28 women at the top of their games share their secrets to kicking butt!
Coco Chanel once said, “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” This piece of advice from one of the world’s most famous fashion designers (among other tidbits) is as inspirational today as it was when she launched her first perfume in the 1920s.
Recently, when groundbreaking Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown passed away at age 90, it was clear her legacy would live on in her many pieces of printed advice. Among her controversial admonitions? “Marriage is insurance for the worst years of your life. Save the ‘best’ for when you're single.”
While Chanel and Brown were pioneering career women in their day, now there's no shortage of inspirational females at the top of their fields—and there's plenty they can teach us. Whether they’ve spent years climbing the corporate ladder, helming a major fashion house or magazine, or building a billion-dollar brand, these powerful 28 women learned the ropes of their chosen profession, raised families, and mastered the art of balance. Here's the best advice you can take from them.
Chief Operating Officer of Facebook; 10th Most Powerful Woman in the World (Forbes); age 42
"I've cried at work. I've told people I've cried at work. And it's been reported in the press that 'Sheryl Sandberg cried on Mark Zuckerberg's shoulder,' which is not exactly what happened. I talk about my hopes and fears and ask people about theirs. I try to be myself—honest about my strengths and weaknesses—and I encourage others to do the same. It is all professional and it is all personal, all at the very same time."
American Author, Publisher, and Businesswoman, and Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years
"Cosmo was all about getting somewhere from nowhere. If you could start as un-prepossessing, nothingburger, mouseburger, as me and get along just by doing the best you could, then wasn't that a good idea to try?"
Chairman and CEO of RBS Citizens Financial Group; Head of RBS Americas; age 56
"I know many women just like me who have high-stress jobs that include lots of travel. I have always found it important to take time for yourself to relax and stay fit. My favorite stress reliever is to take a long, brisk morning walk through the neighborhood with my dog, Pablo. It's enjoyable and a good workout."
President and Founder of Yummie Tummie; Star of Bravo’s Real Housewives of NYC; age 42
"Embrace your flaws as much as your features. You are a full package and no one sees just one part. At the end of the day, if you can't love what you consider to be your flaws, then you have to make an effort to change them."
Founder and Owner of Completely Bare Hi Tech Spa; age 47
"Strive to be the best you can be. If you participate in a charity, then don't just donate. Get involved and spend time with those who need it most. Internal motivation is key, because if you're not pushing yourself, who will? Also, embrace change. Most fear it, but it's a beautiful thing. When I was working at IBM in my early 20s, I was making great money and exceeding all my sales goals. But I had a gut feeling that I could do so much more and provide a service to change women's lives. With big risks come greater rewards and the chance to make a difference."
President and CEO of Lebenthal & Company; age 48
"Ask and she shall receive! Women often find it hard to ask for things, whether it's a business opportunity or a salary raise. We simply expect others to recognize our value and hard work. Asking for what you want in a gracious, thoughtful way often results in getting what you want, so put your fears aside and ask for what you want. You might just get it!"
Executive Vice President and COO of Ginnie Mae (Government National Mortgage Association); age 59
"The wisest advice I ever got was to build my career on what I want, not what others want for me. This means acknowledging that while you may not be the best at something, you can still reach your goals if you possess the passion and drive. That also means taking care of yourself. Exercising and maintaining a healthy diet are essential to helping manage the stresses of a high-profile position."
Founder of Millionaires Club International; Advice Columnist for www.PattiKnows.com; Star of Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker; age 51
"The secret to being a successful woman in today's market is to walk to the beat of your own drum, listen to your intuition, and always follow through. If you plan on taking on a partner, follow the three C's rule, which also applies to finding a mate: communication, compatibility, and chemistry...for without that, your venture won't succeed."
CEO of The Pampered Chef, Ltd.; age 51
"Find your passion and a mission you believe in. When you feel like you make a difference in people's lives, it becomes so much more than a job. For example, I know family mealtimes are vitally important. So it is very motivating to lead an organization focused on that."
CEO of ZENO GROUP, an award-winning PR firm with six offices in the U.S.; age 48
"Early on, I was told, 'Never say no' and to seize every opportunity. That advice has served me well. Take advantage of all opportunities and step out of your comfort zone. And my mother's advice: 'God gave you a mouth. Use it.'"
CMO of Foxwoods ® Resort Casino; age 47
"The key to balancing work and family is to be present and focus on what is in front of you—be it a conversation with your kids or husband or working on a business case. Don't feel guilty about enjoying your work—your kids are getting a great role model in shaping their future happiness."
Founder of Mightybell and Co-founder/Former CEO of Ning; age 40
"Success in business is passion combined with fearless execution. The most successful people I know focus on the things they can control and perfect the details."
Celebrity Attorney; Founder and Managing Partner of the Bloom Firm; Legal Analyst for Avvo.com; bestselling author of Think and Swagger, age 50
"The best advice I can give can be summed up in one word: Read. Don't be one of the 80 percent of people who didn't read a book last year. Reading is mental fitness. It is a workout for your brain. You just cannot get enough intelligent information without a steady diet of written articles, commentary, and most importantly, books. Readers do better in school, earn more money, are better citizens, have happier personal lives, and are more actively engaged in the world around us. Books get our minds out there, into the world of ideas, and where our brains go, our bodies follow."
