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How to be a Bawse

by Lilly Singh
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How to be a Bawse
A guide to conquering life presented by Bawse-Lady Lilly Singh. In today’s world, opportunities are endless. With social media, you can create a life beyond your wildest dreams. YouTuber Lilly Singh has created a successful life online with a billion views on the internet and millions of subscribers. Of course, Lilly will be the first to say that having a big following doesn’t automatically make you an expert but throughout her journey to success, she’s learned plenty of valuable lessons along the way. These are the lessons that have made her the Bawse she is today. The lessons you’ll learn from Lilly can be applied to all areas of your life, whether you’re looking to start your own YouTube channel or simply wanting to face your fears and live a happier, more fulfilling life. She will break down the basics of success and teach you how to overcome obstacles that will allow you to live the life of your dreams… to live the life of a Bawse! Keep reading to learn how life is like a video game, why it's important to break some rules, and lastly, why kindness always wins.
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How to be a Bawse
"How to be a Bawse" Summary
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Summary by Lea Schullery. Audiobook narrated by Alex Smith
If you’re asking yourself, “What the hell is a Bawse?” Well, here’s the answer. A Bawse is like a boss but is instead so epic that the spelling needs to be changed. Unlike a traditional boss, “a Bawse is someone who excels in both personal and professional settings. A Bawse exudes con-fidence, turns heads, gets hurt efficiently, communicates effectively, and hustles relentlessly.” Throughout this book, Lilly Singh aims to provide the necessary tools to help you unleash your inner Bawse and not just survive life but conquer it. Whether you’ve followed Lilly throughout her YouTube journey or have never heard of her, there is plenty you can learn from Lilly’s life, including the important lessons she’s learned from her rise to success. As you read How to be a Bawse, you’ll learn that no matter where you are in life, you can accomplish everything you ever wanted in life. “But it won’t be easy. Being a Bawse is hard work. It requires an unfathomable amount of dedication and hustle.” So if you’re looking for tricks, quick tips, or get-rich-quick schemes, then you’re in the wrong place. Instead, you’ll need to work hard, expand your mind, and dissolve your fear before you begin to see your obstacles crumbling beneath you. “If you’re ready to conquer your life, turn the page. It’s time to be a Bawse.”
Chapter 1: Conquer Your Thoughts with These Four Cheat Codes
Life is like a video game. As you go through the levels, you get thrown off by obstacles, you face enemies, and the game becomes harder the more you play. But as it becomes harder, you become smarter, faster, and more skilled. As you play, you control just one thing: your char-acter. You make it jump, run, duck, and attack when threatened. This is exactly how you should view life.
You see, when you’re a Bawse, you understand that life will throw things at you that are out of your control. So becoming frustrated over what you can’t control becomes inefficient and futile. In fact, not being in control doesn’t make you powerless; it just means you have to find your power and control in a different way. “If you can’t control people, then control your reac-tions to them. If you can’t control a situation, then prepare for it.” In other words, you have the power to conquer your thoughts.
In many situations, we believe that we can’t control how we feel. We become jealous or negative and say, “I just can’t help but feel that way.” But we have the power to teach our minds to function with more positivity. “In other words, by understanding that mushy sponge in our skulls, we can conquer our thoughts.” But what does conquering your thoughts actually mean? It means that you can understand why you feel the way you feel, why you do what you do, and why you react the way you do. For instance, Lilly was forced to learn how to conquer her thoughts because of the nature of her job. You see, uploading videos to YouTube makes you susceptible to cruel comments as people feel like they can say anything behind the comfort of a computer screen, shrouded in anonymity.
Here’s when Lilly learned the first cheat codes of life. Cheat Code One: When people do or say hurtful things, there is a chance they are actually upset about something else in their life. Cheat Code Two: Others’ opinions shouldn’t impact the way you think about yourself. Cheat Code Three: Your happiness is stronger than fear. And Cheat Code Four: Avoid reacting nega-tively to things outside your control. While Lilly applied these cheat codes when dealing with hurtful YouTube comments, these cheat codes have been useful in many other areas of life.
