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99 “Limit Breaking” Female Founders Share The Most Significant Lessons Learned from Their Experiences

By Yitzi Weiner and Cam Kashani

(Part 3 of 4) (Part One and Two Here)

2018 has begun, and pundits and opinion makers are predicting that 2018 will be the “Year of the Woman”. That of course, is yet to be seen. And we have heard this prediction before. Yet it is hard to deny that women have made enormous progress in the past few years. I partnered up with my friend Cam Kashani, a leader in empowering female founders, to profile some “limit breaking female founders” and the lessons that they can teach us.

We hope that you can find empowering and actionable words of wisdom from this third set of profiles.



Jessica Naziri, TechSesh.co, Founder and CEO

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Recently named one of INC’s 30 Inspiring Women in Tech, Jessica Naziri is the ultimate combination of geek and chic. A true multi-hyphenate in trade, Jessica is a tech and social media expert and a women empowerment powerhouse. She started her career as a technology reporter for CNBC and the LA Times and later as a tech exec at a local start-up in LA. After seeing the gender gap in technology first hand, she decided to make a difference by starting TechSesh.co, a modern woman’s destination to all things tech. Her mission is to be inclusive, to inspire, to educate, and equip girls with the tech skills and knowledge to pursue 21st century opportunities.

TechSesh.co was born out of her passion for creating a platform that celebrates incredibly dynamic females in the tech space and a mission to close the tech-creative gap and come up with development solutions that show that it is okay to be creative, fashionable and involved with the tech industry.

Jessica is also one of the most-in-demand tech personalities for her first-look technology stories and gadget round-ups, and curates videos and online content for tech brands including Dell, Moen and Wix. You can see her regularly on FOX LA, CNN, CBS, and Delta Studios where she’s brought on as a tech expert and on-air commentator. Her work has been coveted by the likes Mashable (check out her tech themed wedding), Entrepreneur, Forbes, CBS, and more.

In addition to running her business, she is teaching tech to the masses as well as in classrooms at the famed Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She is also a writer for various publications. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1) I’m okay with knowing that not everyone is going to like me, especially in a male-dominated field. When working at the start-up, I realized men don’t apologize or ask for permission, they just do it. I learned quickly to do the same. So take it from me and do yourself a favor, eliminate “I’m sorry,” “excuse me,” and “if it’s alright” from your vocabulary. You don’t need apologize for someone bumping into you, being passionate, asking for permission, raising children or saying no.

2) If your dream job doesn’t exist yet, create it. I like business & technology because my ultimate goal is to empower millennial women through technology, and show them that they can make whatever they want to make with the tech’s help.

3) Women are more empowered than ever before. We’re seeing better products catered to women as we see more diversity. Pink is not a strategy. There is no one size fits all and companies are beginning to realize that!”


Jillian Michaels — President and co-founder of Empowered Media

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Jillian Michaels is the world’s leading fitness expert, renowned nutritionist and wellness entrepreneur. With an international community of followers exceeding 100 million, Jillian’s dominance in health and wellness extends to hit television series, her award-winning My Fitness by Jillian Michaels app (recently awarded best of 2017 honors from both Apple and Google), successful fitness DVDs, a popular exercises streaming platform, 8 New York Times bestselling books, live speaking engagements, popular social media channels and a list of key business partnerships and investments. In the past decade, her company, Empowered Media, has become a monumental wellness empire dedicated to total-life solutions comprising all aspects of living well, including nutrition, fitness, self-help and overall lifestyle. From strategic partnerships and investments in Thrive Market, Greensbury Market, Lucky Jack Coffee and AquaHydrate to her athletic apparel line and healthy food line, Jillian’s brand has touched every facet of nutrition, fitness and self-help.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“My greatest learning experiences always come from failure. Hence the reason people say that “failure is the greatest teacher” or, “there are no mistakes, just opportunities for learning.” That said, I have had so many failures it is tough to pick just one, so I will pick one of the more public failiures from which to share my knowledge bombs.

This failure in particular is when my first solo TV show, Losing It, was canceled after only one season. This experience taught me the following:

1. Trust your gut. I knew there were some poor creative decisions being made by producers on the show, but I didn’t fight hard enough because I figured they are the TV experts. Who am I to say I know better? And in fact, every time I have doubted my gut it has lead to some of the worst decisions I have ever made.

2. Don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers. Not that I want you to make enemies, but in many instances, including the one referenced above, I didn’t fight hard enough for what I believed was right because I didn’t want to be labeled as difficult and get blackballed. That said, when the project doesn’t work those people often won’t work with you again anyway. No matter how “nice” or “lovely” you were. Another cliché — success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. When things go wrong, people often look to point the finger and lay blame. So it’s far better to stick to your guns. You don’t need to be rude or offensive, but you don’t take any shit either.

3. Learn to pivot. Often we get so caught up in what we think is wrong or unfair that we inhibit our own growth. In this instance, I looked at what I gained as opposed to what I lost and learned how to apply those assets to other projects in order to make them successful. For example, while the show didn’t workout, I did gain an incredible education about content creation, marketing, advertising etc. and I met many excellent people that I still work with to this day, applying all the aforementioned lessons on platforms that I now control like my fitness and meal app, which just won best of 2017 from Apple and Google. I never could have done this and many other things with out my experience on Losing it. “


Ashley Wellington-Fahey, Founder/CEO, The Relish: A Digital Sports TV Network for female fans

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

I am a rising entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, breaking the ceiling across multiple male dominated spaces: sports, venture capital and tech. My inspiration in building and launching The Relish came from my own disenfranchised experience both as a female fan and as a woman working in sports. As a mission-focused company, we seek to revolutionize the female fan experience by offering women who like or have an interest in sports both a better way to engage with them beyond the game and to have a impactful voice in this heavily male dominated space that so often treats us as secondary to men. In addition to breaking barriers for female fans and women in sports, I also see this as an opportunity to showcase the importance of implementing diversity and inclusion into the fabric of a brand and company culture from day one. Currently, The Relish is an all-female staff, employed by majority women of color and represents women of all diverse backgrounds and interests across our programming. As we enter into the next phase of our business, I am heavily focused on taking these foundational components of the business and applying them into a transformative way of approaching sports media and digital television for women.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“In my experience thus far, a few core things I have learned are first and foremost, that I am worthy of belonging in these spaces. Oftentimes as women, whether directly or indirectly, we are told from a very young age that we are either not worthy of, enough or not allowed to be in these spaces. We are often made to feel like we don’t belong in environments where men tend to take up the most space. I am oftentimes the only woman or at minimum one of just a few women, in a room filled with men. Sometimes these are men who are incredibly influential and in high positions of power. Rather than feel intimidated by that experience, I choose to be empowered by it.

The experience of starting a sports media company and brand from the ground up has been nothing short of humbling as has the experience of fundraising for it. For every moment you think you’ve got it all figured out, there is always something waiting in the wings that forces you to check the foundation you’ve built. This has taught me to be prepared for the unexpected, to never get to comfortable with any specific outcome and to take things in stride. Most of all, this entire experience continues to remind me the power of believing in yourself and working from a place of authenticity. People are drawn to genuine confidence and those who are rooted in integrity. I believe deeply that these kind of actions and mindsets are great ways to build success for the long term.


Penny Green, President, COO and Co-Founder of Glance Technologies Inc.

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Penny Green is a serial entrepreneur with over two decades of experience building successful companies. Currently, she is Co-Founder, President and COO of Glance Technologies Inc. (CSE:GET) (OTCQB:GLNNF), a leading fintech company recognized for its payment platforms and anti-fraud capabilities. More recently, Glance has gained recognition for its cryptocurrency strategy that is set to boost mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency. Penny has been instrumental in building Glance to a valuation in excess of $280,000,000 and Glance is now recognized as the #5 top valued company on the CSE25Index.

Penny has been recognized on PROFIT Magazine’s W100 list of top Canadian female entrepreneurs and was also one of five national finalists for the 2012 Royal Bank of Canada Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship. She was also selected to audition for CBC’s Dragon’s Den based on her presentation skills. Under her leadership as CEO, her company Bacchus Law Corporation was included in the PROFIT 500 Fastest Growing companies two years in a row.

Penny has deep experience in public markets as a securities lawyer in US and Canada for over a decade and has been involved in over 100 going public transactions. Penny was a Co-founder of Merus Labs Inc. (TSX:MSL, NASDAQ: MSLI-Q) with $32 million EBITA, for which Penny served as the initial officer/director for two years. Penny Green is also co-founded and CEO of Cannapay Financial Inc., a company developing technology and international brands for the Cannabis industry and which is partially owned by Glance Technologies.

Penny is recognized as a thought leader and regularly participates as an expert speaker for keynotes and panels on topics ranging from fintech to capital-raising, crowdfunding, securities law, corporate compliance, ICO’s and investor relations. Penny also regularly participates on the Business in Vancouver radio program as a technology expert.

Penny Green has been featured in the Globe and Mail, BNN, Chatelaine, Business in Vancouver, Bloomberg and more.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Never lose your cool

The stresses of building a business are many, and entrepreneurs often become passionately involved in their projects. Combine this with the fact that you have to juggle a lot of different parties: stakeholders, business partners and more. Everyone is working so hard and of course, sometimes things go wrong. It is so important to keep your cool, take a breath and listen when people are trying to help you. I use the 5 year test — if you can think about whether or not something will matter in 5 years, you can get a way better perspective, it helps you realize that so many of these ‘disasters’ are not worth so much stress.

Think big

We all start from different places, but you should not be afraid to think bigger and beyond what you might feel that you are capable of doing. Planning big from the beginning sets you up for much better results. This is especially true for Canadians such as myself — there are so many more opportunities for growth and revenue when you think on a global scale. For example, when I was licensing film content with one of my first businesses, by incorporating international territory rights we were able to increase revenue way beyond what we could have done by distributing in Canada alone.

Save time by mixing business and pleasure

My life is busy, I have three children and I am usually running at least two businesses. I think that in order to do all of that and still have a fun, well-rounded life, mixing business and pleasure is the only way to go. I do business with people who I consider to be my friends — it has resulted in such a fun, rewarding and great life.

There is no such thing as mistakes

As entrepreneurs we learn through experience. You can take as many courses as you want but you really will learn the most through experience and failure. And failure is okay as long as you are learning. Go back and try again, start over. I like to say that it takes not 100,000 hours of practice to become an expert, but 100,000 hours of mistakes to become an expert. “


Orit Shifman, CEO and Founder of OSR Enterprises AG

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Ms. Orit Shifman is the Group CEO & Chairman of the Board and founder of OSR Enterprises AG. Ms. Shifman is an entrepreneur and Attorney at Law (L.L.B & L.L.M), with additional studies in computer science & statistics- but most of all a technological autodidact. Ms. Shifman leverages her vast business experience and vision to build a bridge between cutting-edge technologies and business, merging them for practical use in the new era of mobility.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Listen to your intuition, don’t believe the naysayers.

I chose to found a company in the auto industry, and initially, people who knew this industry asked me how I could even think about competing with the big automotive Tier 1 suppliers that have had long lasting relations with the automakers. Nevertheless, I was convinced that we’re headed for a transformative era in the industry. Fortunately, I listened to my instincts and my female intuition and in 2011, against all of the naysayers, I built up a team of world leading experts in AI, cyber security and architects who believed in my vision and started to develop a solution to a problem that nobody even knew existed back then.

Be persistent in achieving your dream.

Setbacks are just stairs you need to step on to bring your idea to a higher level. Each obstacle you overcome brings you one step closer to your goal.

Diversity is extremely important in any industry.

I learned this first-hand as I made my way as a woman in two male-dominated industries (automotive and technology). It’s well known that the automotive industry is in the midst of a massive disruption. However, without new, autonomous tech-minded leaders, wider integration of women and more diverse voices and backgrounds leading that disruption, the radical thinking needed to make what can currently only be imagined into an everyday reality, won’t be a reality in the foreseeable future.

This is why I made a point when I first got started to diversify the people, mindsets and preconceptions in my company. Transforming the auto industry requires completely different thinking and completely different approaches towards product development — both of which result from a different kind of leadership.


Krystal Covington, CEO & Founder of Women of Denver

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“As a new resident of Denver, Krystal Covington found herself in a new city with no connections. Knowing that having a strong network is the #1 key to career success, she set out to build one for herself. As an off the charts introvert, she struggled to find connections while networking with other groups, so she built her own, tailoring the experience to her ideal way of meeting new people.

The Women of Denver network began in 2014 with only 5 people surrounding a coffee shop table. Today, her events happen 4–5 times per month and attract 15–30 attendees. At the group’s quarterly party they now see well over 100 in attendance.

What sets Women of Denver apart is the group’s diversity, active events calendar, and inspiring mission to help women earn their worth through education and empowerment.

Krystal says the journey to begin this group challenged her both as a leader and a business woman. “The introvert in me wanted to quit a long time ago,” Krystal said. “I had to learn to lead by finding my own style and learning to overcome my natural desire to stay in the background.”

In the early days, many people told her she wouldn’t succeed at monetizing her group. With dozens of organizations to choose from, why would anyone decide to pay for a meetup group that was initially offered for free?

Tapping into the knowledge she had gained from her MBA and years of listening to entrepreneurial podcasts, she developed a launch program and succeeded in getting a handful of members to commit to an annual membership. After that, she continued to push herself to garner new members each month, quickly reaching her first 30 members in the first 6 months.

Today, the group has become a staple of the community, attracting women from diverse fields and industries. The Women of Denver quarterly magazine launched in September 2017 and is quickly gaining a following in Denver and even in other states. “We’ve had orders from women in California, Tennessee, even a military base in the middle east,” said Krystal. “It’s so inspiring to see people embracing these stories and wanting to support us by ordering a paper copy.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

Krystal says her goal this year is to reach 3,000 members and see the magazine become a household name throughout the state of Colorado.” “From her journey, Krystal was able to garner several powerful lessons.

Well-intentioned friends can give really bad advice. “So many people would sit down and warn me that no one would pay for my group, even when I had dozens of people already paying for events and membership,” Krystal remembers. “They meant well and were trying to save me the heartache of failure, but it was simply bad advice.”

We’re capable of more than we think. I remember people coming to me and asking me how I was able to build this organization while working a full-time job. They were pretty much baffled that I could run both at the same time. Some of those people had ideas they were holding back on because they didn’t think they could work on them with a job, but I was able to show them how I did it and inspired many others to pursue goals outside their work. When you really think about it we have a lot of hours in a day, so if we use them to pursue what’s important to use we can achieve it all.

Don’t base your product on your own needs, focus on your audience instead. If I had built the group only to serve my own needs we’d still be a small operation with 5 people in a coffee shop. My members needed something more, so I built what they had in mind. My community is pretty good about telling me what they want from Women of Denver, so I try to be a good listener and execute on what I can to give them the experience they want. “


Tami Halton Pardee, Owner and Principal Broker of Halton Pardee + Partners

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Tami Halton Pardee’s expertise in Southern California real estate and entrepreneurship is unrivaled. As owner and principal broker of Halton Pardee + Partners (formerly Pardee Properties),Tami is the #1 agent in Los Angeles and the company is the #1 brokerage on the Westside. Responsible for selling over $2 billion worth of residential and commercial properties since beginning in 2005, Tami has built a new model for real estate to better serve clients.

In recognition of her work as both an entrepreneur as well as her focus on charity, Good Housekeeping presented Tami the 2016 Awesome Women Award, plus she received a nomination by the Los Angeles Business Journal for Philanthropist of the Year in 2016. Other recent recognitions include Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Los Angeles’ 500 Most Influential People” and inclusion on “Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses,” The Hollywood Reporter’s list of Top Realtors for both 2015 and 2016. Real Trends ranks Halton Pardee + Partners as the #2 Sales Team in the U.S.A.

Understanding that the buying or selling of a home is one of life’s most important life-changing decisions, Tami launched Halton Pardee + Partners with the goal of helping people have a seamless experience. Her unique business model creates a true work-family of staff employees (rather than the traditional independent contractor model), building a culture that results in continued success and a consistent ranking of #1 for sales in its region.

Although Tami has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), she continues to drive toward the values and goals that allow her to help others. Furthering Tami’s deep commitment to the community, she created the Life Change Warriors Program that empowers the transformation of lives and communities. Via active participation and significant financial contributions to local charities that have a direct impact on the lives of those in need, the Life Change Warriors Program has worked with Harvest Home, Teen Project, Homeless Task Force, Venice Community Housing Corporation, and many more to tackle the issues important to Westside residents.

Along with raising a family of 4 young children and her charity work, Tami is an active member of the Santa Monica chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization, plus is a panelist and guest speaker at many engagements throughout the year in which she strives to empower others.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Take your time in making important decisions. In the early years of Halton Pardee + Partners, I put tremendous pressure on myself to make quick decisions in order to keep up with the fast pace we constantly move at. After deciding to move into an office space that wasn’t right for the company, I learned to always trust my gut instincts and to sleep on it. That experience taught me to try not to knee jerk any big decisions, to give my mind the time it needs to reflect and to then move forward in the right direction.

2. Empower those around you. By listening to the opinions of my team, many who had been with me since the beginning, I might have gotten some insight into reasons why the office space wasn’t the right fit prior to moving in as one example. As the owner of the company, I try to remember the importance of empowering others to use their voice and to listen to what they’re saying. By honoring their individuality and supporting their decisions and thoughts, it creates a stronger environment for everyone.

3. Things will go awry so always be ready for your Plan A, B, C and even Z to ensure things keep in motion and moving forward at all times. When our office space wasn’t the right fit, we quickly changed gears and moved onto a new plan which thankfully resulted in us finding the perfect space, our home away from home. Despite the moves being a lot of work, being prepared with a strategy to handle the problem proved invaluable. I always try to remember the saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail!””


Jessica Herrin, CEO and Founder of Stella & Dot

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Jessica Herrin, Author, CEO and Founder of Stella & Dot, is a serial entrepreneur who previously co-founded WeddingChannel.com, the world’s leading wedding site.

In 2014, Jessica launched the Stella & Dot Family Brands, broadening the impact and mission to give every woman the means to style their own life. Growing beyond the flagship accessories brand of Stella & Dot (originally launched in 2007), the Family of Brands allows women to follow their personal passion to create a flexible social selling business opportunity just right for them as an Independent Business Owner. Introducing; KEEP Collective, an innovative charm concept on leather wrap bracelets, metallic bangles and necklaces exclusively sold by KEEP “Designers”; and EVER, a revolutionary, high performance skincare regimen based on a proprietary complex from an ancient botanical that delivers measurable results within 30 days, exclusively sold through“Specialists.” The Stella & Dot Family Brands expands the company’s mission to impact more women while revolutionizing the earnings opportunity for current Stella & Dot’s Stylists. With a commitment to innovation and continuous improvement of the earnings opportunity, the integrated Stella & Dot Family Brands’ product range and compensation plan is game changing.

In May 2016, Jessica released her first book: “Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms” with Crown Publishing. Jessica has been recognized for her entrepreneurial accomplishments and her passion in such national outlets as Oprah, Inc. Magazine (Stella & Dot was named one of the fastest growing private companies of the year for 2010 and 2011), Fortune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, InStyle, Glamour magazine and more. Stella & Dot was recently recognized at the 2012 Accessories Council Excellence Awards for Retail Innovation. In 2010, she created the Stella & Dot Foundation, raising over $2.5 Million to-date towards creating positive change in women’s lives through education and economic empowerment and raising awareness for Breast Cancer and Autism. She earned a degree in Economics from Stanford University and attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Winner of the 2011 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Jessica is also an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).Additional awards include 2010 Top Ten Female Entrepreneurs from Inc. Magazine, 2012 Top Ten Female CEOs from Inc.Magazine and 2012’s 40 Under 40 and Most Admired CEO lists from the San Francisco Business Times. Herrin lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family.” “I’ve learned a lot throughout my career as an entrepreneur, both when starting The Wedding Channel.com and Stella & Dot. Three lessons I have learned through the years that have made the difference:

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1: Buddy up. Even though I technically started Stella & Dot on my own, it was only a rough idea before I met the right partners to really grow with. I waited until I found the best of the best — those with the talent, mission and drive to do it well. Surround yourself with positive people who are big dreamers, not naysayers. You will fuel one another to success.

2: Obsess About Your Customer. To improve the opportunity for our 50,000 Independent Business Owners, I had to be one. So I walked 100 miles in our sales field’s shoes by hosting Trunk Shows myself for five years. I still do them to this day and always will. I’m obsessed with thrilling our Independent Business Owners and customers.

3: Stick to It. Most “overnight” success stories take years. Mine certainly did and is still evolving. Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint. So many people fail because they stop at mile two. Don’t listen to the voices saying it won’t work. It will, as long as you keep evaluating, improving and applying true effort.”


Kathy Vegh, President/CEO of Danny Vegh’s and Co-founder/CEO of My Heart Wall

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

I started my journey with receiving a BS in Political Science/ Pre-Law from Allegheny College. From there, I went straight to Law School. However, I realized in my first year that this was not my calling. Therefore, I transferred to the MBA program at the University of Baltimore. I pioneered their Entrepreneurship program within the graduate business school. After graduating, I returned home to Cleveland to take over operations for my family’s business, a retail establishment selling gameroom products in 2011. From there, I was promoted to president of the business. Under my leadership, the company experienced impressive growth. We went from one location to 5 business locations. Within the first few years, we received more than 5x sales increase. Furthermore, the business gained recognition with many awards including Best Store Design for all 4 stores that I opened and the Weatherhead 100 Fastest Growing Companies in 2005. I was so proud that my company was one of the two oldest on the list, in addition to being retail. Furthermore, we were a Top Brunswick Billiard Specialty Dealer in the US for multiple years in a row. Furthermore, I earned personal awards such as Cleveland Crain’s Business 40 under 40. I was just 29 at the time, making me the youngest person on the list. And, I was elected to be the VP of the Billiard Industry for 5 years. In a male dominated field, I was the only industry leading female to not only exist but thrive. While running this business, I gave birth to a wonderful daughter who unfortunately was born with a congenital heart disease and required multiple open heart surgeries. From this challenging personal time, my daughter and I founded a new company called My Heart Wall to help others who are in her shoes. My daughter was lucky and is doing great. However, there are many children out there who still need help. My Heart Wall creates personalized photo wallpaper to help us all celebrate our lives while also giving back. This new venture brings a whole new excitement to me that I love sharing with others.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“My original journey was filled with lessons about how challenging it is to be a young woman in a man’s world. I was and still am the only female to own a retail chain in this industry. The beginning days of my career were difficult but seem completely irrelevant after living through the challenges with my daughter. It was with these experiences, that I have taken to heart lessons not only in the business sense, but also in life. Counting down these lessons below:

3. Work Hard

This lesson might seem too general, but it is so important. You will not get where you want to be just sitting around. I worked hours upon hours ever since entering the workforce. I believed I could make a difference in the business and industry, even if men looked down on me or didn’t believe in me. I made them see what I could accomplish. I was nicknamed the “”choo choo train”” because once I get an idea, you can either jump on board with me or get plowed down. I am always on the move!

2. Know Your Consumer

Again, this is the timeless lesson of retail. It’s easier said than done. Knowing your customer isn’t something you do once. It’s a dynamic process. You need to constantly update and re-evaluate your thought process. The market is always changing. Trends are always changing. It’s up to you to lead your business in a way that will be attractive to customers. Know your target audience and get into their heads. Find out how they think and what gets them excited. It’s when you truly connect with your customers on a consistent basis that you can better market to them.

1. Don’t take everything so damn seriously. Life is too short.

This is something I learned in life. This especially hit me after my journey with my daughter. Everyone tells you that life is too short, but we always get caught up in the small things anyway. I used to become overwhelmed if a deal fell through or if an angry customer complained. But I learned through my daughter’s journey that life is precious and short and we should enjoy it while we can. We need to focus on what we’re grateful for. In the end, retail problems are not life or death. As long as we are living, we can persevere. “


Stacey Morgenstern, Co-Founder, The Health Coach Institute

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Stacey is a Master NLP Practitioner, Certified Health Coach, Certified Money Breakthrough Coach, international public speaker, author, adventure seeker and poet. In less than five years, she built two highly successful socially conscious businesses from scratch: the first as a health coach specializing in emotional eating, and the second with business partner Carey Peters in their one-of-a-kind Holistic MBA™ training program. Since joining forces in early 2010 this unconventional, sassy duo have educated and inspired more than 8,000 health and personal development coaches from 27 countries create truly sustainable money-making businesses they love while deeply serving themselves and the world.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Lesson 1: It’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey.

We’ve become such an outcome focused culture. Pushing through, staying up all night, being miserable on the road to success isn’t a healthy model. You’ve got to have fun along the road to success or you likely will burn out and then resent what it cost you to get there which means you likely won’t feel like celebrating even when you do finally cross the finish line or reach some destination that you thought would promise you happiness. Make it habit to ask yourself, how can I enjoy this 10x more right now? This applies to business, parenting, exercise, and even doing your taxes.

Lesson 2: Know your competition, then forget your competition.

Some business owners think if they just copy the competition, they’ll be successful. You might make a quick buck, or experience a flash pan win, but it won’t last. In order to be successful you’ve got to innovate what the competition is doing. Blaze your own trail. Be the pioneer. Reward your team for daring to try new things. We never reprimand for mistakes, in fact, sometimes we reward having made the effort regardless of whether it succeeded or failed. When our company first began we studied the competition closely, now we keep a casual, curious eye, but we’re much more focused on what we’re inspired by, what can we dream up, how can we create a better experience for our students? When you do study the competition look at what they are doing, and then look at what they are not doing that would make it all better.

Lesson 3: Self-care is not selfish, in fact it’s your responsibility to everyone around you.

The more you take care of you, the more inspiring and energizing you will be to everyone around you, and the more organic opportunities you will attract. When you feel your best, the more likely you are to perform at your best. Consistency is key. Most of us have a habit of letting ourselves get too busy to take care of our well-being. Having a Health Coach was the best investment I ever made for myself and my business. Someday we will consider it absurd that we ever put self-care last. Sleep, hydration, movement, and social connection are not leisurely luxuries, they are essential. What kind of world can we create when everyone has an advocate for their well-being? Healthy habits are what will allow you to give to the world and your family in the way that your soul longs to give. Since giving everyone at our company the chance to work with a Health Coach, our productivity skyrocketed, employee satisfaction soared, there’s way less burnout and conflict. People are nicer to each other. I’d love to see self-care as a primary core value in how we live and lead. “


Carey Peters, Co-Founder, Health Coach Institute

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Carey is a Certified Health Coach, a Master Certified Money, Marketing and Soul Business Coach, a Certified Money Breakthrough Coach, a Certified NLP Practitioner and a Certified Intuitive Coach.

Carey created her first 6-figure coaching business in under 10 months, and since partnering with fellow coach Stacey Morgenstern in 2010, built a multi-million dollar coaching business called Holistic MBA™ in under 2 years. Carey and Stacey have educated and inspired more than 8,000 health and personal development coaches from 27 countries create truly sustainable money-making businesses they LOVE while deeply serving themselves and the world.” “In the last 10 years, I’ve built a six-figure coaching practice and two coach-training companies that have generated over $43 million in revenue. I’ve coached, taught and led over 15,000 students across 30 countries, online and in person.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

Along the way, I learned 3 things that changed my life forever.

Many things work, until they don’t.

Rewind to 2006.

I had just called off a wedding, I was $70,000 in debt, I was floundering in the career I thought I wanted and I was struggling with a binge-eating disorder and ruthless body dysmorphia. I looked around at the wreckage of my life and thought, “”Is this it? Is this who I came here to be? Is this what I came here to do?”

These questions started me on a path of seeking, trying all kinds of practical, emotional and spiritual self-help methods to help me get some answers, like cognitive behavioral therapy, nutrition, meditation, hypnosis, prescription drugs, supplements, acupuncture, affirmations, positive psychology, cranio-sacral therapy, B-12 shots, channeling, glutathione shots, herbs, homeopathy, chiropractic, meditation, psychic surgery, cutting out sugar and caffeine, astrological readings, hand analysis, law of attraction, EFT, Tibetan bowl healing, listening to self-help audios in my car, modeling the habits of highly successful people. You name it, I’ve tried it.

Each one worked for a little bit; until it didn’t.

The old patterns would always come back — sometimes even worse than before — and I would feel more hopeless than ever.

I started to feel like there was no “answer” for me.

Until I found this thing called coaching.

Coaching transforms beliefs and opens people up to see — and act on — the truth of who they really are.

When I discovered that I could draw on all the challenges I’ve experienced in life in order to help other people change their lives, and that I could make a living doing it, I knew I’d found my calling.

Coaching taught me how to transform my fear of “not good enough” into concepts, skills and mindsets that changed my life, and ultimately helped me transform the lives of thousands of my clients and students.

Success as an entrepreneur, or in life, begins and ends with your beliefs about what’s possible for you to do, be or have.

Changing your beliefs about yourself is the one thing that changes everything. When you transform your beliefs, you transform your life.


Nancy Zayed, Co-Founder & CTO, MagicCube

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Nancy is the co-founder and CTO of MagicCube, a mobile and IoT security company based in Silicon Valley. The technology Nancy and her team are building at MagicCube is poised to be an integral part of mobile payments, connected cars and other IoT uses.

Nancy has extensive business and technology experience, having lead many teams distributed across the globe in product development, product management, and technical and vendor partnership management. Prior to MagicCube, she served as Head of Engineering and Operations at innoPath, a founding member of the Open Mobile Alliance. At innoPath, Nancy led the global engineering development and service teams responsible for shipping Android, Rex, iOS, Windows Mobile and Symbian products. Nancy also previously served as Head of Platform Development at Cisco Systems, where she was in charge of the company’s telepresence product and its secure endpoints for the consumer market. Prior to Cisco, Nancy headed the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) mobile technology at Palm, where she spearheaded the move to air-interface agnostic technologies and IP Multimedia Subsystems integration.

