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Unapologetically Ambitious  By  cover art

Unapologetically Ambitious

By: Shellye Archambeau,Ben Horowitz - foreword
Narrated by: Shellye Archambeau,Dan Triandiflou
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Publisher's Summary

Full of empowering wisdom from one of Silicon Valley's first female African American CEOs, this inspiring leadership book for fans of Dare to Lead and Start with Why offers a blueprint for how to achieve your personal and professional goals, drawn from the author's own compelling story of how she weathered life's difficulties to build massive success.

Shellye Archambeau recounts how she overcame the challenges she faced as a young black woman, wife, and mother, managing her personal and professional responsibilities while climbing the ranks at IBM and subsequently in her roles as CEO. Through the busts and booms of Silicon Valley in the early 2000s, this bold and inspiring book details the risks she took and the strategies she engaged to steer her family, her career, and her company MetricStream toward success.

Through her journey, Shellye discovered that ambition alone is not enough to achieve success. Here, she shares the practical strategies, tools, and approaches readers can employ right now, including concrete steps to most effectively: 

  • Dismantle impostor syndrome
  • Capitalize on the power of planning
  • Take risks
  • Developing financial literacy
  • Build your network
  • Establish your reputation
  • Take charge of your career
  • Integrate work, marriage, parenthood, and self-care

Each chapter lays out key takeaways and actions to increase the odds of achieving your personal and professional goals. With relatable personal stories that ground her advice in the real world and a foreword by leading venture capitalist and New York Times best-selling author Ben Horowitz, Unapologetically Ambitious invites listeners to move beyond the solely supportive roles others expect them to fill, to learn how to carefully tread the thin line between assertive and aggressive, and to give themselves permission to strive for the top. Make no apologies for the height of your ambitions. Shellye Archambeau will show you how.

©2020 Shellye Archambeau (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Shellye has achieved amazing success through a clear strategy of setting goals, making plans, and intelligent risk-taking. In this book, she's now sharing these strategies with us: why to set an ambitious plan and how to achieve it. Highly recommended." (Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn and number one New York Times best-selling author of The Start-Up of You)

"Unapologetically Ambitious is a treasure trove of strategic wisdom and practical tips, brought to life through amazing storytelling that will leave the reader inspired, empowered and appreciative. The book deals with the realities of setbacks, trade-offs and societal norms in an authentic way, while illustrating that strength and success often lie in mindset and the team you choose in life. The closing chapter serves as a master guide to navigating life, providing a penultimate takeaway for any reader early in their journey to put the wisdom and experience of the Archambeau's lessons learned into immediate action!" (Brad D. Smith, executive chairman of Intuit and Nordstrom)

"Shellye Archambeau is one of the most intelligent, hard-working and focused women I have met in my 40+ years of business. I was very pleased to have her join the Verizon board in 2013 and have watched her rise within the board to now head the Corporate Governance Committee. Her experience as an African American women rising through the ranks of both large global businesses and technology startups gives her a unique perspective to share with those entering the business world especially those people of color. Grab a pen a paper as you read this book. It is full of the guidance that will put you on a path to career success." (Lowell McAdam, former CEO of Verizon)

What listeners say about Unapologetically Ambitious

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A Must for Every Ambitious Professional

Shellye's story is a compelling one. Going from a shy, often bullied, only black girl in a California school to the CEO of a venture-backed (Kleiner Perkins, no less!) company. It is especially timely because it shows one can still succeed in an unjust system, with careful planning, preparation and being unapologetically ambitious--setting high goals and sharing them with everyone, to garner support.

Some of us have been told not to wear our ambitions on our sleeves or that the nail that stands out gets hammered, but Shellye challenges this notion. She brought up her goals frequently with her managers and wasn't afraid to leave situations that were comfortable but unlikely to lead to the next milestone.

I liked the story about her assignment in Japan, a highly patriarchal society that only respects people with two key qualities she lacked: maleness and advanced age. In her first presentation to her new team, she did something that seemed obvious to her but that no one else had ever thought of doing: She had the slides translated into Japanese, which got her instant respect and admiration! Shellye credits her experience as an outsider in most past environments, for that insight. Lesson: minorities and women can often see things others do not simply by virtue of being an outsider.

If Blockbuster video had been open to Shellye's vision, perhaps the company might still exist today. As the president of Blockbuster online based in Dallas, she negotiated a partnership with Netflix to join forces and own the online movie market. Unfortunately, the board rejected the proposal. Lesson: One can have the right vision but without support you are stuck. Leave, and got to a place where people see the vision (for online commerce). Shellye left for Silicon Valley soon after and has never looked back.

I would have liked it if Shellye talked more about how to not come across as abrasive or bossy and rub people the wrong way, while being unapologetically ambitious. I've seen too many people (especially minorities and women) rejected or seen as "angry black men" when they tried to adopt a white male mentor's style!

Lastly, Shellye was incredibly lucky in finding a supportive spouse--one who agreed to sacrifice his career and be a stay at home dad, to support Shellye's ambition to become an executive by 30 and CEO by 40. Few men I know would take this deal!

Overall a good read and should be a part of every ambitious professional's tool kit.

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Required Read for Any Woman in Position to Lead

If you were to ask me what is the most practical, transformative, and impactful book that I’ve read this year, I would say it’s Shellye Archambeau’s Unapologetically Ambitious.

