meet this people that keep writing me. and learned a lot. I bought a book called How to Be Smarter than Your Venture Capitalist or How to Outsmart Your Venture Capitalist. I watched round tables of VCs talking about like, their pet peeves in entrepreneurs, just to like, understand their psychology. You can learn anything that you need to without all the friends or all the lingo, right? There's something actually powerful about being slightly outside that system, and the same thing is true with CreativeLive. Like, when we built a profitable, fast-growing business, before I even walked down the roost, and I wish I could say that I had this great vision of how popular and what the size of market and opportunity is gonna be for online education. It's like, I was just helping serve a need. I had a million followers who were like, craving for creative education. I knew a bunch of people who were good at teaching people how to take pictures and design stuff. Maybe we could put 'em together. And when you follow that sort of paradigm, you really get to take it in a way that others might not. I think so. Do you have a... Is your way the right way? No. It's one way. It's the way I did it. I really envy people that have... I mean, learning things from school or from being told, those things is one way of learning, but you don't learn as completely I think as when you actually develop the muscle memory by doing it yourself. Had I gone to school or started the company with a little bit more periphery than I had, I think there would have been advantages to that. But I also think I would have thought it was a lot harder and made totally different moves were I to go start a business. And I'm happy with where I am. It's been really challenging, growing a business for 10 years now. There's no right way. I think there's what you have and what you do with what you have, and that's like, the only way, right? Well, your story is clearly powerful. It resonates with, you know, the millions of people that pay attention to you and what you're doing, to the business. The business is a $100-million business. At what point did you realize that people were really passionate, not just about buying the stuff that Nasty Gal sold, but about you and your personal story? I hid out behind the business for I guess as long as I could. It was never about me. I was not like, Sophia of Nasty Gal. It was just Nasty Gal. And at the beginning, it was like, we did this. It was like, when it was even just me, I was saying we so that people would think there was like a whole team. There was more people. There's a whole other person, right over there. So it seemed like really legitimate. Can I have another one of these ciders? They're super tasty. Oh, yeah. Sorry. Would you like another one? I would like one, yes. Thank you. I'm... It's not that alcoholic. I'm getting this. I'm getting like, you have to drive. It's like apple juice with like Listerine, like a little bit of... Listerine? Well, it's like, you know, the amount of alcohol that's in kombucha or something. There's not that much in here. There you go. Cheers. Cheers. (glasses clink) (Sophia sighs) It was once I started an Instagram, I guess, my personal Instagram. I didn't have a personal... I had a personal Myspace, but it was private, and no one paid attention. And that's 2010. That was 2005. Yeah, 2012 was when we raised $49 million, and my first business coverage was four pages in Forbes. Wow. Who'd you raise from? Index ventures, pretty much all from index ventures. And it was just like, it's an absurd story. I didn't know it was absurd until I started talking to people. And that was super cool. I mean, Forbes is like, I don't know if that'll ever happen again. I remember being coached through it though it. They were like, okay, they want you to look like a billionaire. So someday if you are one, they can show these pictures and be like, you know, it's really funny, just the publicity, the whole thing behind the scenes. So I tried to look as fancy as I could, and I'm doing things like this and this. I've gotten really good at this stuff. Yes, good job. I'm gonna take a picture later, and we'll make sure that you do this. Okay, we'll do that. Yeah. But it was that, and then there was like a ton of business press, but it was Instagram, and it was people saying... I don't know how they were finding me, maybe through the business press, and they were starting to comment things like, oh my God, I wanna work for you. oh my God, how did you do it. I have my own small business. Do you have advice? Or like, I wanna model for you. Like, those were like, every comment for a long time. And I wasn't sitting around like toiling over a book being like, oh, gosh, now I have to write a book. It was just, it was very serendipitous that I met my literary agent, who was like, what kind of book do you wanna do? And I was like, man I wanna do like a business book for the girl like me who is now stoked on buying business... I don't finish every business book, but for the girl like me who like didn't go to business school who doesn't even know yet that business is fun and interesting, who might think it's for squares. I don't think I'm a square. I don't know. You don't feel like a square. I'm drinking cider. The work that you do doesn't feel square. So I was like, I wanna write this book that's like, the gateway drug to the business section. And it's not just for girls. It's called GirlBoss, but I don't really talk about being a girl that much in the book. It's not like, when boys say this, hmm. We say that. Yeah. It's not really that at all. I called it GirlBoss because it's good branding, basically. That's great. And that's... Can we talk about that for a second? Should I put this down? No, no, you can chug it. 