Today's modern woman has come a long way she no longer has to sound or act like a man to get ahead in the workplace but females still occupy only eight percent of the top-level jobs in major companies, according to Fortune magazine. Unconscious behaviors are keeping women from breaking the glass ceiling, says Lois Frankel, a corporate coach for hundreds of women and men. Her new book, Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office (Warner, $19.95, 288 pages, ISBN 0446531324), is a must-have for all women with CEO aspirations. Frankel shows women how to "quit bein' a girl" by exposing 101 mistakes that sabotage their careers. She breaks down the behaviors into seven categories, including How You Sound, How You Look and How You Play the Game. Some of the mistakes are not revolutionary (speaking softly, needing to be liked, having the wrong hairstyle, etc.) but each one is illustrated with real-world examples and coaching tips that have worked for Frankel's clients. Women are urged to start with a quick self-assessment test, then focus on the two areas that need the most improvement. Frankel is direct and honest yet supportive as she zeroes in on the unconscious girl behaviors that keep women from reaching the top.

Girls just starting out on their quest for success should pick up Wildly Sophisticated (Perigee, $15.95, 272 pages, ISBN 0399529470), by Nicole Williams. The hip author who created the "Drinks After Work" networking phenomenon recommends that gals pinpoint their passion, choose a great boss and learn to deal with relationships of all kinds (she even covers how to date at work). The funny "Career Confessions" from real women are a special treat in a book best enjoyed while wearing Manolos and sipping a Cosmo.

Being your own boss Entrepreneurs Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio have written the insightful book they wished they could have read when starting their own PR agency in 2000. The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business (HarperResource, $21.95, 256 pages, ISBN 0060521570) will hold your hand through every stage of starting a successful business.

The authors address the unique challenges that women face (finding female role models, balancing family and work, being a boss without being a bitch), and the "scary stuff" like insurance, incorporation and technology. Fortunately these savvy business owners don't advise doing it all on your own, and their tips on hiring a lawyer, accountant and bookkeeper are essential.

The authors' enthusiasm is infectious and they give a list of chick flicks (Baby Boom, Sliding Doors) and CDs (Aretha Franklin, Madonna) to provide more inspiration. The Q&As with other female entrepreneurs offer another been-there-learn-from-me perspective.

For more seasoned advice, turn to four business pros who founded Eight Wings Enterprises LLC, an angel investment company. After watching ambitious women suffer start-up pitfalls time and again, they decided to put their knowledge on paper. The result is The Old Girls' Network (Basic, $24.95, 224 pages, ISBN 073820806X), a wise book that shows women how to create an elevator pitch and warns against the five things never to say to an investor. The real gold mine is the appendix "tool kit" which is full of detailed templates, quizzes and references.

Good Business Eschewing rambling preliminaries, Roger Lowenstein jumps right into the spellbinding story of the bubble that burst in Origins of the Crash. The author of Buffett and When Genius Failed vividly explains the rise and fall of the 1990s stock market in plain, easy to understand language (finally, someone explains why stock options are evil!). But Lowenstein delivers more than just a history recitation. He delves into the culture that helped shape these events to explain how the myriad attempts at corporate governance failed so spectacularly. Looking ahead, Lowenstein predicts more bubbles and crashes, saying that "Wall Street may be incapable of reform." This fascinating analysis may reveal more about the future than Wall Street would like to admit.


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