5 Self-Improvement Books That Everyone Should Read


I know this is a completely cliche way to start a blog post— but I can't believe we're more than halfway through 2017. Back in January, I set a lot of resolutions for myself, mostly focused on building an atmosphere of growth. (more on that here.) One of the biggest resolutions on my list was to read more. 

I've always loved reading - even in middle school when it was cool to pretend you didn't. I'm the type of person that picks up a good book and CANNOT put it down until it's finished. I'll stay up late, skip plans with people... it's bad. And, sometimes that bad habit will make me skip reading altogether, but that's not the answer either. 


To get in a healthier reading routine, I now read 15-30 minutes every weekday morning and sometimes on the weekends. It's a great way to wake up, and it helps get my creativity flowing before I let my inbox dictate my to-do list for the day. Sticking to this has helped me read a steady book per month, and I've come across a lot of great suggestions along the way. 

I love reading fiction and memoir, but lately I've been on a huge business/self-improvement book kick. Especially because I'm reading in the morning before work, it's been a super inspiring way to start the day. I always put the books down feeling motivated and ready to dig into my to-do list. 

Here are the five self-improvement books I would recommend everyone read:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson


Who It's Best For:  I would buy a copy for everyone I know, BUT it's especially great for people who find themselves caring too much about every. single. little. thing. 

My Take: GAME. CHANGER. I can't say this enough. As someone with a history of giving entirely too many fucks about entirely too many things, this book was the slap in the face I needed. And judging by the 4.5 star-rating from 1,843 Amazon users, I'm clearly not alone. The premise of the book is that instead of trying to be positive all the time, we should focus on getting better at facing adversity AND developing a life that's suffering for the right things. 

Favorite Quote: “Don’t hope for a life without problems. There’s no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems... True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy solving.”

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero


Who It's Best For: Anyone needing a swift kick of motivation and a reminder that you're awesome.

My Take: This is the kind of book that you never stop reading because you can crack it back open anytime you need a pick-me-up. The author is hilarious, no-nonsense and gives the kind of advice you wish you could give your friends when they're in a rut. Read more about it here

Favorite Quote: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” 

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin


Who It's Best For: Anyone looking to build or eliminate habits in their life - good or bad.

My Take: I know she can be polarizing, but I love Gretchen Rubin. I've talked about her other book The Happiness Project on here before, and I listen to her podcast every now and then. If you're Type A, you'll probably relate to her methodical approach to habits. I know I did. It's definitely rooted in her own experiences, but it's full of practical tips that anyone can use to adopt or break a habit in their lives. See a full summary and reviews here

Favorite Quote: “The most important step is the first step. All those old sayings are really true. Well begun is half done. Don’t get it perfect, get it going. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Nothing is more exhausting than the task that’s never started, and strangely, starting is often far harder than continuing.” 

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg


Who It's Best For:  Anyone experiencing unexpected loss, adversity or hardship. Anyone particularly close to someone experiencing unexpected loss, adversity or hardship.

My Take: After losing my dad to cancer in early 2016, this book couldn't have come at a better time for me. Born out of the horrible tragedy of losing her husband, Sheryl Sandberg's words on loss, love and moving forward are poignant, comforting and brutally honest. It helps you feel like you're not the only one riding out a shit storm. (Totally for another day, but I also really loved Lean In. Everyone should also read that!) 

Favorite Quote: “One of the most important things I’ve learned is how deeply you can keep loving someone after they die. You may not be able to hold them or talk to them... but you can still love them every bit as much. Playwright Robert Woodruff Anderson captured it perfectly: 'Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship.”'

Stop Saying You're Fine by Mel Robbins


Who It's Best For:  People in need of some serious tough love to pull them out of neutral.

My Take: Mel Robbins is a hardass, and she doesn't sugarcoat anything. I read it on my Kindle— to be honest, this isn't the type of book cover you want to lug around in public, but it should be. The problem of feeling "stuck" affects everyone, and the sooner we acknowledge that, the better off we'll all be. 

