How to Be a Bawse: Summary & Review

how to be a bawse book cover

How to Be a Bawse is a mix of biographical tidbits from Lilly Singh’s life, a comedy book, and a self-help manual with advice and tips for the readers.

Bullet Summary

  • Don’t look for shortcuts: develop your self-control to become a hard worker and do the stairs instead
  • Avoid cheap self-validation: reward yourself on accomplishments and contributions instead
  • Use your pain to take action kick-start your new life


Lilly Sing says that “How to be a Bawse” contains no secrets or magic tips. Simply because, she says, there are no secrets or magic tips.

Conquer Your Thoughts

The best way to stop people from pushing your buttons, is pushing your own.

However, Lilly says, there is no secret sauce or shortcut to learning to control your mind. It’s a long process that takes time and continuous effort.

It requires you to ask questions to learn about yourself and answer honestly.

Stay Outside Your Comfort Zone

Lilly Singh says to learn, grow get better, and accomplish anything in life you need to be able to push your comfort zone.

Everyone who has achieved anything has had failures and moments of shame and embarrassment.

Her first videos for example were terrible she says and it was not easy for her to push outside her comfort zone.

The author implies that even overnight successes -or those who claim to have been overnight successes- had to go through difficult times outside their comfort zone.

Drake for example says he went from 1 to 100 very quickly, but the author instead says he still went from 1 to 2 and to 3.

And he even got booed off stage once.

Set Emotions Aside

The author says that emotions cloud judgment and reduce creativity.

My Note: Not Fully True
Trevis Tradberry says that paying attention to our emotions is the best way to make critical decisions.

And negotiation expert Christopher Voss says in Never Split the Difference that taking emotions out of negotiations has been the biggest mistake in decades of bad negotiation.

Lilly Ling says that a bawse knows when to have tunnel vision and only focus on your goal, without emotions getting in the way.

I agree more when she proposes instead to ask yourself: does this emotion help you move towards your goal? If yes, embrace it, if not, put it away.

Own Your Mistakes

Lilly Lingh says that mistakes are cool and a great way to learn.

The bawse approaches mistakes in this way:

  1. Takes ownership
  2. Call yourself out (answer to your inner bawse before your boss)
  3. Come up with a solution (specific)
  4. Apologize openly (says you’re a responsible adult)

The examples Lilly gives are really really good from a communication perspective.

Take the Stairs

The author invites the reader to choose hard work and dedication over looking for the shortcuts.

It’s exhausting taking the stairs, but it’s the only way to build a solid business.

And you can really be proud of yourself like a bawse, because you did. Not luck, not circumstances, not outside help or shortcuts.

Opportunities for Success Are Infinite

When you take the stairs, you don’t need to rely on a single big shot.

There are no big shots that you can’t miss indeed.

If you build your career or gamble your fortunes on a single shot, you are not working properly.

In Lilly’s words:

If one opportunity will make or break your success, your idea of success is not solid to begin with

Awesome, I couldn’t agree more.

Don’t Use Social Media

Lilly echoes something that a few authors also said about social media (Mark Manson, Brene Brown).

And that’s that social media is basically fake and designed to showcase only the best of the best that people do.

But that “best of the best” is not real life and only serves to make us feel bad.

Leverage Your Pain

Lilly Singh says that sometimes she replies to the question “what are you most grateful for in your life” with “depression”.

Lilly started making YouTube videos in 2010 to make herself laugh and get out of depression.

All of her success, she says, is the result of taking that pain and turning it into something positive.

It’s a great concept.

It is exactly what we talked about in leveraging your pain and failure and something I’m not too unfamiliar with myself.

Drop the Entitlement Mindset

We live in a world that panders to our egos and tells us repeatedly how great we are.

And that makes us naturally feel entitled to success.

Without having to earn it.

Bawses don’t feel entitled to success but feel empowered by the challenge to earn it.

Lilly believes that believing in a great bawse is a great way to stay grounded (ie.: fate or God).

And also, remind yourself that wherever new place you go, your past accomplishments mean little (indeed, read social status relativity and the small pond syndrome).

Read more:

Don’t Get Easily Validated

Easy validation can get to your head, says Lilly Singh.

These days it’s everywhere, and it’s easy to start feeling validated for the completely wrong things and for what we haven’t really earned.

Lilly says instead that a bawse only feels validated if:

  • Contributes to society
  • Accomplishes goals

How to Behave Like a Bawse

Being this a website on social skills and social dynamics, I particularly enjoyed her social tips and found them to be very good:

  • Smile for a reason
  • Listen to understand
  • Don’t reply with empty platitudes: mean what you say
  • Live in the moment: be present

Again Lilly has some very good examples on meaning what you say.

Only Talk About Positive Things

Talking and commenting on negative things only multiplies and increases negativity in your life. It’s a vicious circle.

