Learn from 23 successful women's steps (and missteps) to success.
"Just try it, what's the worst that can happen? You won't like it and then you try something else?" Those words are still fresh in my mind, even though they were said to me more than a dozen years ago. It was the night before I started an internship at a local television station in Albany, NY, and that was my mom's response after I exclaimed to her, "But I don't even like the news!" I'm grateful I listened, because after I completed that internship, I spent four amazing years honing my journalism skills at that very station.
Now, as a published author, television correspondent, and stylist, I am giving out my own career advice to the many students and young women I speak to at various college classes and appearances. Something I always tell them? Always carry flats in your bag and check the bad attitude at the door. The point is that while you may not have walked in another woman's shoes, you can still learn from her steps (or missteps).
We reached out to 23 successful women from all walks of life and chosen career paths and asked them to share the best career advice they've ever received.
"To not be afraid to ask for help! A lot of people think independence is a sign of success, but no one in a position of power got there without the support and help of others, so don't be afraid to ask for advice and help as needed." –Alexis Wolfer, Founder of The Beauty Bean
"Trust my gut instinct. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't." —Emily Liebert, Author of Facebook Fairytales: Modern-Day Miracles to Inspire the Human Spirit
"My best advice was given to me by a former editor who attended the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech in 2005. She shared something poignant that he said in his speech: ‘You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.'" —Alison Kornberg-Walch, Founder of MrsGuided.com
"A homeless man in front of New York's famed Plaza Hotel once jokingly told me he makes more money begging for change than he would working at a McDonalds. He suggested I spend a day volunteering for the Coalition for the Homeless to see what it's really like to be homeless, so I did! Meeting that man and then spending that day helping the homeless led to an entire career helping homeless people, children, and animals. No dollar amount in the world can replace the beauty in helping those less fortunate. To this day, that funny bum in front of The Plaza is forever in my memory!" —Wendy Diamond, TV Personality and Founder of Animal Fair Media and Lucky Diamond Productions, Inc.
"Remember the 5 P's… Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!" —Dr. Alyssa Dweck, OB/GYN and Author of) V is For Vagina: Your A to Z Guide to Periods, Piercings, Pleasures, and So Much More
"Two pieces of advice ring true to me—remember that failure is a comma, not a period, and always make sure you take advice from someone who's going in the same direction you want to go in." —Audra Lowe, TV Host
"My mother's father, known as Papa Cecil, was a walking dispenser of aphorisms. Whenever I told him about a goal or desire, he would launch into a monologue that inevitably led to, ‘Make a blueprint. Alter it as necessary.' This simple advice continues to resonate, because it forces you to think critically and strategically before embarking on something." —Polly Blitzer, Founder of BeautyBlitz.com
"Give up your credit cards and work for everything you want!" —Shareen Mitchell, Owner of Shareen Vintage and Star of Planet Green's Dresscue Me
"To figure out my passion, and then find a way to make a living from it!" —Jen Abrams, Celebrity Stylist
"In life, we are juggling several balls, some of them are rubber and can bounce back if we drop them, and some of them are glass and will break. This lesson is from my mother, who to me is my work/life guru. We are always juggling in life, and even with the most experienced jugglers, the more balls you add, the harder this feat becomes. Without a doubt you will drop a ball from time to time." —Sabina Ptacin, Serial entrepreneur, Co-founder and Chief Excitement Officer of PRENEUR
"When I first launched Over 40 Females, someone told me to stay true to my original vision for the company no matter what business matters or details got in the way. That would help me stay focused on what the company is about and in what direction we are heading. It's easy to get side-tracked and listen to everyone else's advice, but when you go back to your true self and the dream you first had when you started, you will always figure out the right way to go." —Judy Goss, Founder of Over40Females.com
"Someone advised me to read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I read it at least once a year as a reminder on how to have effective professional (and personal) relationships." —Melanie Notkin, Founder and Best-Selling Author, Savvy Auntie
"Take time to hire your staff, vet them well, and make sure that you hire individuals who are much better at what they are expected to do then you are. Then, give them freedom to perform." —Ellen Lewis, Founder and Publisher of Lingerie Briefs
"Always be early for a meeting. Ninety percent of success is showing up ON TIME!" —Jill Zarin, TV Personality and Entrepreneur, Skweez Couture by Jill Zarin
"My Freshman college professor always said 'You've got to have a plan'. No matter what you're doing or goal you're aiming for, there needs to be a clear definition of what you want and the steps you should take to get there, while being able to clearly analyze yourself at various benchmarks from a long- and short-term perspective. This stuck with me because it's applicable to anything you're working on, and it's the first thing I do when I'm embarking on a project." —Kimmie Smith, Editor in Chief of Kitten Lounge, Designer, and Spokesperson
"Keep it moving! My former boss used to say this when I screwed up, couldn't figure something out, or made excuses and asked ridiculous questions that she found annoying. It bothered me so much at the time, but now I've realized that all she was trying to teach me was to not sweat the small stuff and figure things out on your own instead of relying on answers from others. This lesson made me a strong, independent, no-nonsense business owner that has been known for accomplishing even the toughest feats." —Gwen Wunderlich, Publicist and President of Wunderlich, Inc.
"Do what you love and love what you do. I'm addicted to my job and couldn't be happier with it. I think it shows!" —Julie Wax, Blogger, I Heart Heels
"Don't waste your energy on telling people how smart or capable you are, show them. Fly under the radar and never let them see you coming." —Jen Groover, Entrepreneur, Author of What if and Why not?, TV Personality, and Motivational Speaker
"My mom told me to forget about money, title, and fame. The most important thing to consider when choosing a career path or making a job decision is, 'Will you be happy?' As long as you're happy, everything else will fall into place. After 10 years of being in the media industry, I'm certain she's totally right." —Ysolt Usigan, Site Director at XO Group
"I combined three of my greatest role models' advice—my mom, my dad, and Michael Jordan—and put my own spin on it to apply it to my life and career. Jordan said ‘if you do the work, you get rewarded.' My mom said ‘you must work out everyday, no excuses,' and my dad said ‘just show up.' I've found all three to be true!" —Lisa Avellino, Owner of Susan Marlowe Fitness in Scarsdale, NY and Creator of Iso-Towel Weight Loss Workout DVD Series
"Dress for the job you want, not the job you have!" —Jeannine Morris, Founder and Blogger of BeautySweetSpot.com
"My father once said that nobody does it alone and to take pride in everything you do! Be a team player! As an entrepreneur, I never give up; I always continue my education, and am willing to take on the challenge of learning." —Cherie Corso, Founder of G2 Organics
"We've all had plenty of career advice over the years… some good, some bad, and some really bad, but this thought has worked rather consistently for me: Set your bar high and strive to exceed it." —Pamela Gill Alabaster, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs, L'Oréal USA