Our 27 Favorite Pieces of Career Advice From Boss Ladies in 2018

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May 18, 2024 at 8:28PM UTC
At Fairygodboss, we get the chance to hear game-changing career advice directly from boss ladies on the regular. Whether they're sharing insight on our podcast, Fairygodboss Radio (now in its second season), offering up their No. 1 pieces of career advice as part of our Fairygodboss of the Week series, or posting wisdom straight to the Fairygodboss Feed, we at FGB think we're on the receiving end of an incredible amount of guidance from women who've been there. And as we prepare to wrap up 2018 and enter a new year of living our best lives, both professionally and personally, these are the bits of advice we've heard over the past year that are inspiring us still. 

1. "Give yourself permission to take a risk on something that frightens you or stands in your way of getting better."

— Beth Comstock, Changemaker, Author, and Former Vice Chair at General Electric

2. "Pick your head up. Build a sponsor, listen to them, and be open-minded and listen to the feedback they give you."

— Samantha Saperstein, Managing Director of Women on the Move, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

3. "You have to ask. Put yourself out there, find the right moment, connect, and ask for what you want."

— Francine Katsoudas - Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Cisco

4. "Don’t play it safe. You can’t grow in your career if you always play it safe. You always have to have one part of yourself outside your comfort zone so you can foster growth."

— Jill Sweeney, Technical Knowledge Management, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise

5. "Really focus on what you’re passionate about and build a career around it. The impact you can make is incredible. It’s never too late."

— Amber Grewal, Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition, IBM

6. "Lose the five year plan! I never had a plan to become editor in chief of a legendary magazine. I never had a plan to write a book, I kept my eyes open, paid attention to opportunities, looked for ways I could tread into new territory and make my mark."

— Ann Shoket, Author of "The Big Life"

7. "Trust your gut. I spent so long trying to fit in, worrying what other people thought of me, being hesitant to speak my mind or say what I really believed because I wasn't sure it was right, or smart, or good enough, or was worried about being criticized, or not being perfect enough, and on and on. And you know what? Almost all of the things I was afraid to say, I still believe them. So what I would say is: listen to your inner voice, try not to succumb to self-doubt, and stand up for what you believe in."

— Jessica Bennett, Gender Editor at The New York Times and Author and Founder of Feminist Fight Club

8. "Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. I wish I realized this earlier in my career."

— Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer at Accenture

9. "It sounds cliché, but follow your passion. If you don't know what your passion is, just start somewhere and weed out the things you don't like to do. When you're passionate about what you do, you will always succeed."

— Carly Tatum, Corporate Responsibility Communications Lead, Global Communications at Dell

10. "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."

— Mariela Dabbah, Founder & CEO of The Red Shoe Movement

11. "Take risks!  It's so important to not be perfect and to make mistakes!"

— Gretchen Carlson, Journalist and Female Empowerment Advocate 

12. "Remember that you have a long career ahead of you.  As you enter the workforce to when you retire, you have ~40 years of experiences to gain.  Don’t be in too much of a rush that you lose out of valuable experiences.  But at the same time, be driven to excel and exceed others expectations.  Your career is going to ebb and flow – sometimes you will move fast and other times you will move slow.  The important thing is to continue learning.  Don’t wait for someone’s permission to solve a problem; be proactive and demonstrate your leadership capability.  Don’t let your job title define how big of a positive influence you can make."

— Lauren O’Brien, Senior Director, Human Resources at PepsiCo

13. "Instead of thinking about yourself as just an employee at your company, consider yourself to be a rising corporate change agent. This requires less focus on self-promotion and personal accolades, instead being driven by what I call a 'me for we' mindset. Stop and really think about the purpose of the organization you work for. Consider how it can make the most positive impact in a way that is ultimately good for its bottom line. Consider the impact on three levels: inside (its employees and their families), the industry as a whole, and outside (the customers or stakeholders). Then think about how your efforts can serve this greater impact better and faster so that everyone benefits. If your boss or company’s leadership doesn’t yet share the vision, get creative and help bring them."

— Claudia Chan, Founder of S.H.E. Globl Media

14. "Be clear about what you want for the next assignment. Start thinking about what is next so that you can identify what is needed to get to that goal."

