3 out of 4 stars
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The non-fiction book Pivotal Moments by Susanne Birgersdotter is an autobiographical blend of personal experiences and business lessons acquired along the author’s journey “from high-school dropout to serial entrepreneur.” The reader is walked through the extraordinary events—the pivotal moments—that shaped Birgersdotter’s life, from being bullied in her teenage years to running a successful app company and continuing to build thriving ventures. Today, Birgersdotter is also a world-renowned speaker and a business advisor who seeks to empower women in the entrepreneurial world.
The book begins with a particularly powerful chapter about the author’s childhood. Her father, Birger, was himself a self-starter and businessperson during the socialist-heavy 70s in Sweden. His scattered, unconventional lifestyle—strewn with adventures and parties—made a strong impression on young Birgersdotter (which literally means “Birger’s daughter,” a name she took by choice later in life). Gifted with incredible ambition even as a child, the author shares an especially compelling memory; at age six, she earned her first money at a convention taking place at the hotel her father owned: “The room was big and it was loud in there, but I coughed a bit in order to get some attention. Then I started singing a little song.”
Reading this book is like talking to a very interesting friend over a glass of wine. Birgersdotter narrates her life with an honesty that is impossible to fake. The author’s background story serves as a foundation for her professional life, shaping her career choices and ways of doing business. For example, developing a healthy distrust from experiencing betrayal and bullying served her well in choosing partners, hiring staff, and dealing with potential investors. Birgersdotter also shares about finding hope and determination through being a single mom, an experience that bears similarities to caring for a budding company.
This book takes you on a roller coaster of events. While other autobiographies might follow more linear life paths, Pivotal Moments depicts a meandering journey of highs and lows. What I liked most about the book was the sincerity and the author’s ability to bounce back, always ready to learn important lessons from any failure, no matter how disastrous. On the other hand, what I disliked most was the number of typographical and grammatical errors. I encountered about a dozen mistakes in the second half of the book, which gave the feeling that the author was in a rush to finish. Along with a few instances of unidiomatic English and awkward constructions, these issues were slightly distracting. Nevertheless, the book compensates through the unique advice provided based on the author’s experience as a CEO and investor. In a casual and engrossing style, incidents, mistakes, and lessons are candidly shared, which is refreshing among the plethora of existing business books that seem to offer only ambiguous guidance. For these reasons, I rate this book three out of four stars.
The book does not contain any profanities or erotic content, rendering it suitable to any audience who might find the author’s openness to experimentation and persistent optimism contagious and inspiring. To anyone curious about the possibilities in life when one removes the barriers of what can or cannot be accomplished, this book delivers exactly what it promises: a round-up of the pivotal moments in an entrepreneur’s life.
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