'Cause this next question's gonna be a doozy. No, I'm just kidding. But, GirlBoss, obviously phenomenal vehicle for engaging women. There is an inequity, specifically in Silicon Valley. But do you address that? Is that a thing that is... Is that a motivation for you? Is it something that you are fighting against? How do you... What's the lens on which you put that? It is, I think the greatest change is made through just... I had a friend, and I used to be like, they're cutting down the forests. I'm not gonna buy new tables because they're cutting down trees and I'm not gonna eat meat because the world's falling apart. And I had a friend who was like, okay, this is what I can affect in the world. And he like put his arms out, and he was like, like, this is it. So the people around you. And I still believe that like, the greatest change is made just through how you treat the person next to you or what you learn from the person next to you or what whoever you meet has, you know, has to gain from any kind of exchange. We never know when we're going to learn something, but I do know that sharing our stories is something that makes other people feel capable. I mean, that's what we're doing now. That's what my podcast is. That's what my book is. And it's free. Like, giving your story to people is free. Telling my story is free. It's so rewarding that just like talking about yourself, which could be narcissistic, I don't know, but just like telling a story of something that happened and the women on my podcast the people who are on 30 Days of Genius are coming and telling their stories. There's a ripple effect to that, and I think that's so much stronger than grabbing people with metrics, and, you know, I think change is also made at, you know, in law, and in many other ways. But culturally, that story, the narrative is powerful. Culturally, yeah, there's like a psychic thing that you can put out to the world that I think can like, make a different kind of wave. You wake up... Someone can wake up excited in the morning because they learned something from someone else more than they can being educated by, like, a statistic about like a wage inequality, which is a thing. Absolutely. But that's like, my MO at this point. That's your handle. I like it. The narrative is a powerful mechanism that humans connect deeply with. That's our number-one vehicle for learning, and that's one of the reasons that this show exists, for sure. Let's talk about your show, though. All right. GirlBoss. Which show, man? Okay, so I have a podcast called GirlBoss Radio. What what? We got two shows? I started it in October. It's a little thing, but I've had like, some amazing women on. Who's your favorite? Oh, you can't say that. Who's somebody you like? Who's a couple people? I can't. I had... This upcoming week, I have a NASCAR racer named Julia Landauer. So she went to Stanford. She graduated with a degree in science, technology, and society. I don't even... I didn't even know society was... It's a thing, which is maybe like liberal arts. It's like the right-brain for the left-brain stuff, I guess. And she's a female NASCAR driver. She's like 24. She grew up in New York City. NASCAR driver who grew up in New York City. That's crazy. I guess, maybe, yeah. Wow. And she lives in, what North Carolina, wherever they live, all of them. That's where that whole, yeah. South Carolina? No, it's North Carolina. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, I think it's North Carolina. She has a really fascinating story. But I mean, everyone is really interesting for different reasons. People are interesting, right? People are super interesting. It's like a very selfish way to like, learn and share at the same time. Full confess. Is that a high five? Sure. Okay, it is now. It was a raise the hand, but yeah, I'll take it. But it's a full confession. Like, there is certainly an element of selfishness in wanting to sit down and have this conversation. This whole thing is your college. Yeah, it's great. