Review: Permission to Screw Up

Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong

Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong by Kristen Hadeed

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh man I loved listening to this book. Kristen Hadeed tells her own story, from feckless student who cleans a house to earn the money to buy a pair of jeans to millennial business icon as the head of Student Maid, and all the screw-ups along the way.

Like Shoe Dog, it’s a glorious antidote to the airbrushed perfection of most business biographies, but what’s particularly wonderful about this is that Hadeed admits that when she sat down to write her book she started by writing the airbrushed version. It took real guts to bin that and write a new version, one that owns the missteps and shows the messy underbelly of success, but I’m so glad she did.

There’s no 7-step formula here (though there are some useful tactical gems, like the FBI feedback method – feeling, behaviour, impact – and the WOW wall). Instead Hadeed tells us stories of key moments in the growth of her company – the time 45 students quit simultaneously, her failure to confront one toxic employee and her overly rigid adherence to hiring guidelines that made her miss out on a potential star, for example. The personal stories are gripping, and trace the evolution of her management style from handsoff to best buddy to cheerleader to visionary leader, experience by experience.

It’s often laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes moving, and kept me absolutely gripped throughout.
Plus, how can I NOT love a woman leader who aims to read at least one business book a week?

‘When it comes to my business philosophies and my mindset as a leader, I owe it all to the books I’ve read. They’ve inspired me, taught me, challenged me, and shaped me into the person I am today.’

If this is millennial leadership, we’re in safe hands.

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