50+ Inspiring Quotes by Women About Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Leadership, and Technology

To celebrate Women’s History Month, I invited dozens of inspiring women to write something about creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, technology, or whatever came to mind. Here are their inspiring quotes!

— LBB

One of the most important things I have learned is that businesses don’t fail, entrepreneurs give up. Now sometimes, giving up is the right decision. But usually you just need to dig in and figure out how to make things better. Remember: Every day is a new opportunity to get up and do it better than yesterday!

— Adda Birnir, founder and instructor, Skill Crush

Strive every day to work with brands and people you believe in, in industries you’re passionate about. When you do that, you’ll be more creative, more driven, more innovative.

— Alannah Sandehl, chief innovation officer and founder, I Imagine Studio

Build something you’re passionate about. As an entrepreneur, you have to have the passion and drive to stay the course.

— Alexandra Chong, CEO and founder, Lulu

Take any challenge as a creative opportunity.

— Alexandra Watkins, writer, copywriter, founder of EatMyWords.com

I’ve learned that time is my most valuable resource. How I spend it, where I spend it, and who I spend it with is the key to making me feel whole as a leader, parent, creative partner, and friend.

— Andrea Jacobs, director of growth, Spoon University

Treating people with kindness and respect seems elementary but is not always reciprocated. I often run into people who tell me a story about how I impacted their life — most often by an act of kindness that they never forgot.

— April Uchitel, chief brand officer, Spring

There is no recipe, there is no one way to do things — there is only your way. And if you can recognize that in yourself and accept and appreciate that in others, you can make magic.

— Ara Katz, chief marketing officer, Spring

I know society says you should be a certain way, but I think [you should] stop and look at what is your natural way of being who you are.

— Ari Horie, founder, Women’s StartUp Lab

Entrepreneurship is a word for, “I don’t want to work for anyone else,” or “my vision doesn’t fit anywhere else.” As a label or an identity, it doesn’t excite me. As a lifestyle, I can’t imagine another way.

Caits Meissner, poet, storyteller, and arts educator

A few years ago I was exhausted, burned out and felt like I had nothing more to give or dream up. So I stopped. I gave myself a big break. I worked out. I slept a lot. I ate well. I took classes that had nothing to do with my career. And I woke up. Within a year I was back — with bigger dreams — and more realistic expectations for how I would create and live them.

— Carissa Reiniger, owner, Silver Lining Limited

I grew the most as the CEO of my company when I realized the very significant and clear distinction between being a leader and a manager. Leadership is about inspiring people and taking them on a journey. Management is about ensuring the train stays on the rails and everyone gets to the desired end result. Neither of these are just natural abilities. Both leadership and management are skills. Both can be learned — and great people know how to and when to lead and how to and when to manage.

— Carissa Reiniger, owner, Silver Lining Limited

I’m hugely passionate about small businesses. They’re usually not raising millions or selling for billions. And they’re definitely not being featured in magazines or having movies made about them. But they’re generating revenue, not just eyeballs. And they’re the actual backbone of our global economy. The next time you think about entrepreneurs — forget Zuckerberg and Jobs — and look at the guy who owns your local bakery, your accounting firm or your doctor’s office.

— Carissa Reiniger, owner, Silver Lining Limited

Everyone has creativity within them. It’s just a matter of unlocking that creativity

— Christina Canters, founder and CEO, The C Method

Creativity is an ongoing process. When I first started in my role, I found a quote in a magazine that resonated with me. It said “Use your imagination.” I cut it out and taped it on my computer monitor. Sixteen years have passed and I am still reminded daily that the success of our company is founded on being open and receptive to creativity and the inevitability of change.

— Cyndie Martini, president and CEO, Member Access Pacific

Career choice and progression doesn’t have to fit into the standard societal mold. Do what you love and want to do. Find what you’re good at, what you can sell or provide that is unique to you and go for it.

— Dana Donofree, owner, AnaOno

Through my business ventures, TechSpace and WorkHouse, I’ve probably housed over 1,000 start-ups over the years. I’ve seen great ideas fail and so-so ideas succeed. . . . I believe that the best ideas and execution come from [people] who become entrepreneurs because they believe they can solve a problem, fix a broken process, build a better mousetrap, sell you something you’ve never seen before or knew you needed. These entrepreneurs [are] passionate about their company, product, invention. The other kind of “entrepreneur” [are] business people, not true entrepreneurs. These sorts are the ones who say, “What can I think of to do, make, sell that can make me rich?”

— Debra Larsen, founder of WorkHouse NYC and TechSpace

Technology is simply a tool supporting human brilliance.