Also during her career, Nancy spent more than ten years at Apple, where she held several technical leadership roles and helped secure the company’s second Emmy for its efforts and impact on the television industry. She holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Software Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“It’s never too late. Life comes in chapters, and as a woman, you don’t have to choose between building a career in STEM and being a mother. I went to graduate school when my daughter was graduating from high school while my son was starting the process of college applications — all while my husband was stationed half-way across the globe! It was at this later stage in my career, too, that I started thinking about founding my company. My husband was working at a big payments company and we’d just become empty nesters, so the timing was perfect. We finally had the bandwidth and experience to build something important that we believed in, something that brought value through solving a real problem, something that could be our legacy.

I’ve also learned the incredible value of STEM education. It was during my third-grade science class that everything started to click for me. My teacher was explaining new concepts like the effect of heat on metals and liquids, and suddenly it all made sense. I really liked that feeling of “this makes sense.”; a feeling by far more powerful than the typical “It’s how it is — these are the rules.”

Throughout my career, I’ve been a huge advocate of women in STEM. Not only does STEM help explain complex concepts, it also teaches us to be data-driven and evidence-based. Of course, it’s important to not underestimate intuition and past experiences, but it’s even more important to not make a decision just because it “looks right.” STEM can show you data that indicates your decision is correct, and give you predictability, clarity and visibility into what’s to come, or even how to handle what’s to come. STEM even has the ability to identify what will be unclear, i.e. where you don’t have enough data. That said about STEM, it’s crucial to recognize the critical role of Liberal Arts Education. Honestly, technological innovation only happens when the right mix of STEM-disciplined people and uninhibited, non-conformant Liberal Arts people work together, because you wind up with a force that transforms theories and visions into reality.

Lastly, I’ve learned that nobody will give you anything if you don’t ask or even fight for it. Be vocal and ambitious. If your current work doesn’t give you ample opportunity, create opportunity for yourself, even if you need to do so on your own time. If the existing professional ‘molds’ don’t accommodate you, reshape and existing mold or create a new one that serves the business and serves you, as well.

Finally, it’s important to recognize the ‘rest of You’ and not let one aspect dictate your career. For instance, if you identify as a nurturing person, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a STEM professional. You can pursue a STEM career AND get involved in your community to satisfy the ‘rest of you’.


Fiorina Benveniste-Schuler, CEO, Selec.to

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Fiorina gave herself 10 years to learn all facets of the fashion industry, leading her to carve out a niche with leading B2B marketplace, Selec.to. Fiorina speaks 5 languages (French, English, German, Italian and Spanish) and has lived in a multitude of countries including Switzerland, England, France, Italy and USA.

She has tapped into her entrepreneurial side over the years, through various fashion initiatives including launching fashion labels, consulting for brands and working in different professional roles for notable fashion houses (Burberry, Numero, Karla Otto and more). In addition, Fiorina spent many years, alongside Honorary President Babeth Djian, organizing the prestigious annually held Gala dinner for the AEM charity: The children of Rwanda. She is currently a member of the British Fashion Council, sits on the board of The Whitechapel Gallery, and is also the founder of Ladies Lunch Network — a networking charity luncheon for 150 ladies within the UK. Fiorina is continuously active within the fashtech space, and is annually invited to attend and speak at Tech conferences, such as The Web Summit. Ambitious, focused and determined, Fiorina believes in the future of technology and has an insatiable appetite for inspiring change and bridging the gap between the fashion and digital space. Fiorina has used her experience to drive a culture of creativity and innovation through strategy for Selec.to, breaking through the barriers to connect the fashion and technology world seamlessly. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Always stay authentic and believe in yourself. It sounds obvious, but people can tell when you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin and are trying too hard. Knowing yourself comes hand in hand with finding your passion and identity, and being able to fiercely lead and stand out in a male-dominated industry.

The second lesson is being able to have the capacity to execute change in the world on a smaller scale. Success comes in many different shapes and sizes, and along my entrepreneurial journey, I made sure to always place a purpose behind everything and hone in on creating an innovative platform to inspire change within the fashion industry.

The third lesson is that you can’t do this alone — you need the right partners and team to help you along the way. Bringing onboard a team of individuals that you like and respect, in order to help propel your business forward. I’ve learnt that you need a team who understand what you’re trying to do on the tech and fashion level, and are on the same page about how you want your business to be represented and identified. This has helped me tremendously when it comes to running Selec.to.”

Heather Sanborn, Co-Owner, Rising Tide Brewing Company

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Heather Sanborn is the Co-Founder, Co-Owner, and Director of Business Operations at Rising Tide Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. Heather was a former public school teacher and then a successful attorney at a large law firm in Boston, when she and her husband Nathan co-founded Rising Tide as a tiny “”nano-brewery”” in 2010. After a trip to California in 2011, Heather realized that there would be enormous opportunity for growth, not just at Rising Tide, but in the Maine’s craft beer industry as whole, if Maine’s laws were changed to allow customers to sample and purchase beer directly from the breweries themselves. She led the effort to change the law, legalizing brewery tasting rooms in Maine in 2012, and the growth she predicted has followed. Following her efforts in this male-dominated industry, she was elected by her peers to serve as President of the Maine Brewers’ Guild.

In 2012, Heather took a leap of faith and left her law practice to begin managing her growing brewery full-time. Under Heather’s leadership, Rising Tide has created two dozen jobs with good pay and health insurance benefits. The brewery has also helped foster the revitalization of the low-income neighborhood of Portland where it is located. Spurred by her struggle to provide good quality, affordable health insurance for her own family and her employees, Heather successfully ran for the Maine House of Representatives in 2016 and was soon appointed House Chair of a bi-partisan task force to reimagine Maine’s healthcare financing system. She also serves as co-chair of the OnePortland, which organized a successful effort in 2017 to defeat a zoning referendum that would have stopped affordable housing development in Portland.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1) If you look around and wonder why no one is doing something about a particular issue — in business or in politics — you should probably just do that thing yourself! Don’t wait for someone else to invite you to be the leader of the effort; if you step up and start leading, people will follow you.

2) Don’t be afraid to pivot. I started my career as a public high school teacher, then I was a lawyer, and now I’m a brewery owner. The path in between wasn’t exactly linear, but at every turn, I was willing to take risks and seize opportunities as they presented themselves. It turns out that teaching high school is actually pretty good training for managing a staff and legal training is a pretty great asset for any small business owner.

3) Be on the lookout for allies and mentors — you never know when you’ll need to lean on them in an unexpected way. You don’t ever succeed on your own — success comes from building the relationships and coalitions that will set you up for success. “


Sara Rodell, CEO & Founder, Loop & Tie

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I am the CEO and Founder of Loop & Tie. I’m a graduate of UVA, and spend my time in New York City and Austin. Before starting Loop & Tie I worked at UBS in Institutional Equity Sales. I had the good fortune of volunteering to handle client holiday gifts and was struck both by how inefficient the process was and how much money we spent on unexciting items. The gift industry felt like a low tech, low efficiency world where I could make an impact. My first product was a consumer gifting app that didn’t mature into what I’d envisioned, but it provided the market validation and inspiration I needed to create Loop & Tie.

Loop & Tie is a gift choice platform that lets companies treat their customers or employees to choices of unique gifts in a fully branded online experience. Our platform brings efficiency, transparency and scalable personalization to a dated, offline process. Our customers use the gift exchange to learn about their customers’ preferences and open up a new channel of communication. I believe gifting is an underutilized form of corporate communication and customer connection. Loop & Tie changes that dynamic.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Use your emotions along with facts.

I’ve often heard the advice “”don’t make emotional decisions”” and I think that obfuscates some of the benefits of emotional intelligence. Gut instinct is a sum of subconscious packets of information we harbor. It’s powerful stuff, when used in tandem with fact-basis analysis.

When I make decisions, I assess what initially feels right and wrong and then dig into the emotions driving those characterizations. I run through a set of questions such as “”Do I think X because I’m afraid of the alternative? What drives that fear? If I wasn’t afraid would I think differently?”” This exercise helps me unearth my biases and assess their validity. Suboptimal decisions usually come from having incomplete information. By combining emotions with facts, I have my best shot at an accurate assessment and conclusion.

Questions before conclusions

This mindset helps across any situations of conflict. Whenever I’m upset about something, or with someone, I take the mindset that there must be some key piece of information that I’m missing. If I understood it, I would see why they “”did that thing”” or “”how we ended up here,”” and it would shift my anger into a more constructive emotion.

This mindset means I don’t go into conversations angry, or filled with assumptions. Instead, I ask questions. I usually learn something that helps me understand the mindset or conditions that fostered the “”bad event.”” Understanding breeds resolution more effectively than angry discourse. As a management style, if a team expects that it’s more important to understand issues and solve for the future rather than stake blame, there’s an element of safety that breeds better information flow. Defensiveness and justification are replaced by brainstorming and improvement.

Ask for the order

This phrase was a common one in my first job on a trading floor, and it took on new meaning as I progressed to being an entrepreneur. Be specific and vocal about what you want, no one will read your mind or advocate for your goals as well as you can. This also necessitates having an opinion, you can’t ask for something and be indifferent.”


Samantha Holloway, Co-Founder, GoSpotCheck

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Samantha Holloway is a co-founder of GoSpotCheck, a SaaS-based field execution management platform. Samantha attended the University of Michigan where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2003. She also holds a Master of Arts Degree in Forensic Psychology and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Denver.

Prior to founding GoSpotCheck, Samantha worked in forensic psychology before deciding to pursue her dream of starting a retail business. In 2007, she opened DS Additions, a high-end women’s boutique in Denver’s Cherry Creek North neighborhood. She co-owned and operated the innovative retailer for three years. Samantha then went on to attend The University of Denver earning her MBA in Marketing. During this time, she met Joey Alfano, a fellow GoSpotCheck co-founder, who recruited her alongside the company’s current CEO, Matt Talbot. The group joined to start their original company, Belli Ella, a rental business for maternity wear. However, during their tenure at startup accelerator, Techstars, they pivoted, leading them to found what is now GoSpotCheck.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“ “GoSpotCheck was my first time founding a software company but it is not my first entrepreneurial endeavor. Prior to GoSpotCheck, I co-founded DS Additions, a high-end women’s boutique, where I learned firsthand about working with brands, but more importantly, working with customers. Each and every one is so important, not just to revenue, but to understanding the business and what value you need to provide. A lot goes into successfully running a retail business and it quickly became evident that customer development is the key to selling the right products. Gaining knowledge of the retail industry through this experience directly led to my involvement and co-founding of GoSpotCheck, where we try to bring transparency to these operational difficulties. If it wasn’t for the lessons I learned in my previous business ventures, I wouldn’t value the transparency that we work towards providing our customers at GoSpotCheck.

I’ve also learned the importance of choosing your co-founders wisely and I’m extremely thankful for Matt and Joey. We complement each other and know how to push each other to learn and improve. I’ve started businesses before with friends who have similar skill-sets to my own and when co-founders are too much alike, it’s much harder to make it work in the long run.

During my time at GoSpotCheck, one of the most significant lessons I’ve learned is how important it is to continuously work towards cultivating a strong company culture and staying true to your core values. While our customers, products, and company may change, our values will remain the same. Our foundational value, which everything that we do at GoSpotCheck stems from, is that we are here to do great work — for our customers and each other. By being hyper culture-centric, we are able to create value for our employees which directly translates to our customers. This organizational approach is one of our greatest assets and has been instrumental to our continued growth.


Jennifer Paquette, Executive Director/Founder, Green Beret Foundation

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Ms. Paquette, asked by the GBF’s original board, has served as Executive Director of the Green Beret Foundation beginning 1 August 2011. Initially in 2009, Jen served on the GBF’s Board of Advisors helping establish the Foundation and later as Vice-President, Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer since January 2010. She has identified and developed programs and services, planned and executed GBF’s numerous fundraising events raising millions of dollars and awareness for the US Army Special Forces.

Jen is the founder of the GBF’s sorority, the Steel Mags. She manages critical aspects of day- to-day operations and handles strategic business development at the Foundation including strategic planning, fundraising, building and maintaining donor and investor relationships, and coordination of services.

Jen’s number one and most important position is being the wife of SSG(R) Roland Paquette III who was an 18D (Special Forces Medic) and now an Emergency Room Physician Assistant and owner and operator of Med Training Group LLC. Roland was traumatically wounded by an IED blast while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom giving both legs above the knees.

Prior to her work at the GBF, Jen was asked by USSOCOM Care Coalition leadership to help develop and start the USSOCOM Care Coalition Recovery Program. This program was developed for traumatically wounded SOF warriors and their families’ long term recovery and support.

Jen has worked for companies such as Intel Corporation and Phelps Dodge Corporation now Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. holding various positions. She has extensive experience in managing high profile multi-million dollar projects, developing and delivering leadership training throughout the country to private companies and schools, and providing consulting for private and not for profits businesses. Jen has over twenty-five years of experience in planning and executing complicated events of various sizes and formats and managing, networking and liaising, between contrasting demographics in all the different circles within her network.

Ms. Paquette earned her B.S. in Business Administration majoring in Supply Chain Management from Arizona State University and her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Not-for-Profits and Public Policy from St. Mary’s University.

Jen is the Vice President and Board of Director of Dancing Angels Foundation. She is a member of Business Executives for National Security, Junior League of San Antonio, San Antonio Downtown Rotary Club, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and an associate member to the OSS Society. She is also on the Board of Advisors for the National Special Forces Green Beret Memorial Project near Ft. Bragg, NC. She has been active with JINSA, AIPAC, and Catholic Charities.

She was selected for the 2012 Outstanding Young San Antonian award. Jen is an Honorary Member of the Special Forces Association. She is the sixth woman in history to receive this honor at the National level, and the second within the SFA Chapter XV in San Antonio. Most recently, Jen was selected for the United State’s Special Operation Command highest award- the Patriot Award, Jen splits her time between DC, NYC, Ft. Bragg and San Antonio, Texas where she lives with her Green Beret and their youngest son.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“• Vision. Mission. Go!

I serve and work for an all-male unit that is steeped in more than a half century of deep traditions and culture that do NOT include women. I seem to take the phrase “It’s a man’s world” to the next level. I was not exactly welcomed with open arms when I set out on this journey. I met obstacle after obstacle, I was not part of the club and I fully realized that and didn’t want to act like I was. These men have done things and accomplished things that are insurmountable to most average people. I respect that; however, I couldn’t let that stop me. The attacks in this industry on even my personal character just kept coming. To say I felt discouraged and hopeless is an understatement; however, I also felt that I was finally doing what I was supposed to be doing…like everything I had done up to that point was preparing me for this. I kept my eyes on mission success. My motivations are true and for only good, but I’m seasoned enough professionally and personally to know that this was not going to be a linear or easy path and I was, in a sense, going to be required to pull from my upbringing and my personality. I dug deep and leaned on my faith, experience and core values to boldly, tenacious and deliberately pursue my path. I will continue to do so. I’m not done!

• Higher slowly. Fire Quickly.

As they say — “”if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur”. I have paid the price not only financially but emotionally for being a bit too impetuous when hiring. In small businesses (and maybe bigger ones too), we have minimal resources and time, there is a tendency to take the lowest “bidder”. You must look out on the horizon and listen to your intuition when you see a red flag early on. People can develop and evolve but if you see something off in the beginning, the honeymoon phase, the person is not right for your team. You still might make mistakes but at least you know you did your due diligence. If you are in a small business, let your entire existing team participate in the hiring process, its beneficial in many ways. Your existing team will know you value them and they are valued stakeholders for the organization. They become even more vested in the mission

• Success is NOT just for others. It IS for you too.

We all have our own definition of “success”. Mine was to be part of something bigger then myself even at a young age. I didn’t know what exactly that meant for me, but I could visualize something early on. I was a teen mom at 16, I had two kids by 21. I come from a small town in Southeast Arizona. I was raised farming, ranching, trapping and mining. My family has been doing the same thing for 250 years. You could say I had the cards stacked against me or I didn’t exactly step out with my best foot forward and much of it was because of those early choices I made. There’s no room for blaming people. I almost settled because of my initial choices. I kept hearing that faint small voice tugging at my soul. I was driven from within. I said, “no! This is NOT just for others. I will do this somehow, I will show my kids a different way of life to allow them to have more options. If they go back, so be it but they’ve been exposed to a broader world- a world full of options.” This is not to say I’m not proud of where I am from. Oh- I am. Where I am from and how I was raised is why I have experienced much of my success. I gave myself no way to make excuses for not moving forward and through fear.


Sama Jashnani & Anuja Shah, Co-Founders DownToDash

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Sama & Anuja are the 25-year-old co-founders of DownToDash, an app that connects people in the same location to do an activity together. Being young girls who moved halfway across the world and started from scratch, they have come a long way in building a company that is making a difference to people’s lives and are working towards spreading DownToDash all across the world.

DownToDash is a suggested tool for all the millions of tourists and people who move into New York by the Guides Association of New York. It has revolutionized the experience of numerous people who move into New York and reduced the rate of loneliness and laziness in this big city. They created an internship program that was in the list of top 100 internship programs in the US in 2017. They have also been speakers at New York Advertising Week and have been featured in Forbes, Huff Post, Inc. Magazine and other popular publications. They advice other start-ups and NGO’s on their social media and marketing strategies and hosts entrepreneurship workshops for university students and budding entrepreneurs.They are setting an example for all young aspiring female entrepreneurs to follow, in a male-centric startup world. They want to create a new revolution for women entrepreneurs and be an inspiration to those who are afraid!

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“ “1. Marketing starts from the product: Building a superior product is extremely important for any company to be successful. We spent more than a year talking to people, taking feedback and understanding what people want. We regularly revamp our product based on what users love and what gets them to keep coming back to the app. A great product is what automatically creates a group of brand loyalists who talk about you to everyone. This is also the key factor that acts as a barrier to entry in your market.

2. Pivoting is essential: When your plan is not working out, it is vital to pivot. Even a small pivot can make the biggest difference in making a company succeed. Sometimes we have to take a step back and evaluate our strategy based on product-market fit and what the market wants. Being flexible to change and quickly learning to adapt your strategy will always be a constant necessity.

3. Be prepared to Hustle: You have to be prepared to relentlessly pursue your dreams to make them a reality. We can get intimidated and think of numerous reasons why something will not work out, or be confident and try multiple techniques until we figure out what is going to work. We have to be strong-minded and positive towards finding solutions to our problems. There is always a way to do the impossible if we are persistent and refuse to accept defeat. “


Dr. Orie Achonwa, Founder & Creative Director, Nourish

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I was diagnosed with an incurable condition known as PCOS in my late-20s and immediately adopted a natural lifestyle to balance my hormones and mange my symptoms. Over time I noticed improvements in my condition and a shift in my overall vitality. Knowing that nutrition is at the root of many health problems I was inspired to create a plant-based wellness brand to help more people take charge of their wellness.

Over the course of 4.5 years I burned the midnight oil in my workshop, The Pink Pantry, to create products designed around my favorite superherbs, supermushrooms, and adaptogenic plants — great phyto-nutrition that doesn’t always make it to our plates. When I shared my products, I was told that my brand was too weird and no one would want strange sounding rabbit food.

The comments were disappointing but I refused to be discouraged. I decided to focus on challenging myself creatively rather than getting defensive. I poured another 2 years into revamping my products. This time I mixed supermushrooms like reishi into a hot chocolate drink mix and created blends of adaptogenic plants that could be easily spooned into familiar foods like yogurt, cereal, milk, you name it.

Today the brand is growing and it’s past the resistance stage. When customers tell us about how our products make it easy for them to prioritize their wellbeing I am overwhelmed with happiness because I was told that no one would want the products when I started. In 2016 we won a green beauty award which was the ultimate confirmation that we are doing something right.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1. Create the simplest message possible. When you and your brand are new to the market you don’t have people’s attention. If people don’t get you and what you’re offering in 10 seconds they move on. This is one of the hardest lessons that I’ve learned in business. You have to learn how to curtail your passion for your own product and just tell people what they want to know in as few words as possible.

2. Understand that more features are just more features. When I started I presented all the features of my products up front because I thought it would help people see the value of my brand. TMI! It overwhelmed people and made it harder for them to shop my products. With the help of my business coach Lisa Jacobs I learned to show my customers benefits and how products fit into their lives rather than feature after feature. It’s made all the difference.

3. Start small because everything changes. I’ve funded my business out of my own bank account so I’m always trying to stretch EVERY dollar by buying in bulk, bundling orders from suppliers to get free shipping, etc. I would learn something new about my business from either my customers or changes in the market and have to throw away hundreds of dollars worth of labels, containers, or raw materials because I didn’t need them anymore. This would happen about every 3 to 4 months in my first 3 years of business. I eventually learned to take a little loss on shipping, orders for raw materials, and other such expenses so I would stop tying up my money in inventory that’s not going anywhere.


Ximena Hartsock, co-founder, Phone2Action

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Ximena came from Chile to the US in the late nineties looking for opportunities. She was raised in a dictatorship and wanted to seek the American dream. With $500 in her pocket, no English, no connections and no job, she convinced her parents to fly to the US. Ximena was born in a very humble household in Santiago but she was also Indian. Her father was 100% Mapuche. Zip code in Chile was destiny at the time but being Mapuche was much worse because Chile, more than other Southamerican countries, does not embrace indigenous people. Despite this, Ximena graduated first of her class in college.

She brought to the US grit but also a college education. Upon arrival she found a myriad of jobs from bartender to nanny and housekeeper. Quickly she enrolled in school and overtime she attended several American universities to advance her studies. In 2004 she earned a doctorate degree in policy studies at the George Washington University. She started as a teachers aide in DC public schools but worked her way up to Principal, Assistant superintendent of instruction, Director of Parks and Recreation, and member of the executive cabinet of Mayor Adrian Fenty.

In 2012 she made a transition to technology and founded Phone2Action, a digital engagement software company. She is one of the few Hispanic women in the US to have secured almost six Million dollars in venture capital. She is also the founder of the company that built the first tools to connect people with their officials from their phones and she did it before advocacy was cool. She had a vision that people down the road would become interested in politics and public policy.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1) Starting over is not as hard as it sounds. When I left government I realized I could transfer many skills to entrepreneurship. It is easy to be scared when you are starting a company; you leave the coziness of a job with a salary. I did not draw a salary for almost a year. I think being an immigrant helped me because I had nothing when I came here so I knew how to be poor again. I knew the switch would pay off and it did, transitioning to technology was the best decision I could make. Immigrants are survivors as entrepreneurs are.

2) Don’t be a victim, take responsibility: It would have been easy for me to be a victim when half the city council rejected me. I was extremely hard working and I was turning the agency around. It was not fair but I learned that doing a great job is not enough — you have to build relationships. I am shy and not very social but I love people and I learned to channel my love for people into being outgoing and learn how to build a network.

3) Be curious: If I had not been curious about technology I would have not realized the opportunity in front of me. I was very surprised that the tool I wanted to build to connect people with their elected officials from their phones did not exist. Curiosity and love for learning will set you apart.


Meghann H Gunderman, Founder , Executive Director, The Foundation For Tomorrow

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

The word “bold” should be Meghann Gunderman’s middle name. The entrepreneur and philanthropist started changing lives while others her age were still playing with dolls. At 12 years old, the nationally competitive runner, wrote and published an athletic log and diary for children. It also raised funds to feed her first non-profit, The Charlotte Youth Sports Foundation. CYSF provided athletic opportunities for disadvantaged youth in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Later, as part of her studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, Meghann traveled to East Africa to do research. That experience grabbed her imagination and later called her away from her job in Global Sponsorship at Barclays Capital. In late 2006 she founded and became Executive Director of The Foundation for Tomorrow (TFFT), an East African based NGO. TFFT offers individual orphaned and vulnerable children the opportunity to succeed through access to quality schooling, health and psychosocial support and life skills. TFFT’s acclaimed work also improves the quality of instruction, resources and school management to ensure widespread, sustainable impact through teacher training. To date TFFT’s efforts have raised over 5 million dollars, enrolled 134 children in boarding school, and has served over a thousand of teachers through their in-service training program. Meghann currently leads the development of a first of its kind state-of-the-art learning center that will include a technology and computer training center, higher education advisory and scholarship center, teacher training and literacy lab, and NGO and Social Entrepreneurship Incubator.

She has lived and worked in the United States, the UK, and Tanzania and speaks both English and Kiswahili. She received a British Masters of Arts in International Relations and Human Geography with a focus in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. With relentless energy and unwavering hope in possibilities, Meghann has been honored as a Women to Watch, and named Outstanding Emerging Philanthropist by NC’s Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). In 2013, Gunderman was named by the World Economic Forum as one of their inaugural Global Shapers, people 30 and under who were changing the world. That year, Meghann was selected to present on behalf of the Millennial generation at Davos- the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. Meghann is also on the NC Advisory Board of US Global Leadership Coalition, to influence policymakers to increase the nation’s International Affairs budget and promote a smart and powerful approach to development and diplomacy. “ “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Dream Big/Shoot Far/Don’t be afraid to fail. Not being afraid to bruise my ego or fall short of my goal has enabled me to go after big visions, bold goals. I’ve pushed further faster with this mindset.

When I was 20 yrs old, I saw an opportunity to help 4 year old Maasai triplets who would soon be too old for their orphanage. I realized there were one million orphans in Tanzania just like the triplets. Giving them a home and education by placing them in boarding school was just the start. I came to believe that a small group of committed people could do more than save three children’s lives; they could change the landscape of education for an entire nation. When you show people what excellence is and help them believe they deserve it, you can create a movement. TFFT is now building a transformational Learning Center for the people of Tanzania. We’re putting excellence in education in front of some of the most vulnerable of society, and telling them they’re worthy of it.

2. Find trusted voices then listen deeply to what they tell you even when it stings — I have a purpose, vision and path forward, but I’ve been significantly more successful achieving that purpose when I’ve listened to trusted voices around me. In 2006, at 22 yrs old, I founded The Foundation For Tomorrow. I was a useless manager to my first two employees. I had to operate in a different culture, raise millions, and manage people. I had never done any of that and I was half a world away in the U.S. They were in Tanzania. I knew what I wanted to do, but not how. They were brutally critical, and honest about where I fell short. Their feedback helped me grow into the leader I am today. It’s difficult enough to listen and lead when you’re in the same office. When you’re half-way around the world, the challenge increases exponentially.

3. Ask for help — Because I started TFFT so young and our results could mean life and death for orphaned and vulnerable children, I needed to surround myself with experts. It was my vision, but I needed others to help execute. I needed older, seasoned people who knew more than me but would also follow my lead. Asking for help, bringing people in, opened more doors for me and helped propel the mission.


Mary Biggins, CEO & Co-founder, MealPal

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Forging her own path to success, Mary Biggins is the ultimate entrepreneur, founding not just one, but two of the fastest growing tech start-ups: ClassPass and MealPal. Her career at MBI, Vistaprint, & Betterment propelled her on an entrepreneurial journey; the next step was to be a founder. Mary continues to take risks and create high-quality solutions to everyday problems by providing value for both businesses and consumers. Motivated by building and seeing the results, she raised over $100M for ClassPass and MealPal combined. With no signs of slowing down, her ability to push beyond her own limits, and take two established industries with her, has successfully changed the way people exercise and eat on a daily basis.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Surround yourself with Smart and Optimistic People.

You have to empower smart people to solve problems. But, working with smart people is not enough. The attitude of the people you are building with has a huge impact on you and the overall motivation of an organization. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who are optimistic, upbeat, and energetic. Find people who have an “anything is possible” mentality and who can bounce back quickly from setbacks and challenges. Don’t tolerate nay-sayers or Debbie-downers!

Be True to Yourself.

Building a business is messy, and you have to accept that you are going to do some things that other people won’t like. Know at the outset what you stand for and what you won’t compromise on. Then, don’t be scared to make unpopular decisions. Remain authentic to yourself.

Go Fast, and Keep Going.

Speed is one of the biggest competitive advantages you have with a start-up. Keep this competitive advantage even as the team grows. Build a discipline around identifying the MVP for a product, feature, or launch, and only building this to start. The pace when building a business should always be a bit outside your comfort zone. You need to be comfortable being uncomfortable — and you need to motivate others on the team to embrace this mentality too!


Kimberly Reyna, CEO/ Founder , PoshPort Travel Inc.

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I am the founder of PoshPort Travel. We curate unique and exhilarating experiences for stylish, young professionals who are fun and adventurous but still value comfort (that means no hostels!) We travel with passion and with purpose because we are passionate about seeing every corner of this world and leaving it better and stronger than we found it. And we want to share that same vision with our guests. That is why we donate a portion of each tour’s proceeds to local nonprofits we partner with who are impacting their communities positively and on a grass roots level, and we go a step further by featuring them on many of our tours.

Travel and adventure has been a passion of mine for years, and in some ways, runs through my veins. I studied international relations and, like a responsible adult, immediately went to work in corporate America. But any opportunity I had to escape that reality, I would escape and travel. I always loved learning about different cultures, histories, religions, and customs. By nature, I am a very curious person, so instead of just reading or watching something, I’ve always wanted to explore it firsthand, but I found that was more difficult to do in my career years. I didn’t want to be taken on just a luxury trip or a tour, I wanted to truly experience. I needed depth.

But it feels like everyone out there is trying to sell you something, trying to get something from you. And I wanted to do the opposite: I wanted to give. I want people to meet their best friends across the world, to destroy prejudices, to make them realize the world that exists in their minds are very different than the real world. It is easy to get lost in the world projected on the media. But when you go beyond the tv screen, beyond the distorted and warped version of what is actually out there, you see the true story and the real people. You realize how beautiful and kind and giving human beings can be. That love has no borders and all it takes is a leap of faith. I know, because I took that leap and it changed everything and brought me to this moment here and now.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Never underestimate the power of networking. It can be nerve racking, but whatever industry you’re in, we can all agree by now that it is a necessary evil. Often organized networking events become the norm, but one rule of thumb I have always lived by is to see every aspect of your life as an opportunity to network. A few years ago, I was traveling thought out Belgrade, Serbia and met a local named Nina at a bar. After speaking to her for a few minutes we connected on a people level and realized we had a lot in common. The next day she suggested we grab lunch and offered to show me the city from a true local’s perspective. Besides getting a cool private VIP tour of the Belgrade, I got to know more about Nina. We not only became friends, but now years later and as I’m developing my international business, she has connected me to the half of Serbia. People can surprise you and connect you, no matter where in the world you are, always remember that!