Founder of LuxMobile Group; age 34
"Ignore people who say no to what you feel in your heart is a great idea. The worst that can happen is it doesn't work, but you will have achieved the success of simply trying."
Founder and CEO of Dirrty Records; age 32
"My advice is to use your stumbling block as a stepping stone. Take your most challenging assignment by the balls and control it."
CEO of HydroPeptide; age 33
"I tell others that no matter what obstacles you faced growing up, with discipline and a positive attitude, you can create the life of your dreams. I came from a very poor background and worked 70 hours a week as a full-time college student, and now I am a happily married mother of two, marathon runner, and CEO of my own skincare line."
Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs of L’Oréal USA; age 51
"Continuous learning leads to continuous improvement. Commit yourself to advancing your knowledge, skills, and expertise. The business environment is quickly changing, and your understanding of the leading practices, thinking, and emerging tools will help you manage for better results. Be a lifelong student."
Executive Vice President of Feld Entertainment, Inc.; age 32
"Always follow up to build relationships. Send a note or an email after meeting someone new, and remember details like if someone just got married, if they have children, moved recently, etc. People like to be congratulated on life events and asked about their family, so it is a great way to connect with people and make yourself more memorable."
CEO and Founder of The Warrior Group Construction; age 44
"As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I often get asked about how I deal with that issue. I respond that the barriers for women in business are much less today than even 10 years ago. And even if being a woman in your business sector may be an issue to some potential customers, don't let it be one to you. In business, you set the tone by being a competent professional, so you establish yourself as someone qualified to get the job done and let that speak for itself. I truly believe women are natural leaders and entrepreneurs. So grow your business based on your skill sets and your brain! As women, we have a lot of both!"
CEO of s.h.a.p.e.s. Brow Bar; age 35
"Always look at the big picture. I started as one small beauty shop in Chicago and now have more than 65 locations around the world. I took things slow and evaluated the market. Set reasonable goals each month to stay on track, and in the end, you will become that much closer to reaching your dreams."
Chief Diversity Officer of PricewaterhouseCoopers; age 43
"Cultivate a network of trusted mentors and colleagues. Other people can give us the best insight into ourselves—and our own limitations. We must have the courage to ask for help and to request feedback to expand our vision of what's possible. Self-promotion is rarely easy, but it is critical to success. We can't assume that the people around us understand our talents or know what we're capable of achieving."
CEO/Founder of AVA the Elephant Brand (as seen on Shark Tank); age 32
"Running an international company, fighting cancer, and raising a child can consume your every second! It was crucial to me that my diet did not suffer; after all, I have learned that the proper diet can prevent my cancer from coming back. I decided I would need to get six servings of fruits and vegetables in one meal, first thing in the morning! I use a single-cup blender and blend: 1 banana, 2 cups of spinach, 2 cups of kale, blueberries, strawberries, carrot juice, flax seeds, organic whey protein, and almonds. It tastes delicious and I love knowing my day started with so many nutrients and antioxidants!"
President of Tequila Avión; age 39
"As one of the few female executives in the spirits industry, I've learned to not worry about making mistakes—everyone makes them! Women are all perfectionists and find it hard to leave certain things in the past, but it's best to just learn from it and move on!"
Connection Director of LinkedIn; age 41
"Part of the way people transition their careers is by keeping a vast network of professionals at their disposal. Networking is something women should be doing anywhere and everywhere and all day long, from the dog park to the line at Starbucks. If you have a point of commonality, there's the opportunity to connect. Something as simple as, "What's your dog's name?" can lead to a mentor or the job offer you've been dreaming of. No time to go to networking events? Get on LinkedIn and join industry groups and start a discussion and keep that conversation going. You never know what type of business relationships can stem from these types of exchanges."
Founder of DivaLysscious Moms, The Premiere Lifestyle Company for Moms; age 38
"To be a 'woman at the top,' mental and physical health are both crucial to success; I always make sure to give myself a set amount of time a day to do what I feel my body needs, whether that be taking a spin class, meditating alone in my apartment, or treating myself to an extremely healthy meal at one of NYC's many health-food stores. A woman can only get to and stay at the top of whatever she does if she listens to her body and stays as healthy as she can!"
Olympic Swimmer; CEO and President of Olympian Performance, Inc.; age 38
"Get clear on what truly motivates you. Be true to who you really are, and realize you are okay just as you are. Dream big and stay committed to what you love to do as you realize your true potential and positively impact the world."
Chief Political Correspondent and Anchor of State of the Union with Candy Crowley; age 63
"Whatever you do, be so good they can't ignore you."
Photo credit: CNN / Edward M. Pio Roda
"My best advice for being happy and healthy is to pick an occupation that you absolutely love. Nothing makes you happier than thinking work is where you go for fun. My other best advice is to find a partner who is your best friend and who will be with you in good times and bad. And although this may seem old-fashioned...having kids is the greatest joy!"