— Gail S. Ayers, CEO, Commercial Real Estate Women Network

Entrepreneurs fail most often by not understanding the four-letter word W-O-R-K.

— Gail S. Ayers, CEO, Commercial Real Estate Women Network

We need to be vigilant in our struggle to lift up those who have been left behind.

— Gail Linsenbard, writer, educator

The best way to leapfrog in your career is to get advice from someone who’s done what you’re trying to accomplish. It helps clear all the doubt.

— Heather Anne Carson, Founder, Onboardly

It’s up to us to all challenge our own boundaries, our own comfort zones, and get out and see what else is out there in the world and what else is possible, and give ourselves a shot to go a little bit deeper, a little bit further.

— Jennifer Kushell, founder, Your Success Now

Business isn’t personal. When [a product launch] doesn’t go as well as you want, it’s not like, “This is a referendum on me and my whole ability to be an entrepreneur.” It’s saying, “Hey! Maybe you need to beef up your copywriting skills or your marketing skills.” . . . When things don’t go the way that I’m planning, I think it’s a great time to look at skills gaps.

— Jenny Blake, Coach, author, speaker, Life After College and The Pivot Method

Seeing what is wrong and how it could be made right propels us into action, but in that action we often leave other people behind and don’t give ourselves enough time to be present, or to stop and reflect. Leaders have to get comfortable with pausing in that uncomfortable gap.

— Jessica Lawrence, CEO, Meetup

Building an average team is exponentially worse than building a stellar team.

— JJ Ramberg, founder, Goodshop

One thing I know to be true: What we did yesterday won’t get us through tomorrow. Leaders need to be forward-thinking, dynamic and insightful to drive value and deliver a competitive advantage.

— Kate Barton, vice chairwoman of tax services, EY

Entrepreneurs stand out from the rest of the pack because they are not afraid to take big risks and they aim to please no one except the people who truly matter.

— Kathryn Finney, CEO, Digital Undivided

By having the courage to take the first step into rooms, circles, and conversations where you may feel like you don’t belong, you also open the door for others to contribute their diverse perspectives, creating more meaningful, collaborative solutions for today and beyond.

— Kim Vu, vice president, Local Market Delivery, Bank of America

Our fear of the unknown and our fear of making mistakes trick us into focusing on what we don’t know or can’t do. When we give ourselves the freedom to be uncertain and less than perfect, then we can start thinking, “What do I know? What can I do?” That’s when the adventure starts — learning, thriving, conquering, failing, recouping, and having a ton of fun.

— Kristin Smith, CEO, Code Fellows

Life is a series of building, testing, changing and iterating.

— Lauren Mosenthal, chief technology officer, Glassbreakers

The last 1% of effort is what sets you apart from everyone else who stopped at 99%.

— Lina Chen, co-founder, Nix Hydra

Creativity and invention are the mother’s milk of success for the future.

— Lisa Picard, executive vice president, Skanska

There are a few good reasons why you should quit your job and move on. First, you’ve come up with an idea that you’re insanely passionate about. Second, you’re tired of building someone else’s dream. Third, you’ve got the relentless perseverance and dedication to bring your idea to life. Entrepreneurship is being on a mission where nothing can stop you. It’ll take twice as long as you’d hoped, cost exceedingly more than you’d ever budgeted and will be more challenging than anything you’ll ever try. But if you give it your all and refuse to give up, you can trust it will be the ride of a lifetime.

— Lori Cheek, CEO and founder, Cheekd

Where do you rank on the wisdom scale in your field? Don’t fall prey to the self-sabotage thinking that you don’t have any insights. If you simply have a pulse on how business moves in your industry, that counts. If you have made your own conclusions about trends, you are an expert.

— Marisa Santoro, founder, In Our Shoes

In interviews with some of our most accomplished Women Presidents’ Organization members, I often ask what the key ingredient is in their success strategy. As entrepreneurs, they consistently indicate that the long-term success of their organization depends on their ability to develop new ideas.

— Marsha Firestone, president, Women Presidents’ Organization

Even the most successful founders had feelings of doubts, fear or even of throwing everything out the window. They weren’t born successful entrepreneurs, they worked their butts off to get where they are today. And we can too.

— Mathilde Collin, CEO and co-founder, Front

When you’re working on a stressful project, it’s easy to get lost in your own goals, needs and aspirations. But taking a step back and viewing your shared challenge from the perspective of every member of the constituent map, I’ve found, is essential to succeeding as a team. This approach has enabled me to negotiate better with clients, resolve conflicts among employees, and over-deliver on results.

