Today, September 22, we celebrate American Business Women's Day. This holiday was recognized in 1983 and 1986 by Congressional resolution and a proclamation issued by President Ronald Reagan.
It honors the contributions of more than 68 million American working women, and 7.7 million women business owners making our world go around.
To commemorate and shine the spotlight brightly in their honor, I salute them with 101 quotes from the most successful and powerful women leaders and entrepreneurs, past and present (in no particular order).
101 Inspiring and Motivational Quotes
- "People respond well to those that are sure of what they want." -- Anna Wintour, editor-in-Chief, American Vogue
- "The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first." -- Iyanla Vanzant, inspirational speaker, lawyer, author, life coach and television personality.
- "Whatever it is that you think you want to do -- and whatever it is that you think stands between you and that -- stop making excuses. You can do anything." -- Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and CEO, Birchbox.
- "Women don't realize how powerful they are." -- Judith Light, actress, producer, and two-time Tony Award winner.
- "Dear optimist, pessimist, and realist -- while you guys were busy arguing about the glass of wine, I drank it! Sincerely, the opportunist!" -- Lori Greiner, inventor, QVC host and 'Shark Tank' investor.
- "With kids, they don't do what you want them to do when you want them to do it. Organizations don't necessarily, either. You've got to listen. You've got to learn how to influence." -- Ellen J. Kullman, formerly Chair and Chief Executive Officer of DuPont.
- "Delete the negative; accentuate the positive."-- Donna Karan, American Fashion Designer and founder of DKNY
- "If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough." -- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first female head of state on the continent of Africa.
- "A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult." -- Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- "If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader." -- Dolly Parton
- "As a leader, it's a major responsibility on your shoulders to practice the behavior you want others to follow." -- Himanshu Bhatia, Founder and CEO, Rose International.
- "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." -- Corrie ten Boom, Dutch watchmaker who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during WWII.
- "Invite people into your life that don't look or think like you." -- Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments.
- "This is what will change the world...a ground swell of people pouring their energy into manifesting their "preferred future" instead of being worn down by disillusion and disappointment." -- Molly Carlile, "The Deathtalker®" and international speaker/author.
- "I never dreamed about success. I worked for it." -- Estée Lauder
"The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves." -- Barbara Corcoran, real estate magnate and 'Shark Tank' investor.
- "Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom." -- Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court.
"Life-fulfilling work is never about the money -- when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it." -- Eileen Fisher, fashion designer.
- "Each person must live their life as a model for others." -- Rosa Parks, civil rights activist.
"If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped." -- Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- "Surround yourself with a trusted and loyal team. It makes all the difference." -- Alison Pincus, co-founder, One Kings Lane
- "Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade." -- Constance Baker Motley (First Black Woman in the U.S. to become a Federal Judge).
"Women lead in different ways. Women rarely feel the need to speak the most at a meeting to make their point." -- Patricia Bellinger, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
"Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished." -- Lisa Cash Hanson, Snuggwugg CEO
"What I wanted was to be allowed to do the thing in the world that I did best--which I believed then and believe now is the greatest privilege there is. When I did that, success found me." -- Debbi Fields, the creator of Mrs. Fields.
"One of the most important things for any leader is to never let anyone else define who you are. And you define who you are. I never think of myself as being a woman CEO of this company. I think of myself as a steward of a great institution." -- Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM
- "We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist." -- Queen Victoria, Former Queen of the United Kingdom
- "Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them." -- Marissa Meyer, CEO, Yahoo
- "Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else." -- Sara Blakely, founder, Spanx
- "You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right." -- Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese statesperson, politician, diplomat and author.
- "Women like me tend to always look over their shoulder to see who... "Who's the leader? Who's the smart one?" Never thinking it might be ME. Took a long time for me to get over that." -- Jane Fonda
- "I am endlessly fascinated that playing football is considered a training ground for leadership, but raising children isn't." -- Dee Dee Myers, former White House Press Secretary
- "Your job as leader is to stay as close in touch as possible with those closest to the action." -- Kat Cole, president, Focus Brands
- "Leadership is standing with your people. People say you have to live to fight another day, but sometimes you have to show you are a true leader." -- Leymah Gbowee, peace activist, Nobel Peace Laureate.
- "We treat our people like royalty. If you honor and serve the people who work for you, they will honor and serve you." -- Mary Kay Ash
- "Do one thing every day that scares you." -- Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest serving First Lady of the United States.
- "No one has ever become poor by giving." -- Anne Frank, Holocaust survivor, famed diarist and author of The Diary of a Young Girl.
"It's when the discomfort strikes that they realize a strong mind is the most powerful weapon of all." -- Chrissie Wellington, four-time Ironman World Champion, author.
"One of the most important things I have learned is that businesses don't fail, entrepreneurs give up. Now sometimes, giving up is the right decision. But usually you just need to dig in and figure out how to make things better. Remember: Every day is a new opportunity to get up and do it better than yesterday!" -- Adda Birnir, founder and instructor, Skillcrush
- "True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed... Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection." -- Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
"Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination." -- Mae Jemison, American physician, NASA astronaut, and the first African-American woman to travel in space.
- "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'" -- Mary Anne Radmacher, author and artist.