— Cheryl TalascoDirector, Program Quality at United Technologies Corporation Aerospace Systems

15. "Do not settle for any job. Make sure that the next job you pick is right for you and you are right for it. Interviews are not just about you being interviewed but you also conducting the interview."

— Yinka HortonSenior GAMMA Analyst at Boston Consulting Group

16. "Leaders are often anointed before they are appointed. Meaning, focus on doing your very best, being positive and excelling at the level above you before seeking new opportunities. People will see that and naturally want you to progress."

— Stephanie AtiaseSenior Director of Corporate Strategy & Corporate Development at Hilton

17. "Take risks! Be courageous! Understand financial acumen, invest in relationships and speak up and share your ideas. Remember: It's not who you know, but who knows you."

— Adriana OcampoChief of Staff to VP Engineering, Modifications & Maintenance at Boeing Global Services

18. "You must know what you love and know what has you saying 'this is where I need to be and what I need to do.'  That may change over time, and that’s OK.  Work towards doing that. It might mean being a volunteer at first. But even if you can’t get paid, and even if you can only do that thing a few hours a week, you will feel good about yourself and your life. That will matter and you’ll know you matter."

— Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of Black Women's Health Imperative

19. "Think of every job as having three components: the responsibilities, the salary, and the company itself. Very few people get the ideal version of all three of those in one role, especially during a career transition. Look at every job you take as something that gets you closer to your dream position."

— Dana Levin-RobinsonChief of Staff and Operations at VirtualHealth

20. "My favorite tip is 'Don’t build a bridge the day you need it.'  To be successful, you should establish and nurture relationships – helping each other along the way.  As another mentor has reinforced, 'Your network is your net worth.'”

— Betty NgCEO of inspiring Diversity (iD)

21. "It is OK to take the time to figure out what you want to do... You may have your heart set on one career path and then find out that it just isn’t a good fit for you. Don’t be afraid to go in another direction. Life is way too short to be toiling away at a job you hate just because you liked the idea of what you thought the job would be."

— Mary Lynn Conroy, Financial Consultant Partner at Charles Schwab

22. “What are all the possible scenarios, and are (you) covered for them? It’s about identifying issues before they become problems. Having that mindset is what allows me to be optimistic. Being like, ‘Okay, we’re going to run into problems, but we’re going to be able to solve them because we’re going to work through them before they become unsolvable.’”

— Liz Anderson, Project Manager at DRW

23. “If you want to learn and grow in your field, it’s always important to get out of your comfort zone. You might be doing a great job, but you’re really not pushing yourself to learn and grow there. The magic happens when you’re outside of your comfort zone… think about all the great possibilities that may be ahead. When you can turn worry into wonder, that slight flip can make all difference.” 

— Jodi Euerle Eddy, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Boston Scientific

24. To female veterans: "An industry may underestimate you as a veteran; don’t let them! Don’t let them think you lack business experience, or ‘just fly planes’ or ‘just manage millions in supply chain.' Do not let anyone convince you that you are starting over.”

— Sloane Menkes, Mid-Atlantic Cyber and Privacy Leader at PwC

25. "One piece of advice that has stood the test of time is: 'Ask better questions.' As leaders, one tool we have to teach, to drive accountability, to inspire, and to ensure engagement is the questions we ask. Questions ensure you get feedback from the team. Questions ensure that your team is thinking past the surface. You do not have to ask 20 questions – one or two well-thought-out questions is all you need."

— Melissa Holobach, General Manager at Terex Corporation

26. "Never lie when you have made a mistake. Just own up to the mistake as soon as you realize and be honest. It may be painful at first, but people will appreciate your honesty and accountability. After all, we are all human. This not only applies internally, but also with your clients."

— Devi Rajani, Managing Director at FTI Consulting

27. "Be present and capable. Develop the skills you need to embrace each opportunity as it surfaces, and don’t be afraid to be spontaneous so that you have the freedom to say 'yes' to the opportunities you want."

— Joan K. Motsinger, Senior Vice President of Business Excellence at Seagate Technology

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