For example, how many times have you reacted to someone cutting you off in traffic? In this situation, Lilly applies cheat code one so that she doesn’t overreact: the person driving could be upset about something in their life. So when someone cuts you off, remind yourself that it’s not about YOU. Similarly, when Lilly finds herself in an argument with someone, she sometimes has the urge to make an unnecessary remark to get the last word in. In these situations, she ap-plies cheat code four and stops herself before saying something hurtful just to make herself feel better.
Conquering your thoughts takes hard work and requires you to dig deep inside yourself and ask the tough questions. So “From now on start asking yourself why you feel a certain way, what made you perform a certain action, and how you could do things differently. The informa-tion you discover is powerful because it helps you to discover patterns and in turn use your mind productively and efficiently. After all, your mind is your most powerful tool, but it’s not useful if you don’t know how to use it.”
Chapter 2: Understand Your Behavior and Practice Self-Control
Are you ever midway through your day when you discover a stain on your shirt? What do you do? Maybe you try to cover it with a jacket or even a decorative pin. Problem solved! Simi-larly, you might wake up with a pimple, so you cover it with concealer before taking on the day, right? Or maybe you spill a drink on the carpet and the stain doesn’t come out. Cover it with a new plant or a piece of furniture and it’s like it never happened! When we make mistakes in life, we typically try to find easy solutions that will simply cover up the problem. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work when it comes to our professional, personal, and behavioral problems. Cover-ups just won’t cut it.
So when it comes to understanding our behavior, each of us is like tiramisu: we have three layers. The top layer is how we explain ourselves and our actions to other people; the mid-dle layer is how we explain our actions to ourselves. This second layer is a bit deeper than the first and isn’t often seen from the outside; Finally, the bottom layer consists of the deeply rooted reasons we actually behave the way we do. This layer is the hardest to find because it’s buried deep inside of us. It’s not the prettiest and doesn’t always taste the best, but it’s the foundation of the entire dessert.
If you’re struggling to picture yourself as layers in a decadent dessert, don’t worry Lilly will provide you with a little example. You see, Lilly struggles with relationships. She tells every-one that she doesn’t want to be in a relationship right now. Layer one is what she tells other people: “I’m too busy hustling and sipping that #Lemonade that Beyoncé served. I don’t need a man.” Layer two is what she tells herself: “I love my career way too much and don’t have time to waste on a relationship. That type of commitment would hold me back from achieving my dreams. I don’t want to be tied down.” And finally, we get to layer three, the actual reason: “I don’t know how to have a successful relationship while pursuing my dreams, and so when I sense a potential relationship, I run away. I’m scared a relationship will negatively impact me, regardless of who it’s with.”
Discovering that third layer has helped Lilly take the first steps toward having healthier relationships. In reality, she realized that she was never exposed to healthy relationships grow-ing up so she didn’t believe that they existed. She has always believed that relationships bring out the worst in people. Looking deep inside herself has allowed Lilly to learn more about why she behaves the way she does. If you can look at yourself and your layers, you too can begin to understand your actions and get to the root of your issues. You can try it yourself by asking yourself, “Why do you work hard? Or why do you not work hard?” Dig deep and discover your layers.
Speaking of working hard, one of the most important muscles a Bawse can exercise is self-control. If you struggle to complete tasks, then learning and practicing self-control is one of the most important things you can do to improve your life. Of course, this is easier said than done. Luckily, Lilly has created a workout plan to help you. Your first exercise is to set goals for yourself. You can begin to set goals by creating a schedule and completing a task in a certain amount of time. For example, when Lilly was writing her book, she would give herself x amount of time to finish a chapter. Then, she’d try to not only meet that goal but beat it. Make it a com-petition for yourself!
The next exercise is to reward yourself. Once you set your goal, don’t forget to reward yourself when you hit it. The reward can be anything from taking a break in between tasks to something bigger at the end of the day once you’ve completed all your work. This doesn’t mean that you can simply respond to two emails and then reward yourself with a 4-hour nap. That just doesn’t make sense. It’s important to make sure your rewards are well-earned and reasonable. You can even grab some friends to help you practice self-control. For example, have your friend change your social media passwords until you’re done studying. Or even try something more horrifying and let your friend change your Wi-Fi password until you’re done working out.