Don’t live by the motto “fake it to you make it”. As women entrepreneurs, we must work harder, know more and always be prepared. Yes, there are times where you will have to act on the spot, but always keep up with the trends, your competition, and relevant information. Oftentimes, we are given one shot to impress.

If you are truly passionate about something, go for it. There will always be those who will question you, think you are insane, criticize you, and discourage you. But if you are truly passionate about it, you will learn to drown out the voices and just move forward. Don’t think it will be easy, it’s not. It’s one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, things I’ve ever done in my life. There are days where you will not recognize yourself, one moment you will be so overcome with happiness and next you are so stressed and questioning your decisions, that you just want to stay in bed and hide from the world. You don’t have to know the answers to everything, and you won’t, but don’t give up. And remember, one person can’t do everything alone, and entrepreneurship isn’t about doing it alone. Find an amazing core team who believe in your vision and you.”


Ashley Merrill, Founder & CEO, Lunya

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Ashley Merrill is the CEO and Founder of Lunya, sleepwear for the modern woman. Ashley is passionate about empowering women through education and business opportunity with a keen focus on impact investment in education and female entrepreneurship sector. Ashley holds a BA and MBA from UCLA Anderson.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Entrepreneurship is essentially trial by fire — put frankly, nobody knows exactly what they are doing when they start out, but the team that wins is the team that learns the fastest. The early days of launching a business were my most challenging. I didn’t have a co-founder to bounce ideas off of, so it was easy to fall into self-doubt and uncertainty. In hindsight, I’ve realized that the most important thing is always to keep moving forward because the obstacles that almost defeat you are what make you stronger in the long run. When I started Lunya I had literally no background in clothes, so I had to ask every ignorant question and make every mistake to find my path. I’ve come to believe that even if the path is not as smooth as you hoped, if the idea is sound, the business economics make sense, and you have the grit and passion… you can and you will do it.

In becoming an entrepreneur I’ve had to learn to overcome certain aspects of my own personality in order to succeed. I can be a risk-averse person and launching a company forced me to work through my fear. If I had let apprehension drive my actions I wouldn’t have been able to inspire others to work towards to a bigger vision or to take the risks necessary to realize Lunya’s potential. This has taught me that you set aside your fear and build for the company you aspire to have, not the company you have today. Courage is a muscle that has gotten stronger through this journey and my conviction has given me the confidence to sign the leases, hire the team and take the inventory positions to grow Lunya.

Launching Lunya has always been more than just a business opportunity for me; it’s about showing my children the importance of my dreams, making lives better for other women and about proving to myself that I am in fact capable of this. When I first started, I thought these motivations were secondary to the business fundamentals, but becoming a founder has taught me that a business reflects the best and worst of its leader. Just like in everyday life people give their best to people they trust and running a business with integrity and good intentions helps your customers and team respect and trust you more. I will constantly be faced with unknowable decisions, but my integrity and values are the foundation for my business and drive me to constantly try to become a better person for my team.”


Maia Haag, Co-Founder and President, I See Me! LLC

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Maia Haag is the Co-Founder and CEO of I See Me!, the largest publisher of personalized books in the U.S. I See Me! has sold millions of copies of its personalized children’s storybooks through its website www.iseeme.com and through high-end retailers including Pottery Barn Kids, Nordstrom, and others. The company has developed an extensive line of award-winning personalized books and gifts that celebrate the uniqueness of each child. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, People Magazine and other media have given I See Me! accolades for its very high quality, unique personalized books, and the company has developed an A-list celebrity fan base that includes Jessica Alba, Brooke Shields, Courteney Cox, and Rachel Zoe.

Maia has been recognized as one of the “Top 25 Women to Watch” by the Twin Cities Business Journal, the “Emerging Business Woman of the Year” by the National Association of Women Business Owners, and a finalist for the national “Best Entrepreneur” Stevie Award granted in NYC. I See Me! Inc. has made the Business Journal’s Fast 50 List for several years, representing the top 50 fastest growing privately-held companies in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Maia has been featured as a “Mom-preneur” in People magazine and as a business leader in Entrepreneur magazine.

Prior to starting I See Me!, Maia worked at General Mills for eight years in marketing executive roles, followed by new business development and marketing leadership roles for two internet start-ups. Maia holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. from Princeton University.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1) You can have the best marketing in the world, but at the end of the day, your company’s success comes down to your product or service. When I was at General Mills, my new product development team and I spent so much time developing the advertising plans for a new snack called the Roadrunner Bar that we didn’t focus enough on what would make the product itself unique in the marketplace. After a year of work, the company never launched the product because the sales force couldn’t see what made it different.

On the other hand, when I co-founded I See Me! Personalized Books, our first book “”My Very Own Name”” was beautifully executed and unique in the marketplace. It generated positive word of mouth, and we sold millions of copies. Marketing is easier when people can’t help but talk about the product.

2) Never let your business become overly dependent on one supplier. I See Me! used an external printing company to print and fulfill our orders. When that company made poor financial decisions and went bankrupt, they almost took our business down with them.

3) Don’t start a business with your spouse. My husband and I love each other, but we would both say that our relationship is much better now that we’re not working together. It was too easy for business issues to invade our personal time, so the number of issues that we were constantly working through doubled. Now that we’re not building a business together, we enjoy hearing about each other’s day.


Veronika Scott, CEO and Founder, Empowerment Plan

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I founded The Empowerment Plan 5 years ago as a 22 year old college art student. I am doing this work now because both of my parents have been unemployed for over 20 years and have struggled with addiction for just as long. As a child raised in that situation I was looked at as a worthless extension of my parents, doomed to repeat their life of poverty. I want to prove that poverty does not define me, or anyone else, and that no one is worthless. With Empowerment Plan I was able to finally create an opportunity that I wish had existed for my own family.

The Empowerment Plan has pulled over 50 families from homelessness, all of whom have permanently moved out of the shelter in 6 weeks of working with us. Our intervention works 100% of the time; none of our employees have fallen back into homelessness. By employing homeless parents, we are also impacting an average of 3 children for each adult we hire. We are closing the revolving door of homelessness and have built a model that can and should scale because the need is not just in Detroit. In addition to full-time employment paying above minimum wage, we integrate support services and educational programming like GED, financial literacy, and leadership development, into the paid work day. Employees work with our team for an average of two years before transitioning on to other careers in the community.

The Empowerment Plan is unlike any other workforce development model. The individuals we hire from shelters are trained in sewing to create a coat that turns into a sleeping bag. We have impacted over 25,000 lives through the innovative coats we make and distribute around the globe. We are now building a strong foundation to scale the Empowerment Plan into other cities across the United States. This would create over 600 new employment opportunities for those trapped in homelessness, unemployment, and poverty.

It is because of this experience that I became the youngest recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award from the JFK Library Foundation at Harvard University and have an honorary PhD of Humane Letters from Johnson State College. I have also been named one of CNN’s Ten Visionary Women in the World, winner of the DVF People’s Voice Award, a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur, and a “CNN Hero.””

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1. Don’t be afraid to say no! This is so important but is something that I struggle with. Whether it is because of my age or my gender, I constantly get people telling me what they think I should do or what my business needs in order to be successful. While some advice is valuable, I’ve had to trust my gut and the mission of what I’ve created so that I don’t get pulled in a million different directions. Saying “no” gives you the ability to stay focussed and the power to control your destiny.

2. Persistence wins in the long run. The hardest part of going from my initial idea to a fully formed organization has been staying with it. Things get very hard, challenges seem insurmountable, and sometimes it feels lonely. It is the persistence to keep going during those challenges that has made Empowerment Plan successful. My mantra is “Don’t stop, don’t freeze because you’re afraid, just keep moving.” During times of struggle it has been hard to push myself to grow, but those times do pass and it is always worth it in the end.

3. Nothing is perfect! I have seen so many people get caught up in the hunt for perfection. You can spend so much time waiting for the perfect conditions that don’t exist. There is no such thing as the perfect time or right amount of experience. Don’t spend your life waiting on the ideal time to act and never get started.


Kimia Kalbasi, Founder, KimiasKravings.com

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Kimia Kalbasi (@KimiasKravings, KimiasKravings.com) has broken the barrier as a blogger and influencer in the oversaturated world of content creation. She’s killin’ the game and has exceeded the limit by going the extra mile with no end. Not only has she has expanded her niche from a small food blog to a restless traveler and lifestyle expert having grown on Instagram exponentially by 5x in the past year alone, she has aligned and branded herself and her skills as a social media guru, strategist and consultant by offering a series of services to clients including but not limited to: branded content campaigns to influencer placements to customized media kits.

She is more than a content creator. She is a voice of today’s millennials. Moreover, she has evolved into a motivational speaker sharing daily doses of inspiration and powerful experiences with her followers across the globe. She’s revolutionized the game sharing her daily life experiences and engages with her followers with rich content through her relatable voice. She has made several TV appearances and will only continue to boom. The sky is the limit for Kimia and she is the next big thing. She is highly sought after for recommendations as to where to eat, drink, and be merry.

Kimia has transitioned from a restaurant recommender to a major social media star personality and role model. She has even expanded to the world of recipes and shares a variety of healthy smoothie recipes and her journey with different workouts to show that you can splurge and enjoy while still maintaining a killer bod. Through her strategic partnerships and collaborations, she has evolved into a multi-faceted and versatile businesswoman with a mission and despite how far she’s come along, it’s only the beginning of a beautiful journey. Watch out world, Kimia’s about to take over.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Throughout Kimia’s riveting experiences and journey as an entrepreneur, she has gained countless valuable lessons since day 1 but the three most important ones that have changed her life are:

1) Consistency is key.

There is no such thing as overnight success. You envision what you want in life, yearn for it, strive for it, and work for it. It’s all in the little things that lead to the big picture. People tend to see the surface level of success and fail to realize that there is no formula for success, nor is it a linear line. Success consists of a never-ending series of ups and downs. Spoiler alert: If you’re not failing, you’re not learning. Keep doing what you’re doing until you get there, and when you do, don’t stop. Take it day by day and set mini goals with the vision in mind and go for the gold.

2) Always maintain a positive mental attitude.

Kimia exudes a brilliant, optimistic aura and that is precisely what sets her apart from the rest. She is always glowing with a million-dollar smile on her face and sees the best in all situations no matter how tough the going can get. In fact, studies have shown that this is the most commonly found personality trait amongst the wealthy. Above all, remaining positive keeps you sane and when you think positive, you attract positive tangibility. Notice how when you think negatively, precisely what you don’t want to happen, happens. Attitude is everything in life as well. How you respond vs. react is highly telling when it comes to your character. When you remain positive, you remain patient, resilient, and invincible.

3) “You’d be damned if you did and damned if you didn’t.”

In an industry that is highly susceptible to criticism, Kimia has learned that you need to do what you want to do at the end of the day. People will always be entitled to their thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, so as long as you’re staying genuine to yourself, that is all that truly matters. When you attempt to please others, you’re ultimately saying no to yourself and burden yourself in the long run. The only way to win is to listen to yourself and no one else. That is the key to leading a happy life.”


Ania Kubow, Co-Founder at Nimbla.com

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I stumbled into being a women in tech, when I started my first e-commerce business in 2014. We were using a ‘ready to use’ online selling platform which was very basic in terms of UX and I felt stifled by the limited design options. I decided to self-teach myself html and css coding to create the exact website look and feel I wanted. Since then, I have been teaching myself ever since. Even more so now that I sold that company and am now co-founding app Nimbla, dedicated to helping small business thrive with affordable trade cover.

London is increasingly demanding highly developed skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) from young graduates. As reports from the Greater London Authority reveal, few young people in London are leaving school with A-levels in this area, particularly young women.

In London, there are nearly 40,000 digital technology businesses, representing one fifth of the UK’s tech businesses, and there is a huge demand for digitally-skilled talent that is ready for the workplace. Increasing the number of women working in digital occupations could significantly address this demand. Currently, only 17 per cent of the digital workforce is made up of women. 17 percent! I am proud to be campaigning for an increase in this number and hope 2018 is one of major change.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“The number one thing I learned is that if you have the motivation, you can self-teach yourself almost anything. The internet has so many useful and free tools for learning the basics of coding there is almost no excuse not to get yourself up to speed. Always stay curious and develop a sponge like approach to soaking up information.

The second thing I took from my experience is that if you see something is wrong, don’t just voice your opinion of it- do something about it. Actions speak louder than words. Yes we know that there isn’t that many women being represented in STEM, but why is that? How can we change it?

Lastly, I used to not feel comfortable calling myself a woman in tech — surely it should just be person in tech? However, once seeing the numbers of women on the tech scene, and hearing that STEM in general is not something that women apparently view as exciting, I am determined to change that by showing young women how exciting the sector really is, and how much we need their skills!


Alison Maloni, Owner of Alison May Public Relations

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I am a media expert, President and CEO of Alison May Public Relations and public speaker. I am a former news reporter, who has worked throughout the Northeast at television stations in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

I use my expertise in journalism to educate my clients in media training and crisis communications. I’ve has garnered coverage for her clients in media outlets such as NBC News, Fox News, MNSBC, Huffington Post, Aol.Com and The Washington Post.

As a single mother of three, I have broken limits by building confidence and accepting that uncomfortable feeling. I have never been satisfied with average and have always wanted more. After my divorce, I could have let my personal life interfere with my business, but it forced me to work even harder. I had to support my three children and I could NOT lose my business. I had to dig deep, seek the help of friends and gain the confidence I needed to go beyond my comfort zone and take my business to the next level. In the last year, I have added an online news show and will be opening another office. Sometimes fear fuels your drive.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1) As a former reporter, I learned that you keep going until you meet your deadline or goal. We don’t stop until the story is written. The news does to wait for you and nor do your clients. You must be ready to work 24/7. If you aren’t, then you and your clients will miss out. 2) As a woman business owner, it can be scary to take center stage and lead a presentation in a boardroom full of men. You let you mind take over and wonder if they will take you seriously. But again, through reporting, I have learned that build up my confidence. I told stories to thousands of people and I had to appear confident. People can see if you are scared or doubt yourself. You must not let that show. I always tell myself that I’m the expert. They invited me to educate them and I am own the stage. As women, we need to build our self confidence in our professional and personal life. 3) Delegation is key. I failed as a delegator when I first started my business and I almost lost many clients. I was burnt out and couldn’t do it all. I thought that I could do everything myself and I refused to ask for help. The reality is that we can’t do everything ourselves. We must focus on what we are good at and trust employees to handle the rest. I hire men and women who are smarter than me and it’s been a huge success.


Julie Frederickson, CEO & Founder, Stowaway Cosmetics

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Julie Fredrickson is the founder and CEO of Stowaway Cosmetics. With a background in e-commerce and digital marketing, Julie has worked with clients including Ann Taylor, Gap, Equinox, Nike, and Coach. As an established entrepreneur — Julie’s first company, Coutorture Media, was a pioneer in the fashion blogging and affiliate marketing space. Before Stowaway Cosmetics, Julie found herself constantly hoarding sample-sized cosmetics, the perfect fit for her gym bag or carry-on for last-minute getaways. The samples were usually difficult to find, impossible to purchase regularly, and rarely the items she wanted. This led Julie to the realization that the market for smaller makeup wasn’t being met by existing brands. An inveterate optimizer, Julie is always looking for new ways to make her life easier to maintain and uses her knowledge to help Stowaway’s customers face that same problem. She believes beauty should fit into your life, instead of making your life fit your beauty products.

Designed for real women on-the-go, Stowaway Cosmetics offers everything needed to face the day.

Julie founded Stowaway Cosmetics, a line of everyday makeup products including lipsticks, blushes, and eyeliners, all housed in sizes you can carry, anywhere you go. In a market filled with oversized and bulky packaging, Stowaway makes a statement in minimalism and elegance. Each product is cleverly designed to offer simple, top-quality formulas in sleek packaging, without the guesswork. Lightweight and perfectly portable, the products are made with no harsh chemicals and are paraben, phthalate and cruelty-free.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1. Never be afraid to be embarrassed- Being bad is the first step on your journey to being great. So you will find yourself constantly feeling a twinge of embarrassment as you work to improve. That’s normal! Be embarrassed if you must and then let it go it is completely fine to not have all or even 10% of the answers you will need to be successful. The secret no one tells you when you get started is that all of your heros and inspiration started out not knowing a thing either! So unabashedly ask all of the questions you think are stupid or basic. I promise you that they are not and every answer to even the most mundane thing will teach you something.

1. Don’t “”should”” on yourself- I credit my mother with this coinage though I’m sure it has a more specific provenance. Assuming that you “”should’ be building your life or your business in specific way hobbles you. Then you will be building someone else’s idea of what is right and not your own. Even if it scares you work to find what feels right to you. Now that is not to say be blindly confident, learn and improve and correct what are genuine mistakes or errors in thinking. But don’t convince yourself that anything is set in stone and should be done in a certain way.

3. Always Be Learning- Even if you are working to become an expert in your field take the time to learn about diverse subjects. The frameworks of other professions and how their best minds problem solve can be very helpful in solving your own business challenges. Read as much as you can in fiction and non fiction to expand your horizons. Never ever stop and make the time for it. I’ve found more use for physics metaphors, football coaching strategy and Greek history that even makes logical sense for someone that runs a cosmetics company.


Kari DePhillips, Owner, The Content Factory (contentfac.com), Co-Host of The Workationing Podcast

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“In 2010, I started The Content Factory with just $500. I now have a dozen employees spread out over seven different states, and my little digital marketing agency that could now represents several national brands and some very cool tech startups.

Early on in my career, I calculated all of the time I spent “”getting ready”” for a job I was already ready to do, then commuting to an office downtown five days a week. It works out to over 500 hours per year, which I decided to give myself (and my employees) back. So, we all work from home — or wherever.

Lately the emphasis has been on the “”wherever”” part. On January 1, 2017 I started “”Workationing”” around the world, living as a digital nomad while working from places like Acapulco, Medellin and Amsterdam (all of this is documented on The Workationing Podcast).

Earlier this year I was featured by NBC News as a “”CEO who takes job perks to the max””, and media outlets like Fast Company, Glamour, Bustle and Women’s Health covered Workationing.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Lesson 1: If at all possible, figure out a way to work from home (and allow your employees the same flexibility). As a founder, it enables you to source the best talent from all over the country — you’ll be able to hire better, and for less money, when you’re aren’t geographically restricted to your local area.

Lesson 2: As a feminist, I love the way that remote work levels the playing field. Employees’ (and my agency’s) work is judged entirely by its quality, and the subsequent results we’re able to deliver for our clients. I don’t spend a lot of time each day on the unpaid labor of doing my hair and makeup before getting to work. The mothers on my team are able to spend more time with their kids and they spend less on childcare costs. There are a lot of benefits to working from home, especially for women.

Lesson 3: If you’re intentional about every aspect of your business, you can build something that is in line with your values, provides the lifestyle that you want and makes you feel like you’re making a positive difference. For me, this is the true freedom of entrepreneurship.”


Melissa Tavss, Founder and CEO, Tipsy Scoop

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Melissa’s Italian ancestors brought ice cream to Scotland in the 1800s.The family business continued with her great grandfather, Federico, who opened shops throughout Scotland and England and eventually became the President of the Ice Cream Alliance of Great Britain. Following in the ice cream tradition, Melissa began to experiment with putting a modern boozy twist on ice cream. Melissa wanted to combine the best of both worlds and infuse traditional ice cream flavors with different liquors. She finally perfected the recipes and came up with creamy, tipsy and delicious treats- Tipsy Scoop!

However, making and selling liquor-infused ice cream is not easy. Melissa needed to receive state and Federal approval declaring her product a non-beverage. Navigating the licensing, permits and labeling requirements needed for liquor-infused ice cream was certainly a challenge as it was a new category that no one really knew how to define. Tipsy Scoop ice cream does actually hold an alcohol content, up to 5% ABV.

Melissa started the company slowly doing catering and events for the first year. About a year in, she added in wholesale accounts to her roster. That did not come with challenges as well. Retailers did not know how to display and sell the product as it actually contained alcohol. Accounts like Morton Williams and Whole Foods initially took the product off the shelves because they had no idea how to work with it. Melissa worked closely with retailers to come up with a solution to clearly label the ice cream as alcohol (though in the freezer isle) and make sure consumers who purchased were properly ID-ed (scanning the product like a beer or wine).

Though brick and mortar was never in the Tipsy Scoop business plan, Melissa and the Tipsy Scoop team saw this as a logical next step after several videos about the company went viral! The videos (specifically from Circa News, Insider, and Unilad) got so many views and shares that people were finding and showing up at their production facility in East Harlem (very hard to find) looking for a boozy scoop shop. The crowds did not stop coming, so Tavss decided to open Tipsy Scoop and the first ever ice cream Barlour — where you actually get carded to buy their actually boozy ice cream!

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Be Persistent- Persistence was key for growing the Tipsy Scoop business. We kept getting push back from liquor boards who didn’t know how to define the product, grocery stores who didn’t know how to sell it, and consumers who were hesitant to even give the product a try. Being persistent allowed us to give people time and push people to understand the value of our products.

Surround yourself with driven and ambitious people- I started this company myself, but wouldn’t have gotten anywhere close to where I am now without the great team I have hired. We work with great people who are passionate about Tipsy Scoop and the growing company. Without that, its hard to get very far. We also got and get a lot of help from family and friends (really, couldn’t do anything without them).

Don’t take things too personally- So what, someone doesn’t like the ice cream? It is not a personal attack. Try and learn from what people don’t like instead of just getting sensitive and discouraged by it. I only ever used to focus on negative reviews and skim over all the positive ones. Try and learn from negative feedback but don’t let it consume you. “


Ilse Valfre, Founder and Illustrator, Valfre.com

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Valfré is a LA based women’s apparel and accessories brand that was founded by Mexican-born artist, Ilse Valfré. The brand launched in late 2013 and has quickly become a global source for the creative and wild-at-heart. Valfré’s mission is to bring her art to life by creating unique products that are a direct reflection of the psychedelic world that she has created. Her work explores the poignant tension between vulnerability and confidence as she transports her audience into the hearts and minds of the characters that she creates.

Ilse Valfre was just 22 years old when she started a blog that took her from a being nursery teacher to the owner of successful fashion, accessories and art business. She came up with the idea for Valfre through her illustrations in which she would draw characters wearing fashions she loved. Her followers loved the pieces her characters were wearing and this was inspiration to start her own line.

One of the earliest struggle Ilse dealt with was shipping product. Because Mexico’s mail service was so unreliable, she had to take her products from her parents’ home in Tijuana to San Diego, from where she would post them. She remembers walking across the border, because she didn’t have a car at the time and being met with insane lines!

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“It’s easy to cast a huge shadow of doubt on ourselves when society often treats us as 3rd class citizens. Know your value, celebrate your differences, stand up for yourself, don’t take no for an answer and create your own path if there’s not one.

Stay true to the DNA of the brand (concept, idea, whatever it may be) and constantly create new fun content.

I started out as a one woman show, and one of the biggest lessons I learned was to have a support system and team in place who lift you up.


Celeste Bonin, Founder & CEO of Celestial Bodiez (and former WWE Diva)

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I Grew up in a broken home, played sports my entire young life, started working at the age of 14 (maybe broke some child labor laws?). I passed up a college Soccer scholarship home and help with a family situation and chose to do go to college close to home. While trying to pursue a fine arts degree (What was I thinking???) I randomly had a chance to try out for the WWE at age 23. I got signed and never looked back. So basically, I got my education in the school of hard knocks…and fake fighting. Clearly, I’m not formally educated.

I ended up debuting on live TV within the first few weeks of being with WWE. It was on a reality based elimination show called NXT. I, somehow, ended up winning that elimination show and earned my spot on the main roster of SMACKDOWN. I fought tooth and nail to prove myself and to get the opportunity to be in story lines and on television regularly. I ended up wrestling for WWE for four years and managed to climb to the top of the Diva’s division, make some history (and an ass of myself…occasionally).

After a roller coaster and also hugely successful career with WWE, I decided to retire in 2014. My plan was to get married and start a business. My plan to start a business was fantastic. The marriage part…not so much.

I started a women’s fitness apparel company called Celestial Bodiez. My company is known for #Bootyscrunch. It’s a patented “ruching” sewn into the bum of my leggings. It’s lifts and shapes your booty. The idea was conceived during my WWE days. I would have the ruching sewn into my wrestling outfits.

I launched Celestial Bodiez in June of 2014, right after my wedding. The company has thrived in the past 3.5 years. However, it started to stray from my original vision.

In the beginning of 2017, I decided to leave my marriage, restructure my company and life and just… find myself. I’ve used all of my struggles through divorce and literally everything that comes along with it all to fuel all of my goals for 2018. I’m currently in the process of rebranding my company and focusing more on empowering women. That’s sound lame and cliché but there’s a total women’s movement right now and there isn’t a better time than now. I’ve become a better person for all that I’ve been and have shared a lot of it through my social media platforms. It turns out that people like that kind of stuff. It’s because we are all fighting the same fight.

2018 is all about embracing ourselves for who and what we are. Feeling good about ourselves regardless of what stage we are at and I’m just here to make flattering, comfortable, quality athleisure wear. Oh.. and just doing epic shit. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1) I’ve learned that you are never ready for anything — ever. You’re never ready for that next big opportunity. You can’t pass up once-in-a-lifetime opportunities or moments because you think you’ll fail. Honestly, sometimes you just have to fail. That’s how you learn. More than likely, you’ll rise to occasion. Learn to thrive under pressure and embrace all of the shitty moments.

2) Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and with others. Admitting what you don’t know or what you’re not good at is growth. Not everyone is great at everything. People genuinely can relate to honesty and humility. Hey… it kind of makes your more likeable.

3) Grind. Just grind. Just don’t forget that we are not guaranteed a tomorrow so don’t forget to live. Don’t miss out on adventures or a night of sleep or new relationships just because think that it will hinder your goals. Those experiences are actually what make you more successful.


Lilia Stoyanov, CEO, Transformify

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“2017 First Women Award winner (UK), 2013 Finance Excellence Award Coca-Cola Enterprises, Professor at Zigurat Business School, Barcelona, Director PTP Europe at Coca- Cola Enterprises, GM&CFO Skrill/ Paysafe (USD 800mio exit)

In just 2 years, Transformify expanded globaly, joined the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition of the European Commission and secured the support of Virgin. Our social mission is to provide access to jobs and secure payment to disadvantaged people and empower women worldwide.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“The team comes first. If you don’t hire the right people, no matter how brilliant your business idea is, it is likely to be a failure.

Never give up. If it’s not working, pivot until you find the business model that works.

It is your partnerships that will help you scale your business. Entering new markets without a local partner is extremely risky.”


Leanne Jacobs, Holistic Wealth Expert, HealthyGirl Inc.

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Leanne Jacobs is the author of BEAUTIFUL MONEY and the founder of HealthyGirl. She has her B.Sc in Biomedical Toxicology as well as her MBA. She is a certified yoga + pilates instructor as well as a certified clinical nutritionist. She is a detox specialist and a passionate advocate of holistic wealth, wellness + entrepreneurship. Leanne has been featured on the Marilyn Denis Show, Fox News, The Morning Show, The Jenny McCarthy Show, Success Magazine, Glamour Magazine, Women’s Health, Entrepreneur and Marie Claire. She is also mom to 4 Children. She experienced first hand the very direct relationship health has with money. At the age of 28, she experienced both emotional and physical crisis in pursuit of success. Today, Leanne mentors on her philosophy of a new era of wealth creation- holistic wealth. She calls this the beautiful money movement. Leanne’s book BEAUTIFUL MONEY (Penguin Random House. 2017.) guides readers through a very strategic and simple 4 week program for holistic wealth creation.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“There were several lessons I learned along this journey. First and foremost that more isn’t always better. I was always chasing the next promotion, the next achievement, the next great challenge. This pattern which drove me for over a decade resulted in anxiety, adrenal fatigue and spiritual starvation (along with an unhealthy relationship with food). Doing less with more connectivity and with more presence leads to a much more fulfilling life and sustainable state of joy. The second lesson for me was that addictions are gifts. When we become more in tune with our bodies, addictions (work, technology, food, alcohol, exercise, etc.) are ways for our physical bodies to get our attention. These addictions are physical reminders that we are out of alignment and reminders that choices we have made or are making may not be aligned with our true selves (or our intuitive nature). Today, when food addictions or work addictions appear, they are indicators that there are some choices I am making that are not in alignment with my intuition or highest self. Third, I have learned that my vehicles for making money must be in alignment with my core values. If my health suffers in pursuit of cash, it is simply not sustainable wealth. The key to holistic wealth is to learn how to master the concept of leverage in everything we do (especially for women and for moms).


Kavita Channe, Founder & CEO of Channé Rosé

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

In the summer of 2016 my boyfriend and I went on a summer trip all over Italy with a few stops in France. Both the foodies that we are, on top of sightseeing it seemed like a majority of our time was spent eating amazing local food and drinking delicious, authentic wine. What stuck out to me was the rosé wine from Provence. I couldn’t get enough! I’m talkin’ gorgeous French weather… beautiful music… stunning South of France views…. a pale peach colored glass of rosé to pair with a tasty bite… nothing like it! Mind you, I was not a rosé drinker prior to this trip. So we come home to the states and I crave my delicious glass of rosé. However, there was only one problem… most of the restaurants had subpar rosé on the menu. Now, I did not want to give up my new favorite beverage… so we had this bright idea to go to France in search of the best rosé we could find and bring it to the US. And here we are.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“If you’re going to INVEST (your time and your money) then you must INVESTigate your industry. Research all you can. Seek as many people as you need in various roles and pick their brains. Conduct a risk assessment. What are the risks? Are okay with the worst-case scenario? And go from there.

RELATIONSHIPS matter the most. Don’t be shortsighted and burn bridges. If you form and maintain great relationships you will see how magical the world of business (and life) can really be.