Favorite Quote: “You need to hear this loud and clear: No one is coming to help. It is up to you.” 

BONUS: for those in their 20s
The Defining Decade by Meg Jay


Who It's Best For:  Anyone in their 20s. And their parents. 

My Take: Although I've read each of the other books in the last year, I read this one my last semester of college after seeing her TedTalk about how your 20s aren't a time to be dicking around. My advice? Watch this video, and if it resonates with (or terrifies!) you, definitely pick up a copy. 

Favorite Quote: “Being confused about choices is nothing more than hoping that maybe there is a way to get through life without taking charge... Forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital. … Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that's an investment in who you might want to be next.” 

What books have you read that changed your life? Share them with me in the comments! 

Because I throw away book covers, borrow from friends and sometimes use my Kindle, all photos are courtesy of Amazon.

5 Things I've Learned from My First Year as a Solopreneur

This month on June 13, The 5th Sense turned one year old!

I'd like to tell you that I threw myself a cute little business birthday party, but that would be a lie. I was back in Tennessee—where I grew up— for the week for my brother's wedding, and it was nice to return home, reflect with family and realize how far my business and I have come since I posted this blog 365 days ago

Anyone who's run a business from scratch on their own will tell you that you learn an infinite number of lessons in the first 12 months, and I'm sure that they'll continue pouring in through the years that follow. However, I do remember how much I enjoyed reading posts like these when I was just getting started— and I still do now! So today I'm sharing 5 of the biggest things that my first year of running my own copywriting business has taught me. 


I talked about this some here and here, but I can't say this enough— the only way to succeed in owning your own business is to be as self-aware as possible. There's a lot of advice on the internet— and plenty of it is great— but not every method, tip or piece of advice is going to work for you and your business.  

Here are some questions I would consider asking yourself and the people who know you best. Revisit them again every couple of months to be sure you're being honest with yourself. 

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? (in business and personally)
    • Are there business weaknesses of yours that could be better outsourced?
    • Are there books you can read to help with those personal weaknesses? 
  • Do you work better in a structured environment or can you truly be productive at home? 
  • Are you the type of person who will feel isolated working from home? If so, how will you combat that?
  • Do you handle rejection well? If not, what are ways you can pick yourself back up after a loss?
  • Are you providing a service that the market truly needs? Or did you choose your services based on what you think is best instead? 
  • Are you good at saving money for a rainy day? 
  • Is there a new skill you can learn to better service your clients?

I've found that many of these answers can be found by taking the Myers-Briggs test (try out a condensed version for free here) and others can only be discovered through trial and error. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself— if something isn't working, stop doing it and find another solution. 


I explained some of the preparation that I did to launch my business in my three-month check-in post, but there's definitely lots that I've picked up on since. There are plenty of other resources out there about getting an LLC, starting a business bank account and filing your taxes. I'm not here to discuss that kind of preparation. 

The kind of prep I'm talking about it beyond that. If you're reading this, you've probably read a few of the thousands of posts discussing the benefits of running your own business, but have you read up on the drawbacks? 

It's easy to picture a blissful world of choosing when you work, how you work and who you work with. And all of those things are great. But, I would urge anyone considering going out on their own to prepare themselves for a different reality.

  • Do you know WHO you're really targeting? (Hint: "everyone" isn't an acceptable answer)
  • Do you have a sales plan to steadily find new clients so you aren't out-of-luck (and money) when one ends their contract? 
  • Do you have a plan to retain the clients you currently have?
  • Are you ready to hear no a lot
    • Do you have a strategy for staying positive when faced with rejection? 
    • Are you prepared to change things up when enough no's show you that an idea isn't working?
  • Do you have a back-up plan or savings for months that you're down? 

These aren't meant to be negative, they're meant to be realistic/honest (see point 1). 


