By any measure, Janice Bryant Howroyd is the very definition of success. An entrepreneur who left her native North Carolina in 1976 with $900, she started an employment services company out of a tiny office in the back of a Beverly Hills rug shop. Today, her company, ActOne, is the largest privately-held, woman and minority-owned personnel company in the U.S., operating in 33 countries worldwide. In ACTING UP (Winning in Business and Life Using Down-Home Wisdom), Howroyd offers a window into her success, sharing her personal story and the experiences and insights that have formed her journey to becoming the first African-American woman to create a billion-dollar business while maintaining her authentic self.
A comprehensive guidebook for aspiring entrepreneurs and a manifesto representing the core values and principles that have driven Howroyd’s accomplishments, ACTING UP is, according to the author, emphatically not a self-help book. (“I don’t believe anyone is self-made,” Howroyd says. “Anyone who has achieved anything did it with the help and guidance of others.”) Nor is it intended to speak only to women or entrepreneurs of color. Rather, Howroyd has written her story to inspire, energize, and encourage readers to pursue their best lives—whether starting their own business or working for a company. To be sure, ACTING UP offers a wealth of practical wisdom in addition to the author’s fascinating story and inspirational words of advice. There is guidance on the nuts and bolts of creating and operating a company, including building an authentic personal brand, hiring employees and making tough business decisions. Howroyd—who, as a teenager, helped desegregate her town’s high school—also offers advice on navigating the business world as a woman and person of color. For Howroyd, there is no “secret sauce” or magical formula for success, so much as ingredients, from education to developing strategic instincts and managing risk, that entrepreneurs must not only learn, but learn when and how to employ those ingredients. Howroyd is a masterful communicator, and ACTING UP entertains with a brisk, lively style that makes even the author’s driest topics read like an intimate conversation with a trusted mentor.
Informative and powerfully motivational, Janice Bryant Howroyd’s ACTING UP is no mere vanity memoir by a successful CEO, but an accessible and heartfelt book of self-empowerment that lays out a path to success without compromising one’s values and personal identity.
~Edward Sung for IndieReader