As Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin predicted back in 1985, sisters are doing it for themselves. Women are Leaning In and Thriving, becoming #GIRLBOSSes and #BOSSBABEs at an unprecedented rate. We’ve pulled together the best advice from women leaders in the fashion space to help you run both your work life and your personal life like a boss.
1. Have a vision
All good companies have a guiding vision on which they base their decisions. Chanel’s vision is “To be the Ultimate House of Luxury, defining style and creating desire, now and forever.” What is your vision for your life? What are your dreams? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to be fit, happy and healthy? Do you want to take a few years off to have kids? Do you want to travel the globe? Think big. As Tory Burch said in her commencement speech for the entrepreneurship program at Babson College, “If it doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.”
2. Break dreams down into smaller steps
Having a great vision is only the first step. You need to figure out realistic steps to move you toward your dreams. As #GIRLBOSS’s Sophia Amoruso writes, “Dream big all you want, but know that the first step toward those dreams is probably going to be a small one.” Want to go back to school to get a Master’s degree? How are you going to save the money to do that? Can you apply for a scholarship or grant? Want to start your own business? Can you apprentice in someone else’s business first? Would you be content to forego lattes and designer shoes for a decade to finance your start-up? Almost anything is possible if you are willing to do all of the small steps required. Having a great vision is only the first step. You need to figure out realistic steps to move you toward your dreams.
3. Recognize your strengths
Companies that are successful focus on what they do best. Ralph Lauren sells a lifestyle. Apple creates beautiful devices that are easy to use. Disney owns creative storytelling. Amaruso writes that “True success lies in knowing your weaknesses and playing to your strengths.” What do you do best? Are you a great communicator? Are you a whiz with numbers? Are you charming? Does your openness and honesty draw people in? The key to success lies in identifying what you are good at doing and doing that a lot.
4. Enlist help
Rarely can we get everything we want on our own. Successful people are masters at enlisting other people to help them work toward their goals. If you want to start your own business, ask a successful entrepreneur if she’d consider mentoring you. If you want to be a better parent, ask someone with functional adult children the secret to her success. Mentors do not have to be formal. As Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet revealed to Financial Times Magazine,
“I don’t have a mentor in the strict definition. I take as much advice and inspiration as I can from the people I am close to. Sometimes, though, I ask myself: “How would Audrey Hepburn handle this?”
The world is full of people who can help you if you are brave enough to ask.
5. Surround yourself with the best
Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer, in her 2009 commencement speech to the Illinois Institute of Technology, said that a secret to success is to “Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them. Working with smart people means that you’ll be challenged to do your best. You’ll have to strive to keep up with them, and as a result, they will elevate your thinking. When there are better players around you, you get better.” Work with colleagues who challenge you. When signing up for a fitness class, go for one that’s advanced. Find a mentor. Read books by smart women who have been where you want to go. Surround yourself with excellence.
6. Focus on the experience more than the outcome
Sophia Amoruso writes, “When your goal is to gain experience, perspective, and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility.” In other words, every experience, good or bad, offers an opportunity to learn and move forward. (Sometime the bad is more valuable. As Kelly Cutrone writes in If You Have To Cry, Go Outside, “sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most.” Good or bad, take things lightly, learn the lesson and move one. Got a promotion? Fabulous! Go for celebratory drinks with the girls, figure out what went right, and then get back to work. Got dumped by a total jerk? Shake it off, as Taylor Swift would counsel, and think about what to do differently next time. As Amoruso writes,
“When you approach everything as if it’s a big fun experiment, then it’s not a big deal if things don’t work out.”
7. Take calculated risks
If you want to live like a boss, you cannot play it safe. Marissa Meyer said, “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. Take that lateral move to a different department. Say yes to that job overseas. Say yes to that proposal of marriage. Say no to that proposal of marriage. Weigh the pros and the cons and then listen to that small voice inside your head that is telling you what to do even if it’s out of your comfort zone: especially if it is out of your comfort zone. Kelly Cutrone writes, “In breaking away from the familiar and the expected, you’ll be forced and privileged to face greater challenges, learn harder lessons, and really get to know yourself.” Have big dreams, break them down into practical steps, surround yourself with good people, play to your strengths, learn from success and failure, and do things that scare you just a bit. You’ll be living like a boss in no time.
Have big dreams, break them down into practical steps, surround yourself with good people, play to your strengths, learn from success and failure, and do things that scare you just a bit. You’ll be living like a boss in no time.
About Jen Lawrence
Jen has been helping organizations improve performance and navigate change since 1994. Prior to joining Process Design Consultants, Lawrence was the Executive Director of a children’s museum, a Director within the investment banking arm of a major Canadian bank, and a consultant for one of the “Big Four” consulting firms. She also ran the training and development department for the Canadian subsidiary of a Fortune 500 manufacturing company. Lawrence, who holds an MBA in Finance, has widely written and spoken on lifestyle issues, corporate culture, critical thinking, and strategic planning. She has been interviewed by media outlets including The Toronto Star, Report on Business TV, National Post, and Toronto Life. A resident of Toronto, Lawrence is a proud mother of two children. Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team is her first book.