5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Successful Women

Like many women these days, I’ve lived several professional lives by this point in my life. I’m 37 and have had a “normal,” corporate job; I’ve done the stay-at-home mom thing; and now I’m doing the work-from-home thing. But in every role I’ve held, I’ve found successful women around me. And damn it, it’s inspiring to see how each woman slays in her field.

There’s nothing like seeing a kind, hardworking woman succeed in her field. And in both television and blogging, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and hang out with women

Why Is It Important to Lift Up Other Women?

First, it’s just nice to be nice. Right? Simple as that. ūüėČ

But there’s also something to seeing a woman succeed–some extra layer of appreciation, knowing that there are typically more hurdles that a woman has to overcome to find success in her field, no matter what it is.

We face obstacles in earning equal pay; we sometimes have to mold our career around starting a family (because as much as men can do these days, making and having the babies isn’t one of them); and we also live in a world that loves to see us fight.

In fact, one might argue that the world literally pays to see us fight. It constructs entire network empires around the propensity for women to want to compete, fight, and back-stab.

That blows. Let’s not be those kinds of girls, mmmkay?

Instead, let’s get inspired by women who have proven that hard work and kindness do pay off. On that note…

Here Are a Few Badass Women Whose Careers I’m Inspired By

Emily Weiss. Starting the world’s best (and coolest) beauty blog and then, creating and selling amazing skin care and makeup products? Queen.

Hoda Kotb. Not to sound all desperate and stalky, but I met Hoda back when I was a lowly intern at NBC in New York and she was a correspondent at Dateline. Guys, I can affirmatively say she was the nicest human being within those four walls at Rockefeller Center (well, her and Ann Curry), at least from those who I encountered. She sat down with a whole group of us lowly interns and regaled us with tales of her career. She let us ask all the questions we wanted to ask. She was awesome then; she’s awesome now. And the world sees that on a daily basis. I love that she has built a career on not only being a great journalist, but also on being a kind personality–the type of person whose warmth shines through even a television screen. Major love.

Traci Rodriguez. You might not know her if you don’t live in Orlando, but I do! (And I love her.) Traci owns Sultrńď Boutique in Winter Park, Florida, and embodies drive and style.

From growing her store to a bigger, more prominent retail front location to putting out her new styles on social media daily, Traci is constantly working to evolve her brand and the store’s offering. She engages with shoppers in person and online, and always offers that one thing you don’t get when you shop big-box–the personal touch and the advice you need to pick that perfect piece.

Follow Traci and her store here!

Joanna Goddard. It would be impossible for me to put into words how very #goals this woman is to me, professionally speaking. She started a blog, Cup of Jo, that is… just… everything.

Cup of Jo has managed to hit that elusive goal of living at the crossroads of informative, entertaining, broadly appealing and community-fostering. Seriously, check out the Comments on any post and you will see that an incredible group of women chimes in every time with the most incredible advice and anecdotes. I scroll through the Comments just as much as I devour the articles.

Suneera Madhani. She upended the payment processing business and now her company, FattMerchant, processes 2 billion (yes, that’s with a “b”) dollars worth of payments.

By the way, when she originally told her bosses her plan to simplify the process, they¬†laughed¬†in¬†her¬†face. What’s that saying about karma?

(Oh, and I recorded a podcast with Suneera and it’s set to come out next week, so make sure to subscribe and stay tuned for that!)

I could go on, but you’ll see for yourself. So yes, Joanna? Call me. K? LOVE YOU BYE.

That’s just a sampling of women whose work inspires me, but there are so many more. So now? Let’s get down to the nitty gritty on these successful women…

Here’s What I Learned From Them

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Shirt (Similar) // Jeans // Sunglasses (Similar)

1 – Nothing Replaces Hard Work

Despite the mass email you get in your inbox where an entrepreneur swears she made “SIX FIGURES IN SIX MONTHS!!!”, the truth is, most businesses don’t take off like rocket ships.

Simply put, there is no replacement for good, old fashioned, hard work. If you’re a writer, that might mean forcing yourself to sit down at assigned time during the week to put down ideas until something comes out. For someone in a more traditional business field, it could take the form of networking or chasing leads. For a freelancer it might be taking time to brainstorm some new ideas.

The truth is, most everyone’s work isn’t fun or sexy most of the time. Every job requires hours of nose-to-the-grindstone work in order to have one minute of “fun.” That’s just life, and that’s just work.

Lesson:

The big dream is made up of the little moments. Put in the time, and your effort will pay off.

2 – Share Your Knowledge

I’m not saying you have to share every trade secret, or tell everyone the plan for your business, but it does pay to pay it forward.

The more you share your experience and advice with people in your field, the more you open up the conversations to see how they succeeded, to compare notes, and maybe even open up an opportunity to collaborate.

Lesson:

There is strength in community, and that starts with your willingness to share your story. Don’t be scared to share!

3 – No One Goes It Alone

I learned this after observing the careers of successful women from afar, and then getting to know some of them more personally. Badass women have teams. I personally rely on an incredible videographer and photographer to put together content for my site. I consider them my extra sets of eyes and creative collaborators who help keep my vision going.

But know this: I’m not saying this means you have to employ people or be responsible for another person’s paychecks. In some cases, your team is simply a group of supportive friends or colleagues who “get” you. They are your cheerleaders, your sounding boards, and your emotional support when you need it.

Lesson:

No man is an island, and no badass business woman is either! Ask those you trust for encouragement or advice when you need it. Or, if you’re at a stage where you can grow your business by employing others, get started and then rely on the expertise they bring to the table.

4 – Create Your Own Opportunities

Maybe no brands are asking to work with you right away. Maybe no leads are panning out for you right now. So what? Keep going. Find other paths. Your hard work and your passion will create inroads that will lead to still-unknown opportunities.

Here’s the thing: Not every opportunity is meant to work out. So when you hit a dead end, pursue something else. Put together a pitch and send it to a company you’d like to work with. Attend a conference where you can network with people in your field. Take an online course to sharpen your skills.

Lesson:

No matter what your field, there’s always an opportunity to fine-tune your skill set. Don’t sit back and wait for opportunities to come; go out and make your own.

5 – The World Needs Your Voice

You may be discouraged from trying a new venture, but think of it this way: Even though everything has already been done (and done well!), it’s never been done with your flair, from your perspective, and with your spin.

Whether you’re a creative who’s looking to break into the writing or blogging sphere, or a store owner who wants to grow your brand or reach, there is always room for more of what you are bringing to the table. Practice gratitude. Live by the theory of abundance. These glass-half-full approaches will keep you in a mindset that encourages growth, rather than comparison and competition.

Lesson:

It’s not worth your time or your sanity to compete with anyone else. There’s only one you, and there’s only one way you do things. So shine in your own way, and appreciate how other women shine in theirs.

What women or men are you inspired by? And what lessons have you learned from them? I’d love to hear more. Let’s get this conversation started!

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