Finally, the last exercise is to challenge yourself. When you want to strengthen your mus-cles, you gradually increase your reps or the weight of a dumbbell. Similarly, you can do the same when exercising self-control. For example, Lilly challenges herself by choosing not to swear. There’s nothing wrong with swearing but it’s simply a choice she made to help her exer-cise control in other areas of life. When she’s not swearing, Lilly is more likely to avoid gossip and impulsively saying something she shouldn’t in interviews. So if you’re looking to challenge yourself, try to stop swearing for 24 hours if you regularly swear. Or perhaps if you love meat, try becoming a vegetarian for two days!
Chapter 3: Make Decisions and Commit to Them
How often do you make a New Years’ resolution only to find yourself falling short in just a few weeks, or even a few days? You tell yourself that you’re going to get fit, that this is your year! You feel great those first few days as you prioritize your fitness and head to the gym. Soon, how-ever, you find yourself struggling to get out of bed. You find yourself distracted by Instagram and Netflix. I mean, your favorite TV show just ended their episode on a cliffhanger so you have to keep watching, right?! In other words, committing to your decisions is difficult work.
So if you want to be a Bawse, you must learn to make great decisions that will help you achieve your goals. But more importantly, you need to commit to those decisions regardless of the obstacles you’ll face. The two most common obstacles? Fear and distraction. For example, say you are committed to starting a daily blog. Fear will creep into your mind as you convince yourself that your writing isn’t good enough. Similarly, distractions, like hanging out with friends and watching Netflix, will convince you that your time is better spent doing something other than writing your blog.
A few years ago, Lilly had the opportunity to work with Seth Rogen and James Franco in a promotional video for their upcoming movie, The Interview. The problem? They had just 45 minutes to shoot a nine-minute skit. For those not familiar with the movie business, this is not a lot of time. Despite the ambitious task ahead of them, Lilly and the videographer, Rick, commit-ted to shooting the video in the allotted time and promised themselves that they would allow nothing to get in their way. So Lilly and Rick prepped and planned for every possible scenario except for one: nervousness. In the chaos of trying to figure out how to film everything in just 45 minutes, Lilly forgot that she would be filming Seth Rogen and James effing Franco!
When they walked in, Lilly’s stomach immediately tied itself into a knot. She could hardly say hello! She shook it off and confidently began to explain her creative plan to the boys. As she shared a joke, she saw the confusion on James’s face and fear began to set in. Immediately thoughts flooded into her mind, “What if I’m not funny and they hate this? Am I in the wrong career? OMG, OMG! Am I ugly? I’m ugly, aren’t I? UGH, damn it. I’m Shrek.” Despite the fear, she shook it off and continued, and soon they were shooting. Suddenly, Lilly found herself amid another obstacle: distractions. As she tried to recite her dialogue, the other people on set began talking loudly, having conversations off-camera. Even worse, all the sound was interfering with the sound quality of her video and she quickly became stressed.
After an intense 45 minutes, James and Seth left the set as quickly as they came. Lilly col-lapsed on the couch and reflected on what exactly just happened. Yes, it was very challenging but guess what? She had done it! She honored her commitments and didn’t slow her pace be-cause of nerves she didn’t alter her jokes because of fear, and she didn’t forget her dialogue be-cause of distractions. She didn’t go just 70 percent, she went all in. And to be a Bawse, “you need to get down on one knee, propose to your decisions, and commit to them for a lifetime. That’s what your decisions deserve - 100 percent. Not 90 percent, 80 percent, or, like your iPhone twenty minutes after you wake up, 30 percent. It’s all or nothing, baby!”
Chapter 4: Set Deadlines and Build a Solid Foundation
In addition to self-control and commitment, you’ll need to learn how to curb your pro-crastination. You see, procrastination is a hustler’s worst enemy. It convinces us that almost anything can be put off until later, so as a result, we wait until the last possible minute to get something done. Perhaps you leave at the last possible second to get to that important meeting or wait until your car literally can’t drive any more miles before you fill-up the tank. So what’s the best way to overcome procrastination? Set deadlines.
