Every journey to success starts with a dream. But how do you get from where you are now to where you want to be? One way to increase your chances is by following in the footsteps of those who’ve already walked the path. And so to help you take those all-important first steps, the researchers from OnDeck collected the best pieces of business advice from 15 of the world’s greatest female founders and CEOs.
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Business Advice From Super-Successful Female CEOs
It's OK To Fail
Whitney Wolfe Herd is one highly successful CEO who embraces her failures. "When you accept that failure is a good thing, it can actually be a huge propeller toward success," says the Bumble Founder and CEO.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra is another high-flying businesswoman who isn't afraid to show her vulnerable side. "It's OK to admit what you don't know," urges Barra. "It's OK to ask for help. And it's OK to listen to the people you lead."
Indra Nooyi has a list of accolades she could boast about. She earned an MBA from Yale Business School, sits on the board of Amazon, and regularly features in the Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. But the former CEO of PepsiCo doesn't let any of this go to her head. Instead, she is always willing to listen and learn. "Just because you're CEO, don't think you've landed," warns Indra. "You should always be learning about the way you think."
Working Smart Beats Working Hard
Hard work matters. But the real key to success is combining hard work with smart work. In other words, focus on productivity rather than hours clocked.
This is how Flickr’s boss Caterina Fake approaches her day. "So often people are working hard on the wrong thing," says Fake. "[But] working on the right thing is more important than working hard."
Karen Young, the founder of Oui the People, has some similar advice for aspiring CEOs. She says, "The simplest time management skill as an entrepreneur comes down to understanding what's most important."
Forget About Perfection
"Perfection is the enemy," warns LeanIn Founder Sheryl Sandberg. "Trying to do it all and expecting it can all be done right is a recipe for disappointment."
Sandberg's approach involves learning how to let go and delegate tasks to those more qualified than you. And that's something Helen Robertson mastered a long time ago. The Expedia Cruise boss has no ego when it comes to surrounding herself with the best people. "You never have to feel like the smartest person in the room, '' says Helen. "Building a good team requires you to hire people that may know more in a certain subject than you do."
Let Your People Do Their Thing
Micromanaging is a productivity killer. It also sends a bad message to your staff. Micromanaging breeds suspicion, distrust, and resentment. That's why Standard Chartered CEO Rowena Everson prefers to empower her brightest people. "I find smart, capable people and set them up for success by giving them the information, tools, and connections they need. If I'm micromanaging, that's usually a bad sign."
Armoire CEO Ambika Singh is another big fan of this people-centered leadership approach. "Recognizing how your employees work is important to being a successful leader," says Singh.
Combine Passion With Professionalism
Tyler Haney has a straightforward piece of advice for people who want to start a business - make sure it's your passion! "You need unbound enthusiasm for what you're building," says Haney, "Energy is contagious. Everyone you interact with feels it."
Haney knows what she's talking about. She turned her love of the great outdoors into a multi-million dollar athletic apparel brand.
But never be afraid to change or adjust your dreams. Despite being a super-successful tech entrepreneur, Miku Hirano always asks herself, 'what's next?' "Fixating your dream is limiting yourself," asserts Miku. "I continuously update my dreams. As I grow, evolve, and learn, so do my dreams."
Do Things Because They Are Hard
Youtube boss Susan Wojcicki and Advanced Micro Devices CEO Lisa Su love taking on new challenges, no matter how tough they look. They run toward the most demanding tasks as a way to challenge themselves and grow their businesses. "This approach has helped me learn a tremendous amount," says Su. And Wojcicki tells her team that "opportunities - the good ones - are messy, confusing, and hard to recognize. They're risky. They challenge you."
Stand Your Ground When Needed
MadeMan founder Janett Liriano has a clear vision for her business. And she'll walk from deals and people that don't fit with those ethics. "One of the most challenging things to do is say no. [But] be willing to walk away from things that cease to align with your values," says Janett.
Glossier boss Emily Weiss has another tip for making sure you're always staying on track - ask questions and don't be afraid to challenge the answers! "Push the envelope," says Weiss. "If you hear 'that's not possible,' then ask 'what is possible,' instead of just saying 'thank you' and then leaving."
You can learn more about all these top business tips below, including advice on incorporating them into your daily schedule.