While I am incredibly grateful for my journey to date, having founded companies in both Canada and the United States, I did it without a blueprint and a handful of mentors. A book like Unapologetically Ambitious would have helped me to reduce my learning curve tremendously. Not just in business, but also in my personal development.

The lessons and examples that Archambeau shares with us in her book go beyond the workplace and business. She gives us insights into family life, partnerships, and how to blaze your own trail.

This is the book that I should have read 20 years ago, but I’m happy to have read it now. Do you consider yourself to be a driven or an ambitious woman? Whether you’re at the beginning of or mid-career, do yourself a favo(u)r and grab this book for yourself. You will be glad you did.

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Shellye offers advice and inspiration for people at all stages of their careers.

I had the honor of being in Shellye’s small group with Bill Campbell and she is carrying on the spirit of helping bring up others! Great book!

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A Wealth of Information

This book provided so much information, I felt like she was my mentor. Like she said " Ask one question" Then go back and let the person know how it worked out. Work on next steps

I was vested in her journey to success and had so many takeaways. Things that I have been doing and things that I will refine.

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Inspiring story laced with plausible action items

As in most cases I appreciated the author narration. She shares her story in a way that encourages readers to discover their own north star. Laden with tangible tools and tactics she used to meticulously plan her life, this book is both practical & motivating.

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Touching and inspirational

This is my first book review. This books was so inspirational and also had actionable tips I can implement right away. I hope there are more books by the author as now I’m a huge fan!

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Thank you

Thank you for your honesty and encouragement.
You are right about how the world see us as Women. Particularly women of color. I continue to push in my career. I come up against questions regarding my commitment inability to give fully to the organization and the higher role. However I am unapologetically ambitious and I will continue until I’ve reached my goals.

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Starts slow but closes well

This book started slow for me and I thought this person is too idealistic about life, but towards the end there were some actual helpful tips that I've applied and relayed to others l.

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Necessary Blueprint

I needed this roadmap 15 years ago. This is NOT a corporate leadership book. Instead, it’s much better! The pearls in this book provide basic guidance into strategic decision making while planning a intentional career path. Shelley does an excellent job of descriptively explaining her road to success. While this may not be everyone’s narrative, she provides an exceptional foundation of necessary “integrative“ techniques that have been proven to be effective for her.

You will not be disappointed. Read it, listen to it, then read it again. You will pick up different points each time.

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Planned Ambition

Great inspirational story of true grit and determination. I say grit and determination because, even though it was planned and Shellye made it sound somewhat easy, she had to overcome many systemic corporate America racial and in equality issues. The joy of this book is to see the tremendous success the Shellye attained in conjunction with raising a strong family. I also loved the concept of work-life integration versus work-life balance. Balance insinuates that there are equal parts work and equal parts life, if that was the case then we should only be working 3.5 days a week. Work is often the life experience that helps you build a healthy balance with the rest of your world, so embrace it and enjoy the whole cycle.

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  • Mariana stevens
  • 04-05-21

It's exactly as it says in the book!

What a great book, learning about planning ahead, set goals and go for them.
Highly recommend for the ones who are willing to put the work in and have big dreams. This book will encourage and help you going forward 👍

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  • Johnny
  • 12-02-20

100% inspirational

This book is a great story of Shellye Archambeau and at the same time it is an easy going self-help book. I like how everything seems to be about the author but in reality this book is talking about you (the reader) and how you can implement your personal goals even if those are too ambitious.

I am totally suggesting this book and especially for people that doesn't like the self-help book structure as this book has a great story anyway.

Thank you Shellye for sharing your life story with us :)

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  • Pammie
  • 10-18-20

Fascinating insight into the world of a successful female leader

This book will have the ability to motivate women at any point in their career. Whilst not all of the story will necessarily be relevant to everyone, there are certainly some real gems that you can take away. I found myself looking back over my career to find the parallels with the story. A key takeaway for me is her approach to mentoring and asking for help.

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  • Ann-Marie
  • 10-15-20

Hugely inspirational

The book is a rare insight from a black woman who’s really made it “all the way up” and her empowering advice and inspirational story sparked something in me. It’s got great practical advice that anyone can take away for their own life and career, regardless of where they are today.

Part business book and part memoir - I was pleasantly surprised by how much of her personal life is centered in the story as well as her career. Shellye is incredibly open and honest in the retelling of her life, with the advice we can take from it.

Very well read by Shellye herself, I finished it in a flash.

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  • Elaine
  • 04-01-22

Adopted a new mentor in Shellye.

Shellye's narration of her book is crispy clear and personable. I felt as though she was speaking solely to me, and with my thoughts activated, I felt as though she was speaking with me.

Shellye is the blended life and career mentor I had been longing for ever since I finished high school. I am now mid-career, married, and deeply contemplative about how to take myself and my family into a new or next phase.

Hearing Shellye's approach, line of thinking, lessons learned and journey results - inspired, taught, and provoked me to consider my own blended life and career journey. I have not been so activated by another in this way other than my husband.

I commend this audio book to anyone who is craving for the voice of a woman of colour to speak into their lives wholesome perspectives that can be practically adopted, adapted and practiced. Every chapter is loaded with something that will appeal to many who value life, career and family.