Career Advice

Inspiring Advice from Women CEOs

National Women’s History Month may be coming to an end, but honoring, celebrating, and supporting our fellow women in business is something we should do daily. After all, the hard work and dedication today’s female leaders put into everything they do doesn’t cease with the changing of the months.

To help you on your own entrepreneurial journey, here are four pieces of advice from some of today’s most successful women in business:

Be the best version of yourself

Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle, a company that has taken the fitness world by storm with its specialized exercise classes, believes success is found when you become the best version of yourself and when you empower others to do the same:

Founded by two female entrepreneurs, SoulCycle is an incredibly entrepreneurial, team-driven and development-focused culture. In our studios, we empower our riders to become the best version of themselves and we want the same for our employees. Our teams create our one-of-a-kind experience and their hard work has a direct impact on our mission of bringing joy to exercise.

We believe that great ideas can come from any part of the company and empower our people to think big, find solutions and drive results — we want our teams to have an impact. Soul leaders are successful when they help others achieve success first. That may be with a rider, another employee, or someone else within the company. We’re a ‘culture of yes’ and strive to meet every challenge from a place of positivity, together.

Have an ‘opt in’ attitude

It’s normal to feel like you might have hit a dead end in your career path, but as Abby Johnson, CEO of multinational financial services corporation Fidelity, suggests, the trick is to make the necessary U-turn and get back on track:

I can’t overemphasize how important it is for women to have an ‘opt in’ attitude. Everyone experiences what I would call ‘career downturns’ when they might feel their careers have gotten off track. But women need to be particularly careful these downturns don’t turn into career ‘wrong turns.’

That’s why women should research potential employers to make sure they are invested in career development and progression, which means having programs in place to offer mentoring and training. It is also important to select a firm that is intellectually curious and can grow with you and evolve your skill set. Clearly I feel that Fidelity is that kind of firm.

Don’t rely on talent alone

In today’s unrelenting sea of talent all boasting the same skills and qualifications, the only way to stand out and succeed is to work hard and with passion. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, puts it this way:

The best advice I ever received came from my parents, who encouraged me to work hard and pursue my early love of math. This was great advice for two reasons. First, it led me to do something I really loved.

In my experience, in work and in life, there are lots of smart, talented people out there. But talent alone is never enough. One of the things that distinguish those who truly make a difference is passion and hard work. There is truth in the expression that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. And the passion that drives hard work comes from doing something you really love.

The second reason this was great advice is that it steered me toward a career in engineering at a time when few women were pursuing work in science, technology, engineering or math — fields that, collectively, we now call STEM.

Support the next generation of female leaders

As a female leader herself, Pam Nicholson, CEO of Enterprise Holdings knows that to support the next generation of female leaders, we have to create equal and ample opportunities for women to progress in their careers:

We at Enterprise are committed to ensuring that all of our operations and every level of our organization reflect the communities where we live and work. That includes equal and ample opportunities for women to build their careers. And we have specific strategies to ensure we’re reaching into all communities and groups — including women — to find the best and brightest candidates.

From striving to be your best to always pushing forward to working hard and empowering others to do the same, these are the traits of a successful female leader.

What are some other pieces of advice for female leaders? Share in the comments below!