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. There's, you know, the fact that access is a core value for me personally and a core value for CreativeLive, and I think to be able to plug into your brain even for an hour is something that's so valuable. And the difference to me is from people who, a book or someone who's written a book who knows a little bit about the thing versus someone who has lived this shit. Like, you were putting stamps on the stuff that you were mailing out from the beginning 10 years ago, and now, you're writing books and hosting podcasts and we'll talk about your other little show in just a second. Another show. Another show coming. But, like, that is a badass trajectory, and in the same way that you've identified that there's a great story in everyone, whether you're a NASCAR driver or not, it's telling your story and creating vehicles for people to tell your story that is, you know, that's what this represents, and clearly, you're very good at that. Because your brand was doing that. Your show is doing that. Your other show is doing that. Your book did that. But that's a lot of things, so we're going to put a pin in that, and then we're going to go to the new show. There's another show. There's another show. You said that so like, oh my God, there's another show. It's like, crazy. So, I sold GirlBoss, the book, to Netflix as a scripted comedy. For 9.99? Yes, for 4.99. Here's a book. Would you like to buy a book? Sold. This is such a... Thank you, Netflix. Ding dong. Yeah, Charlize Theron's producing it. I'm sorry, I've never heard of her. Yeah, she's so ugly. And the writer of Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, Kay Cannon, she wrote for New Girl and 30 Rock, she's awesome, is the showrunner, and it's in development now, and it'll, some time in '17, there will be a show called GirlBoss on Netflix. Wow. Yep. Based on my life, my book, I don't know. Did you cultivate that, or was that cultivated for you? It, you know, the universe has a way of doing things. I don't know. It delivers, it delivers, doesn't it? Yeah. The universe? I don't know how... If I can talk about how much. Yeah, I don't wanna talk about it. You meet people, they like you. Things get done faster if people like you. Not everybody likes me. I don't know. I think, but it's also, the book was also successful in its own right, and Kay is someone who's inspired by it and a great writer can do amazing things with something they're inspired by. I'm just kind of like the, you know, the spark. You know. Talk about how important the community is. To me, I think that's a really interesting point you made. Like, you were starting with writers and directors and producers and you clearly have built a community that matches the online one, but we've talked about mutual friends. What's the role that community place for Sophia? Community. It used to be a word that I was really grossed out by, 'cause I used to live in Washington state. You did? I lived in Olympia. Oh, my gosh. When I was like 18, an I wanted to go to Evergreen, and everything was community and vegan and let's go eat the roadkill that just got off this. It's still hot! That's vegan, right? It's like, we didn't kill it. Oh my God. And I lived in Seattle for a little while. For those of you who don't know, Evergreen College is literally, they don't have grades. They don't have grades. There are no majors. You can major in Madonna. Literally, you can major in Madonna. I moved up there to get residency. So it's a state school, which is, you know, insane, that it's like this bonkers state school with no majors. Anyway, community. Community is a word that used to really gross me out. I still feel a little smothered by that term, because I'm a pretty independent person. But in general, I've built a community, and I love this girl that I've been talking to for 10 years. It's also nice to be able to go home at the end of the day, so do I wanna live in an intentional community, no. That's what they're called. Yeah. But do I love that there's a community of girls out there that like, I've inspired, who feel like, more ready to take on the world because they have read my book? That's insane. Like, I couldn't ask more. And again, like, it's a free thing to do. You know, building GirlBoss as a platform, it's really important to me. So the podcast is just the beginning. I really wanna do a conference. I actually just tweeted it, so I would have to do it. I like announced it. And I have no plans. I'm doing a conference. Aw, shit. I don't know what I'm doing. But I was like, I'll have to do it if I tell the public. So, I did that. That usually works. I just, I tell... I promise something, and then I'll just figure out how to make, keep the promise. You mentioned the word inspiration and being an inspiration to others. Who inspires you? Who inspires me? Honestly, these girls and their stories and, you know, anyone who wakes up every day to make their life a little better. Life is hard, and that's coming from someone who's like, sipping cider in a beautiful, like... On the 35th floor of a building in Los Angeles. I know, with a great view. It's like 70 degrees and a great view. Can we just express like, just a little moment of gratitude? It's pretty... I think that's kind of what I, yeah, was going there. And however, life is hard. Let's go back to where you were at. It is, right? It doesn't get easier. That's for sure. So, I would say these girls. It's like a, it's very cyclical. I inspire them, and then they inspire me. And then I know, I learn more about what it is that they need, and I find ways, whether I can help them, or I can find other people to share their stories that can help them. You know, equipping my listener, reader, viewer, I don't know. Buyer, viewer. This girl with what she