‘The First, The Few, The Only’ sets women up for corporate success

Meshal Muhammad

In “The First, the Few, the Only,” Deepa Purushothaman explores how women of color can “redefine power” in the corporate setting in a way that works for them rather than the way it has worked against them for so long.

Purushothaman shared her own story as a successful woman of color in American corporations alongside other women’s stories in different stages of their career, from going from entry level workers to C-level executives. She also sprinkles invaluable advice on how to better connect with oneself and create an enjoyable life.

Although she wrote a fairly short book, the Purushothaman managed to address many of the fears women of color have about starting careers in a practical and structured way.

Several anecdotes that stood out included Purushothaman’s Lyme disease diagnosis, how her sister created a school for women in India and how Reshma Saujani created non-profit organization Girls Who Code after seeing a lack of women in the coding sphere.

Purushothaman doesn’t aim to confine all women of color into a box and allows for expression, which is a refreshing take on women’s role in the corporate world and in society.

Midway through the book, Purushothaman shares a list of six questions which can be helpful in navigating and processing one’s emotions. These questions ask the reader to re-examine situations from what they were expecting to what led them to believe certain things in their career.

She also provides women a safe space to explore their views on their career and where they want to take it moving  forward.

A topic the book covers well is that of women’s health and how stress and anxiety can culminate into physical symptoms such as fatigue, body pains and migraines.

The book’s biggest takeaway is to show oneself compassion and surround oneself with a community of supportive women at different stages of their professional and personal lives who can support and advise when needed.

Women who want inspirational stories and those who want resources and tips to cultivate confidence and redefine power for themselves on their own terms can  benefit from reading this book.

Listening to the audioversion of the book allows for better absorption. The stories of women mentioned and experiences of the author come to life when hearing it through the author’s own voice.