— Megan Cunningham, founder and CEO, Magnet Media

The visionary part of leadership involves painting a clear view of the future you want to realize vs the present reality we’re all living in. . . . You need to be able to make your business case that it’s achievable and have outside data points to support your position — but it also involves telling a captivating story.

— Megan Cunningham, founder and CEO, Magnet Media

Oftentimes, we hesitate to lead because we don’t have the actual “title” or the “official responsibilities” to lead. But in many cases, no one is going to give you permission to lead — you just have to take it.

— Melinda Chung, director of product marketing, GoDaddy

Leadership is knowing when to lean on others and let them step up and shine.

— Michelle Peluso, CEO, Gilt

I base my work around my dreaming and playing and exploring. We’ve been so conditioned to think that work is a four-letter word. . . . When you are a grownup, it’s also about staying true to the values and priorities you had when you were younger.

— Michelle Ward, career coach, When I Grow Up Coach

Creativity is born of the desperate, immutable, hopeless and untenable need to understand humanity, the world, and its machinations.

— Naomi Ladizinsky, co-founder, Nix Hydra

Collaboration is the cornerstone for producing game-changing innovation in all sectors — public, private, non-profit, academia — and the community at large.

— Patrice Tanaka, Chief Counselor and Creative Strategist, Padilla CRT

Confidence in your ability is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

— Rachel Blumenthal, CEO, Crickets Circle

Leaders who are respected build the best, most loyal teams. But for me to be valued by my team, I must first apply respect to all of my working relationships, regardless of status or company standing. [On a sweltering day, an intern] proposed that we send ice cream trucks to the offices of our valued clients. At that moment, it didn’t matter to me that she was fresh out of college. What mattered was that she had a brilliant nugget of thought that needed to be actualized. If I had doubted her, or marginalized her intelligence for a moment, we might have not gone ahead with that project. . . . Instead, I made certain that we went through with her idea, and the results were fantastic.

— Rebecca Mahony, chief marketing officer, Teads.tv

The best minds come from those who read, listen and nurture their intellectual health. Never quit on your interests or hobbies, as they’ll inspire you to think beyond the darkened lines. Never let the “strictly business” side of your job depress or distract you from the multitude of colorful parts. Creativity and learning are inherently tethered to one another.

— Rebecca Mahony, hief marketing officer, Teads.tv

I’ve heard feedback that I’m too aggressive and should make myself more approachable. Take this style feedback with a grain of salt. Don’t let other people’s opinions of how they think you should act keep you from being effective. Don’t be afraid to be strong.

— Sara Mauskopf, product management, Postmates

Observers consider squash a fast game. But, players know that it’s often a game of patience, that waiting that extra nanosecond to hit the ball is the difference between a game-winning shot and and an ordinary one. The same is true of becoming an entrepreneur: It’s important that you give yourself the time to understand what you’re solving, so that when your product hits the market it’s set up to be a winner.

— Sehreen Noor Ali, co-founder, EdTechWomen

I can’t overemphasize how important sound judgment, critical thinking, and initiative are in today’s workplace. Demonstrate that you possess those skills and you will find yourself leading projects and people in no time.

— Staci Zake, director of master of science in communication program, Northwestern University

I live my life by one fundamental rule: You cannot change what other people do. You can only control your own behavior. Once you accept this, you accept ultimate responsibility for your own successes or failures — and this is the true characteristic of any leader.

— Susan Ruszala, president, NetGalley

I believe that everybody has a “creative superpower” — that they’re a lawyer and a fire dancer or maybe a journalist and an amazing karaoke singer. No matter what the crowd, if I put art supplies in front of kindergarteners or businesspeople, they start to create something — and they love it. Through creative expression, there’s an awful lot of healing and greatness to be discovered in each of us.

— Tara DePorte, activist, teacher, environmentalist, Human Impacts Institute

I was once told by one of my respected mentors that, in order to be successful, one day I would have to choose: to choose between being an artist, and educator, and a scientist. I’m glad I thought that idea was nonsense. In today’s world of complexities, it is this creative, interdisciplinary experience that we need more of: people who are able to shift between fields, help communicate ideas between sectors, and to look at problem-solving from diverse angles.

Tara DePorte, activist, teacher, environmentalist, Human Impacts Institute

Credits

  • Compiled by Lee Bob Black, Yuri Jung, Josh Vall-Spinosa, Ander Frischer, Isaac Silk, Matan Ofri, and Hannah Shore.
  • Image designs by Monique Sterling.
  • Article idea by Lee Bob Black.

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