Lastly, be a GIVER. Donate when you can. Find a way to make your business have a positive impact on the world, no matter how big or small.

“ My boyfriend and I created “Dining For A Difference” inspired by our love for charity, food and wine. Each intimate dinner we pair with a charity and restaurant and create awareness while raising money. This one benefitted Cystic Fibrosis of South Florida and was hosted by the NFL’s Olivier Vernon. Guests enjoyed a 5-course culinary tasting from Lobster Bar Sea Grille in Fort Lauderdale paired with Channé Rosé. If you ain’t giving then you ain’t living!


Estee Goldschmidt, CEO & Co-Founder, ShopDrop App

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Estee is the CEO & Co-Founder of ShopDrop, an app that is a one-stop solution to all sample sale shopping. Estee started working on ShopDrop while pursuing her MBA at the Stern School of Business over a year ago. Now the app has thousands of monthly active users who follow the app, blog and social for affordable fashion updates.

Prior to Stern, Estee worked in marketing at Estee Lauder, where she experienced the eternal need to find designer clothing on a budget.

The limit-breaking happened around opening the community of sample sales (traditionally reserved to those with connections in the fashion industry) to anyone with interest in designer fashion. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Figure out the cheapest way to prove concepts (or in technical terms: develop MVPs). Then test, learn and implement. Repeat that cycle again and again until you have the perfect product validated by your customers. For ShopDrop, that meant testing different design options and monetization strategies.

2. Don’t give up too early. It took 3 months of full-time work on our end to get the first 50 active users. After that we were growing exponentially every month. Patience & endurance are essential in the early months.

3. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Worst case — you get a no. Talk to as many people as you can. Identify those who went through similar journeys (entrepreneurs, potential consumers, those who work in relevant industries) — set up some time to talk and learn as much as you can about how you will continue building your own business. “


Christina Stembel, Founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Christina isn’t your typical entrepreneur. She doesn’t have a fancy pedigree or even a college degree, making her stand out from the Silicon Valley founder image that has become commonplace. While some may consider this a negative, she believes her atypical road to entrepreneurship has been a positive asset. She has tenacity and intellectual curiosity in spades, and an insane work ethic — which she firmly believes are fundamental requirements for success.

Christina always knew she wanted to start a business that would utilize her creativity, solve a real problem, and having the potential to scale big. She dreamed up the idea for Farmgirl Flowers in 2010, quit her job at Stanford University, and launched from her dining room in San Francisco, which housed the company (and her very understanding fiancé!) for 2 years. She’s built Farmgirl from less than $50K in self funding into an 75+ person company generating $13M+ in annual revenue. She’s not stopping there though — she plans to grow Farmgirl to $1B in annual revenue while creating a business she’s want to buy from, sell to, and work for — because she believes it’s just the right thing to do.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Remind yourself that most people won’t think like you. So change your thinking and expectations early.

Don’t listen to anyone (esp. your husband) when he tells you not to bring in co-founders early in order to not dilute equity. You’re gonna need the help!

It get’s harder as you get bigger. The first two years being the hardest, not true. All lies!

You’ll want to drive off the cliff at least twice a year. Don’t worry, you’re not alone — even though you’re going to feel pretty alone a lot of the time. But don’t do it. There’s a tiny little light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not the headlights coming towards you.


Alexandra Isenegger, Founder and CEO, Linkilaw — The legal Platform for Startups.

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Alexandra Isenegger is the founder and CEO of Linkilaw — the legal platform for startups. While working in a corporate law firm, Alex spotted a gap in the legal sector and inefficiencies in the fees charged by large firms for services provided to startups. Leaving a secure job and founding her own company at the age of 21 was no mean feat. From not having enough staff to cater to client needs to being nominated as one of the top tech startups at LegalGeek, Alex has had quite the journey. Speaker of seven languages, Alex is also passionate about meditation and the effect it has on all aspects of life and believes in honest, effective communication as the key to success in both business, and our personal lives.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1) Choose who you work with wisely. That can make or break your startup. Communicate. Make sure that your expectations of one another correspond.

2) Do not live life worrying about what other people think. I cannot emphasise how much that doesn’t matter. I faced a lot of resistance in my industry and would have gotten nowhere if I had paid attention to this.

3) Be truthful and honest, even when it means not getting your desired outcome. Your reputation is much more valuable than your entire business. Business comes and goes, but reputation is built slowly over time and can be destroyed instantly. If you stay true to yourself, you’ll have no regrets.


Rachel Sumekh, Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Rachel Sumekh is the Founder & CEO of Swipe Out Hunger. The organization is a leading force in addressing hunger amongst college students. Her work has been recognized by The Obama White House, The New York Times and landed her on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Swipe Out Hunger began in 2010 with a few friends as a college project at UCLA. Since, it has grown onto 37 universities, serving 1.4 million meals. Their innovative approach allows university students to donate the unused funds from their meal plans to food insecure peers. Earlier this year the organization was called upon to author a piece of legislation to address college student hunger. The state of California adopted their innovative legislation and put $7.5 Million behind it.

Before launching Swipe Out Hunger full time, Rachel followed her millennial urge to change the world and served those facing poverty as a case manager in Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys advising social entrepreneurs, engaging in civic life and staying active. She is a proud graduate of UCLA and says she is challenging the status quo of what it means to be a Typical Persian Girl.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Stay committed to your end goal yet be willing to adapt.

Don’t be obsessed with your idea, be obsessed with a vision. If you don’t have a vision, have something you’re striving towards and move in its direction. As you do, it’ll become more clear.

Our program has evolved considerably since it started. We wouldn’t have survived if I’d stayed obsessed with our original model. Initially, we were rounding up the extra meal points from university meal plans and providing meals to anyone who was hungry. Today, we’ve gone ahead and refined our work to serve just one demographic– college students that are going hungry. It was hard to explain the pivot but we saw the need among students and that we had a unique opportunity to act. Since then, we’ve become the leading national organization addressing college hunger. We had more growth in 2017 than the three years before it. A law we wrote was just adopted by California and received $7.5 million in state funds.

2. Hear people’s feedback

I would have 6–8 coffee meetings a month when we started. It’s critical to hear how different people respond to your idea. It helps you get better at receiving feedback which leaves you prepared to better respond in pitch meetings when it matters. This is especially important if you tend to take things personally. As a young women, especially of color, I raised was to be people pleasing but that doesn’t serve a social entrepreneur. Get an adviser, ask them to remind you to dream big, and to take every goal and multiply it by ten. Nowadays I walk around saying we’re going to end college student hunger. We have to build solutions at the same scale as our problems, and the problems we’re solving are big.

3. Believe in yourself, not the hype.

It is critical to set your own metrics for success. The “image” of success that we have in our minds might drive us but it is not a metric, the work is. A focus on your work goals will keep you on track when things don’t go as planned or when a competitor has a win. One of the most important books that teaches this is “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday. The startup scene is full of egos. Learning to tame mine was what allowed us to scale nationally.


Kelly Gasink and Jill Burns, Co-founders, Austin Cocktails

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Austin Cocktails is a family-owned by independently accomplished entrepreneurs and sisters, Kelly Gasink and Jill Burns. Jill and Kelly come to Austin Cocktails with previous beverage experience, business acumen and highly successful entrepreneurial backgrounds. Jill gained ground floor drink development experience working with a beverage company that was bought by Post Holdings. Importantly, Jill understood where big companies cut corners in drink development and knew that seeking the finest ingredients grown in various soils and temperatures was the cornerstone of creating superior drinks. She also knew that innovations were making the time ripe for the development of something craft in the ready-to-serve space. Jill brings a wealth of experience in marketing and PR which she developed working for legendary sports agent, Leigh Steinberg, and later at her own firm. Jill graduated from Santa Clara University where she played on the golf team. While Jill primarily manages the consumer marketing side, Kelly manages distributor and retailer strategies and oversees corporate finance. As a co-founder of three successful start-up businesses, two of which were sold to publicly traded companies, Kelly leverages her extensive experience growing sales and overseeing channel development. Kelly manages the needs and interests of numerous supply chain members starting with ingredient suppliers, bottlers, distributors, retailers and every other entity involved linking Austin Cocktails, ultimately, to the retailer floor manager. Kelly received her undergraduate degree in Economics from Stanford and her graduate degree from Harvard and was named one of The Wall Street Journal’s “Faces of a New Generation of Leaders and Entrepreneurs.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

You can’t be a leader by following.

Entrepreneurs build something different than what the marketplace has gotten used to seeing. Recall that you are disrupting the status quo and have a vision few see. Understand your competitors and be everything they are not.

We’ve broken our category stigma by taking the preconceived notions head on, abandoning traditional views and stereotypes and striking out in new directions.

Get comfortable with discomfort.

This is where all progress happens. The days when we do something that makes us so nervous we are shaking a little bit turn out to be some of best days. In a sense, it is our job and role to be bold. We remember driving to an address on dark roads in the middle of Texas to meet a potential investor thinking we were heading to an office but the directions led us to a non-descript house. The group we met there turned out to be great investors.

We don’t hide behind our computers in the office. We drive all over visiting with our customers and retailers and often hear we are competing with large brands and big budgets. This forces us to get creative and build good will through relationships with store managers, distributors and our fan base. While it’s uncomfortable at times, it often proves the most rewarding part of our job.

Assembling good financials sets a roadmap to growth and success.

Asking people to invest their hard-earned money is not anything you should take lightly. You have a responsibility and fiduciary duty to work tirelessly to be successful. The first thing you should do is develop rigorous financials for the first three years. Nearly every input will be off by some amount, but you owe it to yourself, your employees and your investors to have a very clear idea of costs, revenues, margins, and relevant industry standards. Rarely do entrepreneurs have the expertise to formulate this independently, so tirelessly seek industry experts who will provide you with an industry template, help you put together a realistic plan, test your assumptions, and offer context. Know this will be revised constantly across the first 3 years of operations. “


Jordan E. Dollard, Owner and CEO, Elsa Fine Brands

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Jordan E. Dollard was laid off at 23, leaving her with an internal fire to never get left in the lurch again. She started Elsa Fine in 2014 to bring a little color into an otherwise dull world. Over a three year period, Elsa Fine has evolved into so much more, a lot due to Jordan’s eagerness to succeed. In addition to the women’s clothing store, Jordan leads the way in the Charlotte temporary retail scene, creating open air markets, pop-up shops, and other temporary retail opportunities. The idea of temporary retail has been trending for a few years now, but Jordan is swimming furiously in uncharted territory by creating a career out of it. In addition to her shop which regularly engages in these events, she oversees the Charlotte Ballet’s retail program and directs and curates open air markets and festivals around the city with plans to expand the category to new locations in 2018 and 2019.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

I’ve learned a lot of lessons from the positives and the negatives of starting a company, many of which I still feel the pushback of to this day. First and foremost is the financial lessons I’ve learned. Understand and know what kind of financing is out there for a business. I jumped at the first offer I had, which ended up being the wrong one. Elsa Fine still feels the ramifications of this today, but because of my resilience and honestly, fear of failing, we succeed in spite of it everyday. I also believe in surrounding yourself with people who believe in what you’re doing. They can be hard to find, but they’ll help you grow in ways that you just can’t do yourself. And third, take NO with a grain of salt. I get a lot of no’s. A LOT. When you’re doing something new and unfounded, that’ll happen. No doesn’t mean never and true leaders find a way to make that no a yes.


Suelin Chen, CEO and co-founder, Cake

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Suelin Chen is the CEO and co-founder of Cake (joincake.com), an online platform for advance care and end-of-life planning that is used by companies including Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, Harvard Pilgrim, Liberty Mutual, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Suelin earned her BS and PhD from MIT, where she engineered new medical imaging technologies at a translational research lab at MGH. She served as the Director of The Lab@Harvard, where she worked with student entrepreneurs and researchers at the Wyss Institute to commercialize their ideas. Suelin then worked as a transaction advisor to healthcare companies at IMS Health Capital before starting Cake.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“My journey as a founder has taught me a great deal, but here are 3 lessons that I’ve learned along the way:

1. This life is finite, so live without regrets: I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with all sorts of people about their end-of-life experiences, and the themes that come up in these conversations are consistent: we should spend time on the things we think are most important, and let the little things go. Our world would be a better place if we all lived with the heightened perspective that awareness about our mortality can bring.

2. It’s all about the people: it may feel a bit cliché to say that all things happen because of relationships, but it honestly is true. Everything from building an effective team, to forging partnerships, to designing technology products, to raising money, is all about making and nurturing human connections.

3. Persistence and resilience will take you far– if you truly believe in something, and have the tenacity to overcome obstacles and actually follow through on what you set out to do, you will be able to accomplish amazing things in this world. So much of success is just sticking with it.”


Ermelinda Manos, founder, EM Creative Group

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Ermelinda Manos was born in Southern Albania and raised in Athens, Greece. She moved to Las Vegas at the young age of 12 and has called Sin City home ever since. As a DACA young immigrant, Manos overcame any limits by receiving her college degree, debuting a women’s evening wear line at LA Fashion Week, working with world-renowned designer brands, authoring and self-publishing a book, and launching her own manufacturing brand, while advocating for young immigrants.

She received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts and fashion design from the International Academy of Design and Technology, as well as an associate’s of arts degree in philosophy from the College of Southern Nevada.

Manos honed her skills in the fashion industry working with world-renowned brands such as: Giorgio Armani Prive, Chanel, Teen Vogue, Macy’s Passport, Nordstrom’s and Miss Universe as a dresser, learning and gaining experience from the best. She has also been involved with a multitude of local campaign ads, national commercials, music videos, and feature films.

After spending time as a fashion stylist, Manos fulfilled her childhood dream of designing her own label, which focuses on handmade women’s evening gowns, cocktail dresses and bridal attire. She launched her women’s evening wear line, Ermelinda Manos Designs at LA Fashion Week in the fall of 2009. Following the launch of her line she was named one of the most anticipated designers of Los Angeles Fashion Week.

Manos produces multiple runway shows each year in her hometown of Las Vegas to raise awareness and funds to local and national nonprofit organizations while establishing her local brand. She brings the spirit of her beloved home to various fashion shows and events across the country.

Her latest ode to Las Vegas is in the form of a book entitled “Lost in Las Vegas.” The coffee table book combines fashion and history to capture the struggles Manos had to face acquiring American citizenship. Lost in Las Vegas encapsulates the beauty of Downtown Las Vegas at some famous and not-so-famous spots, with brief history and untold stories.

In 2017, after years of assisting other designers with apparel production and manufacturing, she launched EM Creative Group. She custom makes every article of clothing in her production room in Las Vegas, going beyond what other manufacturers do, including fittings and stylings. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Don’t make decisions based on your emotions. Sometimes things just get hard, and I find myself in a love/ hate relationship with my business. I question if I’m on the right path and what the future is going to be, but I’ve learned to not make decisions based on my emotions, whether enthusiastic or disappointed, because my love for my career and my dream to own my business are far more important to ever be put in jeopardy over my emotions.

Be consistent. This comes with everything you do, from personal life to business. Develop a schedule for your life, and stick to it. Hold yourself accountable if you flake on your goals, those emails you need to send or the date night you keep postponing. You can’t be in the right state of mind to make clear decisions or enthusiastic about your company’s future if you’re not consistent in your work ethic. Despite the ups and downs you have to stick by your plan you set for yourself and stay focused. If you fail, get back up and keep doing it. Consistency is a guarantee to success.

Others’ emergencies aren’t necessarily your emergency. As a young entrepreneur, naturally you are eager for opportunities and never want to disappoint others, but you need to stay firm in what you believe serves you and your business best. Learn to say no to people and projects that are not going to benefit you. Deals and proposals that need a rush decision usually end up costing you more or being just a pain to deal with. I have learned not to make impulse decisions because it affects someone else’s time, but rather anyone you want to do business with will be respectful of and value your time enough to not pressure you into rush decisions. There’s a freedom in working for yourself that you don’t have to compromise your company values for anyone. “


Felicia Jackson, Inventor and CEO, CPR Wrap

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“On October 4th, 1971, I was born into a loving family that taught me I could be and do anything in life. As I grew older and became a participant in everyday life I met people that made me feel the opposite. While growing up, I never knew about African American inventors because we were not taught about these people in school. I always knew I was meant for more.

The year 2002 changed my life. While driving with my family one beautiful day I looked to check on my children and noticed my 2 year old son was choking. My husband immediately pulled to the side of the road, took our son from his car seat and gave him to me. I looked into my sons eyes and was frozen in fear. I was CPR certified and worked in the medical field but I couldn’t move! My husband saw this, took our son from me and saved his life. It was at that moment I knew I had to do something.

I was working as a Physical Therapist Assistant and loved my job. I always felt I was going to retire treating people because I was great at it, but my life’s journey had other plans for me.

One night I had a dream of someone performing CPR and using a template over the victim that was guiding them, ultimately saving the victim’s life. I woke up, sketched what I could remember and sat on it for a few years. I was unable to get the images out of my head as if I was supposed to do something with this. I made a decent living but my family was still cash poor so I could not get a patent or make a prototype. I worked extra hours and saved what I could to pay for ten vinyl templates, went to the U.S Patent website and applied for my provisional patent myself.

This took me 3 months of researching and making mistakes but I did it. I did not have family members or friends with money to loan nor did I know about accelerator programs or business programs to teach me about structuring a business at the time but I pushed forward. I eventually got connected to a non profit called LAUNCH CHA that catered to low income, minority entrepreneurs. After graduating I was invited to be a part of Co.Lab Accelerator program and completed that. I was surrounded by tech start ups of all kinds that were getting invited to pitch to investors and getting capital from VC’s and Angel investors, but the only thing I got was people telling me I had a great product. I still pushed forward.

During my journey I have conquered many fears like flying in a airplane for pitch competitions, getting up to speak in front of hundreds of people during a Tedx Talk, and auditioning for Shark Tank producers. My disappointments and barriers have been many and being a African American Female Founder didn’t make things any easier. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

In a span of 2 years I have went from a company of 1 to having 2 employees, a great investor, a finished product and paying customers. My journey is far from over because I have something to prove…not to others but myself. My goal is the be the blue print for other minority, poor, innovators of the world to follow a path of entrepreneurial success. There is no limit to success with passion, purpose, and determination.


Cuyana

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Founded in 2011 and launched in 2013, Cuyana was a pioneer of the modern luxury movement. Co-founders Shilpa Shah and Karla Gallardo launched the collection with the ethos “fewer, better things” — inspiring women to invest in quality wardrobe essentials made by skilled artisans from around the world.

The brand is powered by a factory network of specialty artisans/makers from around the globe, and has a nimble supply chain and production cycle. Prior to launch, Shilpa and Karla spent two years building relationships with small, family-owned factories that specialize (and are truly experts) in a specific material, be it cashmere, leather, etc.

Unlike brands who must meet order quotas with factory partners and create product in mass quantities, Cuyana’s relationships with their factory partners has allowed them to order smaller quantities of product that are crafted with the highest quality by skilled craftsman.

Since launch, Cuyana has grown 100% year-over-year and today includes rtw, select pieces for men, and retail stores in LA, San Francisco, New York Boston and Dallas.

Having grown up in Ecuador, Karla earned her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shilpa graduated with her MBA from UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Finding the right business partners: When we were first raising investment, we would talk to male investors who didn’t get the concept of a fashion brand, let alone a fashion brand that celebrated women and female empowerment. Female investors however immediately got our vision and recognized fewer, better as something that would appeal to women customers looking for brands with meaning.

Doing what’s right for your business: We’ve worked hard to understand what is right for us, especially regarding our business model and distribution strategy. As a digital-first brand, we’ve went against the industry trend and experimented and found success with brick and mortar. Retail may not make sense for everyone, but for us, the quality and story only are better in person.

Following our instincts: In the beginning of the business, we released a Panama hat and was contacted by the Ecuadorean government asking us to use the proper local name for the item. We didn’t budge, insisting that “Panama hat” had better SEO. It was a crucial lesson in always following our instincts.


Shari Buck, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Doximity

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“In a world where females in both leading and technical roles are scarce, Shari started her entrepreneurial journey unphased by these facts. With Jeff Tangney and Nate Gross, Shari founded Doximity in 2011 with the goal of building a free, secure social network for physicians. At Doximity, Shari manages cross-functional departments to lead all product management operations and has broad experience in mobile software design, development, QA, and user testing.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Define what the measurement of success is early on. In the start of any project, initiative, or company — knowing what success looks like is the most important thing. Keeping a clear focus on what you’re working towards will act as the guiding light to your success.

2. Hire people to replace you. As a founder or early entrepreneur, you’re passionate about your company and its vision and success. You have your stamp on everything and because of that, it’s hard to give up control. But hiring really smart, motivated, individuals who have the same goals will help your company scale. You’re multiplying your own value by hiring the right people. At the same time, you can’t be shy about parting ways with people who aren’t achieving their goals. If there’s one thing that drives a team’s morale down the fastest, it’s working with people who aren’t contributing to the team’s success.

3. Mission and culture really matter. When you hire smart from the beginning, you define who you are and what’s most important to your company. But every step along the way, you need to continuously support that. Because as you grow, the people who helped define that culture won’t be touching every aspect of the business as they did when you were a smaller team. Keeping the culture alive is a really big part of a company’s brand and employee’s happiness.


Lyde Spann, Founder and CEO of netamorphosis, an award-winning digital agency

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Between the rise of the #Me2 movement and a strong economy, 2017 was a good year for women in the business community as a study also found the rate of women entrepreneurs saw the biggest increase in almost two decades. Relatively few women-owned firms smash through the $1 million barrier and one of them happens to be the female pioneer and former head of ecommerce for the retailer Zara: Lyde Spann, Founder and CEO of n e t a m o r p h o s i s, an award-winning digital agency whose data-driven approach has helped more than 60 retailers grow traffic and drive revenue by +70%/ a year. Lyde is regarded as a pioneer within the digital industry; known for leading and developing dynamic eCommerce and omnichannel operations for some of the most ambitious organizations in the world. With more than 20 years experience carving out data-driven, technology-forward solutions for Fortune 500 companies including; HSBC, New York Life Insurance, west elm, The Museum of Modern Art (NY), and Inditex, the largest fashion retail in the world; Lyde founded netamorphosis, a growth focused consultancy meets digital agency that has tested and proven a metrics-driven growth process on more than 60 companies, to drive organizational performance to unprecedented results.

“While my first entrepreneurial foray was a joint venture with my best friend in Charlotte NC at the ripe age of ten years old called ‘Hostess Helpers’; Hostess Helpers was in essence a service by way of party preparations for our parents’ and their friends at neighborhood social gatherings. While I appreciated the growth of our reputation throughout the neighborhood and the cash in my pocket, I discovered from an early age that I seemed to be more inspired by my uncles…who were all one thing… architects. I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be an ‘architect’ and to build things. Coupled with an early education that was facilitated by my parents re: the value of generating returns, who encouraged me to invest my Hostess Helpers earnings within low risk CD’s (certificates of deposits) that evolved over time into stock investments comprised of greater risk, but also greater returns — I would typically look at North Carolina based companies where I understood the concept, and flash forward nine years later, my investments had yielded a 14x return and $800 grew to $14,000. From that moment I knew that I was entrepreneurial and that I wanted to start a business one day.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

netamorphosis, the growth-focused digital agency that I founded in theory in 2011 and launched in November 2014 serves as a strategy-based growth engine supporting both core business operations in the format of traditional business consulting in tandem with devising and implementing cutting-edge digital and omnichannel marketing strategies for industries ranging from healthcare to not-for-profits to global retail leaders.

a. To put one’s self in situations where you never stop learning can be intimidating and requires courage, this in essence is the entrepreneur’s journey. Prior to founding netamorphosis, I had been fortunate to be entrusted to transition some of the world’s most ambitious brands into the digital era, I spearheaded the launch of westelm.com, re-branded the Museum of Modern Art to MoMA.org and MoMAstore.org following their acclaimed midtown Manhattan re-opening and delivered the strategy that would drive one of the fastest ecommerce onramps in history, driving Inditex’s brands to generate more than two billion dollars online. As a result, I’ve learned something new almost every day of my career and from the moment of netamorphosis’ inception, I vowed that we would never become an AOR (Agency of Record), which is what most agencies strive to become for continuous revenue generation. Our client relationship objectives are different; they are not centered around ‘maintaining’ a client’s business, but instead and in alignment with my in-house mandates focus on growing and building our clients’ businesses to their greatest potential using direct-to-consumer marketing and digital platforms as our primary tools.

b. One of the biggest surprises I’ve had in creating netamorphosis, is the longevity of our client partnerships. The reason for our longevity, is not because of comfort, complacency or security, it is because our client-relationship is governed by a mutual desire to grow…for our clients’ businesses to reach and exceed their growth potential; however, corporate culture is often about a balance of power. We’ve discovered that the dynamic of our external (client-side) and internal (netamorphosis resource) approach affords us, feeds a real need for companies today requiring accelerated growth and ultimately the need to quickly hire and on-board technically adept roles. Our flexible resource approach has proven itself to be a healthier team dynamic that results in healthier growth rates and sustainability.

c. The other thing I’ve learned is that mistakes are necessary for the learning process. When we fail, while it can be painful, it also requires perspective, maturity and resiliency. The most important question we ask through our interview process at netamorphosis, is for candidates to provide an example of a mistake that facilitated his or her greatest learning (opportunity). From my earlier professional days it would have been humbling to list a mistake where I thought I was less than perfect in fulfilling expectations. Now I seek individuals, who are able to articulate the growth they’ve experienced by making and learning from a mistake. To stay on the leading edge of architecting and developing digital platforms, we will always need to be comfortable making and learning from mistakes.


Simona Vaitkune, CEO, Fast Invest

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Simona Vaitkune is the CEO of Fast Invest. Under her leadership, Fast Invest has expanded into 36 countries across three offices in the UK, Poland and Italy with over 8,500 daily active investors. As a Millennial CEO, Simona has been able to use her innovative perspective to disrupt the male-dominated world of FinTech across Europe. Simona took her personal experiences working in the finance industry and as a member of the Big Credit board of directors to help guide her strategy in the creation of the platform. She holds degrees in Business Management and Fine Arts.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1. Think creatively. As a young female CEO, I have a different perspective than a lot of tech leaders, especially when it comes to cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a male-dominated field, and most people that participate in the cryptocurrency marketplace are young men. I knew that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to this demographic alone. Part of our success comes from trying to reach out to different demographics. We have a large number of female users, showing that with creative thought, demographics aren’t destiny.

2. Persevere. Any founder will tell you the road to success is littered with major obstacles. Whether it be doubters, or difficulty raising capital, or struggles in tech development, nothing comes easily. Founders need to keep going even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

3. Bring your outside experience with you. I have a degree in art, which at first glance might not seem relevant to business management, but it has been very valuable in teaching me important skills like patience and leadership. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have a background in tech. Outside skills can be just as valuable. “


Vicki Holt, CEO, Proto Labs

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Vicki Holt is a gutsy CEO in an industry chock full of men: manufacturing. Not only did she take the helm of Proto Labs, a $185M company — she raised it to $300M in no time flat. She doesn’t shy away from risk or innovation either. Vicki convinced the leadership team to invest heavily in 3D printing for parts (before 3D was much of a “thing”). This bold move boosted revenue by 160%, helping Proto Labs crack the top 5 Forbes list of America’s Best Small Companies not once, but twice.

By transitioning Proto Labs well beyond the role of a traditional manufacturing services company, Vicki has created an entirely new business model — the digital manufacturer. Clients send in 3D design files digitally which are routed through a proprietary system of quality design checks and price quoting. Experts designers and engineers are even on hand to help clients ensure that the intricate parts they design are print-ready.

Computerized systems shuttle approved designs to 3D printers, injection molding machines or CNC machines which independently create the parts exactly to spec. Another set of digital inspection tools ensures that the final piece matches the original design. In many cases, this entire process happens in about 24 hours — making Proto Labs the fastest way to get a complex part manufactured. Even large quantities of parts (up to 10,000 parts) can be made much quicker than traditional contract manufacturing services.

Under Vicki’s limit-busting leadership Proto Labs now creates the foundational components of some of the world’s most recognizable products and brands — including medical devices, electronics, automobiles, consumer products and even rockets.

In 2017, IndustryWeek recognized Vicki as a top woman in manufacturing, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal named her a most-admired CEO. In part because of Vicki’s drive to transform Proto Labs into an innovation powerhouse, company’s workforce has grown from 750 employees to just under 2,000. Among the top in-demand jobs are highly skilled designers and engineers who can be found working on million-dollar designs and digital machinery — there’s no dirty manufacturing jobs here!

Because of Vicki’s ability to break through barriers and propel her company to greatness, Motley Fool recently named Proto Labs as its best-performing 3D printing stock of 2017, beating out other 3D print sector companies — all lead by men. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Lesson #1: Everyone goes through different experiences in their career and this allows us to each bring a different perspective to any conversation. My first lesson is that you should actively seek out these perspectives. Don’t limit yourself to your own views. I’ve been fortunate to have some outstanding mentors and coaches who have had a significant impact on how I view the world, my role in it and how this applies to business. If you don’t have someone like this in your life, get one.

Lesson #2: Be a connector. As women, we have an opportunity to lead in the digital economy by creating connections among employees, customers, channel partners and communities. Instead of keeping everyone on their own task, siloed from each other, look for opportunities to create connections. This is where our greatest ideas start to evolve and where we can make the biggest strides. Nothing is ever accomplished in isolation so keep yourself open, and create connections in all parts of your business and personal life.

Lesson #3: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and push into industries that have fewer women. And if you’re already working in an environment like that — as I am — then make a concerted effort to build bridges for other women to cross. As a representative of the manufacturing community, I try to help women understand that there are a tremendous number of rewarding careers in manufacturing — especially now that digital manufacturing has opened up the type and volume of jobs available in this sector.


Carin Luna-Ostaseski, Founder of SIA Scotch Whisky

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I am the first American woman in history to create a brand of Blended Scotch Whisky. I didn’t grow up in a distilling family, I’m not Scottish, and until I started my business, I never held a job at a liquor company. What I did have was a deep passion for this amazing spirit and the burning desire to share it with people and change the perception that Scotch is “your grandfather’s drink.”

