Sound Advice for a Fulfilling Life From the Top Female Leaders & Founders of 2017
Amidst the immense cultural, social and political shifts that have occurred so far this year, many of us are grasping for how to stay centered, give back, make time for what we love most, and truly thrive in our daily lives. To find the real secrets to thriving in 2017 I decided to reach out to some of the top female leaders and founders doing incredible work in the world today. Here is what they had to say about how they each thrive and how it brings them success and fulfillment in their lives.
- Robyn Ward
CEO, FounderForward | Advisor, The Female Quotient and Women Investing in Women Digital
Tame your inner critic.
We all suffer from some degree of negative self-talk. It’s human nature to hold ourselves to our highest standards and women, in particular, suffer from both perfectionist and imposter syndrome. Next time you hear that inner critic raising her voice, call her out. And then practice being as compassionate with yourself as you are with everyone else in your life.
2. Karla Ballard Williams
Co Founder and CEO, YING
A fresh state of mind.
Identify either through a visual exercise or physically take yourself first to an inspirational environment. Record yourself stating your intention and then speak your desired state of being as if it already took place. Feel into the emotions of having reached your fully balanced and joyous state of being. Listen to this recording for the next 6 weeks in a row without interruption. Smile every minute you have fully inhaling your “mentally” achieved goals knowing without a doubt the physical manifestation is right around the corner.
3. Bryn Freedman
TED Talks Curator | Anti- Slavery Activist | Co-Founder, Voices 4 Freedom Foundation
Stay in your sweet spot.
Everyone has a place where they feel they are most authentically themselves or in their element. It’s the place where your heart, gut and brain meet and don’t fight. It is the place where what you are good at meets what you aspire to. You know you are where you are supposed to be and feel you are on the path even when it’s hard. This is where you need to spend a lot of time. Whether it’s in nature, with friends, exploring new places. Go here and stay here often.
4. Nina Nashif
CEO, NextHealth Ventures
Find a “third way”.
When you reach an impasse in business or life, what’s your “Third Way?” There are a few phrases in business I hate hearing, for example, “this is great, but we didn’t budget for it this year.” As an entrepreneur, I’ve always had to be nimble and creative to spread my ideas and grow my business. My good friend calls this philosophy “The Third Way” — creating new choices rather than tradeoffs to achieve the ideal outcome.
5. Isabel Cristina Mesa
Knowing what you are passionate about and doing that is the best way to see positive results in every area of your life. Start focusing, have clear objectives and believe there are no limits to achieve what you want. If you are passionate you will attract others who share your passion and as they say — good teamwork, makes the dream work!
6. Jenna Reback
Television Writer | Podcaster
Think bigger than happiness.
Thriving isn’t always about ease, comfort or even happiness. Life is unpredictable; no matter how hard you will yourself, it’s not always possible to be happy. So free yourself from that unfair expectation. Think bigger than happiness. I thrive when I’m engaging concepts and ideals that matter to me, even if they’re not necessarily popular (progressive Zionism, anyone?). Thriving is living with meaning: identifying your values and then acting on them.
7. Sophia Parsa
Co-Founder and CEO, Toot | Founder, Mountain Gate Dinner Series
Build your own support system.
Everyone has some sort of support system but many don’t think about crafting one that guarantees personal or professional success. Last year my cofounder and I started hosting invite only dinners and intellectual conversation and today we have met 500 people in LA that we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. All 500 have reached out in some shape or form to ask how they can help. We are constantly thinking about how we can maximize each other’s success. Ups and downs are part of life and there’s no better way to get through it than with those you trust and love.
8. Sasha Kill
Founder, Outlaw Creative
Many of us fear challenges but they are actually what make us stronger human beings. It’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to reach the top of our game and reach our goals but it’s worth it. To make it, you have to commit to the journey ahead and embrace the challenge as a part of the process. Because when you go all in with the understanding that there will be setbacks and obstacles, you allow the road ahead to refine you rather than tear you down.
9. Darrah Brustein
Founder/CEO, Network Under 40
Get off your spot.
I always say that ‘you can’t see the spot on which you stand’ and the way for me to get perspective and thrive is to get off my spot by traveling! That could be to a different part of town, a new city, or country. No matter where, I’m always revived, full of new ideas, and feeling alive.
