Here at Like A Boss Girls, we spend a lot of time talking to and thinking about successful women. What makes a successful woman? For starters, the ability to emerge from a childhood and life experience, no matter how difficult or troublesome, and accomplish big things. She has drive. She uses intuition, and persistence. And as a result, she realizes her dreams.
How each woman got from point A to point B may vary, yet their indelible spirit to succeed serves to motivate women everywhere. To help inspire the Boss Girl in you, we’re sharing our list of 15 highly successful women, along with their own words of wisdom. Read on for the 411—and some of the best advice—from some of the most influential and successful women in the world.
OPTIMISM: Marsha Petrie Sue
Marsha Petrie Sue heralds optimism as an author and professional speaker for her company Communicating Results, Inc. Since beginning her motivational speaking and business coaching enterprise in 1992, she has emerged as an unstoppable force. Her message is simple yet effective: A woman with a positive attitude is better suited to reach her business goals. Optimism is contagious; it empowers women and acts as a powerful motivator to those around them.
COURAGE: Elizabeth Cady Stanton
As a leader of the late 19th century women’s rights movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton intimately understands courage. She bravely and boldly promoted unpopular concepts of her time and is remembered today as an empowering activist. Elizabeth advises women to exercise courage in all areas of their lives, even as they move into unknown areas of their lives. Women who own or manage a business must be bold and fearless when it comes to decision-making.
CONFIDENCE: Gail Devers
Gail Devers is a three-time track and field US Olympic champion. Though Olympic athletes are self-motivators and confident by nature, Gail has shown particular strength. In the peak of her career, she fully recovered from the debilitating complications of Graves’ disease and thyroid hormone replacement therapy and went on to win silver for 100m hurdles at the 1991 World Championships. Her advice on confidence speaks volumes for women to pursue their dreams despite tremendous obstacles.
AUTHENTICITY: Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel founded the ubiquitous French fashion house, Chanel. In the 1920s she introduced a liberating fashion sense for the post-World War I woman. Binding corsets were replaced by a sporty-chic design aesthetic with elegant sensibilities. The 2011 book, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman immortalizes the myriad of advice she gave to women to be true to themselves and to look great while doing it.
INSPIRATION: Lauren Conrad
Lauren Conrad came on top as a role model after navigating through the relatively unchartered territory of reality television in the early 2000s. As a teenager, she was thrust into the spotlight in the reality series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and then on The Hills at the age of 20. At the time, she was widely recognized to be among the first people in reality television to use their reality-TV fame as a stepping stone for a larger career. She graduated from fashion school and then set on a path to becoming a savvy business mogul; she launched a fashion label and beauty line, becoming a best-selling author, and more. She inspires women to build brands and think bigger.
PASSION: Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was a dynamic woman with seemingly boundless creativity. This civil rights activist, who worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, experienced a traumatic childhood in the 1930s, yet she found her solace through creative expression. Writing poetry, dancing, singing, and documenting memoirs gave her the ability to communicate her experience and connect with the community at large. Her series of autobiographies made the world to fall in love with her and her resilient spirit. Even posthumously, Ms. Angelou inspires women to love life and live it with unbridled enthusiasm.
KNOWLEDGE: Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai became a Pakistani activist for female education in 2009 at the young age of 11. She spoke out against the Taliban prohibiting girls to attend school in Swat Valley, Pakistan, while writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC. After a documentary was made and she gained world-wide recognition, a Taliban gunman shot her three times; she managed to make a full recovery. She continued to promote education for girls in her unstable country, where war, child labor, and child trafficking keep a great number of them from getting the education they deserve. Malala inspires women everywhere to fight for an education, which is pretty powerful stuff.
INTUITION: Gisele Bündchen
Gisele Bündchen rose to success in the ‘90s as one of the first Brazilian models to emerge on the international fashion scene as a supermodel. She has been the highest paid model for more than a decade and, in 2014, she was named among the top 100 most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Gisele attributes her success to following her intuition, in which she listens to her “inner-voice” and encourages other women to do the same.
TRUST: Jessica Jackley
Jessica Jackley earned an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and went on to co-found two highly-successful microloan companies, which empower startups through crowdfunding and philanthropy. To achieve this level of success, Jessica has trusted in her team to help advance the goals of her businesses. A secret to her success? Jessica advises women to complete the most important tasks, and then delegate the rest.