I left a successful career as a Creative Director for media and tech companies behind to pursue my dream. I’m not going to lie, it was a very scary experience, stepping into the unknown, risking your name and reputation on something completely new, but knowing deep inside that this is no longer something that you can’t “not do” anymore. I made that jump 4 years ago, and launched SIA on Kickstarter. At the time, it was highest spirits raise in Kickstarter’s history, and it was the first time anyone had crowdfunded a Scotch.

The first three batches of SIA have now sold out, we have top distribution partners across the United States, I’ve teamed up with a dream team of advisors and partners, and SIA has won 5 major international spirits awards, including a 96 Point rating from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, beating out many of my favorite brands, and also a Double Gold Medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. And we’re just getting started!

These days, we’re in the midst of a fundraise with the right strategic partners to accomplish our goals of building out the best team to support all of the incredible momentum we’ve achieved in recent months.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“I can answer this question in three words: Never. Give. Up.

Had I given up the first 80 (that’s right 80 times) someone told me “No” while I was starting my business and looking for help, SIA would have never seen the light of day. I remember this number because I reached out to every single distillery I had visited, every person I read about in a whisky book, magazine or website, every independent bottler and contractor, until finally the 81st person finally said “Yes, we can help.” This partner helped guide me through and speed up the process, and avoid costly mistakes and eventually became my business partner.

Persistence is everything. If you truly believe in something, then you give it your all, every single day. When you think it can’t be done, when you are overwhelmed and exhausted, when people tell you No. You must keep going. This is your business and if you aren’t working on it, then no one is.

I also believe it is important to align yourself with people who believe in your passion as much as you do.

Starting a business is lonely work. I came from 17 years of corporate America, where I built and managed teams and spent days filled with joyful collaborations. Starting a business by yourself and feeling your way around in the dark alone can really shake your confidence at times. But if you are going along for the ride with someone who has done it before, and can help you divide and conquer, it can change everything. You don’t have to do it all by yourself, there are people out there who will share your passion and will help you to achieve it. Look for them, regardless of what stage you are at in your business.

And the biggest lesson of all: Ask for what you want. You will never get anything in this world if you don’t ask for it, sometimes even demand it. Especially as a woman in business in the biggest “Old Boys Club” of all, I’ve learned this lesson very well.


Monika Elling, CEO and Founder of Foundations Marketing Group

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Monika Elling is the CEO and Founder of Foundations Marketing Group, a New York based brand development agency created to address the strategic marketing communications and brand-building needs of the wine and spirits, and luxury product sectors. She is also the CEO of the Paradigm Collection, a newly launched, U.S. based, National Importer of fine wines and craft spirits. Experienced in developing and implementing global marketing programs, Monika has decades of expertise in the trade on the supply as well as the import/wholesale sides, having most recently served as Director of Public Relations at Lauber Imports, a division of Southern Wines & Spirits, America’s largest wholesaler. Prior to joining Lauber, Monika held the position of Chief Marketing Officer for Monarchia Matt International, where she launched the European company’s American division. She is a thought leader and innovator in the global wine & spirits industry, and with FMG, created a unique platform to embrace the latest market innovations in the U.S. wine and spirits sector. Monika is a noted speaker and author, and recently published her book Wine 123: “”All You Need to Know About Wine in 90 Minutes or Less”” which is now available on Amazon. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“As I watched the global wine business undergo unprecedented growth and challenges, I decided it was time to strike out on my own and create a unique, turnkey solution for global suppliers looking to build their U.S. market presence. The challenges I faced were as follows:

1.The Wine & Spirits industry sector is entirely male dominated.

2. My business model was novel and went against traditional industry thinking.

3.Bootstrapping was the name of the game. I was a newly single mother rebuilding a life, with full responsibilities to make my business succeed.

Although these were significant challenges, I was able to focus on where I was heading, and learned to make that the most important conversation I was having with myself each day. The barriers still exist, but staying focused has helped make them manageable.

I have learned a great deal in developing my company, and these are some of the lessons that I live by:

1. Believe in your vision but continue to innovate and pivot. Market dynamics are continuously evolving; keep an open mind. While I am on track and executing my original plan, we continue to adjust our strategy to stay well ahead of the sector.

2. Business development is your key role as a leader. No matter how many people are on your team, no one can do that part as well as you can. This is the one thing you must do day in day out. It is so easy to get caught up working in your business, that working on the business is often missed.

3. Stay hungry. There are thoughts and emotions that drive the desire to succeed each day. If you are feeling satisfied, that burn dissipates and the energy can wane. I want my company to be stronger, better and faster, and that requires intensity. There is a great deal left to achieve.”


Amanda Greenberg, CEO and co-founder of Baloonr

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Amanda Greenberg is the co-founder and CEO of Baloonr, an app that removes bias from collaboration, decision-making, and innovation so that companies gain access to otherwise unreachable insights. Their tech (web/iOS/Slack) levels the playing field, by removing the most costly cognitive biases (e.g., groupthink, pattern recognition, anchoring, gender bias) from the workplace. Prior to founding Baloonr, she was a public health researcher and evaluation specialist in DC, managing projects for the U.S. EPA, CDC, and DOE. Amanda designed, developed, implemented, and evaluated national public health behavior change campaigns. She was in the inaugural, QIT Health Innovators Fellowship class and co-led a showcase-winning team in the national Health Design Challenge. She graduated from Dartmouth College (2007) and received her Master of Science in Public Health degree from UNC-CH Gillings School of Global Public Health (2009), graduating first in her class.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“If you’re really pushing hard enough and stretching people’s understanding of the world and future, then you will get a lot of “no’s.” You will also get several big “”yes’s”” that will change the trajectory of your company and future. There are a lot of strategies to get through the disappointments, and I think that you eventually realize what works for you. For me, it is identifying any areas of improvement that would have potentially resulted in a different outcome, and then (and most importantly) diving right back into the work.

Don’t make assumptions about who will be your biggest fans and most valuable supporters and champions. Supporters and believers come from everywhere, and oftentimes, the most surprising places. It can be a winding path of intros and relationships that lead to an intro that ends up feeling like it was meant to be — that it was written forever in the universe, just waiting to be made. Pushing endlessly and putting forward your most authentic self helps to ensure that you get to those fans as quickly as possible.

You can’t get what you don’t ask for. If you want something, people have to actually know that you want it. It’s easy to mistakenly assume that you’ve made your goals clear, but until you state exactly what you want, you cannot expect others to go out of their way to help. People want to help. Being direct removes a lot of questions and saves time in reaching objectives. I’ve learned this practice from a number of my advisors who always push me to just simply “”ask.”””


Abianne Falla, Co-Founder, CatSpring Yaupon

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Abianne Falla is the co-founder of CatSpring Yaupon, one of the largest producers of yaupon in the world. CatSpring Yaupon is the world-wide leader in sustainable yaupon production and is committed to ethical labor practices through its people first employment program. Prior to life as a Yaupon Entrepreneur, Abianne was a CPA for Ernst & Young, and later supported community development for lululemon athletica. At lululemon, she learned the value of building community relationships for a rapidly growing company, and how to maintain them. In 2013, she earned her MBA in entrepreneurship from Acton, where she became passionate about learning fundamentals of business formation from other founders and CEOs.

It started with a drought about 6 years ago; it was the worst drought in Texas history and on our family property in Cat Spring, Texas, we were losing everything from our 100-year-old oak trees to our hay. Except for the yaupon; the yaupon was fine. JennaDee (my sister & co-founder) started to look into this persistent plant and discovered this legacy of consumption that was long since forgotten! Native Americans consumed and traded it for generations, the Spanish even exported when they arrived but the English didn’t want anything to disrupt the power of the tea trade so they downplayed this native resource. This incredible plant has been all but forgotten for the last few centuries.

Once we uncovered this legacy, we experimented with traditional Japanese tea and Yerba Mate (it’s a cousin plant) preparation methods to start producing a yaupon tea. We started producing small batches and selling to restaurants and at farmers markets. People were excited, demand has only grown, and here we are 4 years later.

We’re wild harvesting, bringing back a forgotten American resource, and creating dignified employment opportunities in our community!

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Know your story. Spend time seeking to understand who you are and what’s important to you. Have conversations with your co-founders and customers about your brand story. Since JennaDee (my co-founder) and I are sisters, we started the company with a lot of things being understood between us. It wasn’t until we had to articulate some of our brand that we realized how much went unsaid. We also had to share our story with different audiences. What were the follow up questions? Where did people want to know more? Where were people seemingly confused? It’s the most important part of your brand so it’s worth honing.

2. Know what you’re great at, figure out what you can learn, and surround yourself with people that can do the rest. As an entrepreneur, I wear many hats and I’m called to solve diverse problems. You can’t do it all alone. Thankfully, I have been surrounded by a slew of brilliant, creative people that allow me to ask endless questions and seek their advice and experience. And I’ve also had to learn which things are worth learning how to do yourself — even if it’s just how to do them the first time and then you know how to hire better for the role.

3. Narrow the region of darkness and then move confidently forward within. I learned this in theory at Acton (an alternative MBA in Entrepreneurship) but it’s not until building CatSpring that I realized how true the principle is. We often approach education and life as if there’s one correct answer. If I’ve learned one thing as a founder and CEO, it’s that there’s never a single, correct response. Get creative: there are so many ways to build a company. There are as many paths to funding, customers, sales channels, and options for sourcing that you’re willing to entertain — and chances are, innovative approaches will prove successful in the long term. Throughout your decision-making process, gather all of the information you can to “”narrow the region of darkness.”” If you ask enough questions, you’ll reduce the range of choices — and feel confident making a decision.


Karen Osborn, CEO and founder, Re-Stream

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Karen Osborn is the founder of Re-Stream and is a serial entrepreneur (Rentacrate was another of her smashingly successful ventures). The company is a one-stop, white glove green logistics company with additional offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, IL. Re-stream is a certified woman-owned business based in Waltham, MA and servicing North America. Gross revenues exceed $2-million.

What? Free office supplies for school systems in need? Right. The recently opened Fre-Stream, the free recycling center at Re-Stream, 124 Prospect Street, Waltham, MA now offers a wide range of office supplies and office furniture for local school systems and non-profit organizations in need.

Partners HealthCare worked closely with Re-Stream in decommissioning over 14 buildings to consolidate their operations to their new Somerville, MA Assembly Row campus. Products which could not be moved or redeployed are being repurposed and recycled. Items include desks, chairs, marketing and office supplies among other assorted lightly used and almost new items.

To date schools from Amesbury, Boston, Bedford, North Reading, and Lowell have benefitted from the complimentary inventory diverted from the landfill via the green purging services provided by Re-Stream. The Recycling Center takes up approximately 2,000 square feet of Re-Stream’s 34,000 square foot warehouse/office space. Items have been sorted and distributed for easy access.

Re-Stream challenges clients to re-think and re-imagine how commercial office space can reduce its impact on the environment. One of the founders of the industry standard of sustainable moving products, Karen is expert at logistics and passionate about environmental responsibility. For more information, visit Re-Stream.com. Karen is articulate, candid and colorful. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1. Don’t let a male dominated profession discourage you.

2. Don’t let a male dominated professional define you.

3. Break the rules to provide MORE value for customers and separate yourself from the pack. “


Deborah Whitby, Owner, Austin Plumbery

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

The owner of the only woman-owned and operated, independent plumbing services company in Austin, Texas, I am taking a dated and male-directed industry to a new level of innovation, thought and service. In our market, most aspects of this industry, from technology, customer expectation, to branding, is “business as usual.” With a modern and smart approach, my team and I are pushing limits to best serve the way the new generation of homeowners and businesses are living today. As we approach my 2nd year in business, I have grown the company over 65% in revenue! Money has always been a game I’ve been willing to play and master. As a former high school English teacher, I knew there was untapped potential and purpose within me. I left that career, one I knew I’d wanted since 2nd grade, in pursuit of “the next big thing” for myself. After a couple of flops, I recognized a plumbing company as the best opportunity and I went all in. My plan to dominate and take market share is underway, but this is just the beginning, and part of the story. My divine purpose is to evoke in others a sense of urgency that is a catalyst for change in their life. I want others to choose themselves and to live a life of intention not of default. I want others to push their own limits and let the world know that they are here. We are all here — fully showing up for our lives. I am here — living, impacting, and doing better than the best I can every single day.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

During the transition out of my teaching career and not knowing what was next, I felt aimless, purposeless and I had no clarity. I was past 30 years old and felt I was wasting valuable time. Looking back four short years later, I realize that it was okay to be confused. It’s okay to try new things only to realize you don’t like them. It’s okay to follow your passion only to realize you’re broke and there was no scalable business model behind it. Its part of the process and you need to trust that process. The “wrong things” will eventually lead to the “right things.” Another lesson I have learned is the power of knowing and remaining true to my inner self. This is where confidence comes from: confidence to make and standby decisions, confidence to pivot after you’ve chosen a path and confidence to live a life you’ve chosen for yourself. I made and changed my mind about a lot of things in my process of self-discovery and many people were witness to it. Some thought I was flaky, uncommitted, and unfocused. Maybe I was, but the point is I never let that bring me down or dim my shine. I knew I was making the best decision for myself with the information I had at the moment. And, if new information caused me to make a new decision, this is all part of MY journey and I had to continue paving my path. Finally, no one succeeds alone. Understand some people in your life need to just stay on the bleachers. They show up and mostly cheer you on but they aren’t on your team, in the nitty-gritty of the game with you. You don’t have to share the play-by-play with them. But your team, they are in the game with you and are pushing towards the same winning goals. Get the best players on your team and you will be unstoppable.


Jessica Higgins, COO, Gapingvoid Culture Design Group

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Becoming a female entrepreneur was the only way to achieve what I wanted to do and avoid the politics that keep so many young, driven, female professionals from succeeding in our current business environment.

Six months out of graduate school I became the Director of Business Development in a management consulting firm. Despite all of my hard work and dedication, I just wasn’t taken seriously. The firm was more concerned with questioning the nature of my business dinners and my outfits than hearing my ideas. I did not have a true seat at the leadership table.

I was only 26 at the time, already in a leadership role at a company, with a title and no respect. The ugly truth about women in business is, this happens far too often. Only 1 in ever 10 leaders is a women in your average organization. And even then, the cultural norms often work against true leadership.

The institutionalized sexism made me feel such discomfort in even doing my basic work, as if I wasn’t worthwhile because I’m not a man, because of my body, etc.

I think that most very talented and beautiful women are treated this way. You have to wonder how much potential is lost inside your business from sexism. Instead of letting other people define my value, I went off on my own and let the market define my value.

I knew the consulting model, and it was ripe for disruption. It focuses on the business-side of things without taking full account of the humanity of business. It’s more about selling hours and more consultants than it is solutions.

I created and manage the only end-to-end corporate culture design firm that exists today. In a world full of consultants selling you hours and, well, more consultants, my team and I designed an effectiveness-based approach to sustainably transforming businesses. We’ve combined behavioral economics, management science, marketing and even physical space design. Our tribe includes top marketers and behavioral scientists from around the world who have aligned around a common mission to transform the way businesses are managed.

This is a very forward thinking approach, but the top businesses in the world have become our clients and fans, including Zappos, Microsoft, AT&T and many others. Our businesses consistently outperform with culture as an irreplaceable competitive advantage. It’s a clear win. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences

“1. Women bring a different and necessary strength to the portfolio of entrepreneurship

In my experience consulting with top leaders from around the world, I consistently see that women’s risk portfolios tend to be a bit more conservative. Women tend to be more collaboratively focused. Women tend to care for others more than their egos.

There’s a vintage image of the powerful entrepreneur: a risk taking, egocentric male figure out to change the world.

Well, the world can be changed through collaboration, empathy and teamwork to a far greater magnitude. Arguably, for the better.

It may be a bold argument, but the psyche of a female was made for entrepreneurship. Great entrepreneurs don’t go it alone, they partner, help others, express rather than take praise, and build something truly great as a team.

2. Resilience and motivation are a daily practice

Everyone has great ideas. The difference between the start and the finish line are those few people willing to wake up every day, self-motivate, ignore the overwhelming majority of folks who think you’re crazy, and keep going. Entrepreneurship isn’t the art of looking back at a great business built and telling the story. Entrepreneurship is the art of waking up and pushing yourself forward despite getting smacked in the face with failures and unknown futures day in and day out. It takes a truckload of self-managing your resilience and motivation.

3. Self-awareness, collaboration, delegation: that’s how greatness is built

Before meeting my team I was a sole practitioner who made the common consulting mistake of valuing my work on time instead of market value. I was hitting 1/100th of my potential. Partnering changed my whole universe: financially, emotionally and growth-wise. First, honestly assess your value. Then aligning yourself with great people who have completely different skillsets than you.

Note that this means being comfortable taking a #2 position if that’s where you’re meant to be. I’m an execution person, my CEO is an strategy and marketing person. From experience, its far better to be a great #2 than a sub-par #1.


Selin Kurnaz, Co-founder and CEO, Massive Bio

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

After emigrating from Turkey and completing a PhD at the University of Michigan, receiving multiple engineering degrees, Selin spent more than a specializing in delivering revenue enhancement, margin optimization and capital efficiency improvements for Pharmaceutical and Life Science companies. Her startup, Massive Bio, brings the latest knowledge in cancer care to patients treated at community practices in the US and worldwide. Selin has written and spoke extensively about life sciences in tech and how to deliver information in creative ways.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1) Being an entrepreneur is about resilience and constantly solving difficult problems and there are always rocky steps along the way.

2) 2) Diversity means when different pieces of the puzzle come together and builds something larger than its parts. You always need to bring people that complement you as opposed to replicate you.

3) 3) Keep your focus to your customers and business instead of what others think about your business. Don’t expect people see what you see but they will get there but as a founder you need to be focused.


Lee Caraher, President & CEO, Double Forte

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Lee McEnany Caraher is the founder and CEO of Double Forte, a national public relations and digital media agency, based in San Francisco, that works with beloved consumer, technology, and wine brands. Lee is a highly sought-after communications expert known for her business building acumen and insights, and her books and public speaking are informed by helping organizations around the country successfully create high performing, positive, intergenerational workplaces. Her first book is titled Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work. Her new book, The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty from your Employees (Routledge), addresses the new employee paradigm of lifetime allegiance regardless of employee status.

Active in her community, Lee currently sits on the board of governors of Public Advocates and the board of trustees of both San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. A graduate of Carleton College, Lee has a degree in medieval history which she finds useful every day. She lives on the San Francisco Peninsula with her husband, their sons, and Al, their blind cat.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Limit was the business model which we all know is broken and has been broken for decades and is really now imploding

When I created the square model that didn’t count on squeezing 100% billable time from junior staff, every other CEO I went to talk to said I was crazy and that it couldn’t be done, no one would come to work for me, clients wouldn’t pay for it, etc. I did it anyway — that was in 2009. What did I learn? You don’t have to copy established companies to successfully compete. If something’s broken don’t repeat it just because that’s the way everyone else does it.

Lesson #2. When you’re breaking the mold, you have to keep repeating yourself to the people around you. You’re never done articulating and reinforcing your vision, your mission and the values and behaviors the drive success. Ever. Because the other players in the market will push against you just by existing — you need to keep reinforcing what you’re about to create the space to succeed.

Even if your business really doesn’t matter to other people, someone will always try to get in your way because you’re different. Stay focused on your own business and goals, and stay woke to potential detractors who will actively try to derail you even if it’s irrational.”


Dr. Neela Sethi Young, Co-Founder, Jaanuu

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Dr. Neela Sethi Young is as passionate about her patients as she is about empowering doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to feel confident and do their best in the workplace.

Dr. Neela is Co-Founder and Chief Medicine Giver of Jaanuu, a brand that creates contemporary, runway-inspired scrubs, lab coats and footwear that reflect some of today’s most popular trends. Together with her younger brother, private equity investor Shaan Sethi, they decided to disrupt the traditional world of unflattering, oversized starchy blue scrubs. Since launching in 2013, Jaanuu has become the most successful and fastest growing direct-to-consumer brand in the medical apparel space.

Dr. Neela has devoted her last seven years as a pediatrician with Valencia Pediatric Associates in Los Angeles. Previously, during her work for the world-famous Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Neela was featured on national television as a regular medical correspondent for both ABC and CBS. A native of Palos Verdes, California, she received her undergraduate training at UCLA, graduating magna cum laude and phi beta kappa with a major in psychobiology. She stayed a loyal Bruin and continued at UCLA Medical School, where she graduated with honors, before completing her residency in Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Dr. Neela loves touching the hearts and lives of her patients and has also devoted her time towards supporting kids with cancer as a volunteer at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, traveling to hospitals in underprivileged regions around the world. She is married to her med school sweetheart, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles Young, with whom she has two children, daughter Malika and son Aren.”

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I could never have imagined that a far-fetched dream I had when I was a medical student would someday turn into reality. In a way, Jaanuu represents so much more than a contemporary fashion- forward scrub line. It represents the idea that with passion, perseverance, and faith anything is possible. I have learned so many lessons on this journey, but I want to share the three that resonated with me the most, especially for the young female entrepreneur out there who may have hit a bump in the road and may be doubting herself at this very moment.

1) Your positive energy will draw more positive people around you.

This is something that I truly believe has helped me during many low moments on this Jaanuu journey. The more that I stayed positive when things were difficult, the more I attracted like-minded individuals. I find that positive vibes are contagious and can change the entire room’s attitude. It is unreal to see what a group of driven, positive people can accomplish. I wake up and try to spread that positivity each day. “”Happy Heart”” is my mantra for my colleagues, patients, and even my own children.

2) Believe in yourself.

There is always going to be someone around you that thinks your idea is horrible or that will tell you that you will never succeed. I cannot tell you how many times I was told that over 90% of new businesses fail. But you know what? Some don’t and ours was one of them. We fought against the odds and we are now one of the top scrub companies in the country. So, don’t listen to those voices. Tune them out when times are rough. Believe that you can and will make a difference. Believe that you are stronger than you know. The minute you stop believing in yourself, others will also. So, put your chin up, keep positive thoughts and fill your heart with faith that you can and will succeed.

3) Find balance.

This is one that I struggle with even today. You cannot and will not accomplish everything you set out to each day and that is OK. There is a time to turn off and to practice self-care and self-love. Your drive to succeed should be finely balanced with things that you love outside of work. Meet that old friend for a glass of wine, go on that run, spend time with your loved ones. I know firsthand that life is precious — kids grow too quickly, and date night is always a good idea. There are some things that can and should wait until morning. I think it is so important to never lose yourself because YOU are the most important person to protect on this journey you are on. Often, stepping away for a moment gives you clarity that you never would have found before. “


Audrey Henson, Founder & CEO, College to Congress

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I founded College to Congress to address our nation’s need for diverse (and female) leadership. It is impossible to be the change you want to see when you can not access the experiences you need to get there because they’re unpaid internships and you are not coming from a background of means or connections. As a congressional intern when I was a college student, there were times when I would be facing tough choices because I was still working 30 hours a week and taking out loans to pay for this experience of a lifetime that I was so passionate about. Seeing others face similar hurdles, I was inspired to create College to Congress (C2C). C2C is a nonprofit dedicated to helping exceptional students from disadvantaged backgrounds have the access and means to begin their careers in public service careers.

College to Congress covers all the cost associated with a congressional internship and offers professional development training. This includes housing, transportation, a professional wardrobe, meals and more. We even take it a step further by pairing C2C interns with mentors of the opposite political party and training in skills like resume building and interview skills.

By providing students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds congressional internships, I am shattering the barriers of entry many normal Americans face when they try to enter the political system. By targeting financial and political limits, these opportunities will increase all types of diversity throughout the halls of Congress.

In just a year, College to Congress has become incredibly competitive with an acceptance rate of less than 4 percent. In early 2017, I was humbled to be selected from over 11,000 companies for a WeWork Creator Award. The credibility and early seed funding from the WeWork award started a waterfall effect in Corporate giving and partnerships. Since the award, I have partnered with 45 House & Senate offices and two philanthropic foundations and seven corporations to provide these opportunities to students across America. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“3 P’s: Passion, People, Process

1. Passion Will Sustain You

The first eight months of my startup were brutal. I found myself working 17 hour days at the beginning because I was so obsessed with my new company. My passion for the mission overrode any desire to devote time elsewhere. Whenever I experienced setbacks, I was reminded of my own beginnings and why this work mattered for others.

I’ve also noticed that when you let others see and feel your passion, it becomes contagious. You’ll inspire your staff to be the best they can be without even asking them. You’ll influence a funder to give because they buy into your vision. In my case, I’m hopeful my passion bridges the partisan divide in Congress. When you’re reminded of your “why,” you can get through almost anything.

2. Put the right people in place

Most CEO’s will admit they simply cannot do it alone and rely on a smart team for support. As the saying goes, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” Find people who excel in the things you don’t. Make sure they know you genuinely admire and appreciate their service.

We use the same principal when we select our intern class. We want students who pique our interest and have talents and experiences we can learn from. As we seek new funders, we never just want a donation. We want their input, advice, and mostly a working partnership. When you put the right people in place, creativity flourishes.

3. Process: Don’t cut corners

Identifying a problem is often the easiest part of the process, but it’s only the first step. Creating viable solutions, testing those solutions, and allowing true critical analysis of “your baby” is what will turn your company from another failed business to an institution.

From the beginning, I avoided shortcuts. I didn’t hire a business manager or get an MBA. I taught myself how to write a business plan and budget. Then, I shared it with people who would tear it apart until it evolved to be a living document that guides us today. I simply did it myself. Now, I know the kind of team members and skill sets that C2C needs for the next level. When you stop cutting corners, you start building something that will last beyond yourself.


Kristi Piehl, Founder/CEO, Media Minefield

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“It’s time to change the conversation about real news and workplace culture and I’m on a mission to do both. After a 12-year career as a TV reporter, I launched Media Minefield and developed our Newsability process. Now, seven years later, we pride ourselves on our 100% placement record, meaning we have secured media coverage for every client we have ever worked with. Our national success is fueled by our commitment to culture. Media Minefield has won numerous awards for being one of the best places to work as rated by our employees.

Our Media Team is comprised of former journalists who know how to secure real news and valuable earned media. Our clients have been featured in national news outlets like Bloomberg Businessweek and USA Today and on The Today Show. In the past 12 months, we secured more than 2,700 interviews in 700 distinct outlets across the country.

I studied Professional Writing and graduated with honors from Bethel University. In 2015, Bethel named me Alumna of the Year. I’m a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, WPO and a member of C200’s 2017 Protege Class.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Think like a journalist! As a reporter, I was trained to track down experts and ask them pointed questions. As a business owner, without any formal training, I continued the practice of defining a problem and asking someone, with more expertise, for answers. Based on my experience, women entrepreneurs have a much bigger goal than their current P&L, they want to see more women take the reins of companies and join the C-Suite. Ask!

Think bigger! There are unicorns all over our office and one is even our staff webpage. Whenever I speak, I tell the audience that if a former TV reporter can start a company like this, unicorns must be real. My experience is that many female entrepreneurs are thinking too small. While their male counterparts are thinking about how to take their concept from the kitchen table to an IPO, women are thinking about what to say when they go to a bank for money. I was totally guilty of this and my first employee had to tell me, “”You need to hire me.”” because I wasn’t thinking my “”mom job”” would ever have employees. Now, my husband, who was the breadwinner, quit his job and works for Media Minefield.

Never stop learning! Get your hands on as many books, videos, newspapers, blogs, etc as you can. Follow thought leaders. Take time to soak up information. Schedule time to get away from the office and think. There are gems in history and other people’s stories that are applicable to current problems, we just have to take the time to consume the information, schedule time to digest it and implement change. Women will change the world!


Frida Polli, CEO and founder of pymetrics

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

I’m Frida Polli, founder + CEO of pymetrics, where we use neuroscience and AI to match people to their best fit jobs. We do this through a set of games that measure cognitive and emotional abilities, resulting in more efficient, effective, and diverse hiring for our global clients such as Unilever and Accenture. Our work disrupting hiring status-quo has taught us 3 important lessons about breaking the mold.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1. Use the right data: Every founder breaking the mold will likely be applying data to solve a certain problem. One of the most valuable things we’ve learned at pymetrics is the importance of using the right dataset. In our case, we’ve shown companies that it’s important to look at the data highlighting someone’s potential (their inherent traits) instead of the data highlighting their pedigree (their resume). No matter which industry you’re in, there is likely an infinite amount of data you can use — make sure you’re applying AI to the right dataset if you want to make meaningful predictions.

2. Check your tech: Algorithms are incredible aids for making data-driven, efficient decisions. However, it is irresponsible to blindly trust algorithms, because if they are not explicitly trained, they will perpetuate the biases that already exists in our society. For example — there are more men named John than there are women named anything as S&P 5000 CEOs. If we built a predictive model of CEO performance, it’s possible that John would be a better predictor of being a successful CEO than being a woman. Is this truly reflective of a person’s potential to be a CEO, or just noise from the bias in the training set? In this example, it is obvious that being named “John” is simply noise. However, when presented with similar evidence in real world situations, many companies relying on algorithms consider this signal.

3. Diversity IS your competitive edge: Time and time again, it is shown that companies benefit from diverse talent. Instead of shying away from bringing in new perspectives, we need to embrace what diversity has to offer. Crucially, instead of relying solely on social solutions (i.e. unconscious bias training), it’s time to employ our most powerful tool — technology — to diversify our workforce.


Miry Whitehill, Founder, Miry’s List

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Miry Whitehill started Miry’s List in July of 2016 when a friend introduced her to a family of new arrival Syrian refugees resettling in Los Angeles with children the same age as her own. As a stay-at-home mom and community activist with 10 years’ experience in digital marketing, seeing a family struggle to make ends meet encouraged Miry to get involved.

