Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
The Year of Yes is about just that – a pact that Shonda made with herself where she would say yes for an entire year. In this book, you get an inside look at Shonda Rhimes, the person, rather than Shonda Rhimes, the founder of TGIT. Shonda the person is internally confident but externally afraid. She has all the characteristics of a writer, but lacks those of a creator and executive producer of some of the nation’s favorite guilty pleasures including Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. As you learn about Shonda’s internal conflicts you, in turn, watch her fight through them due to her Year of Yes. During this year, Shonda sees how her life changes by accepting opportunities rather than running from them.
The book will make you feel connected with Shonda Rhimes but will also inspire you to get out of your own way and follow a path to success (ideally like Shonda, but realistically more like the climb from secretary to assistant director). It will open your eyes to the possibilities that come with taking advantage of opportunities. The book will give you a sense of guidance to becoming more focused and willing to succeed. With that, you also build a type of relationship with Shonda, as if she’s one of us. Shonda’s rationale behind always saying ‘no’ to the things that scared her is what makes this witty yet heartbreaking memoir so humanizing and relatable, while also making you love Shonda even more.
With someone as successful and creative as Shonda, being a writer myself, I wished I had gotten a bit more of advice from her. Maybe some tips on how she got started in her career or any type of advice for reader’s who look up to her. The book is classified as a biography and, although it does give an overview on her past experiences and accomplishments, we really only get a thorough glimpse of her Year of Yes. This book is not at all a business book, but more of a self-help book written by one of the world’s best.
“The only obstacle to your success in your own imagination.”
“Standing around like Wonder Woman in the morning can make people think you are more amazing at lunchtime.”
“I am not a person who can see a problem and not solve it. But I don’t mean that in a “heroic Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on the bus” way. I mean it in a sad, control-freak “The toast crusts must be cut off to the same exact millimeter measurement every time” way.”
“No matter how hard a conversation is, I know that on the other side of that difficult conversation lies peace.”
As long as you don’t have the expectations of learning something tangible in terms of career or advice, this book is A+. Shonda is one of us. She’s insecure, she doesn’t always say the right thing, she struggles with friendships and relationships and, best of all, she doesn’t take it back. This is the type of book you won’t want to put down. It’s a quick, easy read that will give you the nudge you need to accept the opportunities in your life while also learning a lot about the woman behind TGIT. I would recommend this book to any woman in any industry. If you’re not a Shonda Rhimes fan yet, you will be after this book.
You can see how this book affected me in my Letter to Shonda (still anxiously awaiting her response).