Book Review – How to be an overnight success

Our book of the month is How to be an Overnight Success by Maria Hatzistefanis. This book claims to show you that;

“You are not born an entrepreneur. It’s a skill you learn along the way.”

When the skincare company Rodial launched its cult ‘snake’ serum, the company was heralded as an ‘overnight success’. However, Rodial’s founder Maria had been toiling for 18 years, building the company from scratch in her bedroom. In this book the beauty boss sets out to demonstrate that its success stemmed from sheer hard work, tireless efforts and a lot of patience.

We asked 3 mums in business to review the book and give us their honest opinions. Keep reading to find out if this one should make it into your Amazon basket.

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First we get the opinion of busy mum of one Shelley, who shares her love of luxury travel and motherhood in her blog Wander & Luxe.

The biggest takeaway from this book is that Maria’s book title is very tongue in cheek.  The reality is that there is no such thing as an overnight success.  Maria’s story is an inspirational one about working hard, being nice to people and chasing your dreams.  The book itself is very easy to read and to dip in and out of each chapter.  I also love that it’s a pretty book – making it perfect for the coffee table or bookshelf.

I found Maria’s journey to becoming founder and CEO of Rodial very motivating and it helped to remind me that anything is possible.  Her words encourage you to never give up!

Maria has some incredible stories to share but they are not detailed in depth.  It gets the point across and makes for easy reading, but personally I would like a more in-depth recount of some of the milestones she has achieved.

Each chapter concludes with an “Overnight Success Secret” with a list of steps to help you achieve your own goals. I personally found the tips and tricks around building my personal brand and collaborating with others to be very useful.

I would recommend this book if you like to learn about people’s stories and their journey to success, especially if you enjoy fashion, beauty and the Kardashians.  I also highly recommend the Overnight Success podcast which is a follow-up to this book – a great alternative for time poor mum bosses!

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Next up we hear from Susanna Morrison the founder of Bullabaloo, the makers of the softest baby muslins. Keep reading to get her honest opinion on the book and why she thinks it’s a classic fail!

Overall a simple and easy read but the book lacked substance. There was no real detail in each category and it felt Maria was giving more of a sugar coated synopsis of what she went through as an entrepreneur. It became apparent that Maria came from a rather well-to-do background having a career in finance and then having financial backing from her husband and family so the concept of Maria starting up a company from scratch and risking a lot of things that the average Mum in business would do,  really was tainted when you hear that she actually was in a comfortable financial position to set up a new business.

One point that was useful was the section on PR and how you should never really trust what people promise you and say they will do – celebs and colleagues alike and notably, entrepreneur’s who claim to have started from nothing.

Overall, I felt this was a heavily edited version of a female boss and it wouldn’t really serve well for Mums who wish to start a business from absolutely nothing with children, a husband and a household in tow. It lacks any real connection with the average person wishing to start up a business as much as Maria tried to relate to us. It was a classic fail.

And finally, we hear from personal organiser Eleanor, who is a single mum that has recently started her own business EleanorGirlFriday.

Well what an insightful read! Full of real examples to learn from and adapt to help grow your business. How to be an overnight success will make excellent reading for an entrepreneur working on product development and sales and provides some valuable lessons for those developing services and interested in large scale marketing plans.

I love the type face used and the black pages introducing each chapter, it’s a very stylish book, but then I wouldn’t expect anything less from a beauty specialist in the world of the glitterati.

The book is an easy read and fast paced which suits someone like me with a fairly short attention span.

I struggled to identify with Maria and her life leading to starting her business as it’s so very different to my background and that of anyone I know.

The first four chapters moved through her journey of childhood, study and unfulfilled employment to the point of having a successful business quite quickly; I did wonder what the other chapters would show me that I hadn’t learned already.

I hoped for more insight into Maria’s personal journey, her fears, self-development and personal barriers. I’d learnt the functional elements of her business development so far and felt I hadn’t yet understood her as a person. This is likely based on my own need to learn how to overcome my fears and self-imposed barriers connected to developing my little business. As Maria writes early on in the book; entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes and I expect some readers will benefit from learning the functional elements of business development as they have the self-development part nailed.

The book switches between chapters which follow a timeline and those which focus on the stages of growth, marketing, events etc. The overnight success secrets at the end of each chapter provide a useful summary and a chance to apply learning to personal circumstances. Some of the secrets seemed repetitive, however moving through the chapters the relevance of re-iterating the important points became clear with each element of the business development and growth that was explained.

The book moves between examples and tips to develop a high profile product base business, and a biography of Rodial. At times I felt I was reading about the life story of Rodial rather than a book which I can use as a tool in my own business development, the high profile status of the Rodial brand made it hard for me to identify with the story and how I could apply the learning at times. That said the chapter about social media, creating a buzz and the use of events to create publicity were definite food for thought.

In summary it is an aspirational and easy to read story about great success. A stylishly produced book which takes the reader through the life of a business, product development and marketing aimed at celebrities and high end retailers and of particular use to those wishing to follow a similar path to that of the Rodial brand development.

To learn how an idea, lots of hard work and determination can lead to huge success, recognition and fulfilment is truly inspirational.

In summary, our reviewers struggled to identify with Maria, who wasn’t living an average life even before her business success. Despite some useful tips the book didn’t go in-depth enough into her stories and she failed to connect with our real mums in business. But if you’re looking for an easy read and a glimpse inside the luxury life of a beauty boss it could be for you.

If you’ve read the book we’d love to know what you thought in a comment below.

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This month we’re encouraging you to read Sunday Times bestseller The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates. Which claims to be a timely and necessary call to action for women’s empowerment.

If you’ve read this book and would like to write a review for us, you can find out more about what we need here. We’ll then feature some of the best reviews in our blog post next month.


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