Tory Burch’s Business Advice: Embrace Ambition

The fashion designer and businesswoman on how the rules of sports can help us all succeed.

By Tory Burch

I have always been passionate about sports and grew up on a farm in the country where tennis (with lights) was our Saturday night out…To this day, I exercise nearly every morning. Tennis, running and yoga clear my mind and keep me energized and focused.

For years I wanted to have a performance activewear collection to reflect my love of the game. We created Tory Sport with this in mind, but also to express my belief in the empowering role that sports play in women’s lives. That is why our Sport brand supports our Foundation, which invests in women entrepreneurs in the United States.

The entrepreneurs we work with often ask me for advice and I find that the lessons I learned playing sports are relevant to starting and growing a business.

Dare to Compete. If you have a concept that you feel passionately about, get in the game. There will always be naysayers. The most important thing is to believe in yourself, focus on what you are doing and let the work speak for itself.

Be prepared to work incredibly hard. Whether you are running a marathon or launching a business, it takes courage, determination and tenacity to reach the finish line (which, in business, keeps moving). You may not have all the answers — I had to learn how to be a designer and CEO on the job — but when you push past the limits of your experience, you discover your capabilities.

Love the game. Perseverance is impossible without passion. I could never put in the hours it takes to launch a new business or design a new collection if I didn’t truly love what I was doing.

Find a great coach. I have always believed in the value of mentors and, to this day, turn to advisers from many different industries for insight. You can also learn from peers; as in tennis, playing with people whose strengths are different from yours improves your game.

Teamwork is everything. Surround yourself with good people who share your vision and treat each other with kindness and respect. You can have the best business idea in the world but to move it forward, it takes a team with everyone working together. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once put it: “No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.”

Stay curious. We are constantly exploring new ideas whether it’s developing innovative new technical fabrics for Sport or testing digital tools. Not everything will work out. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn. I have learned over the years that it is incredibly powerful to have conviction and courage and to believe in yourself.

Embrace ambition. Women often shy away from the negative connotations around the word ambition — I know because I did too…There is never any need to hide the fact that you want to grow and thrive.

Tory Burch is an American fashion designer, businesswoman, and philanthropist.