Life & Businessmusic

Boss Up: 10 Songs to Motivate Your Business

by Grace Bonney

There’s no denying the power of music. The right song can make us laugh, cry, jump up and down and, most importantly, has the ability to change our mood and get us in the right frame of mind. One of the most challenging things about running your own business and being your own boss is that there’s no one there to get you up and going and pull you out of a funk when you need it. But that’s where music comes in.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been leaning hard on some amazing songs by talented women who run their own creative shows of one type or another. Their power ballads, anthems, and calls to action and self-confidence have helped me get through a few rough spots and left me not only smiling, but powering through important work moments — and singing at the top of my lungs while I’m at it. And if you can’t sing out loud in your own (home) office, where can you? I guarantee you these 10 songs will remind you how strong, smart, powerful and talented you are. Who couldn’t use that little pick-me-up every now and then? So, in the words of Lizzo (above, with Caroline Smith), let’s boss up and change our lives. xo, grace

*Each song’s video is embedded after the jump, so if you need your pick-me-up right now, plug in your headphones and GO! And share your favorite songs in the comment section below — I could always use some great songs to add to my work playlist.


Song: “Good as Hell” by Lizzo, from the Barbershop: The Next Cut Soundtrack

I cannot stop listening to Lizzo lately. She is not only an amazing singer and songwriter, but she sings about the sort of self-love and empowerment that I find gets me through the toughest spots, both personally and professionally. This song is on major repeat in my car these days.

Song: “Let em Say” by Lizzo and Caroline Smith. (Proceeds from this song benefit the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota)

These two women basically follow me around in my car and home stereo 24/7 right now: Lizzo and Caroline Smith. Frequent collaborators and all-around amazing women, this duet is pretty much my go-to when I need to let negative energy roll off my back. I think all of us working on the Internet know the importance of the message, “Let em say what they’re gonna say…”

Song: “Confident” by Demi Lovato

This spring I majorly fell in love with Demi Lovato’s power anthem. Yep, we run these shows and there’s nothing wrong with being confident. Thank you for the reminder, Demi.

Song: “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill.

I wanted to be Kathleen Hannah’s best friend growing up. So did (and we all still do) most 90s-era Riot Grrrl’s. She was one of a small handful of women that inspired my new book — and she’s in it! To all women running their own businesses: you’re ALL the queen of the neighborhood.

Song: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin

Sure, this song is about a guy, but in my head it applies to all sorts of job contacts and people on the other end of frustrating emails and phone calls. I have a feeling Queen Aretha would be okay with women applying this general message to all areas of our lives, guys not required.

Song: “Flawless” by Beyoncé

For me (and for all of us, right?), it’s impossible to have a list of motivating songs without at least one (or 10) songs by Beyoncé. I chose this one because of the sample of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s reading. That alone made me love this song immediately.

Song: “Bad Girls” by M.I.A

When this song first came out I felt really torn about the imagery and read a lot of writing about it. For me, the song always toughens me up a bit when I need it and seeing a video dedicated to women doing (admittedly unsafe, I know) flashy stunt driving in a country where they’re not legally allowed to drive sends a powerful message.

Song: “Hard” by Rihanna ft. Jeezy

The only thing that surpasses the rate at which Rihanna’s tattoo collection grows is her talent. I could listen to her all day. “Brilliant, resilient, fan mail from 27 million.”

Song: “Diva” by Beyoncé

I don’t have a tour rider like Beyoncé, but I do have experience being called difficult because I ask for what I really want when it comes to business and work. Women are called all sorts of pejorative terms to undermine their drive, determination, strength and confidence. I love songs that reclaim words and make them feel like a mark of power, not weakness.

Song: “Bossy” by Kelis

Yep, let’s reclaim this word, too. There’s nothing wrong with being a boss, being boss-like or taking control. You have everything you need to run your business inside you — don’t be afraid to embrace and own that decisiveness and strength.

*Bonus 11th Song: “Powerful” sung by Alicia Keys and Jussie Smollett

I love Empire. This song was my favorite from last season and it was inspired by and dedicated to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Its title is spot-on. What an amazing and motivating message.

Suggested For You


  • And “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree:
    Listen as your day unfolds
    Challenge what the future holds
    Try and keep your head up to the sky
    Others, they may cause you tears
    Go ahead, release your fears
    Stand up and be counted
    Don’t be afraid to cry
    You gotta be You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold
    You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard
    you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
    you gotta be cool, you gotta be calm
    you gotta stay together
    All I know, all I know, love will save the day.

  • These are great! I’m also into Andra Day’s Rise Up and Bird Set Free by Sia. Thanks for these songs- I’m downloading the ones I don’t have.

  • How about “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree:
    Listen as your day unfolds
    Challenge what the future holds
    Try and keep your head up to the sky
    Lovers, they may ’cause you tears
    Go ahead release your fears
    Stand up and be counted
    Don’t be ashamed to cry

    You gotta be
    You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
    You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
    You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
    All I know, all I know, love will save the day

  • These are so fantastic- thank you SO much! Would love to see more playlists in the future!

  • Phenomenal Woman – Laura Mvula
    The video gets me all fired up at the beginning of a work day!

  • Love this list and LOVE that you featured Lizzo not once but twice! She and Caroline Smith are such a power duo, as well as being fierce as h*ll in their solo works. For more Lizzo love, check out Grrrl Party which is her recent hip-hop collaboration.