10 successful businesswomen share the secrets to their success!

A question to our female business leaders: how do you silence your critics?

Jessica Herrin, CEO and Founder of Stella and Dot: It’s the idea, not that you don’t love other people or don’t care about other people, but you have to care less about what they think of you in that moment of failure. There’s always going to be a naysayer, there’s always going to be someone to point out a mistake and that happens to me every single day.

Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen: It hurt to be told I was silly, stupid, naive, pick your adjective. But I also knew that there was great truth in what we were trying to do.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO and Founder of Bumble: People didn’t want to get on board. People didn’t want to support. People wanted to say “oh that’s silly, that’s niche, that’s never going to work, she’s just this, she’s an opportunist”–every word in the book!

Wendy Clark, Global President and CEO, DDB Worldwide: At the time it feels crushing and it feels defeating and you’re mad at the world and you’re mad at people who didn’t support you. And then, now, as I sit in front of you, I reflect and they’re sort of blips to me now. It feels like a big deal at the time, but then not.

Melanie Whelan, CEO of Soulcycle: Don’t sweat the haters, ‘cause haters gonna hate. Between social media and Glassdoor and all these things that you can read now, I think just staying focused on the long term and the vision and the mission and knowing that in my heart and in my head I am making decision that I think are right for this company and the people around me that are running it and just staying true to that.

Question two to the panel of successful businesswomen: if you could write a letter to your younger self, what advice would you give?

Dana Perino, Fox News TV Co-Host of the Five: One hundred percent do not worry your young life away. You’re going to work for the rest of your life, you cannot plan it all out. Everything is going to be ok.

Marne Levine, Chief Operating Officer at Instagram: Don’t mourn the breakups for too long. When I think about how much time I spent sitting on a friend’s couch, at a friend’s table, talking about the breakup and how sad I was… I could have read more books. I could have written a book!

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder, Ellevest: Try to hold on. That if you want to step out of the workforce, that’s clearly a personal decision, but try not to step out because you’re temporarily tired. If you can make it through that stretch, then it gets better sooner than you think it does.

Donna Karan, Fashion Designer; Creator of Donna Karan New York and DKNY: Slow down. It’s so hard because you’re not going to do it. I can’t imagine anybody would, but breathe. Enjoy it.

Drew Barrymore, Actor, Author, Director, Model, and Producer: I would say do everything exactly the same that you’re doing, because one day you’re going to be really happy you did it all this way. I just wish you didn’t have to freak out about it so much along the way, but that’s probably what’ll make you who you are, so go ahead and freak out. I’ll meet you at forty.

What do these businesswomen have in common?

These women all shared inspiring advice on how to navigate a career and feel confident as business leaders. Their advice is shaped by their backgrounds and experiences – where they come from, where they work, and the success they’ve achieved. We hope they inspire you and you can benefit from their advice!

Questions about successful businesswomen to discuss:

  • Do you think the advice offered by these women is helpful for young women looking to succeed in business?
  • Do you think these women have blind spots in their outlooks, and how do those blind spots affect the advice they give?
  • What advice would you give young women looking to succeed in business?
  • What are the most challenging and most rewarding industries for young businesswomen to work in?
  • Do you think talent or connections are more important for young women looking to succeed in business?
About the author: Larysa Hale
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