10. Laura Bolt
Editor of Sanctuary
Like many people, I survive on a steady supply of coffee and tea throughout the day. To assuage the caffeine guilt factor, I like to superpower my drinks with adaptogen powders like Reishi, Astragalus, and Ashwagandha. These herbs and mushrooms work on your adrenal glands to reduce stress, boost energy, and support the immune system (I get mine from Sun Potion). They dissolve easily, don’t affect the taste, and make me feel a lot better about going back for a third (or fourth) cup.
11. Diana Goodwin
Founder & CEO AquaMobile
It’s very easy to get caught up in our busy lives that we can sometimes feel tied to our desks. Make sure to take some time each day to spend some time outside. By taking a brief 10–15 minute walk, you can give your mind the break it needs to get things done. I like to go for a walk each day mid afternoon and it gives me a renewed energy and clarity to finish the important tasks at hand.
12. Natacha Hildebrand-Leeds
Co-Founder — Doyenne
To truly thrive you have to be brave and dive into what scares you most. My business partner and I realize that only by putting ourselves in seemingly uncomfortable situations — cold calling potential partners, sharing intimate stories of gender bias, pitching a woman’s program to a room of men — did we truly allow ourselves (and our business!) to thrive.
13. Gina Barnett
Gina Barnett, President Barnett International, Inc.
Work with less.
In the theater, during rehearsals, actors rarely have all the props they need and must work with the most rudimentary set. What do they do? They imagine, they improvise, they create. By having less to work with, they become much more inventive. Guess what? We all did this when we were kids, turned sticks into magic wands… Why does that stop when we grow up? Explore how limits actually engender creativity. In business if you embrace obstacles or limits, rather than use them as excuses to hold you back, unexpected choices emerge. Less really does lead to more.
14. Danielle Gano
Founder and CEO, Elle Communications
Listen to your gut.
We have intuition for a reason, and it helps us with the big decisions like who to do work and go through life with, and also the small ones like is that networking dinner worth a late night out before an early morning tomorrow? Steve Jobs even called intuition more powerful than intellect. Whether through a practice of spirituality, meditation, or otherwise, learning to listen to and trust your intuition will keep you on track with your vision, unaffected by bumps in the road, and at peace with your decisions.
15. Zoe Tryon
Founder of One of the Tribe | Activist | Artist
Connect with nature.
Studies have definitively shown that exposure to nature can mitigate many of the effects of stress, fatigue, depression, and overwhelm resulting from urban stressful lifestyles and ‘nature deficit’ — healing not only the mind but the body too! Get out into a park, meadow, or woods if you can, but you can also gaze at a tree from your window, or a plant on your desk to feel the effects and begin to thrive!
16. Bridget Phetasy
Journalist, Playboy Advisor
Laugh at yourself.
Life is always right. Even if you don’t agree with it. Happiness is a practice that starts with laughing at yourself. Transformation is painful, but change is where freedom truly lies. The only difference between dreams and delusions is hard work. Never give up on yourself — even when you don’t know who you are or what you’re becoming.
17. Mylene Paquin & Kayte Torreao da Costa
People will push you down. They’ll reject your ideas and make you doubt yourself. You may even fail a few times. What matters is staying true to your core values and vision, empowering women along the way. Also, don’t be afraid of pivoting your model and changing your approach to accomplish that goal. Be bold in your ventures and ensure you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
18. Kelly Gibbons
Founder, Main & Rose
Help others grow.
If you find a way to help others — you will be inspired too. I have devoted my life to advising people on how to build their personal brand, reach their goals, and be a success story! Helping others make a big impact is fulfilling and I am inspired every day to be better. If you commit yourself to helping others - you will thrive too.
19. Genevieve Fish
Founder & CEO The Know Collective
Put mental health first.
It’s tempting to drop the health maintenance routine when we are working 24/7 but doing so is a guaranteed way to reach burnout. Ive learned the hard way that I can’t run on an empty tank! Instead I prioritize working out at least 5 days a week, reading fiction-not work related content- before bed, and taking a moment every day to think about what I’m grateful for. Try to also work your schedule around your own circadian rhythm- the hours around noon and 6pm are when we are at peak alertness so that’s when I time block my most mentally engaging tasks.
20. Erin Berman
Storyteller | Founder, Blackbeard Studios
Know your story — and own it.
True alignment and balance can only come from understanding who we are, and where we are going. Everyone has a unique story shaped by the context in which they have gone through life. No one else has seen the world they way you have — and this is a gift. The way to succeed? Celebrate your story, and then share it with the world.