If I haven't reiterated it enough— no matter how great your business idea is, you're going to hear "no" a lot. Sometimes you'll work your butt off to close on a client and lose it last minute. Other times you'll have one quit unexpectedly for reasons that may be out of your control. It's one thing to prepare yourself for it, but it's another thing entirely to be able to forgive yourself after it happens. 

I've gone into this story pretty in-depth in this post, but to sum it up— I hit a "business rock-bottom" at the end of last year. From a combination of things that were and weren't within my control, I wasn't motivated, taking care of myself or investing time in finding the right clients. As a result, I lost some business, had to dip into our savings and felt super defeated. 

None of that got better until I went back to step one (KNOW YOURSELF) and finally forgave myself for having that set-back. Ebbs and flows are an inevitable part of running a business, but being able to forgive yourself and bounce back is what matters most. Say it with me, "My worth as a person is not entirely measured by the success (or lack of) in my business." Say it again. Keep saying it until you believe it. 


 I swear, half of running a business is asking yourself where all the time goes. With no boss or department dictating your day-to-day, it's easy to get lost in distractions or what I like to call "productivity porn"— which is basically when you spend your day reading articles about business strategy or being productive, but you don't actually accomplish anything.

Without a boss to keep you on track, you have to monitor yourself. The best way to do this is to track everything— your time, your expenses, your incoming sales, your work flow, your work-wins, everything. To fix any problem— be it a structural, time management or something else— you have to first be aware that it's even there to begin with. Tracking is a great way to start. 


This is important. Arguably the most important— YOU MUST BE YOUR BIGGEST ADVOCATE. If you don't believe in yourself and your business, how can you expect anyone else to? 

I know, sometimes this kind of self-love advice can feel hippie-dippy and unproductive. But it's not. When you enter a room, you need to be ready and WILLING to sell yourself. If you don't believe that you've got the best services out there, how can you hope that anyone else will buy into them? You can't wait around for someone else to instill this confidence in you or sell your business ideas to others on your behalf. You built it yourself - now go show people how f*cking awesome you are by advocating for yourself. 

What's the biggest lesson you've learned from your job (entrepreneurial or otherwise)? Let me know in the comments!

5 Steps to Writing a Better "About Me" Page

You aren't boring. Maybe it's your "About Me" page. 

1. Don't make it about you. 

Shocking, I know. But it's true. While people are coming to your about page to learn about you, they're more likely coming to decide if they can relate to you. I always tell my clients that their about page isn't about them—it's about their ideal customer and what they can do for them. 

For example, who do you want to buy a blender from?

Person A: "Opening in 2014, Blenders & Company was founded by a family of four living in Colorado. We've made more than 10,000 blenders."


Person B: "Smoothies, milkshakes, sauces and more. It's no secret we love blending. But, as our family began to reach for the blender at least three times a day, we realized how inconvenient they are—bulky, hard to clean. We created Blenders & Company for families like ours. Ones that blend more than anything else."

I don't know about you, but I'm going with person B. They seem to get me and the problems I'm facing. Except my problem is that I can't afford a Vitamix. 

2. Do more than love coffee and your family. 

If I read one more about page that says "I love coffee, music and my family." I'm going to scream. All of those things are great, but what about that differentiates you from the 29,301,283 people out there sipping caffeine and using Spotify?

Instead, consider facts about your personality that'll make you stand out. No one is going to say, "Remember that girl who really loves coffee?" What do you bring to the table that makes you unforgettable?  Maybe sharing that I won a storybook contest about a flying spaghetti monster defeated by a pack of dogs isn't relevant per se, but you definitely won't forget it.   

3. Go beyond the headshot.  

Professional headshots are great, but sometimes once you've seen one you've seen them all. People buy from people, and after humanizing your brand/business with the relatable facts we've curated in #2, we're going to supplement it with photos. 

So, I don't love coffee. In fact, I don't drink it at all. What I do love are potatoes, and I'm frequently telling people that I'm pro-potato or that I've never met a potato I didn't like. Memorable? Maybe. 

BAM! How about now? Have you ever seen someone posing with a handful of potatoes? Now you have. 