And it’s especially bad if you do it on VIP gossip.

Commit instead to only commenting and talking about positive things.

how to be a bawse book cover


Some of the many great quotes in the book include:

  • Well I do have a million dollars and it hasn’t changed anything. Money is the result of what I do, not the reason I do
  • Taking ownership of a mistake is like attending class: it’s the only way you’ll learn from it. Not admitting is like skipping class and wasting your tuition.
  • Make every struggle count and remember that experience will always be a silver lining”
  • When you are climbing the ladder, the heaviest piece of clothing you wear is your pride
  • If you’re going to do it, do it the best you possibly can
  • Words can lie. Actions can lie too. Consistency speaks the truth
  • Fitness is not about big muscles and hours at the gym… Is to allow your body to keep up with your hustles

Real-Life Applications

  • If You Must Get Validation, Make It Achievement-Based

I really liked the chapter on ego and validation. It’s something I stress a lot in Antifragile Ego and Ultimate Power.

I prefer to reward the process, but Lilly’s concept of validation from achievements instead of praise is certainly a step forward anyway.

  • Build Up Self Control With Small Decisions

Self-control is a like a muscle that increases over time.

You can help yourself exercise that muscle by choosing to control smaller daily actions and rituals.

For example the author decided to never swear, and that helped her increase self-control.

  • What Would Your Future Self Thank You For Doing Today?

To overcome the fear of missing out Lilly recommends this great question to ask yourself.

Once you know the answer, you know what you gotta do.


  • Emotions Cloud Judgement and Reduce Creativity… Not

The author says you need to put aside emotions because they impair your critical judgment and even your creativity.

She says that’s what science says, then jokingly says it’s not true. And then adds that if science said anything about it, it would confirm her point of view.

Basically she has no research but feels entitled to give scientific background to her personal stance.

That’s not an approach I can approve of.

And indeed her point of view is likely wrong.

  • Refences to Her Gender and Skin As “Pretty Awesome” Is “Pretty Weak”

It’s just a small blemish, but I found her line of “my sex and skin color are pretty awesome” to be quite weak, even if delivered as a joke.

  • Bit Self-Centered

The book flirts with “me, me, me” narcissism.

I couldn’t help but not notice that the book is dedicated to the author herself -“to the person she was 6 years ago”.

And when she lists the reasons why you might be listening to the book she says “or maybe you’ve never heard of me, and that’s completely fine”.

  • Relationship Advice From Someone Who’s Never Been Into One?

The author gives some tidbits of relationship advice. However, she herself says she’s never been in a relationship.


  • Some Truly Good Quotes

We like good quotes here, and there are really a ton of great ones.

  • Deep Topics With Irony

It’s not easy to mix some of the deep topics mentioned in How to be a Bowse with lots of ironies. But Lilly does it well.

  • Some Quite Funny Lines

Albeit Lilly’s irony does not exactly matches my type of irony, she has plenty of great lines for every taste.

Some examples:

  • Honesty is the new black
  • Yes, when I take a break from my YouTube videos, I watch YouTube videos. Hashtag reasons I’m single
  • Oh, I didn’t see you there bawse… Said no one ever

Not bad :).

Update: I watched a few of her videos and some of skits are so good that I even re-watched them. She’s good. And she’s also a great role if you want to learn nonverbal communication.

  • Irony Without Cussing

I remember a great line from Eminem “Will Smith don’t cuss to sell records. Well I do, so fuck him, and fuck you too”.

Lol that was terribly funny I thought. However, I respect people who can achieve the same results -or even better- without the cussing. Which, in a way, is a bit of a shortcut.

Props to Lilly for achieving that.

She walks the talk on the stairs thing.

  • Great Audiobook Voice!

Lilly wanted to be an actor, she says.

And it shows.

Her voice tonality, melody and excursion are great (maybe a bit too over the top sometimes but again, that’s her style).

It really makes the book go fast (but don’t go too fast because there is a lot of deep material that does require some good introspection to fully grasp).


How to be a Bawse is both entertaining and informative as it effectively mixes autobiography with humor, motivation and solid self-development tips.

I read a lot of self-help books made by people who achieved a certain fanbase and then decided to add “author” to their own titles.

Those books are rather poor and extremely thin.

Honestly, I was expecting something similar from How to be a Bawse.

I was terribly wrong.

How to be a Bawse has great content.

The delivery, starting from the title and all the celebs’ references and jokes, is not my style (albeit several lines are quite funny).

But How to be a Bawse condenses a few of the most critical best lessons of the whole self-help literature.

And Lilly Singh successfully manages to marry great (and serious) content with her own style. Hot to be a Bawse, the final result, is a book that will both appeal to her audience and deliver life-changing content.

Whether the readers will be able to sieve through the jokes to get the life-changing content is another question, but Lilly did her part by putting it out there.

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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