If you’re like Lilly, then deadlines were probably placed on you your entire life. Whether it was your teachers, your parents, or your bosses, you always had a schedule set for you. How-ever, when you decide to become an entrepreneur, those deadlines are no longer set by someone else. Now you have the freedom to do whatever you want and the only person you answer to is yourself! This doesn’t mean you can just decide to sleep your days away, however. Lilly learned this lesson early on and decided to create a schedule that required her to upload a video to her YouTube channel every Monday and Thursday. Creating deadlines takes a huge amount of self-control which is why you sometimes just have to force them upon yourself.
Lilly had also been telling herself for years that she was going to move to L.A. to pursue a career in acting. However, she kept putting the move off. She blamed push backs on family vaca-tions, sickness, her birthday, anything she could think of. Finally, during a business trip to L.A., she decided to take a step forward and go apartment hunting. Conveniently, she disliked all the places. She realized she needed to set a deadline to make it happen, so she sent an email to her team that said on December 1 she would be moving to L.A… just four months away. She began taking action, calling insurance companies, searching for apartments, and on December 1, she headed to L.A. So when it’s time to get something done, set a deadline. From there, break down your goal into smaller pieces and assign each piece a specific deadline.
For example, instead of simply setting the goal of writing a movie script, break down your goal into smaller, more manageable pieces, like “create a log line,” “finish character outline,” “create mood board,” etc. To help even further, share those deadlines with your partner or your friends so that you’ll hold yourself more accountable for completing them. Lilly does this by publicly promoting her video schedule and uploads every Monday and Thursday. So what’s something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time but never got around to doing? Do you re-ally want to accomplish the task? If so, grab a calendar and set a deadline.
When it comes to being a Bawse, you’ll also need to ensure that you have a solid founda-tion. When you plan on building an empire, you need to remind yourself that empires are not built overnight and they do not fall easily. That’s because empires are built on strong founda-tions that can withstand the test of time. Similar to how empires are not built on a single pillar, your career should also not be built on a single success. For instance, “Even if you get the job, ace the test, or kill the sales pitch, you can’t bank your entire success on one achievement. Your success shouldn’t walk on stilts.”
Lilly understands that each time she uploads a YouTube video, she’s taking a risk. What if they don’t like it? What if this video is the end of her career? In the end, that’s never the case. She simply uploads two more videos the following week and the previous week’s negative com-ments are forgotten. That’s because she has a solid foundation that she has taken the time to build. “So if you find yourself stressing over one opportunity or one failure, perhaps the real problem is the foundation you’ve built. A Bawse cannot walk the walk if the ground is crumbling beneath them. You need to strengthen your empire.”
Chapter 5: Surround Yourself With the Right People
Remember being told as a child that you need to be the best, the fastest, or even the smartest? That you need to aim for first place because second place is not good enough? We spend our lives trying to prove we are the best in what we do; however, when Lilly was attending a YouTube creator summit, she learned a valuable lesson from the one and only Snoop Dogg.She learned that we are doing it all wrong. When asked his secret to a successful, long-lasting career, Snoop Dogg replied: “I’m the dumbest person on my team and that’s how I do it.”
You see, a Bawse understands that being the dumbest person in the room is one of the most beneficial positions you can be in. Surrounding yourself with people who are more experi-enced and more knowledgeable than you means that you have stepped outside your comfort zone and are continuing to learn and grow. When it comes to Lilly’s job, she’s the talent. She’s the one in front of the camera entertaining others and telling jokes. That’s what she’s good at. But when it comes to performing in front of 18,000 people, Lilly doesn’t know the first thing about the legalities of such a performance. That’s where her lawyer comes in. Similarly, she’s not the strongest writer which is where her editor comes in and corrects her sentences so that others can properly read them. “Being the dumbest person on your team doesn’t make you a stupid person; it means you’re smart enough to select people to work with that you can learn from.”
While you should strive to continue learning and surround yourself with people smarter than you, it’s also important to surround yourself with people who validate you. The problem in today’s society, however, is that many people are over-validated. As children have grown up in households that made them feel special for perhaps no reason at all, they grew up thinking the world should treat them with the same constant validation. Lilly discusses a friend who dis-played this sense of entitlement. For instance, when his accomplishments weren't celebrated to an extreme, he would feel disrespected. If his plans didn’t go the way they were supposed to, he would become enraged. Over time, Lilly realized this behavior was a result of growing up sur-rounded by constant validation. Unfortunately, a harsh reality is coming for that friend.