21. Dara Treseder
Sr. Global Head of Demand Generation, FileMaker, Inc.
Chase opportunities that create other opportunities.
Instead of pursuing money, status, or success, look for opportunities that will give you more optionality and flexibility. Life doesn’t follow a linear path. The more options you have, the more control you’ll have over the path you walk and the detours you take. Chasing opportunities makes you more attuned to your own agency, freeing you to make choices that are in your own best interest. This is where you want to be in the driver seat of your life, working with what you have to shape your destiny and who you choose to become.”
22. Jeni Britton Bauer
Founder, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Be heard & valued.
To truly thrive, we need to be heard and valued; and to be heard and valued, do your homework, and then speak up, often. Once I learned to let go of fear and the need for everyone to like me, I began speaking up and was able to hard harness my newfound power and began to thrive. I know it sounds like career advice, but for women — most of us — it’s thrive advice. It becomes especially true when you look at studies of how much more women are interrupted than men. The world often seems against ambitious women but don’t let anyone take you down.
23. Vanessa Torrivilla
Goldbely | Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer
Throughout your work day, create some time to disconnect from your hustle. Taking care of your brain and your body is just as important as pushing hard towards your goals. Listen to an audiobook on your way to a meeting, schedule a workout like you would an appointment or just go for a walk to grab a green juice and clear your head. Creating little pockets of time for yourself throughout the day can make you healthier, happier and more efficient.
24. Cynthia Johnson
Co-Founder at Ipseity Media, Speaker, and Columnist
Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.
In order to stay relevant and continuously thrive in your business, you must surround yourself with people that know more about the things that you know less about, people who think differently, and people who will challenge you when you need to be challenged. Remember that one thing you know for certain is that you do not know everything and look to others to help you grow and keep you grounded.
25. Liz Forkin Bohannon
Founder and Co-Dreamer, Seeko Designs
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Give yourself the freedom to take risks, to fail, to make mistakes, all while knowing that the vast majority of your missteps will fly under the radar or at the very worst, be remembered vaguely (and only by those who don’t understand that ALL game changers take risks and follow paths that don’t 100% lead to “success”.)
26. Ellen Huerta
CEO and Founder, Mend
Get comfortable saying “no”.
Your time is precious and you have to defend it in order to focus on what matters to you most. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but rest assured that saying “no” or turning something down (whether it’s a work dinner, an intro, or a social event) can be an act of self care. It doesn’t mean that you’re unhelpful or a jerk. If it’s just the wrong time, you can always add “Not right now, but reach out to me in ________.” Practice on things that matter to you less, and pretty soon you’ll be a pro when a more difficult decision comes your way.
27. Hope Rieser Farley
Co-Founder & CEO, Universal Human Rights Initiative
Now is the time for collaboration.
If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that we haven’t been listening to one another. Too many good ideas have echoed from a single voice to a choir of the like-minded. We have become isolated in our perspectives. But now is the time for co-authoring, co-sponsoring, partnering, and shared opportunities. Collaboration with others is crucial to achieving our personal goals. Join forces. Make your competitors your stakeholders. Seek out diverse perspectives that challenge your own and bring those voices to the table. Listen.
28. Brooke Binkowski
Managing Editor, Snopes.com
Let go of Impostor Syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is a very real issue, and while it is not exclusive to women, it can discourage many women in particular from high-profile jobs. Just remember that even if you think you aren’t worthy, other people know that you are, and so do what you are good at with all your might. Yes, there will be roadblocks and annoyances, there will be frustrations and setbacks, but you can handle them — I promise. As Margaret Atwood might say, Illegitimi non carborundum!
29. Namrata Mirpuri
Founder & Design Director of PASHA
Create a Schedule.
Staying organized and creating a schedule that includes your goals will help you take action every single day. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do too much at once. Conquer one thing at a time and create your own boundaries. You can even add time for yourself and your family to your schedule which is a key to thriving!
30. Cait Fraser & Vitina Blumenthal
Co-Founders Wander Well
Travel often and far.
Traveling teaches us more about ourselves and our strengths than any classroom can. When we travel we overcome unique challenges, experience new perspectives, and become immersed in new cultures. To really thrive we suggest scheduling a trip at least once a year. Put it on the calendar now and make it a priority to explore this incredible world.