needs to feel dressed to have an amazing life and then have the tools and support that she needs to go out and do it. I don't know. I don't know if I'm even answering your question anymore. You are. How intentional have you been with all that? Do you feel like it's been strategic? Are you just... It's getting more strategic. I mean, I've learned... I used to just turn things on because I could, and then the thing that happens with that is you have to continue to nurture those things. Like your YouTube channel? Yeah, that didn't work out. (both laugh) But it's becoming more strategic. I think it's just like, how can I connect all these things? Part of it is just, I cannot, unless I'm piling more than I can handle on myself and things like digging my way out and like, making order of it as I'm digging my way out, I feel like I'm not doing enough. And so, I like to overcommit and see what's possible. What about a time when that's bit you in the ass? Ever? Probably everyone day. I mean, whenever my calendar makes me wanna kill myself. You know, it's like, there's a certain point where you wake up and your calendar is like, this is what you're doing, all day. And you're like, wow. I'm really an adult. This sucks. I work for myself? No, I don't. I'm just this. What is this? The Netflix thing's coming out in '17. You've got the book that's happening now. Well, yeah, GirlBoss was two years ago. There's another book coming out in October. Ooh. I know. Can we talk? Yeah, it's called Nasty Galaxy. Nasty Galaxy. I've seen the cover with you with the space helmet on. Oh, yeah. That's awesome. Yeah, it's fun. It's really visual. There's more inspiration and essays from me about serendipity and friendjourn, which you can guess what that might be, and illustrations, and a story about the time I pooped my pants in high school. Crazy. Was that awkward? Just a little? I was by myself. Fortunately. But it was, you know, you worry about things, like, oh my God, am I incontinent? Will I be doing this for the rest of my life? Did I just become the person who wears diapers for the rest of their life? Oh my gosh, I'm sorry. Like, it's so shocking, in adulthood, to do something like that. Yeah, but that's not... It's a very short part of it. That's not what the book's about. There's interviews with different women, so Q&As with different girlbosses, women who are doing interesting things, creative women, quotes. It's really, really eclectic. It's super colorful and photogenic. Can I have an advance copy? I can't even have an advance copy. Come on, this is bullshit. I know. It comes literally on the slow boat from China. I don't know. What about a galley? No galleys. There will be no galleys. Do I need to flip over this table? We're looking at the publicist. No, I know. No, I get it, I get it. I know. It's... I wanna print one, just like one, just to have it, like, down the street, just, hey, can you print this book? What have I not asked you, as we're trying to... I wanna try to put a bow on our conversation. What have I not asked you? I feel like you went to some great places and helped the folks out there who were listening and watching to understand a little bit more about you. You've clearly sort of... There's, I'll just say there's a little grit that you have, which I really appreciate. The people who I tend to hang out with most in life have that sort of quality. But what's something that I didn't ask you that I should have, or that you would like to leave the world of this show with on your way out the door? Hmm, I think it's important to have a personal life. I think, yeah. I didn't forever, and I finally do. And even that's stressful, but having something other than work for once is a really cool thing. So, most people know that. Most people can't get out of that and have to work really hard. If you're not one of those people, I'm just gonna remind you that you might wanna have a personal life at some point and take time for yourself, 'cause, I don't know, it doesn't age well if you don't. It doesn't. I'm like half-kidding. I live in L.A. Women... Things are rough on us. The world is rough. As I chug my cider. Yeah. But for a second, we should, again, acknowledge that there's a lot of folks who don't come from the relative privilege that we're talking about. The thing that resonates with me of your story is that there is this sort of grit and that it's a story of possibility and opportunity. Oh, yeah, what else can I... Congratulations. Oh, thanks! Legit. Like, you've done... Continuing to do it is what's really hard. So true. Well, thank you for sharing your story. Yes! Thank you! Appreciate it. Yeah. For you folks here watching out there in that camera and that camera and that camera, all those cameras, Sophia, you can follow her all over the place at... sophiaamoruso. Spell the last name, 'cause that's a doozy. I know. S-O-P-H-I-A-A-M-O-R-U-S-O. And you can find GirlBoss Radio on iTunes of Spotify or SoundCloud or whatever. GirlBoss Radio on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud. Yeah, all that stuff. Bam. Thank you so much. Thank you. Pay attention to her, and there's another interview coming tomorrow. (steady instrumental music)

