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Pritzker to Future Female Entrepreneurs: 'It Gets Messy'

The serial entrepreneur and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opened up about the realities of running a company while raising a family.

Lean in all you want, ladies. Just don't expect your universe to stay in apple-pie order.

That was one of the takeaways from a conversation between LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, in which Weiner asked what advice she'd give to young girls considering a life of entrepreneurship today.

Pritzker, herself a serial entrepreneur, considered what helped her when whe was starting out. 

"I was really lucky to have good mentors. My mentors were male, but today you'll find more female mentors," she said. "Ask for help and be inquisitive."

Simple enough. 

But fast forward to being in the thick of it, after you start a company, after you can't just live on cheap take-out and caffeine. Say you have kids.

"You have to get comfortable with the fact that it's messy. When you get into running a business. . . and having a family, it gets messy," she said.

And then she said something that might just hit home for the extremely driven, put-together women of the world. "You'll have to forgive yourself that it might not all be so smooth."

For her part, Pritzker and her husband, who is a doctor, have "partnered together" to raise their kids. She says the old-fashioned notion of responsibility for child care falling on the mother just "doesn't really work in this day and age."


IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Feb 25, 2014

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.

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