11 Successful Women on the Best Career Advice They’ve Received

We’re taking notes.

By Michelle Nash

Do you ever stop to wonder how the women you look up to got to where they are today? Sometimes when I’m reading about the careers of the successful ladies I admire, their status and accomplishments seem way out of reach. It’s easy to feel intimidated by the fast-paced, results-driven career environment we live in today, but success means something different to everyone, and we are never alone on the career journey. Instead of solely focusing on outcomes, I’ve noticed that many of the women I respect have thrived during the process of growing too.

Now is an especially important time to sit back and reflect on our big picture career goals and examine where we are spending our thoughts, energy and time. Everyone’s path is different, but there is plenty of inspiration to take from the female leaders who have navigated career ups and downs, and emerged stronger and more fulfilled women. We gathered wisdom from a few of our favorite ladies who have achieved immense success in their respective industries.

While all of these women charted different paths for themselves, there is one thing they have in common when it comes to mindset: they realized what was truly important, and let go of everything that wasn’t.

Read on for the best career advice these successful women ever received:


Kendra Scott – Designer & CEO, Kendra Scott 

“I have three pieces of advice for any that I believe every entrepreneur should follow. These are words of advice someone once shared with me – they’ve been a great guidance as my business has evolved, and they never stop being true. 

Decide what core values are most important to you and your business, and build your foundation on those values. 

Operate with kindness. It’s always been important to me that I treat my coworkers like family and cultivate a culture of giving back, and I believe wholeheartedly that culture has helped make us the billion-dollar company we are today.  

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes the hardest thing we ever have to do is ask for help. We want to show everyone that we can do it all, that we have it under control. But the reality is that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s the greatest sign of strength.”

Helen Gurley Brown – Author, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine for 32 years

Cosmo was all about getting somewhere from nowhere. If you could start as un-prepossessing, nothingburger, mouseburger, as me and get along just by doing the best you could, then wasn’t that a good idea to try?”

Rebecca Minkoff– Founder, Rebecca Minkoff

“When approaching someone you admire, be prepared.”

Successful Women on the Best Career Advice

Jaclyn Johnson – Founder & CEO, Create & Cultivate

Resiliency required. Probably even more timely now, I think understanding that challenges are par for the course when you set out on your own path. Careers have ebbs and flows and you can’t give up at the first sign of hard times.”

Sheryl Sandberg – COO, Facebook

“Always take on new challenges- even if you are not sure you are completely ready.”

Marianne Lake – Former CFO, J.P. Morgan Chase

“You are only ever as good as the team you build, so be a talent magnet and surround yourself with the best and the brightest.”


Brooklyn Decker – Model & Actress

“It’s rarely about you. I discovered this way too late in life. A co-worker is weird to you? You didn’t get that project you were hoping for? I would always dissect and say “what could I have done differently? What did I do to mess up?” I slowly realized people have their own sh*t and are in self-preservation mode themselves. The quicker you wrap your head around that, the quicker you can get out of your own way!”

Hillary Clinton – Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State

“Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”

Successful Women on the Best Career Advice

Camille Styles – Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Camille Styles

“I loved watching the docu-series Shangri-La about music producer Rick Rubin. As a mentor to some of the most creative artists on the planet, his advice really struck me: ‘You have to define the metric of your success.’

If we’re going to create great work and live lives that are fulfilling, we (each of us) has to decide what “success” means to us as individuals. Are we chasing after a paycheck, a job title, Instagram likes, or some other metric that may feel validating for a moment but won’t feel satisfying in the long run?

When we put ourselves back in the driver’s seat of our own success and realize that no one else can define it for us, we’re free to stop striving for others’ approval. We can try and fail without worrying so much about what others think. It’s taking the long view of our own happiness, and the game is changed because we can let go of trying to control everything – and take risks.”

Judith McKenna– CEO, Walmart’s International Division

“Never be afraid to recruit people brighter than you are, and never be afraid to recruit people who are different than you. That is sometimes hard to do, but incredibly powerful if you want to create a team that is really effective.”

Reshma Saujani– Founder & CEO, Girls Who Code

“Don’t be afraid to fail or be less than perfect. Women want something but our insecurities talk us out of it, and then we watch someone else do it… and then we have regret. I painstakingly lost my race for Congress in 2010, but I see the 42 women in the congressional class of 2019, and I feel joy, because at least I tried.”