Class Description

There's a common misconception that artists have a monopoly on creativity. But the very act of making something - shooting a photograph, designing a product, thinking critically, or building a business - is a creative one. These small actions come from our unique inner impulse to create.

This is what Richard Branson, Jared Leto and Arianna Huffington have in common. This is what makes Brené Brown, Tim Ferriss and Mark Cuban successful. They're all world-class achievers, but more than anything, they've used their creative impulse as both fuel and compass. It has allowed them to push on when others haven't, overcome obstacles thought impossible, and build a life of habits that sustain their mindset. And they'll be the first to tell you that their accomplishments are built on learned skills available to anyone.

In this free video series, you'll learn about the big thinking and breakthroughs that allowed these geniuses to break the mold. They'll share their successes and failures, and turn them into actionable insights for you. Join renowed photographer and CreativeLive Founder Chase Jarvis as he interviews 30 of the brightest minds of our time: 

Richard BransonArianna Huffington     Mark Cuban
Sir Mix-A-LotSeth GodinJared Leto
Marie ForleoGary VaynerchukLeVar Burton
Tim FerrissDaymond JohnRamit Sethi
Gabrielle Bernstein     James AltucherKelly Starrett
Lewis HowesKevin KellyBrian Solis
Austin KleonBrandon StantonSophia Amoruso
Brené BrownNeil StraussTina Roth Eisenberg
Gretchen RubinElle LunaAdrian Grenier
Kevin RoseStefan SagmeisterCaterina Fake

The goal of this interview series is not to turn everyone into a super-achiever. 30 Days of Genius is lightweight and helpful, designed to help you recognize your passions and achieve your goals. Watch in the morning or during a break at work, when you're in need of motivation or thinking of your next move.

Here’s how to sign up

  1. Click the blue button above, sign in. It’s free.
  2. Watch your inbox for an interview with a new genius every day for the next 30 days. You'll get the first video the day after you sign up.
  3. Watch the videos daily, or at your own pace - whenever you want insights or inspiration.
  4. Repeat. (And share this series with anyone you’d like)



Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I have watched all 30 days so far and the first thing that blows me away is how Chase interviews all these different people, totally relaxed and he listens to everything they say and finds a question that relates so clearly to the subject being talked about. He also brings in quotes and snippets for other people, how he remembers all this stuff is just amazing. This is what I have taken away from the first 5 interviews. Mark Cuban started the series theme with the concept: you can start from nothing and become something by way of the HUSTLE. Although it sounded like whatever he touched turned to gold immediately, there was a huge amount of hustle that went with it to get it all going. Seth Godin was down to earth and lead with "happiness is a point of view", so do something today that will make tomorrow worthwhile being there. Be prepared to fail to succeed. Marie Forleo the Jersey girl made good. Her dad told her to do what you love. So she set out to do just that. It didn't happen over night, loads of job frogs kissed, until the life coaching vibrated through her life with the help of intuition and she was set on her path to success. Navigate passed those that will drag you back or down was another insight from Forleo. Using the concept from her Mom, ‘everything is figureoutable’, stood her in good stead all her life. Having a close community to help you is essential. Stop whining and just do it. Read Cameron Herold's double double, lean into your future. Tim Ferriss, the whirlwind learning man, using the simplistic steps to learn anything is the Ferriss way to go. you want to be a Tango champion, go to Argentina and learn from the best. Hard work has its place but control it. Another Ferriss phrase is 'what would this look like if it were simple', following this concept takes the complexity out of what you are doing and leads to you accomplishing the task you are undertaking. Celebrate the small wins and you accomplish the large ones. Meditation makes one more effective. Play at creativity to keep creative. Don't retreat into the story of the voices. Arianna Huffington, what Greece as a country could do with to get itself out of the slump. Remember you are not your job, don’t stifle your creativity. You don’t have to burn yourself out to succeed in life. The obnoxious roommate the keeps you awake and hurts your creativity. Sleep is not only life affirming but also imperative for the brain to reboot and spam filter.


I just paused this course to take a breather, overwhelmed with how people are willing to share advise, stories and insight....such powerful ones to help each other!!! I think the world is an amazing place and these times are the best that we could be in...yes sometimes life is tough but we have so many great people and so many people doing such great work....i love and admire Chase Jarvis and what he has done with creative life!!! Thankyou Chase, this is just wowwww!!!!

Alicia Amundson

Loving this course! Amazing insights from such a great range of people. Much gratitude to Chase, the Creative Live team and all of the guest speakers for the opportunity to learn in a way that's fun, interesting and inspiring. Thank you!