Getting to work, she quickly walked room to room with the family, curating a simple list of household and childcare items with a friend translating for her the family’s needs. Miry went home and posted the list on Facebook. Within 2 weeks, her friends, family and neighbors donated everything on the family’s list. Every other day, Miry would load up her car with her kids and donated supplies, visit the family, go through donations, share meals and spend time together. The experience was so uplifting that when their list was completed, Miry started calling resettlement agencies and nonprofits to get connected with another family who needed help.

Fast forward 17 months: Today Miry’s List currently features 257 new arrival families recently resettled to California from war-torn countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Yemen. Lists are hosted as Amazon wish lists and anyone in the world can send a welcome gift to a resettling family that goes directly to their door with free 2-day Amazon Prime shipping. Donors can even include a gift message.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“ “I’ve been thankful and privileged to be in a position to welcome new refugee arrivals to America, often during their first day(s) in the country. What I’ve found from getting to know these new arrival families is that the news often disconnects us from the truth.

We forget that these refugees have families — just like us — and basic needs that are the same as our own, but often unmet during their first few weeks in America as they settle in somewhere safe, but new and unfamiliar. Throughout all of my experiences with Miry’s List, here’s what I have learned:

• Refugees are a cross-section of society. They represent everyone. For the most part, they are not stronger, more resilient, or more empowered than anyone else. They are average humans. Their needs are the same as all of our needs. They desire to feel safe, welcome, needed and supported.

• The system doesn’t “have them covered.” The refugee resettlement system is designed to keep people alive. It is not designed to meet the many diverse and unique needs of what an individual needs to feel alive. As neighbors, we must intervene to embrace these newest members of our community to set them up to thrive.

• Food is the ultimate connector. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from… sharing a meal is a universal exchange, a speechless conversation. You don’t need to share a language to share the most basic human need, a plate of comfort food. Change happens around a table or sitting picnic style on the floor. Sharing meals with new arrival families has completely changed my perspective on my ability to help and make impactful change to a system that seemed unfixable.


Jill Krishnamurthy, CEO and President, DUO Venues

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Jill has a background in finance, operations, and venture capital. She is a partner in operating $50M+ private equity fund with concentrated portfolio. Holds investments in high-growth mid-market consumer product or service companies. Is an active operator having held numerous roles in portfolio companies managing finance, operations, sales, marketing, customer experience, IT, corporate governance. Investment management including due diligence, deal structuring and strategic planning. Has experience with leading successful integrations of mergers. Is analytically-driven including development of KPIs, dashboards and financial reporting. Financial management; debt and equity fundraising. Received education in Business Management: Finance, Entrepreneurship. Has a passion for travel, rugby, family, supporting education.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

The top three lessons I have learned from my experience is to create goals that will make you push yourself in the best way possible, to work hard no matter what obstacles may be in your way, and to make the impossible possible.


Jennifer Hyman, Chief Executive Officer & Co-­‐Founder, Rent the Runway

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Jennifer Hyman is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rent the Runway, a company that is disrupting the $1.7 trillion fashion industry by introducing clothing rental as a utility in women’s everyday lives. In her role, she sets the strategic priorities and leads the company in growing all areas of the business, including marketing, technology, product, logistics and analytics. She co-founded Rent the Runway in 2009 with Jennifer Fleiss, and has since raised over $190 million in venture capital, growing the business to 8 million members, 1,200 employees (which is over 70% female and 70% minority) and 500 designer brands. As the CEO, Jennifer has built Rent the Runway from an idea into a profitable, high-growth company valued at nearly $1B and one of the most beloved brands in the U.S.

Jennifer has been honored with recognitions like Forbes “12 Most Disruptive Names in Business”, Fortune’s “Most Powerful Female Entreprenuers”, “Trailblazers”, “40 under 40” and Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.” She is also a frequent guest on television, serving as Rent the Runway’s spokesperson on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Fox Business News, Bloomberg and at major industry events.

Prior to Rent the Runway, Jennifer was the Director of Business Development at IMG where she focused on the creation of new media businesses for IMG’s Fashion Division. She also ran the advertising sales team at WeddingChannel.com and was an in-house entrepreneur at Starwood Hotels, creating Starwood’s first wedding business, which was recognized on the Oprah Winfrey Show for its innovation.

She received her BA from Harvard University cum laude and MBA from Harvard Business School. In 2015, Jennifer Co-Founded the Rent the Runway Foundation to help female entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. build scalable, high-growth companies. She is an investor in and advisor to a diverse group of startups throughout the U.S. and is passionate about diversifying entrepreneurship. Jenn lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter Aurora.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

Focus on the big picture and the ‘whys’ behind your work. If your work isn’t mission driven or emotionally resonant to you, it will be very hard to maintain passion and focus over a long period of time, which is critical in entrepreneurship.

• Surround yourself with people you love at work and at home. Burnout typically doesn’t come from quantity of work, difficult business problems or hours in the office but from unhappiness. When you’re happy you’re energized and you can get an incredible amount accomplished quickly.

• Use your voice — I’m learning that when women speak up together as a united force we can inspire change in the world.


Abbe Fenimore, Owner & Principal Designer, Studio Ten 25

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Abbe Fenimore is a lot like her work: energetic, imaginative and full of surprises. The designer loves to talk, and loves a space that sparks lots of conversation, too. Abbe’s never met a vibrant hue she didn’t love or a detail to small to fuss over. Her passion for color, drama and glamour combine for jaw-dropping interiors. As quick to laugh as she is to embrace a challenge, Abbe has distinguished herself — and her firm — as a leader in the design community. The award-winner is devoted to creating spaces that people love coming home to. Her work is playful, without sacrificing sophistication; elegant, yet accessible; luminous and bold. Abbe’s infectious enthusiasm for design has inspired thousands online, as well as editors at leading publications and media outlets who have featured her work. Her innate desire to create was fostered from a young age and continues to attract her to adventurous projects and designs. When she’s not designing memorable interiors, Abbe is scouting for art, furniture and accessories for her online boutique, Shop Ten 25. As passionate as she is about helping others fill their homes with style and personality, Abbe’s even more passionate about those she shares her own Dallas home with: husband, Dru, and beloved bird dogs, Caddo and Ivy.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Surrounding myself with likeminded people. One of the best decisions I made when starting my interior design firm, was to surround myself with likeminded people. This started when I began building my business. I knew exactly what direction I wanted to go in and spent months planning every last detail, from the logo and how my website would function to the signature on my email. But I knew that in order to make my new business a reality, I needed to enlist the help of others. I couldn’t do it all myself. It was as important for me to work with those who aligned with me then, when I was launching my business, and it is today, 10 years later. I continue to work with those who understand my business while enhancing it with their skills today.

Having the confidence to accept my mistakes. No matter how successful my business has become, I still make mistakes. And I have made some big mistakes that have caused me sleepless nights! In situations where I do make a mistake, I have learned that the best way to address it is by staying transparent, coming to the table with honesty, and offering up ways to resolve the mistake. There is nothing worse than having the dreaded “”there is a problem”” conversation, but I have always come out of them with a stronger and more trustworthy relationship with my client. Most understand that no one is perfect, but having the confidence to own your mistakes goes a long way in a client relationship (and in any relationship, for that matter!).

Learning that it’s ok to say no. I remember the first time I said no to a project. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, and I could finally focus on my work again. I spent days avoiding the conversation, but in my gut I knew the project was not a fit for me. My business was growing quickly, and it was time to increase my rates and only take on projects that I was passionate about. I decided that I was going to say “”no”” more and become more selective about my projects. By doing so, I would give my business the opportunity to grow. “


Catherine Kowalski, Founder & Designer, Catherine Kowalski Bridal

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“To those who know her best, Catherine Kowalski has always been a trailblazer; not one to follow rules, but forge her own path. At just 17, she traded her hometown of San Francisco for the urban jungle of New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a designer. Catherine studied at the renowned Parsons School of Design for Fashion Design, specializing in couture and bridal. But it wasn’t until her senior thesis in 2007 that she began dreaming about her own bridal couture line.

A decade later in 2017, after designing her own wedding gown in an untraditional sky blue color, Catherine decided to open the doors to her eponymous bridal couture brand, Catherine Kowalski Bridal. To this day it’s her mission to offer the highest quality gowns that marry timeless styles with a touch of the unexpected, whether it is color or detailing. Catherine’s fresh take on bridal fashion translates to avant-garde designs that are designed and manufactured in New York City in true to U.S. sizing, an uncommon practice in the bridal industry that makes her stand out even more.

Catherine’s fearless approach to bridal couture has generated her a devoted following, putting her on the map as the “it” brand for a new generation of brides who want an easy elegance with untraditional sensibilities. While now considered a bonafide New Yorker with a certain metropolitan appeal, her west coast roots still offer inspiration for many of her designs, particularly when it comes to the glamour and grace of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

It’s not just Catherine’s designs that make her an in-demand designer. It’s her methodology: a one-on-one approach to working with brides, from sketch to the big day (and in some cases, beyond). Each gown is meticulously designed, hand-draped to ensure the most flattering of fit and ease of wear, and handcrafted by the finest dressmakers in New York City. And Catherine is a part of every step along the way.

Catherine debuts two new collections each year: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, at the most prestigious bridal shows in the U.S., like One Fine Day Bridal Market. Her gowns can be found at the nation’s finest bridal retailers from coast-to-coast. And while the brand is still new, it’s already capturing the attention of media including Vogue Italia, HuffPost, Trends Wedding & Lifestyle Magazine and Vows of Style, and consumers across the U.S. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“The importance of manufacturing in the USA (or even better, locally). When I was first starting out, I was balancing a full time job and my line. And because my days were completely taken, I chose to work with factories in China, out of what I thought would be convenience. I attempted to make a small collection overseas but quickly learned the importance of working with local manufacturers. Between the time lost due to time zones, different working hours, and the inability to speak to someone in person while looking at the garment together, I really came to understand the value of having personal relationships with talented partners that work in your community.

Offering gowns in true to U.S. sizing. Having been in love with fashion and bridal for as long as I can remember, I grew up thinking and believing that couture sizing was “normal.” Over time, I quickly began to understand that this system of sizing was unrealistic and created an unhealthy mindset amongst consumers. When I hired our first fit model, I was adamant about hiring a healthy, fit woman to represent the company and our gowns. Women work so hard to get fit for their wedding day and the idea of a woman who is in the best shape of her life walking into a store to try on a dress that is two to three sizes bigger than she is on her healthiest day is heartbreaking to me.

Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a small business owner is that almost everything is open to negotiation. Of course there are fees for certain things, but for the most part every vendor has the ability to charge at their discretion, and as my father always said “the worst they can say is no.” I have saved more than I can believe by simply asking if they’d being willing to charge less. It was very difficult at first, as I was learning to navigate negotiations, but it’s all a dance at the end of the day, and everyone wants to be on the dance floor!”


Yasmin J. Mattox, Founder & CEO, Arkatecht, LLC

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Arkatecht’s Founder & CEO, Yasmin J. Mattox, was raised in Harlem, NY and attended Hunter College Elementary and High Schools on the Upper East Side, and graduated from a residential high school on Long Island. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from Alfred University (2007) and an M.S. in International Studies from St. John Fisher College (2011).

She has worked in the legal, mental health, renewable energy, and higher education fields, with the common thread being her interest and expertise in using interdisciplinary research as a foundation for informing problem solving for issues big and small. Throughout her educational and professional careers, she has routinely been advised to steer away from pursuing seemingly divergent intellectual interests and to pick one discipline or area of expertise. Bucking this advice, and a ‘specialization career path,’ she has found a niche in being an expert generalist, in her case, marrying knowledge in the social and hard sciences and technology in order to innovate in ways that lead to benefits at the individual and societal level.

Since she and her husband started their family nearly five years ago, she has also dealt with the varied challenges that many parents, especially professional mothers, face trying to chart courses for success in both their careers and families while also seeking to minimize often harsh and sobering tradeoffs, including the loss of income resulting from caretaker duties, and the mental health repercussions associated with chronic stress and the feeling of being stretched too thin particularly as a working mother.

Since she founded Arkatecht in 2017, she’s been working to develop digital products that assist professional women with integratively planning for family and career to yield success and positive outcomes in both areas in great part to facilitate, at the individual level, direct and expedited ways (compared to public and corporate policies) women can tackle the ‘motherhood penalty,’-one of the driving forces of the ‘gender pay gap.’ As someone who experienced debilitating depression growing up and subsequently, increasingly severe Postpartum Depression after each of her three pregnancies, Arkatecht’s pioneering first product, in development, is an AI-driven decision aid app that helps pregnant professionals with optimized decision-making, taking into account the physical and mental health realities of pregnancy and the postpartum period within the professional context to support effective career advancement during such a critical time.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

The most powerful lessons I’ve learned from my challenges with pursuing what seemed (to others) to be incompatible intellectual pursuits in my career and those I’ve had while working to advance my career as a mother is to be intellectually curious about everything because this can help you become resilient and stronger by exposing you to different strategies and tactics for tackling problems, personal and professional. I have become more resilient by participating in lots of different activities, personal and professional, in different spaces, with people of different backgrounds, and interests. Doing this one thing has allowed me to continuously learn from others. It’s allowed me to learn about how people live, think, behave, feel, and problem solve in different environments, contexts, and under varying constraints. To learn about what motivates people and, on the flipside, what paralyzes them by building meaningful relationships with them and observing more than acting. By doing this, I’ve been able to better figure out how I can exist in and maneuver within different personal and professional spaces and problem solve to achieve optimized outcomes for the greatest number of people both in my work and in my personal relationships. By exposing myself to different environments, I’ve been able to see that, growing up, what others saw as divergent intellectual interests, actually are interconnected and my understanding of phenomena in different fields is incredibly useful to my understanding of how to impactfully innovate. It’s also been invaluable in helping me ground myself and weather the mental distress that can inevitably set in when you’re an entrepreneur and especially when you’re an entrepreneur with a young family. Ultimately, I’ve learned that it’s key to always be thirsty for knowledge, no matter where the information comes from. To soak it all up, write tidbits of information as you learn it, and keep it all. I have ridiculously small notes on receipts, for instance, from when someone taught me something fascinating at a lunch and I had nothing else to write on. I’ve learned that the more diversified your information intake, the more useful. You can’t excel at problem solving, especially for the marketplace, if you don’t position yourself to interact with and learn from people from all types of segments, and not just your targets. God knows that this is easier said than done, but I’ve found it to be the truth.


Maria Alegre, CEO, Co-Founder of Chartboost

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Maria is the CEO and co-founder of Chartboost. Prior to founding Chartboost, Maria was an early employee at mobile game studio Tapulous (#1 music game on iPhone and acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2010 to become Disney Mobile), where she oversaw product launches and marketing. Maria holds a B.A. in Business from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. She was named in Forbes Magazine “30 Under 30” in 2013 and 2014 as one of the top disruptors and innovators in marketing and gaming.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Being an Immigrant, Mother, and Founder in Silicon Valley is about being determined to make your voice heard

Building a business is no easy task, all founders are faced with big challenges on a daily basis. When you launch a startup in Silicon Valley as an immigrant and as a female CEO, the stakes tend to shift a little higher. While we see significantly less women in tech, entrepreneurship, and VC leadership, we see even fewer moms. And as an immigrant, your normal safety net is even farther away. While Silicon Valley doesn’t always thrive at integrating mothers in the workplace, I’ve learned how important it is to be persistent in making my voice be heard, as well as relying on the support of mentors and business partners.

2. Building a global company in a not-so-global market requires persistence and trial and error

Today’s tech businesses are completely connected, easily coordinated across global offices and international customer bases. But still, every continent and country requires specific strategy no matter what industry — from business development to communications to marketing. App developers are everywhere and at Chartboost we’ve had to learn how to reach our partners across the world with the obvious geographical limitations. In the process of going global, we’ve learned, by failing a lot, how to modify internal processes, how to hire effectively and how to localize the product to tailor the message to local needs.

3. The most successful companies over communicate and build on top of strong values

Chartboost is about to turn 7 years old in February and while the teams, the product and the strategy have evolved, our values have guided our company decisions. Transparency, action, developer love, growth and passion have been key in determining our people, product and client strategies. In our journey I’ve learned how spending time and efforts on communicating leadership decisions and the reasons behind those decisions is critical to keep the motivation, engagement and alignment of growing team.


Shireen Thor, CEO and Founder, Maria Shireen

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Shireen Thor is the CEO and Co-Founder of Maria Shireen®, the creator of the original hair tie bracelet. Maria Shireen is a functional fashion accessories company headquartered in San Diego, CA. Her flagship hair tie bracelet is patent protected and has been featured in over 100 fashion and beauty print, online publications, and national broadcast. Thor has been awarded 9 utility patents, 9 design patents, 24 trademark registrations and won the Red Herring North America Top 100, Red Herring Global Top 100, 3 Stevie awards for Company, Startup and Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and Entrepreneur Magazine Top 360 Small Businesses and Retail Innovation finalist. In just two years, Maria Shireen® has expanded sales of its bracelets to over 45 countries, grown into a $6 million business through e-commerce alone. The company conservatively estimates its omnichannel strategy pivot (to include mass and specialty bricks-and-mortar retail) will drive an 80% or more year over year growth rate. Thor is a very determined individual that is not afraid to make decisions and promote progress of her team through her positive attitude and resourcefulness. This leadership style is what has helped Maria Shireen become a major brand in functional fashion. Shireen started the company as a team of two when Shireen was 8 months pregnant and took the company to $2.3M in the first year of the company’s inception. In 2016 Shireen expanded her team to 4 people while continuing to grow over 35% ending 2016 at $3M in sales. Her company mission is to redefine versatile accessories for every occasion and design solutions for everyday life that complement an individual’s personal style and interest. She has become an inspiration to other women by combining motherhood and family with great professional success that truly aligns with her company’s mission. In 2017 Shireen continues to lead a team of now 7 employees and her positive and thoughtful leadership inspired her small team to go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve this major milestone. Shireen is a strong believer in educating and empowering women on things that make a difference in their lives — both at work and personal. Through her personal experience of postpartum depression, Shireen had a profound sense of urgency to educate women on the far-reaching effects of postpartum depression. She created a social good initiative called CHARITY TIES™ at her company to further this cause to show solidarity and for the collection to stand for a symbol of support and awareness for multiple women’s health and wellness issues. She is one of the few women who is using her company’s success to break barriers for women in the taboo maternal mental health space.


Dr. Jennifer Miles-Thomas, Founder, Dr. Jenn MD

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

She was lucky to be born into a middle class, professional, loving family. She married her college boyfriend, matched in Urology and found a great job near family after graduation. She was doing work she loved with the people she loved.

So, after her first year in practice, she was stunned that she owed taxes. $14, 000 worth! So, you see the problem was she didn’t have $14,000. She had made a lot of money and had nothing to show for it.

There was no one who could “rescue” her from herself. She started listening to financial podcasts, made a budget, and paid cash instead of credit. She spent late nights reading up on personal finance. She would operate all day, then at night, figure out things like, retirement goals, insurance, taxable investment accounts, real estate and corporate investments.

No one should have to go through the emotional and financial pain of money management and education without unbiased guidance. Therefore, she created a platform to educate her fellow physicians and other high income earners. She created a plan to get out of debt, stop living paycheck to paycheck and become Financially Fit Physicians!

Many other physicians were in debt and struggling to learn about personal finance. Therefore, she founded a company, Dr. Jenn MD. Dr. Jenn MD helps physicians navigate the world of personal finance. Her charming and entertaining but no nonsense personality helps her peers achieve success when talking about the difficult subject of money. With her extensive experience in discussing personal and sensitive topics, Dr. Jenn MD is able to break down seemingly complex concepts into actionable items. She is able to quickly put patients as well as other physicians at ease.

As founder of DrJennMD.com, she is able to share her expertise and personality with physicians and other high income professionals who are striving to become Financially Fit.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

What have I learned from my experience?

Well, just because you delayed gratification doesn’t mean you need to engage in gluttony. The process of education is decades long for many in the medical profession. The self-sacrifice you make over the years between your family, your finances, your physical and mental health are all touted to be worth it when you reach the light at the end of the tunnel. However, if you don’t have a strong financial mindset you will be caught in the trappings of debt. The old adage of live below your means is golden.

I have also learned to make mistakes. We live in an idealistic society where errors are supposed to occur. Through my process of growth, I have many made many mistakes and therefore gained great knowledge. Never be afraid to make mistakes. You will only grow.

One last thing I’ve learned from my experience is honesty. Although you’ve made mistakes, so have others. If you can be honest about your journey where you were, what you did, and where you are now, you are able to help many others. It is possible that they will not have to go to the same pain and suffering you did. Sharing honestly about your journey will allow others to be honest about theirs.


Kate Bagoy, Business Coach (katebagoy.com) and founder of Sixfigurefreelancers.com

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Kate Bagoy is an award-winning consultant and coach for entrepreneurs, and founder of sixfigurefreelancers.com.

In 2015, Kate quit her last day job, moved across country on a whim & built a six-figure consulting business working part-time from her living room.

In 2017, she left the US to travel full-time as a digital nomad with Remote Year, living her life out of a suitcase and running her business entirely online, while visiting 15 countries.

Along the way she founded sixfigurefreelancers.com to support driven, creative professionals in growing profitable, location-independent businesses effectively.

And you could say she knows a fair amount about starting and scaling businesses… Kate landed her dream job at a Fortune 500 company right out of college, but quit after becoming so burnt out that her most meaningful relationships were with Netflix and Vodka.

After failing her first attempt at freelancing and earning her MBA, Kate moved to Silicon Valley to manage design for a mobile company. The valley wasn’t a fit, but she caught the startup bug & has been working with entrepreneurs since!

In addition to starting several businesses of her own, Kate’s worked with more than 50 startups as a designer, marketer, product manager, strategist, analyst and advisor. She’s a graduate of the Portland Seed Fund, served as a mentor at multiple accelerators and educational programs including Washington State University’s MAP program and Georgia Tech’s ATDC Bootcamp and led projects for multiple Fortune 500 companies, including Nike, Ricoh, HP, Apple, BP and Microsoft.

Kate became a coach because she believes life is too short to just exist.

She spent years trapped in a self-made prison of fear & self-doubt which manifested into life as an overworked, miserable cubicle dweller with more debt than income & very little free time or energy.

Kate had what looked like an incredible life on the outside — a great career, a lovely home, nice things… but was absolutely miserable inside and dreaded getting out of bed everyday.

It wasn’t until she got sober in 2012 that she started to really ENJOY life and quit trying to “fit in” and do what she “should.”

Now Kate’s personal mission is to inspire and empower people to lead lives by design, not default.” “My transition from burnout to business owner is a long and arduous one, full of plots twists and unexpected diversions… it’s been one hell of a journey from miserable cubicle dweller to a location-indie life of gratitude.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

If I could only share 3 lessons it would be:

1. Follow your heart & listen to your gut

2. Stop trying to be someone you’re not (or giving a f — what anyone else thinks)

3. Pay yourself first

1) Following your heart is such a cliched term these days, isn’t it? But the way I see it, we get ONE life to live (at least in this skin) and our days are always counting down to expiration.

If you want to start a business or travel the world or give up the amazing-on-paper-career that’s killing your spirit to make art, stop making excuses or telling yourself why it won’t work and instead figure out why it’s a MUST for you to follow your dreams.

And once you have your dreams in sight, quit second guessing yourself and learn to listen to your instinct. Intuition is a muscle, so practice making decisions quickly and following through immediately. You’ll rarely regret it.

2) We hold ourselves back in a million ways by trying to be who we’re not, to fit someone elses’ expectations or to look or act how some stranger says we “should.”

Should will destroy your life and business faster than anything.

Do what’s true to you. Do what makes YOU happiest in life and quit listening to anyone that doesn’t support you.

3) If mistakes are lessons, I’ve earned a PHD in business — but there is only ONE mistake that has truly crippled my growth, and that’s not paying myself first.

When I moved from freelancing into entrepreneurship, I went in a little cocky and I failed to take on loans or investments. Instead, I lived off savings and credit cards and when the money ran out I had to take on “sidework” and used my employment to fund my business.

This is where most new founders shutter their doors — so make sure to spend the time up front financing your endeavors and pay yourself a good salary so your business doesn’t become a burden.

Bottom line? Be your unique self, follow our instinct and don’t be afraid to take on good debt. You’re worth it.”


Elin Elkehag, CEO & Founder, Stilla

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Elin Elkehag is a Swedish born serial entrepreneur. She founded the Internet of Things company company Stilla in 2015 and went from an idea to a patent pending hardware product in 100 days.

In 2016, together with her team, she launched a crowdfunding campaign for their first product: Stilla Motion, a tiny motion alarm for bags and other items of importance. It reached its funding goal in 10 hours. Stilla now has paying customers in 53 countries and their first retail partner, AT&T in the US, is one of the largest telecom operators in the world.

Before becoming a full-time entrepreneur Ms. Elkehag worked with growth and innovation within various multinational corporations and she has fifteen years of international experience in the Telecom, Media, and Strategy Consulting world.

Elin is usually based in San Francisco but commutes frequently to Sweden to spend time with her Stockholm-based ‘Team Stilla’ members, customers and investors.

“It’s not easy to build hardware, nor to start a company. To start a hardware company in 100 days, without any funding or expert knowledge, is bordering to crazy, but I did it anyway.

While learning how to code hardware in 2015, I accidentally activated an Arduino board which started blinking as I dropped it on my computer bag that I had tucked away under the table. That’s how I came up with the initial idea of Stilla Motion, a small and flexible motion alarm that gives you an instant alarm through your phone or smartwatch if something moves when it shouldn’t.

I looked for a product that would solve my problem of worrying about my belongings when paying attention elsewhere but couldn’t find one, so I decided to make it myself. Via 27 prototypes made of paint and clay at my mom’s kitchen table in Sweden, and a lot of hard work, I took the idea from a sketch to a patent pending hardware product in 100 days.

Since those first 100 days and initial prototypes we have come a long way. We’ve gathered an amazing multinational team that live and breath our core values of being kind, clever and passionate and make Stilla the great company it is today.

Creating Stilla is the biggest adventure of my life this far and I have learned more than I ever though possible.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Three key learnings from my entrepreneurial adventure with Stilla

1. Speed beats perfection: The world is moving fast, and so should you. Get things 80% right, test with customers early, and iterate rapidly.

“There is a lot of truth in the quote ‘it’s not the big that beats the small, it’s the fast that beat’s the slow. Don’t assume you know everything from start, even if you think that you have the perfect idea. Develop a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) or a prototype with what recourses you have. Perform relevant tests with real customers early and validate your assumptions.””

2. Creativity beats resources: Money and resources shouldn’t be a limiting factor, learn as much as you can with what you have.

“I made my first MVP (Minimal Viable Product) in Power Point, and created 27 prototypes with $47 worth of paint and clay. Non of them were perfect, but I learned a lot. There is a lot you can do with free resources if you are just a bit creative. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask people for help as well to purse your dream. Generally people like to support you when you are passionate about something.”

3. Don’t focus on fear, focus on getting things done: Dare to get out of your comfort zone. Remind yourself of what goal you want to achieve, and why. Take small steps of imperfect action everyday, to get there.

“”The most limiting factor when it comes to becoming an entrepreneur is often fear. Fear of not having the perfect idea, fear of not knowing enough about the area, fear of loosing money or status, fear of what others might think etc. etc. The list of reasons for not doing something is usually pretty long.

Instead of thinking too much about why you shouldn’t set out on the entrepreneurial journey, focus on Why you Should.

What drives you? What problem do you what to solve? How do you want to make a difference in this world? Focus on the goal that you feel passionate about and break down the steps on how to get there. You probably don’t even know exactly how to get there when you start, but take one step of imperfect action in the assumed right direction every day and you will eventually get there. Good luck!”


Caroline Danehy, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Fair Harbor

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

At 21 years old, Caroline Danehy is the co-founder and creative director of Fair Harbor. Still a student at Colgate University (’19), she’s a member of Colgate’s Student Entrepreneurship Program: Thought Into Action. Through this program, Caroline and her older brother, Jake (also a Colgate alum), pitched their business idea to the school’s ‘Shark Tank’ competition with a panel of celebrity entrepreneurs, including: Jessica Alba, MC Hammer, Neil Blumenthal, Jennifer Hyman, and more. Winning this competition allowed the duo to launched Fair Harbor — a sustainable lifestyle brand producing swimwear out of recycled plastic bottles. Caroline also completed a 200HR Yoga Teacher Training (2016) which she utilizes to teach 2 yoga classes per week at Colgate University. She loves to travel, and recently returned from Sydney, Australia, where she drew much inspiration for a highly-anticipated Fair Harbor collection release this Spring. In her spare time, when she’s not at the beach, surfing, practicing yoga, or cooking, Caroline volunteers for Sunrise Day Camp, the only international free-of-charge day camp for kids with cancer and their siblings.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“My brother and I started Fair Harbor over three years ago when I was a senior in high school and he, Jake, a junior at Colgate University (’16). When we first came up with the idea to create a sustainable lifestyle brand, and make swimwear from recycled plastic bottles, many people told us that our idea for Fair Harbor wouldn’t work. Since we were (and are) young, we were judged by our age that we didn’t have the professional experience that it would take to start a company. However, Jake and I both believed in it and our passion pushed us to persevere through those doubts. I’ve come to realize that people will always tell you you’re wrong, but it’s up to you to trust your gut and to emphasize on the reward of succeeding instead of the possibility of failing.

Secondly, as siblings, Jake and I have always been close, however, starting a company created an entirely new relationship. We’ve learned to trust each other completely and figure out the best way to fill in each other’s weaknesses with the other one’s strengths. Our constant communication and respect for one another has allowed for us to develop a very unique partnership. As we spent our summers in Fair Harbor, NY, we shared our childhood experiences and therefore have the same vision and appreciation for our namesake. We’ve learned the importance of teamwork and how best to surround ourselves with people who know a lot more than we do in the industry that can provide guidance.

