This week, we’re highlighting Mariela Dabbah — an entrepreneur who has dedicated her life to helping others find success. She is an award-winning best-selling author as well as an international speaker who works with organizations to create a more inclusive workplace. Dabbah’s Red Shoe Movement will inspire you to support others (while rocking some appropriately themed footwear). Register for her awesome upcoming event today!

Fairygodboss of the Week: Mariela Dabbah

Founder and CEO, Red Shoe Movement

New York, NY

FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?

MD:  My niche has always been connecting the dots for success. For years I did it with Latino students and their families, to help them understand the education system so they could thrive. Then I focused on helping people find jobs and flourish in their careers once they landed a job. In the last few years, I've turned my attention to helping women get as far in their careers as they want to. I felt we needed to have a separate conversation among us, to address some predeterminations that affect our ability to achieve our dreams. That's when I launched my leadership development company, Red Shoe Movement, which is powered by a movement of women who support each other for career success.

FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?

MD: Our #RedShoeTuesday campaign fills me up with happiness. I created this campaign to provide us with a weekly visual reminder of the importance of having more women at the top. We all wear red shoes and ties to go to work on Tuesdays to show our support for women's career growth. It's a chance to have this ongoing conversation instead of talking about this topic once a year, for International Women's Day. When I see people from all over the world wearing red shoes and following our seven principles, my chest expands!

FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?

MD:  I overcome challenges all the time — as an entrepreneur, that's my bread and butter! So it's hard to pinpoint one as I eat challenges for breakfast. How do you finance a bilingual, global platform on your own? How do you convince male leaders at large organizations that inclusion is not a “nice to have” but a business imperative? How do you price your products for less wealthy countries? I overcome each one of them by tapping into a network of advisors, my own experience and resilience and, very often, by listening to an inspiring story on a podcast like “How I Built This” from NPR. Places where I can get advice and inspiration from amazing business people and leaders who are way ahead of the game.

FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?

MD: Nothing will make you more successful than doing something you truly love. That's a top predictor of how well you'll do and how well you'll feel doing it. Because when you love what you do, there's no problem you can't resolve. No long hours to resent, no stress that becomes unsustainable. So find something you really enjoy doing and become good at it. And persevere. Tap into your resilience. Learn how to talk to yourself to make sense of the situation (a key of resilient people) and develop new ways to get what you want if the current ones are not working.

FGB: Why do you love where you work?

MD: I love helping women fulfill their dreams. I love the enthusiasm that the Red Shoe Movement inspires and that energy fills me up every day.

FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?

MD: Gratefully, I have more than one Fairygodboss. Many women in my life have and continue to support my career. One of these friends is Elizabeth Nieto, Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at MetLife. She's been supporting me and the Red Shoe Movement since the very beginning.

FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?

MD: I've developed a way of working and having fun that integrates both nicely. So if I'm traveling for business, I'll stay an extra couple of days to do some exploration on my own. And if I'm in the city for business meetings, I'll take time to have coffee with friends or visit a museum. I'm seldom totally off the grid, but when I am, it's because I'm writing, at the movies, walking, listening to any number of amazing podcasts, reading or on vacation.

FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be?

MD: Michelle Obama, hands down.

Lightning Round:

FGB: What is your karaoke song?

MD: I don't sing karaoke, although I've been meaning to try!

FGB: What is your favorite movie?

MD: “Il Postino!” So beautiful and romantic!

FGB: What book would you take with you on a desert island?

MD: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tart.

FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?

MD: Shoes, what else? If I won the lottery I would build an entire room just to display my shoes color-coded! And of course, the section for red shoes would be much, much larger than the others.


Fairygodboss is a proud media partner of Red Shoe Movement's upcoming Sixth Annual Signature Event, which will be held on November 17, 2017 in New York City and will feature Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. During early bird registration, and while supplies last, participants will have a chance to receive a pair of red shoes created by Farylrobin specifically for this Red Shoe Movement event. Early registration ends October 17. For more information on the RSM and to register for its Signature Event, visit the registration page.

Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.