MENTOR: Kirsten Gillibrand
After Hillary Clinton was appointed Secretary of State, Kirsten Gillibrand filled Clinton’s vacant New York Senate seat in 2009. Kirsten continued to remain in office after winning the 2012 Senatorial election by a large margin. Before becoming a Senator, she served in the New York House of Representatives as a progressive voice within a conservative congressional district. During her youth, she found a role model and mentor in her grandmother, Dorothea Noonan (founder of Albany Democratic Women’s Club who remained in office from 1942 to 1983). Kirsten’s grandmother played a formidable part in helping Kirsten to realize her own political career aspirations, showing the power of mentorship in forming confident leaders.
ACCOUNTABILITY: Barbara Jordan
Barbara Jordan was an African American woman who broke racial and gender barriers and enjoyed a 12-year political career which endured until 1967. She served in both the Texas Senate and House of Representatives, blazing her own trail along the way. Her achievements include being the first African American to represent Texas in Congress. As a leader of the Civil Rights movement, she drew upon her first-hand experience with segregation throughout childhood and college. She fearlessly and boldly spoke out for truth, equality, and accountability. Barbara had the ability to see through the injustices of her time and urge those in power to truly make a difference by leading with a spirit of transparency and humility. Women like Barbara inspire us to speak out against injustices.
ENERGY: Dr. Joyce Brothers
Dr. Joyce Brothers made the topic of psychology popular long before Drs. Oz, Phil or Laura ever came along. In newspaper columns and as a television personality, she saturated every late 20th century media outlet with her words of wisdom. Her syndicated, daily newspaper advice column lasted from 1960 to 2013, until her death. She also wrote a plethora of books on topics ranging from marriage to building memory. In her work, Dr. Brothers not only understood people and their behaviors, she became very savvy at managing her own busy and productive life. In doing so, she established her secret to having more energy: rest. She encouraged women to resist the urge to do more when under pressure and give themselves mini-breaks throughout the day for greater productivity.
GENEROSITY: Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush was the first lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993. Her sons George W. Bush and Jeb Bush also achieved political success as President and Governor, respectively. Barbara understands what it means to gracefully serve in the public eye; She gives with a spirit of empathy and generosity, not begrudgingly.
PERSISTENCE: Helen Keller
Helen Keller lost both her hearing and sight at 18 months old after enduring a high fever for three days due to an illness in 1882. At age five, Helen’s mother hired Anne Sullivan to help Helen to move past the limitations of her overwhelming disabilities. Despite the distractions of Helen’s severe tantrums, Anne persisted in teaching Helen to spell with her fingers. After a definitive breakthrough, Helen finally made the association of feeling the movement of water over her hand with Anne’s finger spelling of “w-a-t-e-r”; her learning grew exponentially as she began to understand the world around her one object at a time. Her limitations didn’t keep her from going on to get a college degree, and inspiring the world around her and many generations to come. The memory of her life and experience compels us all to push through any obstacle and, despite odds or misfortune, understand that no goal is impossible to achieve.
FULFILLMENT: Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey started her career as a teen, co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19 and then snagging the position of daytime talk show host in Chicago. Her ability to emotionally engage the audience in a thoughtful and intelligent way allowed the show’s ratings to rocket to first place … and the rest is history. The Oprah Winfrey Show aired nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011 as the highest-rated program of its type in history. But she didn’t stop there. Oprah create her own media company and television network. And she has encouraged viewers along the way, prompting them to chase their dreams without hesitation.
Greatness resides within every woman. Make it your life’s goal to nurture each aspect of your character and become the woman you are meant to be. If any area of your life needs to be awakened, then awaken it. If you can add more confidence, persistence, or intuition to your life, then do so without hesitation. Improving yourself is a journey and the potential for success rides in tandem with your ability to be mentally and emotionally prepared for it. As you begin to reach new levels of success, make sure that your mind and attitude rise to higher levels as well. Also remember that you are not on your own. Create a dream team by partnering with others who complement your character traits. You and the team you surround yourself with have the ability to shine like the bright stars that you are and influence the world in ways that have not yet been seen.
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