Women are blazing trails in business and making a greater impact than ever before. They make up approximately 47 percent of today's workforce. They're leaving legacies, making tremendous contributions, and completely redefining industries.
Of course all have different drivers pushing them to level up in everything they do, but sometimes along the way we come across a piece of advice that sticks with us for a lifetime and propels us forward. Here are some nuggets of advice seven trailblazing women have received along their career paths that have impacted them in a big way. They also share what keeps them sharp on a daily basis.
1. Heidi Jannenga, president and co-founder of WebPT
Best advice: Early in my career as a physical therapist and clinic director, I took some continuing education courses focused on business development, and I came across a quote by Larry Benz that has stuck with me. He said, "Spend more time on your business rather than in your business." As a director and therapist treating patients, I had a hard time pulling away from seeing patients, which is what I loved to do. I had to make a conscious effort to carve out the time to focus on my business rather than just staying in the weeds of operations. Once I became disciplined to the scheduling, it made a big difference with respect to my effectiveness as a leader--and our bottom line.
What keeps you sharp? Yoga and exercise have always been my outlets for stress relief and clearing my head. I also recently incorporated a daily five-minute presence practice. It's simply a short meditation to make sure I'm focused and fully engaged in the day's agenda.
2. Aly Saxe, CEO and founder, IrisPR Software
Best advice: An advisor said to me recently, "Having a startup is like walking into a dark forest without a map and constantly bumping into trees. It's your job to learn how to navigate that terrain." As a software founder in an industry that is slow to adopt tech, I often find myself throwing my hands up in the air asking, "Why not?" And it's because it hasn't been done before. So sometimes you have to just walk into that forrest, bump into all the trees, and blaze a trail.
What keeps you sharp? I continually practice saying, "No." Once you know who you want to be professionally and what your business is supposed to be, saying no becomes easier. Say no when the client isn't a perfect fit, say no when your time is better spent somewhere else, and say no when you are simply overloaded. By saying no I create valuable time to focus on what matters most.
3. Lindsay Bayuk, VP of product marketing, Price Intelligently
Best advice: One of the most impactful pieces of advice I've received was from one of my mentors, Paul Dali. His advice was simply this: Follow up. There's a lot of talk about great leadership, but at the end of the day it comes down to execution and consistency for your customers, your team and the company. He shared with me that follow up is a practice. It's something you cultivate with an eye towards continual improvement. I took Paul's advice to heart and work on improving my follow up every day.
What keeps you sharp? I love great food. For me, being intentional about quality ingredients and healthy food keeps me feeling good. Eating well is a one of life's great joys and privileges. It keeps me mentally and physically sharp.
4. Renee Yeager, CEO and co-founder, Yeager Marketing
Best advice: I've received a lot of great advice over the years, but something that has always stuck with me is, "Always create room to explore." If our work plates are always too full, or if our schedules never have room to be a bit nimble, we will miss opportunities to learn and experience something new. It's a struggle at times, but I often have to just stop and make room.
What keeps you sharp? I read a lot. And I don't limit myself to topics that are just in my particular industry. I truly believe that going outside of your space gives you perspective. It helps me think outside of the box and has really helped me create new ideas and solutions that I wouldn't have come up with otherwise.
5. Terri O'Shaughnessy, director of client success, Tallwave
Best advice: When I was young, my father always signed me up to participate in the Punt, Pass and Kick (football) Competition in my home town. For the first couple of years I always wanted to drop out because I was the only girl signed up for the program. My dad would tell me not to focus on being the only girl, but to focus on the fact that I was good enough to compete. That advice has stuck with me over the years! If I'm good enough to compete, I will.
What keeps you sharp? I am also a Yoga instructor. While I love to practice Yoga, what is most beneficial to me is meditation. I try to give myself at least 15 minutes in the morning and about 30 - 40 minutes in the evening. It helps me focus and prepare for what lies ahead.
6. Kristin Hege, president and co-founder, Wired PR
Best advice: My husband and I were both given the same piece of advice from a mentor: How you leave something is how you enter into the next thing. Whether it's a relationship, job or business partnership, it has always helped me stay grounded and make the best decisions for everyone involved.
What keeps you sharp? Prioritizing. As a working parent and business owner, I have to know what my priorities are. Not only for the big things in life - but also for the smaller things like a to-do list. It is hard to find a balance between your priorities and say, a client's or an employee's, but they have to align at some point or someone is left disappointed. If I find myself dealing with a stressful situation or disappointment, it is usually due to bad planning and prioritizing.
7. Anita Grantham, chief people officer, Pluralsight
Best advice: Don't work for money. Work for a greater purpose. Aligning to a purpose has been a key thread through my entire professional life. When I know that I'm doing something bigger to change the world in some way, I can be a better version of myself.
What keeps you sharp? Hiking. Being connected to nature allows me to clear my mind to create. All of my best ideas come when I create space for vision and leadership outside of the day-to-day schedule.