Helping More Women Get Into Leadership Roles With Cary Broussard, Founder of From Cinderella to CEO
Note: This piece was originally published on May 20, 2019 on another site of mine. It has since been transitioned to Medium as I transition away from the site.
Intuitively, many of us know the power stories hold over how we live our lives every single day. We may not think about it or recognize it on a daily basis, but one of the best ways we learn is through stories.
So when we heard of Cary Broussard, a founder who created a platform using fairytales to help women climb the corporate ladder into leadership roles, we knew she would be a great source of inspiration for female founders and business leaders alike.
I have always believed you can change the world from your desk and fairy tales are filled with universal truths that anyone can fall back on for guidance when the going gets rough.
Cary Broussard, Founder of From Cinderella to CEO
Cary Broussard started the From Cinderella to CEO movement almost by mistake. It started with a book and has turned into a platform where women can prop each other up and recognize amazing women.
So, without further ado…
Read her inspiring journey in the full interview below:
Ashley Hoffman (AH): So, tell me about From Cinderella to CEO. What is it?
Cary Broussard (CB): It all started with writing my book, From Cinderella to CEO, and has grown into a movement to identify and recognize phenomenal women with powerful stories. The book uses lessons found in ten classic fairy tales (and in my career) to help women navigate the corporate ladder. I wanted to update and republish it for today’s woman and quickly realized there was space to make it larger than just a book.
I created a platform for an awards recognition of these amazing women called the Cinderella to CEO Awards and we will have our inaugural ceremony in August. This is a place to lift others up in magical ways. I like to think of it as collecting modern-day fairy tales.
AH: What inspired the idea?
CB: Fairy tales convey basic human truths that never change. They speak to our souls at any age. I tried to meld the business parables and wisdom found in these thousand-year-old stories with purpose-driven leadership concepts.
I have always had an unrelenting — and many would say unrealistic — passion to change the world for the better through my work. I have always believed you can change the world from your desk and fairy tales are filled with universal truths that anyone can fall back on for guidance when the going gets rough. If I bring a little magic to those changing the world for the better then I’ll be successful.
AH: What has your experience been like building it from the ground up?
CB: It has been slow and steady piecing together all of the things that need to be in place to execute something this large. Each day, my team and I learn new things about how to improve and make this something that every woman strives to be a part of.
Snow White taught us that there is strength in numbers and I’ve surrounded myself with an amazing team of people that is passionate about elevating others. It has been so fun to work with my longtime friends and supporters to recognize and empower all of the incredible women we know and continue to find stories of those we don’t know yet.
AH: What were you doing before Cinderella to CEO?
CB: I have had a 30-year career in communications and marketing. I have owned two public relations firms, worked on Capitol Hill, led communication efforts for Wyndham Hotels, launched the coveted Gracie Awards and authored Cinderella to CEO. After seeing the book published in 10 different languages, I realized this was more than a working woman’s fairytale and began to see a movement.
AH: What has been one of your biggest struggles so far?
One executive used to refer to me as “The VP of skirts.”
CB: While at Wyndham, I launched Women on their Way, the first ever hospitality program to listen to female business travelers. It is now the longest running women’s program in the hospitality industry and has won multiple awards, but it came with quite a few battles.
I was met with doubters, some who laughed and criticized me along the way, and I had to dig deep to power through to make sure I brought what I believed into life. Every step forward came with two steps back. One executive used to refer to me as “The VP of skirts.”
On the other hand, I had phenomenal mentors, who literally, magically, supported me from the beginning. They gave me strength and confidence in myself to keep going until we accomplished what we set out to do.
AH: What’s your vision for Cinderella to CEO and where do you see it in 5 years? How do you plan on getting there?
CB: My vision for Cinderella to CEO is that it becomes the ultimate mark for women in their career journey, the same way that an Oscar is the ultimate mark for an actor. I plan on getting there by continuing to use the lessons I’ve learned in fairy tales, especially Rely on my Team (Snow White), Ignore the Haters (Cinderella), and Keep going until you can get through the thorns (Sleeping Beauty).
AH: What is your biggest learning point so far?
CB: I’m continuing to learn each day. My biggest learning in this journey has been that I can’t do it all by myself. I’ve had to take my own advice from my book, find the experts and the supporters, and work together to make something great.
AH: What’s your #1 piece of advice for fellow female entrepreneurs?
CB: That is almost as hard as choosing my favorite fairy tale! Though if I had to choose just one, it comes from our friend Cinderella, Picture Yourself at the Palace. Create vision boards, set goals, map out your career and take it one day at a time. I’ll let a fellow girl boss I know sum that up in a quote:
“A visionary can see how the story ends before the book is written.” — Linda Clemons, CEO of Sisterpreneur
AH: In one sentence, how does a woman go from Cinderella to CEO?
CB: Raise your expectations. And then EXCEED them.