Instead, a Bawse understands that they should only be validated when they accomplish goals or contribute to society. Lilly believes her need to hustle and be the best comes from the validation she receives from her mother. You see, when Lilly calls and tells her mother about the biggest deal she’s just signed, her mother will reply with, “That’s really good.” That’s it. Of course, her mother is excited and proud of her daughter, but there’s no need to throw a parade every time Lilly accomplishes something incredible. This validation helps Lilly keep her goals in perspective and not get distracted by the exhilaration of glory. So don’t get so easily validated, “Participation ribbons are for country fairs, not life. You don’t get one for being born.”
Chapter 6: Stand Out and Break the Rules
One of the most important qualities of a Bawse is the ability to be noticed. Bawses walk with purpose, speak with confidence, and can light up a room. It’s impossible to miss them. They have an identifiable energy that makes them stand out and make a lasting impression on others. Lilly showed this Bawse-energy once in an interview with her current multi-channel network (MCN), Studio 71. An MCN is essentially like a record label but for YouTube content. Her interview was with the head of the company, Michael, and she knew she had to make a great first impression.
Upon sitting down, Michael began the interview with the question, “So, what can I tell you about the company?” Here was Lilly’s opportunity to stand out, she wanted to get signed by him after all! With a smile on her face and a bit of sass on her tongue, Lilly responded with, “You tell me. What can YOU tell ME about the company?” The look of pure amusement washed overMichael’s face and he was completely thrown off guard. After setting the tone for the interview, Michael eventually asked: “What do you want to achieve?” With a straight face, Lilly responded with, “World domination.” After a dramatic pause, she began to elaborate on everything she wanted to accomplish. In other words, she owned that interview. Like a Bawse.
Shortly after the interview, Lilly learned that Michael believed she was an “absolute star” and later that week, she signed with Studio 71 and they’ve had a great relationship ever since. So if you want to stand out, you’ll need to do a few things: Smile for a reason, listen to understand, don’t be robotic, live in the moment, and lastly, be confident. When it comes to confidence, we probably know that it’s easier said than done, right? Don’t worry, Lilly has a few ways to boost your confidence and let it shine. The next time you go to an event and/or meet new people, do this small exercise before you leave. Look in the mirror and do some power poses. Look at yourself and pose like Superman with one arm in the air. Make a dramatic face, race your chin, and give yourself a wink. You’ll feel powerful and sexy and inspire confidence!
While a Bawse must learn to stand out, a Bawse must also learn how to break the rules sometimes. Our lives are guided by rules, some necessary for life and some unnecessary. For in-stance, Lilly recalls the time she was standing in line at the airport behind the yellow line that she was forbidden to cross until the customs officer said so. Once she noticed an officer was free, she stepped ahead on her own. The officer sent her back to the other side of the yellow line. Two seconds later, he called her forward. “Ah, good old protocol.”
So while rules are important most of the time, there are times that you should “eff proto-col.” I mean if everyone followed protocol all the time, then no one would ever do something for the first time. Nothing would change, no one would stand out, and no one would stand up to in-justice. Lilly understands that if you want to stand out, then you need to break the rules now and then. You see, her entire life Lilly had made it her mission to meet her hero: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. However, each time she thought her dream was about to come true, something always got in her way. So throughout her career, Lilly was determined to meet Dwayne and continued to tweet him and mention him in her videos, repeating that meeting him was the number one thing on her bucket list.
Years later, Dwayne and Lilly became friends online and kept in contact, Dwayne even gave her his phone number. While they texted every once in a while, they still failed to meet in person. Lilly followed protocol when it came to the entertainment industry: "No matter how mi-nor the event is, you schedule it and send a calendar invite." You don’t make plans over text messages, it’s very “have your people contact my people.” However, nothing ever worked out. Eventually, Lilly was getting impatient and she decided to “eff protocol.” She pulled out her phone and texted Dwayne to ask if they could meet the following day, something that breaks all the etiquette rules of the entertainment industry. The result? She got to meet Dwayne! The next day Dwayne kissed Lilly on the cheek while she recorded the entire thing and it was the most magical moment of her life.
