3 out of 4 stars
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Empowered: The Business Owner’s Guide to Leadership & Success is an apt title for Dominica Lumazar’s book. Lumazar owns several successful businesses and has used her own experience and talent for marketing to help companies all over the world. In Empowered, she crystallizes all that wisdom into a relatively short, easy-to-read business guide, covering topics like marketing and branding, work-life balance, business values and leadership tips. As the title suggests, empowering yourself and your workers to be the best you can be is the essential goal.
There’s a lot to like about Empowered. It’s readable and full of case studies and real-life examples to illustrate Lumazar’s points. It offers a good mix of basic and more detailed advice, making it a useful tool for new and more experienced business leaders. Lumazar writes easy-to-follow action plans and lists an excellent range of additional resources. She even explains (in detail) the uses of social media and technology in promoting a business, which I’m sure older, less tech-savvy readers will appreciate.
I also really liked the human focus of Empowered. Other business guides might concentrate on making money, which Lumazar discusses, of course, but her central focus is on the personal work it takes to become a great leader. Empowered offers many opportunities for self-reflection, with questions at the end of most chapters addressed directly to the reader. It also offers a lot of advice on how to best relate to your staff and customers. For example, unlike traditional leadership styles, Lumazar recommends: “being kind and communicative” as that will: “empower [your] team to work hard and feel valued.” It’s great to see more positive, progressive thinking in a business guide. In fact, I loved the positive, encouraging tone of the book.
However, given the title, with its echoes of women's empowerment, I had hoped for more advice aimed specifically at women. Suggestions from a successful and respected businesswoman on how to navigate such a male-dominated industry would have been very valuable. I wonder if Lumazar chose to avoid these subjects in order to appeal to a wider (male) audience. In any event, it’s a missed opportunity. To be fair, Lumazar does discuss being a working mother. However, even in this context, she doesn’t really address the burden of women’s unpaid labor, like child care and housework. For example, it’s hard to “take time to do what you love”, as she recommends, if you also have to take kids to school, clean the house, go grocery shopping, take care of elderly relatives and run a business, especially if you are not blessed with a supportive partner and domestic staff. This makes her blithe assertion that: “If you love your career, you will find a way to make [being a parent and business owner] work in harmony” a little galling. I suspect some readers may find this particular advice less than helpful.
As such, I would give Empowered three out of four stars. It’s thought-provoking and well written and edited. It would be a useful resource for most business owners trying to build up their businesses, especially given the lists of extra resources compiled by the author. Its advice is general enough to be helpful to most people, though I would have appreciated more discussion of the challenges women face on the road to business success. This is why I cannot rate it higher. Still, it was a good read and I would recommend it as a general business guide rather than one aimed specifically at women. As long as readers keep that in mind they shouldn't be disappointed.
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