Lastly, this past fall we decided to expand into women’s — releasing this Spring. Fair Harbor has primarily a men’s brand up until recently, so this growth has posed to be a new challenge. Throughout this experience, I have been developing my own voice within Fair Harbor, which has been very empowering and exhilarating. I’m determined to give the women’s line it’s own personality through the lens of the Fair Harbor and create an inclusive environment within our company culture. While I can be my own worst critic, I am learning how to be more confident and courageous; to not question myself but instead to be sure of who I am, what I believe in, and how I see women engaging with our products. It’s a very liberating time to be a woman in business right now, and I hope to be a leader for young females. “


Noelle Rose Andressen, Professional Contemporary Ballet Dancer-Choreographer, Rubans Rouges Dance

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I’m Noelle Rose Andressen, a professional contemporary modern dancer and choreographer for Rubans Rouges Dance which I founded in 2009. Through dance, I use my true life stories to speak healing to audiences so they can overcome.

Since 2008 I have created dances not only about what I suffered but the controversial topics in our world today. My company and I perform these dances internationally to raise awareness, give women a voice of empowerment, share hope and to make change in the world.

One of my life stories in dance is about surviving breast cancer. I was not expected live let alone thrive. After my treatment I did what few do: I went back to a college ballet class- my beginning and rehabilitated my broken body. I then began Rubans Rouges Dance and performed on ABC’s “Modern Family”; the g.l.a.a.d. Awards; CBS Studio Center; and indie dance films. I broke limits.

In 2012 I was nominated for Performance Artist of the Year for “Coeur de Verre” another section in my personal story “RED RIBBONS” that tells of when I was sexually abused by my grandfather.

It is in the darkness of a theater when people see my artistry on stage that they feel safe to express themselves and often take that first step in healing so they too can triumph over tragedy. There’s nothing more powerful than having a woman fall into my arms (in tears & broken) after my performances and tell me that I gave them a voice and courage to face their reality and take the first steps of healing. I am breaking limits for the sake of healing. I am a survivor! I am a thriver! My example helps others do the same.

Sometimes I’ve been angry that so many emotionally wounded can be counted; other times I feel secure knowing I’m making a difference to help prevent or stop this negative cycle in the world. It makes me want to shine a brighter light on the issues especially when it comes to abuse, which is not a female alone issue, it is a human issue as it effects men too.

Currently, I have authored a book series: DanceWarrior™® which goes into further depth of my personal stories. Not only can people see my dances, but they can also read about the dances they have just seen and get more insight and help.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Heal Your Past So You Can Have A Future. Our pasts, especially our wounds can be great catalysts for progress and effective tools of learning. However, past wounds can also hinder us like unwanted anchors when not properly healed. I implore others to “Heal their pasts so that they can have a future, a good and fruitful future.” The first portion of my life was very challenging due to circumstances and unhealed wounds. I had to heal my wounds to move forward. If the first portion of your life was horrible, your second act can be better, it can be different. We can all be major players in our “second act” if we have hope and do the work needed to heal and succeed.

2. Do Not Succumb To The Status Quo. You have a unique voice. You were chosen to be here to do something that enlists your talents and skills that no one else can replicate. When I started to share my story through speaking, dance and my books, I began to shine, I found my voice. Not everyone appreciated it. Was it their envy, jealousy or fear, I don’t know but I wasn’t about to dim my light to make others feel comfortable around me. Distance yourself from the negative. Pay no mind to negative people and haters. They are not your tribe. You are called to be formidable at any age and every stage. If the status quo is telling you can’t because you’re too young or too old, show them differently. Do not let anyone put you in a box or label you, labels are for clothes not people.

3. Good Leaders Often Stand Alone. In the process of finding your voice and your calling you may stand alone for a time. Good leadership is about doing the right thing and that is seldom popular. You must be willing to go the distance alone if necessary but keep your mind and heart open to helpers along the way. The idea is to build a team that believes in your mission, not to build an impenetrable fortress. I had to learn to stay the path no matter what, even if it meant being alone. I was not bound by chains to this self-promise, but I found my roots went deep into fertile ground that bared much fruit.


Sandy Rubinstein, CEO, DXagency

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Sandy Rubinstein, CEO of DXagency, oversees all operational divisions as well as marketing strategies and execution. Sandy came to DX with 20 years’ experience in various senior Marketing, Management and Advertising roles at television networks and consumer brands including: TVLand, General Motors R Works, Lifetime Television and Nick at Nite. DXagency has been listed on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies for three years, has opened a Florida to focus on the Latin American market, and is certified for both the Women Owned and National Minority Supplier Diversity Council.

Sandy has been named a Cynopsis Top Women in Digital, sits on the Forbes Agency Council and has been quoted in dozens of magazines as a thought leader in regards to Marketing, Business Leadership, Employee Retention and Working Women’s issues. DXagency continues to look to the future by bringing in-house their video and content creation, allowing them to build a new studio for all written, video, audio, and photography production work to be done on site. With DXagency expanding their services, they are on track to meeting future goals as they continue to work towards them.

While corporate responsibility has been important to Sandy, she also takes pride in social responsibility by mentoring young High School and College students who wish to become successful business leaders. An advocate for giving back to her community, Sandy founded Edgewater Strong, a charity that provided resources to over 200 families who were displaced by the Edgewater fire and raised over $200,000 for the families. She was elected to, and currently sits on, the Board of Education for her local schools, runs a non-profit Education Foundation that has granted over $120,000 to the public schools for STEAM initiatives and has even passed down her love of charity work to her two sons, Max and Jake, who have started their own charity called Kids That Do Good, which is aimed at providing access for children to become involved with charitable organizations and causes locally and nationally.

Sandy Rubinstein is a passionate, hardworking individual who is determined to lead by example. Her passion for what she does at work and at home is extremely evident and her ability to balance both her career and motherhood is an inspiration to all working parents.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“In my career, I’ve experienced sexism, racial discrimination, religious discrimination, body shaming, slanderous stories- you name it. The importance is not what the issues were, but how I overcame them. If you let everyone hurt you who sets out to do so, they will. You mustn’t listen to the noise in your head. Remember who you are, what you want to accomplish and let the rest of it be proved wrong by the exceptional work you produce. All the silliness I have experienced in my career with people who tried to hurt me is irrelevant, because it just makes me stronger and makes me fight harder to succeed. As I tell me kids, my staff and people I mentor- failure is not an option.

To get to where I am today as a CEO, I’ve utilized determination, passion and a consuming desire to engage customers in new ways- and encourage others to do the same. I think this role as SEO is a wonderful culmination of all the learnings over the last 25 years. Every experience, job, marketing deal has lead me to prepare for this role and I am thrilled to keep learning and challenging myself. You need to find something that is fun and different every day.

Lastly, remember who are you, what you want to accomplish and let the rest of it be proved wrong by the exceptional work you produce. Failure is not an option.


Laura Dweck, Co-Founder, Basic Outfitters

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“A Merchandising graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Laura Dweck was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Laura understood her desire to work in the fashion industry from a very early age and got her start with coveted internships in the Fashion Office at Bloomingdale and the Accessories Editorial Department at Women’s Wear Daily. These internships laid the foundation for an incredibly well rounded career in the industry, which included working her way up at Sam Edelman to Fashion Director.

Laura has also held positions in the Digital Media Department at Krupp Group and as the lead fashion designer and merchandiser at Onia swimwear. There she spearheaded the launch of the women’s collection, overseeing every aspect of design, development and merchandising, which landed this new offering in leading retailers worldwide like Barney’s New York, Intermix, and beyond. Laura continued to grow at Onia, eventually leading the design and merchandising of their menswear collection as well. Today, Laura serves as the Creative Director of Basic Outfitters, where she oversees all design, branding, and promotion of the brand.

The biggest limit I have broken would be disrupting an extremely saturated industry. It may seem simple, yet there was this huge need for something like Basic Outfitters that just wasn’t being done. We found a way to make replenishing men’s sock and underwear drawer fun, easy and affordable. With Create-a-Drawer, you can replenish your basics drawer with up to 17 products including socks, underwear, tees and joggers for just $60 (a $120 value). Being able to offer a service that allows you to conveniently customize a drawer full of high-quality essentials at such an accessible price point has revolutionized the way men shop in a way that has never been done before.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“One of the most important lessons I learned pretty early on was the importance of “showing your stripes” and having a strong point of differentiation from the many sock and underwear brands on the market. We focused on what made us different — that we weren’t just another brand selling basics but we were a brand who was changing the way people shopped for basics, all while offering an unbeatable price point and high-quality combination. That point of differentiation along with the story of why we created Basic Outfitters, out of a real need for a convenient way to refresh men’s basics, has proven to be extremely successful for our brand.

We learned pretty early on how important it is to get scrappy and think outside the box when it comes to marketing. We became aware of the barrier that e-commerce creates between the customer and the product. We have these SuperSoft socks that are incredibly soft but, since we are an e-commerce brand, they just looked like basic black and white socks. We needed a way to communicate the amazing quality when all we had was a photograph. We decided to go to Times Square with a big bag of the socks and a camera. We walked up to strangers and asked them to give us their honest reactions to the socks. People compared them to a “Thoroughbred horse,” a “baby’s butt,” and other hilarious things we never would have thought of with a traditional approach. We turned them into great clips on YouTube and saw our sales spike.

Lastly, I learned to let our customers lead us to innovation. Our joggers were a popular style for us but we were getting a lot of customer feedback requesting that we add zippers to the pockets so that their belongings wouldn’t fall out while sitting or driving. We welcomed the very valid feedback and designed them with zippers. Turns out, the feedback was spot on and they are now one of our bestselling styles.


Arielle Tepper Madover, Founder, What Should We Do?!

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Arielle Tepper Madover is a lifelong New Yorker, Broadway producer, philanthropist, mother, and consummate New York City insider, who has always had her finger on the pulse of the city’s vast cultural offerings, dining, nightlife, hospitality and family activities.

A natural-born planner, Arielle launched What Should We Do?! in 2016, a personalized planning, recommendation and booking service for New Yorkers and visitors, to help make the city’s dizzying array of cultural and entertainment riches accessible and easy to enjoy to the fullest.

Prior to the launch of What Should We Do?! Arielle was widely recognized for her producing credits. She is currently the Board Chair at The Public Theater in New York City as well as a Tony Award winning Theater & Film Producer. In 1998, she created ATM Productions as a theatrical production company to develop and produce plays and musicals on and off Broadway, in London, regionally and on tour. Arielle’s producing credits include the film Genius and many acclaimed Broadway and Off-Broadway credits including Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Elephant Man, Lucky Guy, I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers, Annie, Red, Hair, Hamlet, Frost/Nixon, Monty Python’s Spamalot, and A Raisin in the Sun.

Arielle resides in New York City with her husband, Ian and their three children. They love exploring new neighborhoods, restaurants and activities — often by way of a staycation, rediscovering their favorite city.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Work hard, stay focused on what you want and never give up. You can do anything you put your mind to.

2. Trust your own instincts. It is kind of like parenting- A mother always knows their child best.

3. Put yourself out there to network and meet new people — be open to everyone because you never know who you’ll meet along the way.”


Tonya Bruin, CEO of To Do Done Renovations and Handyman Services

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Tonya Bruin has a degree in Biology and Environmental Policy and is an accredited project management professional. She had 16 years of experience working in the public sector for four different federal departments before leaving all that security to take the leap into business ownership.

In 1998, she began her career in Victoria, BC at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. She moved on to an exciting opportunity at Environment Canada to run a joint Environment Canada/Health Canada funding and community capacity building program. After several fun-filled years of managing this program and travelling to many remote areas in British-Columbia and the Yukon, she joined the Management Training Program.

The program brought her to Ottawa where she worked at several departments and, in her spare time, started Canada’s first green building store. She also managed the development and implementation of Canada’s Air Quality Health Index at Health Canada and managed teams in the Water, Air and Climate Change Bureau to deliver risk assessments, research and communications on environmental health issues such as ambient and indoor air quality, completing her public sector career as associate director in drug approvals at Health Canada.

Tonya decided to leave the public sector in 2015 to launch her company To Do-Done, Renovations and Handyman services. To Do-Done was born out of the frustrations and difficulties Tonya, a busy and professional working mom, experienced with finding quality renovators and handymen to maintain her home. “”There were so many things on my To Do list, and I just wanted someone to help me get them all done. Finding a contractor to even call me back was a challenge and one that I recognized others experienced as well. I saw a business opportunity there.”” Now, after three years, To Do-Done is one of Ottawa’s premier handyman services which prides itself on the high-quality of their work and their excellent customer service.

On weekends you can usually find Tonya enjoying nature. She loves mountain biking, camping, whitewater paddling, hiking, backcountry skiing, travelling off-the-beaten-track and exploring her own backyard.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Most important lessons learned from running To Do-Done:

- Being A Woman In A Man’s World Has Its Advantages -

Starting a renovation and handyman company as a woman with very little knowledge or experience in the trades came with many challenges, not the least of which was being a woman in the field. However, it has come with its unique advantages as well.

Building trust and rapport with my clients has been easy. The majority of my clients are female, and they make many of the decisions in the household, including choosing the contractor. My female clients know that I can relate to them and that I will see that every aspect of their job gets taken care of. I like to think they’re more comfortable talking to me and don’t feel intimidated to ask questions. As a result, our company has become well known for our customer service and communications with our clients.

- Running A Business, Like Life, Is A Journey, not a Destination -

If I had launched To Do-Done when I thought I was ready, I never would’ve launched. I had to swallow my pride, admit that I didn’t have all the answers, start with a minimum viable product and work my way up from there. Now here we are three years in, and I still continuously revisit my initial vision and business plan in order to get to where I want To Do-Done to be. There should never be a finish line, but always another plateau to reach for next.

- Run Towards The Pain -

It doesn’t sound like fun, and believe me, it’s not sometimes. But the personal growth that comes from doing things that you hate, you’re no good at or that stress you out, only serve to make you better. Things like dealing with conflict, getting ultra-organized, setting goals and having someone else hold you accountable for them, these things can all be painful. But the personal growth that occurs when you force yourself to run towards them makes it worth it. I can tell you from experience that the person I’ve become in three years as CEO is so much stronger, more confident and better equipped than I was.”


Nicole Liebman, Commercial Real Estate Salesperson, Hudson Real Estate

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Nicole Liebman is your ‘go-to’ creative deal maker with an eye for emerging trends. She is extremely attentive, service oriented, and cares about the future of retail. Her mission is to add value to the real estate market with innovative tenants, bringing life to New York and worldwide.

Nicole specializes in growing local and international retailers with a modern message. Among her successes include eco-chic projects such as 1 Hotel, Gowanus Inn and Arlo Hotel; high-profile fitness brands Poe Yoga and CorePower Yoga; and, multi-platformed restaurants such as Greenpoint Brewery and California 88 derived from coast to coast outreach.

Nicole has a strong background in Advertising and Event Production working with the large retail brands such as Nike and Diageo.

Nicole is a CoStar Powerbroker, a member of the Real Estate Board of New York, the International Council of Shopping Centers, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and Young Adult Forum for WPO (World Presidents’ Organization). “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Here are my three top lessons:

1. Trust Yourself

In business, you have only one reputation — do not jeopardize it for the cheap and easy. Trust yourself, trust your instincts, and know your self worth. If you treat people with respect, respect will follow. Success comes with hard work, focus on the right opportunities, and enjoy the process.

2. Pick a Discipline and Become an Expert

When I first started in Commercial Real Estate, I knew I wanted to distinguish myself. Choosing a market and specializing was key. I decided Brooklyn was that market and retail leasing was that discipline.

Part of my training was walking every block in Brooklyn, cataloging the businesses, streets, owners, and buildings. This provided me the “boots on the ground” training to understand neighborhood patterns, demographics, and retail landscapes. This groundwork gave me a competitive edge to establish myself as a market expert. I have taken this same approach outside of Brooklyn, but it all starts with the groundwork.

3. Call Everyone Back

This was the first lesson I learned when entering the business. My Uncle, who is also in Commercial Real Estate, gave me this important advice. It all goes back to respect. You never know who is on the other end!


Mercer Henderson, CEO/Founder, 4Girls Tech LLC

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Born and raised in San Francisco, 15 year old Mercer Henderson is carving her own unique path as one of the youngest and most talented teens on the music scene today. The multifaceted singer has just entered high school, and is already an accomplished teen having been featured in many business & tech publications like Forbes Magazine, Fast Company, and USA Today for her own tech company called Founder 4Girls Tech. Mercer is also a guest contributor writing about topics like branding and social media for Entrepreneur.com. In between juggling career aspirations, Mercer considers herself to be a normal teen who loves to hang out with her friends, write songs on the piano, and spend time with her younger sister. Taking inspiration from her experiences as a teen, Mercer has created a sound and an image that is refreshingly age-appropriate. Mercer describes her music as “vintage-pop”, combining catchy hooks with relatable lyrics as demonstrated in her latest single “Could’ve Been Me”, which talks about not being chosen to be part of the in-crowd. The accompanying music video features her best friend, Dance Mom’s star Kendall Vertes, who is a frequent face on Mercer’s Instagram page. The video has already garnered over 400K views and growing across all social networks.

Up next for Mercer is working on new music, continuing to develop her app company, volunteering for worthy causes, and setting her sights to her bright future ahead!

I think I am trying to understand what the limits are, I believe that we are only limited if we don’t try. If you try then you have already pushed beyond a limit, even if it is a personal limit or fear. I am very much in the mode of trying and learning. I started with a simple app idea, then moved into designing clothing for a major retailer, and now I am exploring music. This may seem like very different motions but they have the common thread of creative expression. I could have only done the app then my limits would be that people define me as a kid entrepreneur when I very much see myself as a singer/songwriter too. By not buying into a single label based solely on my tech company, I pushed the boundaries/ limits.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“ Three things I have learned include- it is important to know your audience for example I was able to secure quite a bit of tech and business coverage for my tech company and conferences. However, what would have really helped expand my brand is if my coverage reached 11–16 year olds. Another lesson, prioritization is critical. I juggle full time school, tech company and music. There are the must do’s like homework, review a product update and the fun to do’s like write new music. School comes first. Final lesson, which is pretty well know is do what you love, what is fun. I would add to that “ask your friends” for me my friends provide input on most things I create. If I am creating something that is a need I think I see — my friends can tell me right away if I am on to something or not.


Veena Gundavelli, CEO and Founder, Emagia Corporation

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“I am Veena Gundavelli, a serial tech entrepreneur from Silicon Valley. Currently, I’m Founder & CEO of Emagia, a software company focused on empowering finance operations at large global companies with artificial intelligence, and Co-Founder of Solix, a big data information management solutions company.

Additionally, I’m a Chair and Co-Founder of Touch-A-Life Foundation, a non-profit focused on helping local homeless and underprivileged students, and appointed honorary representative and member of IT advisory for the Government of Andhra Pradesh, a newly formed and fast-growing state establishing a fintech hub in India.

STEM topics have always intrigued me — and becoming an engineer was a dream from early childhood. Right from school to my undergrad in electronics and communications engineering in India, to my masters in computer engineering in US, I was one of the very few women in an almost all-boys classroom who enjoyed rare topics like digital signal processing.

Moving to Silicon Valley added new dimensions to me, specifically innovation and entrepreneurship. My early career on innovations in color image processing at Canon, innovations at Cisco in networking, the fascinating rise and fall of internet startups in the valley, and inspiration from an entrepreneurial husband all added to my launch as a tech entrepreneur in enterprise software. Being a minority — a young, female Indian tech entrepreneur — I relentlessly spent the first three years building my first startup and knocking on the doors of almost every venture capital firm in the valley, until I raised my first round of venture financing.

Since then it has been a tremendous ride as an entrepreneur with highs and lows, and lessons learnt — still learning every day both in life, and in business like drinking from the fire hose on various topics: teams, technology, products, market, customers, partners, relationships, community, giving, and more.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Have A Purposeful Ambition

Don’t be afraid to have ambitions, aim at the moon and beyond. Ambition invokes continuous curiosity, creativity, innovation, and adrenaline — the essential elements for entrepreneurship — desire to solve a problem for the world, in the most unique way, that is faster, better, and delivering more value than everyone else out there.

What strengthens ambition and creates success is a purpose. Purposeful ambition that is directed to impact the world and make it a better place takes entrepreneurship to higher levels. Most successful entrepreneurs — like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos — have pushed the limits and had unreasonable ambitions coupled with a strong purpose. Inspire yourself with role models who have achieved success and reached the pinnacle. Do not have inhibitions or self-doubt whether you can make it to the top or not — most women tend to limit themselves. Entrepreneurship is a journey, and a continuous process of self-improvement that you will experience throughout.

2. Pay Attention to Your Relationships

Your relationships are fundamental to your success: family, management team, employees, customers, partners. Integrity, empathy, and trust are important elements of your reputation that need to be continuously improved all the time.

Behind every successful entrepreneur, there is a winning team. A good entrepreneur brings together the team to create the magic — inspire them, challenge them, appreciate them, and reward them. I feel fortunate to have the asset of great friendships and goodwill of many team members, customers, and partners through years in this incredible journey. Value the time you spend with your business contacts, nurture these relationships for the long term, and inspire them with your positive energy and purposeful ambition.

Coming to family, work-life balance (or rather imbalance) — that is the harsh reality and especially for women, making it testing every day. Raising two wonderful children at the thick of my early entrepreneurial journey was not an easy balancing act, but a perfect storm of startup hiccups, working mom guilt, red eye travel, kids’ school work and out-of-school activities, doctors visits, the list goes on. Looking back, it’s all been worth it — they are now inspired, ambitious, and grounded youngsters. The inner strength of having a great supporting and happy family gives all the boost for you and the entrepreneurial journey without big regrets. Pay attention to your family and give the best you can to love, inspire, and pass on the values of purposeful ambition.

3. Focus on Continuous Innovation

Entrepreneurship goes hand-in-hand with innovation — the ability to produce new ideas, provide better solutions, and pioneer new products. The most successful entrepreneurs are not simply the hardest working, they’re the most innovative. Innovation is the product of creativity and knowledge. Most successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates read a lot, and continuously expand their knowledge base in diverse subjects. Innovation, like for most entrepreneurs, is of great strength to me to sharpen our competitive edge, reinvent ourselves, and turnaround situations.


Johanna Mikkola, CEO & Co-founder, Wyncode Academy

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Johanna Mikkola is the Co-founder and CEO of Wyncode Academy a leading accelerated learning program and the first coding school in the nation to be licensed by the Florida Department of Education’s Commission for Independent Education. In 10 weeks the program transforms ambitious individuals into computer programmers with business acumen.

Johanna was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in June 2015 at the International Selection Panel in Amman, Jordan joining a prestigious network of over 1000 high impact entrepreneurs around the globe. Johanna is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Babson College WIN LAB and sits on the advisory board of eMerge Americas along with the Vizcaya Museum Technology Advisory Committee. She was recently a finalist for the Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce Technology Entrepreneur of the year.

Before launching Wyncode Johanna spent a decade in corporate management with the National Hockey League becoming the highest-ranking female in her department’s history. There she led a team of managers as well as overseeing the business operations of the officiating department, managing the largest departmental budget within the organization.

Johanna holds an honors Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Economics from the University of Toronto. In 2007 she represented Canada as a forward at the World Floorball Championships. This was the inaugural year in which Canada was represented at the Women’s World Championships. From 2012–21016 Johanna was a board member of the International Floorball Federation working on strategic development of floorball globally in an effort to become an Olympic sport.

Johanna is passionate about people and places, having considered multiple cities to launch the code school concept she and co-founder Juha Mikkola enthusiastically chose Miami for the opportunity to have a positive impact on a growing ecosystem.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Throughout my professional career, I’ve learned you have to ask for what you want, but you also have to work hard for it. From my time working in the National Hockey League (NHL), I’ve learned that preparation and consistency are cornerstones of anything or anyone successful. Being surrounded by high performance athletes, I’d observed that preparation many times meant practice, and doing so consistently and routinely is what set apart the best from the rest.

In my current position as CEO of Wyncode Academy, I’ve taken the lessons I’ve learned from working at the NHL and applied them to launch and build a distinguished coding academy in Miami. Throughout my tenure as CEO, I’ve learned that quality of execution is crucial to building a successful product or service, which means bringing together diverse and creative minds. At Wyncode, I’m surrounded by incredibly talented individuals who when brought together all bring different elements to the table. And through working together on a project, we demonstrate a keen determination to complete a project to the highest standard.


Cali Estes, PhD., Founder, The Addictions Academy

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Cali Estes, Ph.D is a highly sought after Celebrity Addiction Therapist and Life Coach who blends talk therapy with forward and positive change to assist her clients in unlocking their true potential. She works with individuals, drug and alcohol treatment teams and addiction professionals looking to advance their knowledge base.

After two decades working as a Sober Coach, Dr. Estes learned that there was a high demand for mobile treatment; whether by high profile clients who require discretion and/or those who need help on the road, like traveling musicians. Therefore, Dr. Estes founded Sober on Demand, a concierge private alternative to traditional substance use treatment for the discerning individual or one that rejected in-patient treatment. However, this method of treatment is frowned upon by AA practitioners as it is not a part of the 12 Step program. Regardless, Dr. Estes has continued on and believes treatment professionals should do what ever it takes to help their patients achieve and maintain sobriety- regardless of the program. She truly pushes the limit and fights for her clients despite the ridicule received by her fellow addiction professionals.

Dr. Estes has over 20 years experience working with drug, alcohol and food addictions. Her deep understanding of drug and alcohol addiction, including the behaviors and ramifications that are associated with it, place her at the top in the field of addiction therapy. Her unique no-nonsense approach of cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology and life coaching combine to provide the perfect support for an addict. Dr. Estes’ background in food addictions and the emotional and physical tolls it takes on one’s psyche and physical well-being is highly unique.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Not everyone wants you to succeed. Female entrepreneurs in the addiction space are in for a treat when you encounter the ‘good old boys’ mentality. I encountered extreme negativity from the ‘men’ in of power as I founded my own company and was seen as a threat to the current arrangement. l had to put up with everything from competitors trying to discredit me to men (and women) hitting on me and treating me less than professionally. I was able to weather almost 2.5 years of this and break through after establishing and holding my ground.

2. The glass ceiling is low, but it is meant to be broken. I have always said ‘go big or go home’ and when I started to create my company I wanted an army of trained people all around the globe that knew my brand and could vouch for my product and services. We are in 22 countries, 5 languages and offer over 40 classes. We are now the largest online addiction classroom in the world. Had I wanted to settle for just the USA market, like my competitors I would have stifled our growth.

3. Maintain balance. Women have a hard time balancing life and work. As females, we are sometimes expected to keep a household, get the kids off to school, ensure meals are in order, etc. It is tough to balance it all while keeping up with the pulse of running and owning a company. Balance is key so we don’t burn out. I learned how to delegate and not sweat the small stuff.


Lauren and Rachel Piskin, Co-Founders, ChaiseFitness

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

Lauren and Rachel Piskin make up the mother/daughter power duo that created ChaiseFitness. Their respective backgrounds in competitive figure skating and New York City ballet are the roots of their lifelong passion for health and wellness. As a long-time professional Pilates instructor, Lauren always wanted to “get Pilates off of its back and bring it into the modern upbeat vibe of New York City,” but it wasn’t until Rachel’s ballet career came to an end that she started developing a way to make that happen. Rachel was struggling to maintain the healthy lifestyle she always had from dance, so she and Lauren began to experiment and create a new type of fitness that eventually gave her an even stronger and healthier physique. ChaiseFitness and the Reinvention Method were born from Lauren’s professional experience and refined by Rachel’s personal journey to help everyone create long lean muscles, increase flexibility, and transform their bodies.

We have built a business based on our expertise and background in using our bodies and mind to develop a unique and patented fitness method called The Reinvention Method. Being a competitive figure skater and professional ballet dancer has taught us how to maintain the focus and drive that is required to keep preserving in the uber competitive New York City fitness space. Most importantly we have always chosen to stay true to our brand, our method, and our passion in creating long lean bodies in an environment that is supportive and based on family. This has helped drive ChaiseFitness forward into constantly reinventing itself based on our passions and expertise, not the trends that pop up around us. Being that we come from a physically oriented background, we have worked really hard on focusing on the the business side, which resulted in us growing into Franchising where we now have a studio in Madison, New Jersey and soon to expand into more locations outside NYC. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1. Everyone fails at some point when growing a business, but it is how you turn it around and move forward, that is where the real lessons are learned.

2. Mentoring and building a strong, passionate, and self-driven team is the key to our success.

3. Emotion and passion are driving factors in keeping a business moving forward, but when making key business decisions keeping the emotion out is sometimes the hardest but can be the most beneficial. “


Dora Lau, founder, Curvy Couture

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Dora Lau is an entrepreneur, international businesswoman, and lingerie expert.

After years of making intimate apparel for other brands (eg: Warners, Olga, La Senza, Contessa, Maidenform, Agent Provocateur, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, among many others) and retailers, Lau decided it was time to try putting her own label on the market. She wanted the freedom to not be confined by budgets and was frustrated with the small selection of beautiful, well priced bras for full figured women.

Dora broke the limits and decided to self-fund Curvy Couture, a lingerie brand that uses the latest technologies to create intimate apparel that enhances a woman’s curves and makes her feel glamorous and sophisticated. It was her dream come true to help women feel confident about their curves, and each design is her vision. Lau has married the elements of beauty, elegance and the artistry with the need for trustworthy, targeted, comfortable support designed around the distinctions of the curvy female’s body.

Dora’s road to becoming an entrepreneur began at her parent’s international record-label empire. Styling the artists for special events and videos, she realized that foundations were the key to attaining the perfect look. In 1991 she launched Dora L. International, and Curvy Couture in 2012.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1) My experience taught me that if someone looking to make it in an industry that they are passionate about, you must do what you believe in and then the business will flourish. Breaking the limits means that you have a solution to a problem and believe in your mission and purpose keeps you wanting to succeed.

2) It’s important to not be afraid of making mistakes if you have a clear focus and a dynamic vision. If you don’t make mistakes than you really haven’t tried hard enough to grow and succeed. Learn from those mistakes and make adjustments. Don’t be afraid that you can’t handle it or that things won’t work out. Everyone that is successful has had those fears.