In other words, a Bawse gets things done however they need to be done and doesn’t al-ways do things the traditional way. “So break boundaries and go beyond the limits set in place. Don’t let the system and the people who exist in it tell you how you should act if it doesn’t feel right to you. Do things your way. Break the system!”
Chapter 7: Know Your Values and Be Kind
Lilly can recall just a few things she learned in school. One of those is the fact that when you don’t have your hand up, the teacher will call on you anyway. The second? The mitochon-dria are the powerhouse of the cell. That’s it. So why does she remember this fact about mito-chondria? It was everywhere. It was drilled into her brain in every textbook, test, and presenta-tion, the mitochondria were explained in the exact same way every time. So why are we talking about mitochondria? Well, when it comes to our values, we should treat them the same way we treat the mitochondria: “we must ensure that we never forget what they mean.”
Throughout life, you are going to encounter all kinds of people. Some will be pleasant and smile or open the door for you while others will steal your parking spot, glare at you, or even say horrible things about you. But just because someone is rude to you, does that mean you should be rude in return? Just because someone hurls a racial slur at you, should you respond with your own racial slur? They did it first, but does that make it right? Think about whether that action aligns with your values. Yes, it’s tempting to react when someone hurts us, all of us are guilty of saying things we don’t mean. But at the end of the day, going against your values is wrong and only perpetuates the problem of rudeness and bullying.
As a Bawse, it’s up to you to hold yourself accountable. So here are some ways you can hold yourself accountable and take your values to the gym. First, create a personal manifesto that outlines all the values you want to practice in your life. Write down the phrases, rules, and examples in which you want to live. Some examples may include, “Even if someone else is talk-ing ill about someone, don’t join in,” or “Stop interrupting people and give them a chance to speak.” If you ever feel like you are losing yourself, review the manifesto and remind yourself of the person you want to be.
Finally, being a Bawse means working hard and being nice. Think about the successful person that you idolize. That person has a team working behind them every day communicating with them daily, each person recognizing that something larger is being created and that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Okay, so you might not have a team behind you but you are part of the human race, and humanity is the most important team you’ll ever be on. I mean if everyone was horrible, we’d all end up killing each other, right? So successful people understand the importance of positivity and maintaining a positive outlook. In fact, “Not being nice is like poisoning yourself with bad vibes.”
The power of being nice can create opportunities that you’ve only ever dreamed of. For example, Lilly once attended a YouTube music party and ran into Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber’s manager. She admired his work and she badly wanted to start a conversation. So after a few moments of deliberation, she finally mustered up the courage to walk up and say, “Hey! I think you’re really awesome, and here’s why…” At the time, Lilly didn’t know that Scooter had been having a bad day, and he seemed genuinely glad that Lilly approached him and said something kind. The next day, Scooter posted a picture on Instagram of their meeting with a caption re-counting how Lilly had made his day by being so kind. Since their meeting, Scooter has occa-sionally posted about Lilly’s videos and it all started with a simple, kind gesture.
So be polite, smile, give your friend the last piece of cake, and as Bawse, understand that you must be proactive in your kindness. How can you leave a lasting impression on someone? For instance, after a major shoot for a YouTube marketing campaign, Lilly took the time to send an email to everyone who worked the shoot, thanking them for their hard work, efforts, and con-tributions. A few weeks later, Lilly ran into one of the directors from that shoot who told her that her email had really made a positive impact on the team. Each day Lilly reminds herself that, “People won’t always remember what you did or what you said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.” So be nice and make people feel good “like a Bawse.”
Chapter 8: Final Summary
If you want to become a successful, confident Bawse, then it’s time to get to work. Becom-ing a Bawse requires hard work, dedication, commitment, and self-control. It requires a solid foundation in which you identify your goals, values, and deadlines and commit to accomplishing them no matter what gets in your way. It means not allowing fear and excuses get in your way of going for your dreams and becoming the best person you can be. It means surrounding yourself with positive people who validate you only when you deserve it and it means not being afraid of being the dumbest person in the room. At the end of the day, kindness and strong values win. If you are nice to people, you’ll make them feel good and people want to work with and support people who make them feel good. So go out there, be kind, and be a Bawse in everything you do.

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