Those who have founded their own business often liken it to having a child: You channel your love, your passion, your creativity, and your determination to give it the best possible chance of success. So naturally, being at the helm of a successful startup can mean other aspects of your life fall by the wayside. To find out how to strike balance no matter what your schedule looks like, we tapped 13 fierce female founders and CEOs for advice. Ahead, they share the book they turned to amid the chaos of starting a business and the biggest lesson they learned from it.
Here's how they found that elusive work/life balance—and continue to maintain it.
Kat Schneider, founder of Ritual
Kim Scott Radical Candor ($10)
"Radical Candor has taught me the importance of caring personally and challenging directly. In the past, I thought it was important to distance yourself from those you work with and not bring your 'whole self' to the office because maybe it wasn't too professional."
Shirin von Wulffen, co-founder of Bastide
Eckhart Tolle A New Earth ($12)
"Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth is a book that has really helped me to find balance in my life. It's quite a difficult read but very rewarding if you are able to make your way through. He explains how you have to make the present moment your friend, not your enemy: 'to honor it by giving it your fullest attention.' I find that when I do this, I give myself the ability to be the best that I can be at that very moment without judging myself and getting lost in the negativity of checklists and other obligations."
Julia LeClair, co-founder of Orchard Mile
Robert M. Pirsig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ($13)
"Mindfulness is revolutionizing how we understand everything: our connections to each other, to the present, and to the smallest of everyday tasks. Though not a traditional self-help book, that's exactly what makes Pirsig's writing so helpful: It changes how we work on ourselves by asking us what we value on a fundamental level. It shows us not only what can change but how we can change and that the greatest balance is not always in dividing our schedules but in our experience of the moment itself."
Meg He and Nina Faulhaber, co-founders of ADAY
David Richo How to Be an Adult $7
"This is one of the best and most concise books on psychological transformation. I have read it many times and recommend it to many friends (the feedback after reading is often amazement). Without a doubt, it has helped me in my self-growth to become more independent, self-actualized and much, much happier." — Meg He
Don Miguel Ruiz The Four Agreements ($7)
"I'm so passionate about ADAY that the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship has historically affected my personal well-being. So I loved reading The Four Agreements, a set of agreements with oneself based on Toltec philosophy, which catapulted me to new levels of empathy, happiness, self-love, and creativity. Here are the SparkNotes for you: 1) be impeccable with your word, 2) don't take anything personally, 3) don't make assumptions, and 4) always do your best." — Nina Faulhaber
Denise Lee, Founder of Alala
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Flow ($12)
"The book explores how to achieve an optimal state of 'flow' in which the person in flow experiences hyper creativity, focus, and total involvement. I first heard about this concept at the Summit Series where Olympic athletes spoke on how they achieved a flow state during their competitions. It's a fascinating concept and one that I am constantly practicing on improving. When I'm in a flow state, my business ideas come more naturally and fall into place faster and I can accomplish a lot of work in a shorter amount of time while still having a clear mind. Another benefit of this is that I get to have more time to attend to the other parts of my life as well."
Lyn Lewis, CEO of Journelle
David Allen Getting Things Done ($11)
"This book changed my life and helped me reach the next level in my career. I first read it when I had just moved into a much larger role that left me feeling overwhelmed with over a thousand new and unfamiliar responsibilities. This book details a system that is applicable to anyone, especially when organizing your life, work, and personal commitments, thus enabling you to never miss a thing and be stress-free. Once I stopped worrying about what I might be forgetting, I found myself happier, more confident, and able to focus on the harder and more interesting strategic questions that came my way."
Jacq Tatelman, co-founder of State
Chelsea Clinton She Persisted ($13)
"To be honest, I don't have much time to read more than a quick Business of Fashion article these days, but recently I've been reading more history/female empowerment-based books with my 5-year-old daughter. This has given me a new perspective and motivation for the hustle. Understanding the depth of impact so many women have had in business, science, and beyond throughout history is truly inspiring."
Bree Johnson and Jess Hatzis, co-founders of Frank Body
Finn Janning The Happiness of Burnout ($50)
"My main takeaway from this book was that burnout is closely tied to your outlook on life. Burnout can strangely act as a reminder that you have the power to change things, [and that] you can overcome it and lead a happy life. You need to decide what you value." — Jess Hatzis
Brene Brown The Power of Vulnerability ($62)
"My main take away from this book is 'where there's perfectionism, shame is always lurking.' I think often people in leadership positions put unrealistic pressure on themselves to portray an image of perfection that can be counterproductive and self-destructive. Admitting that things aren't perfect takes courage but ultimately makes you a better leader." — Bree Johnson
Lisa Bonoff, co-founder Lumion
Peter Thiel Zero to One ($9)
"My husband gave me this book right before the launch of Lumion, and it could not have entered my life at a better time. The book talks about starting something new (zero) versus starting something the world already knows (one). Thiel gives great advice on how to properly scale a startup. I reference Thiel's book whenever I start to feel the uphill pressure of introducing a new ingredient into the beauty and wellness world. I recommend this book to everyone!"
Georgina Gooley, co-founder of Billie.
Ken Robinson The Element ($15)
"The Element is filled with so many great themes and stories about finding your passion and nurturing your creativity. I read the book a while ago, and the lesson that has stayed with me all these years later is making sure I'm honest with myself about what I really want to do. Don't take an opportunity just because it's presented or for the wrong reasons. It's easier said than done, but in my experience, if you're brutally honest with yourself about what you want, you'll thank yourself later."
Piraye Yurttas Beim, Ph.D., founder, and CEO of Celmatix.
Sheryl Sandberg Lean In ($6)
"The book was published when I had my first kid, and I read it while breastfeeding. It inspired and reminded me that I could be a mom and a CEO. I learned to not hold stuff back and question myself if I sometimes feel like I can't do it."
Got a self-help book to recommend? Share it in the comments below.