New Book Release Co-Authored by Andersen Alumnus Lara Hodgson LEVEL UP: Rise Above the Hidden Forces Holding Your Business Back

Authored by: Lara Hodgson, Andersen Alumnus currently President & CEO NOW Corp.

A refreshing must-read for any individual navigating a critical turning point: when you either level up or give up.

Described as “a business book that reads like a thriller,” the raw and real stories and the lessons in LEVEL UP, are relevant in all areas of a person’s personal and professional life. For example, Stacey and I are different on almost every axis from political ideology to personality traits. These differences, they are our SUPERPOWER. In a world that is increasingly polarizing, we explain how to avoid the tribalism that separates us and instead leverage differences to drive innovation and progress.

It's never been easier to start a business—and it's never been harder to scale one. As we come through the pandemic more businesses than ever are being started. Yet, at the same time, we are experiencing an entrepreneurial crisis in the US, because most of these “new businesses” are really jobs that will never scale to hire another person. Stacey and I want to help today’s entrepreneurs beat the odds by revealing the unseen tethers that keep small businesses from growing and thriving.

In LEVEL UP, we share intense behind-the-scenes stories of building our own businesses, as well as actionable, get-it-done, and often contrarian principles for individuals looking to propel their ventures and their careers forward. This is straight talk from the trenches on real issues like curating partnerships through both success and failure, hiring, identifying a revenue strategy, recognizing when growth is a trap, managing cash flow, and more.

Stacey and I also highlight the experiences and the incredible personal stories of resilience and grit of other successful founders including Sarah Blakely of Spanx, Alisa Clark of Glory Professional Services, Sheila Jordan of Knowledge Architects, and more.

Each chapter ends with simple, yet profound “Level Up Lessons” such as Hire patience & Hire Patiently, Cash is King but Flow is Queen, Your Network is your Net Worth and More businesses Grow out of Business than Go out of Business.

According to Dylan Schleicher of Porchlight, “One of the things I love most about LEVEL UP, is its conversational tone. You never feel talked down to, but like you’re learning alongside them. On every step of the entrepreneurial journey, there are decisions to be made. They have been there/done that, and their insights can help you at whatever stage you’re currently in. Whether you are comfortable being a solopreneur whose business is tied to your efforts alone or want to be able to “make money while you sleep” by growing it beyond yourself, from when VC might be helpful to when it might prove to be a hindrance, or knowing how to negotiate when you're dealing with much larger companies, there is a wealth of experience here to tap into.

But perhaps the greatest lesson of all is in the partnership the two have formed. It reinforces one of their mantras throughout the book: that business is personal.

When you enter into an agreement with anyone, you bring your whole self, not just your “business” self. The weight of your word has to mean something. Without integrity, you have nothing.

Their partnership doesn’t look like a natural match on paper. Hodgson was once a political appointee of a Republican Georgia governor. Abrams ran for governor of the state as a Democrat. It could have been a political minefield, but the transparency, openness, and honesty they practice both in the wider world and in the relationship, they have with each other has made it work. Their political ideologies do not align, but their values and work ethic do, which is an example that I think all of us can learn from. Being open and honest with each other also led Abrams to eventually tender her resignation at Now when her political work meant she couldn’t devote the time needed of her to the company—and to coming back as a member of an advisory board for Now Network, a new initiative that aims to help connect corporate and government buyers with small and more diverse businesses. The example of how they do business with others is instructive, but the example of how they have built businesses together is truly inspiring.”

We received a rare and coveted starred review from Kirkus who said: “A fresh take on entrepreneurial endeavors and a love letter to small businesses everywhere... Abrams and her business partner, Hodgson, blend their personal narratives with hard facts and lessons to create an easily digestible how-to for running a business.... The authors could have easily taken the safe route by simply sharing the story of how one thing led to another with their businesses or providing a straightforward, chronological account of their success . Instead, they dig deeper and offer candid exploration of nearly every aspect of their businesses, including good, bad, and occasionally devastating outcomes. Throughout, the authors open up in an appealing way, owning up to their mistakes, and they directly address many currently accepted principles that work against small-business owners... A book packed with insight and inspiration from two successful entrepreneurs."

Booklist writes, “This outstanding book from multihyphenate Abrams and business partner Hodgson is essential reading for every current and potential small-business owner ... Abrams and Hodgson strike a perfect balance in addressing both the abstract and practical aspects of small-business ownership. This brilliantly written, deeply insightful look at small-business ownership is a must-have for public and academic libraries.”

Publishers Weekly raves, “Enormously validating and backed up by easy-to-implement tips. Small business owners who feel lost in the trenches should give this a look.”

We wrote this book because we believe that there has never been a more critical time for diverse people to come together and drive prosperity for our economy and our communities. Small businesses are the engine of our economy and have the power to bring our communities back together. Join us as we talk with one another, not at one another. The book shares a link to our website at Join us!