3) Quality relationships, both personal and professional, will help build your business if you are willing to listen and learn. Do not be shy to get advice from people who have success, you may find a mentor. Traveling with friends and family has given me great inspiration that has come out in my collections and changed my perspective. Ask questions from those that you admire and have paved the way. Communicate to everyone involved in your business, from the inside and outside, what makes you unique.


Anna M. Gould, Founder & Board Chair, Camp Sunshine at Sebago Lake, Inc.

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“When Anna Gould arrived in America from Italy in 1958, she did not speak a word of English. Anna would not only master the language and culture, but go on to become a successful businesswoman, visionary and philanthropist dreaming of and brining to fruition Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

In 1983, Anna and the late Dr. Lawrence Gould were inspired action after watching a television story about an 11-year old living with cancer and his family. Anna realized due to medical considerations and financial restrictions, a vacation had become an impossible dream for critically ill children and their families. Discussions with the chief of pediatric oncology at the Children’s Hospital in Boston resulted in Anna organizing a pilot family camp for 43 children with cancer and their families in June 1984 at Point Sebago in Casco, ME.

Through the years, the program became highly regarded, referrals coming from more than 100 medical centers. Demand for services far exceeded capacity, and it soon became apparent that Camp Sunshine needed a permanent home where the program could expand. In 2001, Camp Sunshine opened the doors of its facility and have now served in excess of 50,000 family members.

Today, thanks to the dedication and support of more than 2,000 volunteers Camp Sunshine hosts 23 sessions a year during all 4 season, with families coming from across the country and around world to enjoy this unique retreat opportunity. In keeping with Anna’s vision, families are able to attend at no cost.

Despite her 30+ years of tireless work alongside Camp Sunshine’s parents and children, Founder and Board Chair Anna Gould continues to exhibit an awareness and humility that invites board members and staff to stay present and committed to a mission that is simultaneously daunting and rewarding.

Anna’s awareness serves as an innovative fuel for Camp Sunshine’s Board of Directors, volunteers and staff, reminding them that as long as families are coping with pediatric illness they must maintain a strong relationship with the mission and programs. The result is leadership-driven evolution and expansion of services.

Anna’s dedication has not gone unnoticed by the community. In 2016, she was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from St. Joseph’s College and recognized as one of “50 Mainers Charting the State’s Future.””

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“I have learned many more than three things, so it is a challenge to synthesize all the wisdom I have gained.

To begin, I would say that at my very first Camp Sunshine session I could see how important the program was to families by how grateful they were at the end of the week. I knew we had something special. I have grown to understand how distraught and isolated families feel when a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. They often do not know how they are going to survive the ordeal; they certainly do not think about how they can relax and have fun. Providing the entire family joy, and a distraction from the illness, and an opportunity to connect with others really helps. I have experienced the resilience of families on their own and in concert with other families, and I understand that the life and well-being of your child is the most important thing in the world. In essence Camp has taught me that there can be nothing more devastating than having a sick child. It changes your perspective on what really matters, and how to recognize our priorities in life.

Secondly, giving back is its own reward. Utilizing 75–80 volunteers a session, over 2,000 a year, we have been given the chance to witness the benefits people experience by giving. Camp Sunshine volunteers regularly restore my faith in humanity. The volunteer cohort has reinforced for me just how wonderful people can be. We have seen volunteers help families, help staff, fundraise, and do amazing things in the interest of supporting Camp Sunshine, its mission, and the families we serve. I have learned that the value of giving greatly exceeds the value of receiving.

Learning to run a non-profit like a business. Always keeping the mission in the forefront of all you do, you need to balance the desire of wanting to help everyone with the reality of the challenge. This is key to assuring the program’s ongoing success. I have also learned the importance of securing the future of the program now, because Camp Sunshine families and volunteers have taught me that the present is what we have. I continue to make a conscious effort to push for fundraising success in order to execute the program in a fiscally sound manner and ensure its longevity. “


Gay Gaddis, CEO and Founder of T3

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Gay Gaddis is CEO and Founder of T3 — The Think Tank. In 1989, she started her company after cashing in a $16,000 IRA. Today, T3 has offices nationwide and creates innovative digital marketing programs for Fortune 200 clients. T3 is a top ranked innovation firm and one of the largest agencies owned by a woman. Gay has been nationally recognized for the unique family-friendly policies she has initiated at T3.

Gay serves on the Board of Directors of Monotype Imaging Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: TYPE), sits on the Dean’s Advisory Council to The University of Texas McCombs School of Business, is the first female Chairman of the Texas Business Leadership Council and is former Chairman of The Committee of 200 (C200), a top women’s business organization that advances women’s leadership in business.

She and her husband own the historic Double Heart Ranch in the Texas Hill Country. An active spokesperson, writer and artist, Gay is a regular contributor to Forbes and part of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Insider Network. She has received numerous awards and honors including:

- Fast Company’s “Top 25 Women Business Builders”

- Inc. Magazine’s “Top 10 Entrepreneurs of the Year”

- C200’s Luminary Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

Her bold Texas landscape paintings have hung in New York City gallery shows and earned her distinction by Texas Monthly magazine as one of the top ten artists to collect now.

“ “Three of thousands big lessons learned by Gay Gaddis, Founder and CEO of T3

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

Lesson 1: Sometimes you have to trust your gut, know that you’re right, and go for it.

I started my company in the teeth of a recession. The ad firm I was working had one answer for everything: limiting growth. I poured myself into a plan to transform the agency and pitched it to management. They called it “cute.” That stung, but it lit a fire that changed my life. I quit knowing one thing was for damn sure — if they didn’t want to change things with me, I’d do it without them. I cashed in my $16,000 IRA and started my own company.

Lesson 2: Never compromise your values.

After 16 years of effective work, we had hit the pinnacle with our largest client (one of the world’s largest tech companies) in revenue, relationship, and in our strategic and creative impact on their business. But globally, they wanted to consolidate agencies, assuring us that we’d be part of their future. On the day we expected to hear about our new role, we got an ultimatum: sell to the new global agency or lose the account. Without discussing it, we said no — in colorful terms. We had to find new jobs for talented people staff and rebuild, but it made us stronger. Independence was one of core values, and it’s given us freedom to be both passionate and compassionate.

Lesson 3: Change the rules to keep talented moms and dads.

When we were starting to grow, four of my key women employees got pregnant within months of each other and were uncertain about coming back to work. After angsting for days, a solution bubbled up: Let them bring their babies to work. Each mom would be responsible for her child in the office. We had the space and people to make it work. Almost 20 years later, almost 100 babies have participated with their moms and dads. It’s one our most popular benefits and been recognized from the global media to The White House. I’ve learned that “Why not?” is a powerful question, especially in challenging the way things have always been done, and talented people are invaluable.


LOREN ROCHELLE, CEO & CO-FOUNDER, NOM [NOT ORDINARY MEDIA]

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Loren is the Co-founder and CEO of NOM [Not Ordinary Media], a media technology powerhouse revolutionizing the way video campaigns are planned, optimized and measured across social properties. NOM’s mission is to equip brands and agencies with comprehensive data intelligence across all social platforms to deliver the most successful video advertising campaigns. We connect brands with humans, data with deep insights and service with transparency.

Loren brings extensive experience in the video distribution industry to NOM, and is a leader in the space. In 2016, Loren was recognized for her brilliance and named Forbes 30 Under 30 in Advertising & Marketing.

Before bringing NOM to life, Loren served as the Vice President of Accounts at video marketing company, Channel Factory, working directly with clients to build multi-million dollar relationships while ensuring client goals were met. Prior to Channel Factory. Loren helped build distribution companies from the ground up, such as Giant Media (acquired by AdKnowledge) and Feed Company.

In Loren’s early marketing days, she worked with RedBlack, a startup specializing in custom E-commerce stores for successful content sites. She lead the marketing team to develop strategies across multiple properties, determining necessary tactics to deliver positive ROI and increase site traffic for retailers. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“1) Rarely anyone achieves success alone. I always find the phrase “self-made” or “self-made man” humorous. The vast majority of successful people have achieved their goals because of the people who work for them. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. One of my strengths is knowing my weaknesses, and finding someone to fill in the gaps. Find a yin to your yang.

2) Own your insecurities as a leader and they will actually work in your favor if tamed correctly! I was 26 years old when I co-founded NOM and struggled early on earning respect and gaining credibility at a young age. Even more so, I struggled getting respect as a woman in this male-dominated industry. However, I reached a point in my career where I had enough experience and acquired a lot of strong relationships in the industry. I made a name for myself as a thought leader in the video space. People knew who I was and it made conversations easier being a trusted voice in the space. I became more comfortable having conversations as a CEO. People tend to be impressed when a woman is leading a company in a male-dominated industry and I actually use it to my advantage.

3) From my perspective, there are two different types of leadership — you can lead by fear or you can lead by love. I choose to lead by love. I have a nurturing personality and I think it’s important to practice empathy. Understand other people’s perspectives, it will make things easier when you’re trying to motivate people and teams. If you set a positive example for the people you’re working with, and help them be successful at things they think they couldn’t do, your company will be successful. A lot of leaders in business think you need to be cut throat and use intimidation tactics to get results. When I started my own business, I chose to lead with love, empathy and compassion. I don’t think there are enough people doing it.


Kelly Stickel, Founder + CEO, Remodista

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Kelly started Remodista to help retailers examine the fast paced evolution of global retail through collaborative research and analysis. Understanding the layers of disruption in retail and translating insights into actionable items for retail brands using community as a business model. By using community as a business model, she has been able to approach the research in a new light. Kelly is dedicated to cultivating women leaders, and serves as an advocate for the importance of women in executive roles and breaking through being limited in the workforce.

As part of Remodista, Kelly launched the Women2Watch in Retail Disruption program, which highlights women as pioneers and thinkers who are solving different business challenges in the areas of operations, IOT, AI, CRM, wearables, marketing, commerce, fintech, supply chain, logistics, and globalization. Remodista’s Women2Watch program is in it’s third year and has now expanded from U.S. to Australia and Europe in the upcoming year.

Before launching Remodista, Kelly devoted a decade at Accenture and Acquity Group, she spent majority of her career focused on connecting people, build business development strategies in management consulting and most importantly cultivating women leaders. Starting in recruiting, Kelly worked her way through vendor relations, business development, and alliance partnerships focused on marketing and commerce business problems in both B2B and B2C verticals.

In a fast-moving industry, there is no replacement for constant re-evaluation of how to solve critical business challenges, there is a need for resources to help businesses do so, and that is where Remodista comes in. Offering an opportunity to connect a brand with a community to gain knowledge from trusted solution providers who are collaborating, examining and solving business challenges in real time. Remodista connects people to innovation, problem solving, efficiency and leadership, a global force that brings disruptors from across business areas together. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Inspiration only comes to you in micro moments as you build your business, and that burst of energy is important in the journey. The rest of the time, you need to create you own drive in order to be successful. That is about practicing persistence and tapping into your grit. When launching Women2Watch in 2016, the program witnessed over 40 of 80 honorees change their title or company in the first three quarters. In year 2, we had over 65 keynotes and panel roles at conferences around the globe and in the US. Year three, we continue to expand our global foot print from US and Australia to include women disruptors in Europe and Canada.

Second lesson learned when building a disruptive business is that you have to have the propensity for being disliked. Disruption and innovation make people uncomfortable, and that can bring up aggressive behaviors in different forms of behavior. People are not fans of change, and when you are trying to push it, even when it is for the better, there will be those who resist and that is ok.

Lastly, don’t let fear get the best of you. People who are high level achievers, do not do it unafraid, they do it with fear right by their side. So embrace the fear of breaking down barriers and building something that is new because fear never goes away, it just shifts into new areas as you find more traction and success. Courage is moving through fear to the other side of the challenge. Fear and success have a healthy amount of tension that can act as a driver to achieve new heights.”


Christine Bronstein, Founder, Nothing But The Truth Publishing

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Christine Bronstein is an entrepreneur, a mom, an author, a philanthropist, and a wife. She is the founder of Nothing But The Truth Publishing, an independent publishing house specializing in works by diverse female authors. Since 2012 Christine has given a voice to over 100 women through publishing their anthologies, memoirs and children’s books.

Christine is also the author of the Stewie BOOM! series of children’s books. Christine is a graduate of Emerge California and Columbia/UC-Berkeley executive MBA program. She was the CEO of one of the few women-run, venture-backed health and fitness companies in the nation for eight years and was president of a child-welfare foundation for three years. Christine’s writings have been in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes.com and others. She is married to Bay Area journalist Phil Bronstein, and they have three children, multiple dogs, and several other small creatures.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Sometimes God has a very different plan for us and that plan is a better one, no matter how much we may fight it. The only way to get in touch with that higher intuition is to sit in silence at least once a day.

2. Multitasking is a motivation killer. It took me 20 years to understand that if I’m not putting a hundred percent into what I’m doing, I start to feel discouraged and lose the joy in whatever it is I’m doing. Cooking, parenting, working-whatever it is I’m doing -I have really been trying to focus my full attention because that in itself brings more happiness.

3. Give thanks to the most difficult people in your life. Those are the folks who will truly stretch you to learn how to be the kind of person you want to be no matter what someone else is doing. To teach you how to stand your ground peacefully. The goal really in life is to learn how to not be in reaction all the time to people or situations and to be your best, true self in every situation. “


Amy Hutchins, Chief Product Officer, Unearth Technologies

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“As the Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Unearth, a documentation and collaboration platform for the construction industry, Amy Hutchins is helping to accelerate productivity in one of the largest but most inefficient sectors of the economy. Prior to founding her current company, she led Product Management for buuteeq, a digital marketing platform for the hospitality industry acquired by The Priceline Group in 2014. She’s also held various roles at Microsoft, the most recent being a Senior Program Manager for Microsoft account, their consumer identity service. Amy is a graduate of Duke University where she split her time (and degrees) between her two passions, computer science and Roman history.

Amy breaks the limits by kicking ass across two male-dominated fields: construction and tech. In late 2016 she helped identify an unfulfilled need in the construction software industry, the lack of a solution for construction firms to organize their drone data. Her successful track-record as a product manager helped the company raise $1.3 million in seed round funding, which she leveraged to build a small, but powerful product team. In under 6 months, she was able to lead the team to a successful product launch, developing an entire web app and iOS app from scratch. Unearth now has several clients among the top 10 contractors in the world, all in under a year. Gaining credibility and clients is difficult for anyone trying to break into construction, but often more so for women. Unearth’s success is a testament to Amy’s ability to break limits. “

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

1. Choosing the right people to work with is one of the best things you can do for your professional, personal, and career growth. Finding capable, talented people for your team is easy, but if they don’t share your values and aspirations, you won’t create the dynamic that propels you and your company forward. You could be the most talented businesswoman in the world, but if you don’t have a unified team behind you, you won’t get very far.

2. Self awareness is key to professional and personal success. If you invest time learning about you and what makes you happy, it will pay off dividends. Diving further into this, it’s more important to understand your weaknesses and what motivates you than it is to understand your strengths. When founders fail to understand these two things, they can quickly demoralize their team and bring progress to a halt. People want to work for enthusiastic and honest leaders, two things that can only be accomplished by understanding yourself.

3. Assumptions are critical for speed, but they can also be disastrous. Knowing which assumptions are helping you and which are holding you back will make or break your business during crucial moments of product development. This is a tough piece of advice to put into action, because the ability to understand the difference is something that often only comes with experience. However, being aware of the assumptions you are making and noting their outcome is a perfect first step to realizing this advice.


Shivani Siroya, founder and CEO, Tala

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“A childhood spent between Udaipur, India and New York City and gave Shivani Siroya a firsthand understanding of how global systems impact individual lives. After graduating college, she began her career in investment banking, then earned a master’s in public health and joined the UN Population Fund. While there, she interviewed thousands of microfinance borrowers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia to better understand their financial lives. When she realized how difficult it was for many small business owners and entrepreneurs to access credit, she began lending to some of them out of her own pocket — and stumbled on a solution that would become her fintech startup, Tala.

Shivani understood that the major challenge facing many people in emerging economies was a lack of data — without some kind of formal financial history, or credit score, banks couldn’t evaluate a potential borrower’s risk and capacity or design products to fit their lives. So Shivani set out to find alternative data to prove the potential of these underserved individuals, drawing on the thousands of interviews she’d done.

Today Tala’s smartphone app uses mobile data to build credit scores for underserved customers in East Africa and the Philippines. Anyone with a smartphone can download Tala’s app, apply for a loan, and receive an instant decision, regardless of his or her financial history. Tala also serves as the lender, and has made over 4.3 million loans to date for more than $200 million total origination.

Shivani has raised more than $44 million in venture financing for Tala from leading investors such as IVP, Google Ventures, and Lowercase Capital. She’s also managed to build an incredibly diverse company, where more than half of people managers are women — a remarkable statistic for a company working at the intersection of finance and technology. Under Shivani’s leadership, Tala is pushing the limits of what’s possible in the global financial system by proving the viability a whole new class of consumers. Tala’s proprietary identity and credit scoring technologies help the company lend to customers who have been underserved by traditional finance — a population currently estimated at 3 billion globally.

Shivani is an Aspen Institute Finance Leader Fellow, a WEF Young Global Leader, Senior TED Fellow and Ashoka Fellow. She is also on the board of Stellar.org. She holds a M.P.H from Columbia University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

I’ve learned a ton over 6 years building Tala, and from my career and upbringing prior to that. One of the most important lessons is to listen. To be a good listener, you have to be humble; you can’t presume to have the answer. When I first began building our company, I did hundreds of cold calls and emails to experts and advisors who would listen to my crazy idea, and I learned a lot about the problem I was trying to solve. I also learned that no one was out there solving it, and that’s what gave me the confidence to quit my job and found a startup. Today humility is an important part of our company culture. For example, customer feedback and research is central to how we make decisions. We don’t assume we know what’s best for our customers — we actually listen to what they want and build around that. We basically built our first Android application because one of our early customers told us to; if we’d been too proud to take his advice, we might not be where we are today.

Another lesson, which seems to run counter to being humble, is to be bold enough to take the risk. When we started our work trying to help underserved people get access to credit, we were building credit scores for our customers, then passing those scores over to banks. But, not surprisingly, the banks mostly looked the other way; they often didn’t accept the new customers we gave them, and if they did, they continued to charge high rates. They hadn’t actually changed their practices based on our models. As a startup, we knew we weren’t moving fast enough or fulfilling our mission. So we finally decided to take the risk and do the lending ourselves. The impact on our customers’ lives was instant and measurable, and made our business what it is today. So the lesson is: push yourself to take the risk — don’t be afraid to try.

“”The last lesson is, find a problem to solve, and stick to it. Let this problem be the North Star that guides all of your work. This is important for a couple reasons. First, the world is always changing, and as a business, you’ll need to be nimble and adapt. We were able to make the leap from being just a scoring company to being a consumer product delivering credit ourselves — and pivot our entire underlying technology and models — because we were focused on solving the problem of financial access by any means necessary. Second, as a founder, you’re going to get a lot of advice and ideas. You’re going to need to make hard decisions about how to build your company. If you know the problem you are trying to solve, you’ll have a natural framework for making those decisions. You can look at an idea or proposal and say, does this help us get closer to solving the problem? If yes, then do it! If not, then drop it. Keep navigating towards that North Star and the rest falls into place.”””


Deborah Santana, Founder, Do A Little

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Deborah Santana is an author, seeker and activist for peace and social justice. She is founder of Do A Little, a nonprofit that serves women and girls in the areas of health, education and happiness. In 2005, she published a memoir,

Space Between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart, and has produced five short documentary films. She is mother to three beloved adult children:

Salvador, a songwriter and instrumental artist; Stella, a singer/ songwriter; and Angelica, an archivist and film producer. She is a leadership donor to the

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and has a master’s degree in philosophy and religion, with a concentration in women’s spirituality.”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“When I was asked to become editor and publisher of an anthology of essays by women of color, I said, “Yes!” I fancied myself an editor of sorts after writing my own memoir, feeling more adept at the rewriting that the creation of story. As the few hundred submissions filled my email inbox, the first lesson appeared. “Get help.” I needed readers to assist in choosing the best writing, and to discern which stories were representative of voices left out of the world of literature that would be important to tell. One of the readers holds a Ph.D. and is a university professor. Her help was invaluable.

The second lesson came with the Women’s March in DC in 2017. I had been at work on the anthology for a year and a half, believing that women of color’s stories should be respected and understood by white women in America, unaware of how brutal it was to escape the Khmer Rouge, or how affirmative action caused qualified Black women to wonder if they were hired to fill a quota or because they were the best person for the job, or how moving to France with three children is a dream worth pursuing, no matter the color of your skin. The speeches at the Women’s March ignited fervor in women across the world to stand up, speak out and demand equality. Our anthology speaks to topics that became national conversation in 2017. My second lesson: “Do the right thing when you are asked to. There is every chance it will be the right time as well.”

The third lesson was: “We must rethink the way we do things and reinvent our world.” Not only are women of color not hired in the publishing industry, they are not published as often as white women. Jean Ho wrote: “The demographics of those working behind the scenes in publishing remain almost entirely white. In 2015, Lee & Low Books, an independent publisher of multicultural children’s and young adult literature, launched the first major study of staff diversity in publishing. Over 40 publishers and review journals participated. The findings revealed that across the board, nearly 80 percent of those surveyed who worked in publishing self-identified as white.” [1]

Even though I cannot make business, politics, education, or health care equal for all, I can do my part to reinvent the current culture and shift the tide of injustice. All the Women in My Family Sing is just one book, but without it the publishing world is not as rich, informed or equitable. “


Pembe Candaner, Founder and President, JobzMall

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“Pembe Candaner is founder and president of JobzMall Inc., an entrepreneurial venture she believes is destined to disrupt the employment industry. Pembe is no stranger to disruption for she has been pushing the limits for women in business and society-at-large for many decades.

A well-known, successful businesswoman originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Pembe served as CEO of major corporations in the employment industry, including Adecco SA Turkey, Lee Hecht Harrison and Kariyer.net, Turkey’s leading job-finding platform. She has helped modernize labor laws in Turkey, playing a key role in legalizing the establishment of private employment agencies and introducing modern working concepts such as temporary work, work-on-call and part-time work. A thought leader, Pembe has served as an advisor to the European Union on international employment issues pertaining to women employment and national employment strategies for Turkey.

Pembe, on the Board of Advisors of Forbes Magazine in Turkey, previously hosted a TV show concerning women leaders and entrepreneurs. The author of four books, Pembe has lectured at Bogazici University in Istanbul, and most recently lectured at the University of California, Irvine, covering subjects such as the leadership development of women, talent management, and protocol and etiquette in intercultural relations. Pembe has received numerous awards resulting from being one of the first women CEOs in Turkey, including the prestigious Businesswoman of the Year in 2003.

Pembe’s new company, JobzMall, already has become a Member Company of the prestigious Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), a coalition of companies and international organizations committed to creating work-readiness programs for youth and fostering skills for business. The elite network is comprised of only of 15 Member Companies, including Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, Telefonica, Nestle and IBM.

These days, Pembe is focused on JobzMall, headquartered in Irvine, Calif. Teaming up with her 22-year-old son, Nathan, an alumnus of USC, this dynamic Baby Boomer-Millennial duo aims to disrupt the recruitment and job placement industry which they believe is archaic and dysfunctional. Launched in January 2018, JobzMall offers a digital ecosystem using virtual reality and artificial intelligence. It is more advanced and intuitive than current online jobs boards which have not changed significantly since the dot-com era. In this virtual mall, employers host branded “stores” offering job opportunities in a manner never seen before. With $1.5 million in seed money, JobzMall has launched with more than 250 stores, including mega-employers such as Coca Cola and the City of Los Angeles.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“Lesson #1: Success has no sex.

There’s no need to show that you are a woman, everyone already knows this. There’s also no need to act like a man, because you’re not. Instead, be a human being. Over the years I’ve seen over and over that good ideas, hard work and diligent execution have nothing to do with your gender. If people want to make you, or your idea, smaller because you are a woman, it’s their problem, not yours. Ignore them and get fueled for success. Similar to pregnancy, nothing good comes easily, you have to wait for it and work hard. It can be a painful journey but, in the end, it can be very rewarding.

Lesson #2: Ignore the naysayers.

When someone tells you “no” it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means you can’t do it with them. When I started my new company, JobzMall, because of its disruptive nature, people were suspicious and negative. You can’t focus on the naysayers. Together with my son, Nathan, we formed a core team with our believers. They are the ones you need to listen to. Not surprisingly, when we began being accepted by some of the largest companies and gained a significant market penetration, the people who were saying “no” began asking how to invest in our company. Believe in yourself.

Lesson #3: You can’t do it alone.

Sure, you can do some things alone. You can have a vision and work very hard to achieve success. But your success will be only what you, yourself, can do. As an entrepreneur, what will define your success is your ability to build a team and create an environment in which they can thrive. Another way to say this, the way to achieve your own success is to help somebody else achieve theirs, too. If you can create an environment where they can operate without fear or angst, and can help you take your vision even farther, your success will be inevitable. Too many people are limited by not empowering others to succeed along with them.


Kari Skogland, Writer, Director, Producer Mad Rabbit Inc.

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

As CEO of Mad Rabbit (a Red Arrow Studios company), award-winning director and showrunner Kari Skogland is committed to producing high-end one-hour dramas for the international market. Named by Hollywood Reporter as one of its “Ten Directors to Watch” for her debut as writer-director of Liberty Stands Still, Skogland has since become one of the world’s most prolific female directors of one-hour dramas and feature films. Her TV credits include Emmy and Golden Globe winning The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), The Borgia’s, Penny Dreadful (Showtime), Boardwalk Empire (HBO), The Killing, The Walking Dead and Fear of the Walking Dead (AMC), Under the Dome (CBS), Vikings (History), The Americans (FX), House of Cards and The Punisher (Netflix), Condor (Audience), and more. Feature film credits include Fifty Dead Men Walking, Stone Angel, and more. Kari has received numerous awards including the Directors Guild of Canada award for best director of a television miniseries (Sons of Liberty), Canadian Screen Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Leo award for best feature drama and DCG for best director (Fifty Dead Men Walking). For her body of work, Kari was honored at the BIRKS-TELEFIM 2015 Diamond Tribute to Women in Film. In addition to her remarkable work in television and film, Kari is a dedicated mom who has done a tremendous job building a prolific career (in a field that is very tough for women) while juggling her roles with her family.

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

I am fortunate to be spending so many of my waking hours doing something I love. The first and foremost lesson I live by is to “follow your bliss” and then when you find it, hang on with a vice grip. From day one it meant challenging “rules” if I was to survive. I came into a very male dominated business where women were simply not present because access to meaningful work was seriously road blocked, particularly if you wanted to include children in your life goals. The glass ceiling was a reality. Of course we all face our trials and are affected by sexism, ageism, racism and plain heartbreak, but, an important lesson I hold dear; get over it, move on and move up. I have learned to leave the questionable people behind and then I plan to side step them next time they cross my path. I’ve always believed that how you recover from a personal or professional sucker punch is critical to maintaining your momentum. I discovered how important it is to grow past people not aligned with me and my goals but also to identify if. at times, it’s actually me getting in my own way. I was tremendously complimented when a colleague said how much she valued a lesson she picked up while working with me which is to remember, it’s all part of the adventure. We spend more time on the journey than settled into the destination so how we spend that time is the very essence of success. Of course some days have unique and sometimes catastrophic challenges but trusting that it will all make sense in the end, has really helped me to shake off the negative and get curious about what wonderful door is about to open because the dead wood has just been cleared away. To sum up, I suppose I try to find a reason to laugh in the face of adversity and to remember that our most precious commodity is time so be careful how you spend it and who you share it with.


Alyssa Rapp, CEO, Surgical Solutions, Lecturer-in-Management, Stanford University Graduate School of Business

Who She Is and How She Has Broken Limits:

“As of January 2018, Alyssa J. Rapp is the CEO of Surgical Solutions, a health care services provider owned by private equity firm Sterling Partners. As such, she is breaking major limits having been a seasoned start-up CEO of venture-backed businesses in the consumer categories to now running a $30MM+ B2B, private-equity-backed business in the health care space.

Starting in 2014, Alyssa also joined the ranks as a lecturer-in-management at Stanford

University’s Graduate School of Business teaching a course on the Global Dynamics of the Wine Industry.

Starting in 2015, Alyssa has also served as the Managing Partner at AJR Ventures, a strategic advisory firm for Fortune 500, $500MM+ privately-held companies, and private equity firms on their new business unit/new market development, digital media, social media, and e-commerce strategies.

From 2005–2015, Alyssa served as the founder & CEO of Bottlenotes, Inc., the leading interactive media company in the U.S. wine, craft beer, and artisanal spirit industries.

Alyssa has broken limits as one of Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30” coolest entrepreneurs in America (September 2008)” and one of the wine industry’s top 25 of 100 most influential people by Intowine.com, from 2012 to present. Bottlenotes also received the “Best Advertising and Marketing Company” and the “People’s Choice Award” at the Empact 100 in September 2013 at the United Nations, honoring the top 100 companies with founders under 35.

Alyssa earned a B.A. in Political Science and the History of Art from Yale University in 2000 and an M.B.A. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 2005. At Yale, she broke limits by earning the Frank M. Patterson prize for the best essay on the American political system for her senior thesis on public housing reform in Chicago.

Alyssa serves on the national Board of Trustees for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the country’s preeminent contemporary dance company, for Spark Program, an organization that provides transformative apprenticeships for middle school students in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia. She is honored to have been appointed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to serve on the board of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

When not immersed in business and civic life, Alyssa loves to attempt to break limits while running track, doing yoga, skiing fast, or breaking her last PR on her Peloton bike. She also tries to break limits as a spectator of baseball by learning to decipher a slider from a curve ball from her husband, 1990 MLB World Series champion and current Managing Partner at X10 Capital, Hal Morris. Alyssa and Hal are the proud parents of Audrey Margaret Morris (born: September 12, 2012) and Henriette (“Hettie”) Daniella Morris (born: March 16, 2015).”

Here Are The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned From My Experiences:

“(1) Be Bold in Goal Setting

(2) Communicate Transparently

(3) Work Tirelessly”