The point is, consider a photo of you doing something else outside of your headshot. You're more than a person smiling at their desk with their hair brushed. Show it. 

4. Use storytelling to showcase your expertise.

If someone needs to see your resume, they'll ask for it or go to your LinkedIn page. Your about page doesn't need to be a rehashing of bullet points. You're proud of what you do though, and you shouldn't discount that. Weave some key points into your narrative strategically. 

Here's one of my favorite examples from my girl Ashlyn Writes

Bottom line— just be you. If you aren't funny, don't try to be. If you speak simply, don't drop in a bunch of blab like "nevertheless" and "perfunctory." If you're more formal, don't promise "to help a sistah out, yo." 

5. Include a call-to-action. 

So now your reader has gotten to know you. You've wow-ed them by how relatable you are, and they've enjoyed your (actually) fun facts. They've got a great picture of who you are, what you do and why you're good at it. Now what?

Tell them what to do. Chances are, if they've made it to the bottom of your about page, they're interested. So tell them what to do next. Typically, this is encouraging them to reach out by filling out your contact form, so don't assume they will—tell them to. 

What's the best about page advice you've ever received? Let me know in the comments!

6 Podcasts Perfect for Work, Self-Improvement and Fun

Podcasts have been having a moment since Serial hit the airwaves in October 2014. Now, everywhere I go, I hear friends and colleagues talking about podcasts instead of TV shows. As a lover of both, I could never choose, but I have been enjoying listening to podcasts while I drive, clean my house or walk the dog. To avoid burnout, I switch it up between podcasts for work, self-improvement and fun. Here are 6 that I bring up almost every time one of those podcast discussions takes place: 

For Work

Goal Digger

If you're a lady who owns (or hopes to own!) your own business, you've got to have a weekly date with Jenna Kutcher's Goal Digger podcast. This workshop-style sound bite is full of interviews, helpful tips and real women sharing their successes and failures in business. Jenna is hilarous and incredibly down-to-earth, and I listen to this everytime I feel like I have no one to talk to about the ups and downs of business ownership. 


I'm a sucker for a good name, and Brian Clark got me with this one almost immediately. In his own words, "Unemployable provides actionable strategies for thousands of freelancers, consultants, coaches and entrepreneurs." As a copywriting/marketing dork, I've enjoyed hearing from big-name guests like Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk. Really, Unemployable is for anyone ready to dip their toe into entrepreneurship. 

For Self-Improvement


It's no secret that I love Gretchen Rubin. Her book The Happiness Project, helped pull me out of a serious funk, and her podcast Happier is just an extension of that. Each week, she and her sister have a conversation about their lives, maintaining balance and tips to cultivate a happier life. It's approachable, actionable and I really enjoy it. 



I'm embarrassingly obsessed with self-improvement anything, particularly as it applies to personality traits in different people. NPR's Invisibilia only adds fuel to the fire. In their own words, "Invisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions." It's also a great source for casual party conversation and interesting fun facts. If you love powerful storytelling and learning more about what shapes us as people, you'll love this one. 

For Fun

My Favorite Murder

If you've ever spoken to me more than twice, you probably know how much I love crime shows, especially Law & Order SVU. My Favorite Murder is that with some laugh-out-loud dark comedy sprinkled in. If you aren't into that, you'll know right away, but for those weirdos like me that are fascinated by crime shows and love a good laugh, you'll love Karen Kilgariff and Georiga Hardstark breaking down their favorite murder stories each episode. Also, the tagline is the best: "Stay sexy. Don't get murdered."

Death, Sex & Money

Death, Sex & Money was started as a way to share stories on three taboo topics that most people say are not up for discussion: death, sex and money. In their own words, "Death, Sex & Money is a show that gets very personal about the dilemmas we all share." Anna Sale, the host, is unapologetically inquisitive as she interviews people about the topics from which we usually shy away. 

What's your favorite podcast? Let me know in the comments!