"Build something you're passionate about. As an entrepreneur, you have to have the passion and drive to stay the course." -- Alexandra Chong, CEO and founder, Lulu
- "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." -- Helen Keller
"I know society says you should be a certain way, but I think [you should] stop and look at what is your natural way of being who you are." -- Ari Horie, founder, Women's StartUp Lab
- "Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all -- in which case, you fail by default." -- J.K. Rowling, billionaire novelist
- "A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be." -- Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady.
"It's up to us to all challenge our own boundaries, our own comfort zones, and get out and see what else is out there in the world and what else is possible, and give ourselves a shot to go a little bit deeper, a little bit further." -- Jennifer Kushell, founder and CEO of Young & Successful Media and YSN.com (Your Success Now)
- "Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence." -- Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
"Our fear of the unknown and our fear of making mistakes trick us into focusing on what we don't know or can't do. When we give ourselves the freedom to be uncertain and less than perfect, then we can start thinking, "What do I know? What can I do?" That's when the adventure starts -- learning, thriving, conquering, failing, recouping, and having a ton of fun." -- Kristin Smith, COO, Dolly, Inc.
- "Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want." -- Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator
"By having the courage to take the first step into rooms, circles, and conversations where you may feel like you don't belong, you also open the door for others to contribute their diverse perspectives, creating more meaningful, collaborative solutions for today and beyond." -- Kim Vu, Senior Vice President; Seattle Market Manager, Enterprise Business & Community Engagement, Bank of America.
- "If you are committed to creating value and if you aren't afraid of hard times, obstacles become utterly unimportant. A nuisance perhaps, but with no real power. The world respects creation; people will get out of your way." -- Candice Carpenter Olson, Co-CEO, Fullbridge
- "Leadership is not about men in suits. It is a way of life for those who know who they are and are willing to be their best to create the life they want to live." -- Kathleen Schafer, leadership guide, speaker and author.
- "Expect the unexpected, and whenever possible, be the unexpected." -- Lynda Barry, cartoonist and author.
- "Champions keep playing until they get it right." -- Billie Jean King, tennis legend
- "My best successes came on the heels of failures." -- Barbara Corcoran, Shark Tank investor
"Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you're proud to live." -- Anne Sweeney, formerly President of the Disney-ABC Television Group, and the President of Disney Channel.
- "I want little girls to grow up knowing they can do anything, even play football." -- Jen Welter, the NFL's first female coach.
- "I learned to always take on things I'd never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist." -- Ginni Rometty, President/CEO, IBM
- "Human beings the world over need freedom and security that they may be able to realize their full potential." -- Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese statesperson, politician, diplomat and author.
- "Is there a better quality in a leader than humility when he might soon be granted enormous power to do good for his country and the world -- or harm?" -- Jane Fletcher Geniesse, author
"I've learned that time is my most valuable resource. How I spend it, where I spend it, and who I spend it with is the key to making me feel whole as a leader, parent, creative partner, and friend." -- Andrea Jacobs, director of growth, Spoon University
- "To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings." -- Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of business at Harvard Business School.
"Treating people with kindness and respect seems elementary but is not always reciprocated. I often run into people who tell me a story about how I impacted their life -- most often by an act of kindness that they never forgot." -- April Uchitel, chief brand officer, Spring
- "My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment." -- Oprah Winfrey
"People don't take opportunities because the timing is bad, the financial side unsecure. Too many people are overanalyzing. Sometimes you just have to go for it." -- Michelle Zatlyn, Co-founder of CloudFlare
"The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of a mistake." -- Meg Whitman, first female to run two large U.S. public companies, eBay and HP.
- "I don't go by the rule book. I lead from the heart, not the head." -- Princess Diana
- "Making the decision to not follow a system, or someone else's rules has allowed me to really dig into what my own strengths and gifts are without spending time feeling jaded or wasteful." -- Ishita Gupta, founder of Fear.less Magazine
"So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard." -- Caterina Fake, Co-founder, Flickr and Hunch.
- "It was a risk. I had my husband and I was pregnant with my oldest son. But I don't look at risk the way other people do. When you're an entrepreneur, you have to go in feeling like you're going to be successful." -- Lillian Vernon, founder, Lillian Vernon Corporation.
- "If you follow your heart, if you listen to your gut, and if you extend your hand to help another, not for any agenda, but for the sake of humanity, you are going to find the truth." -- Erin Brockovich, environmental activist
"I believe in a quiet, strong and grounded leadership. I think some of the best leaders are those whose work is widely known and respected but who, themselves, are relatively unknown." -- Rachael Chong, founder/CEO, Catchafire
- "I wake up every morning and think to myself, 'How far can I push the company forward in the next 24 hours?'" -- Leah Busque, founder/CEO, TaskRabbit
- "What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organization." -- Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop
"Seeing what is wrong and how it could be made right propels us into action, but in that action we often leave other people behind and don't give ourselves enough time to be present, or to stop and reflect. Leaders have to get comfortable with pausing in that uncomfortable gap." -- Jessica Lawrence, CEO, NY Tech Alliance
- "None of us can know what we are capable of until we are tested." -- Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to graduate from medical school in the U.S.
"Entrepreneurship is a word for, 'I don't want to work for anyone else,' or 'my vision doesn't fit anywhere else.' As a label or an identity, it doesn't excite me. As a lifestyle, I can't imagine another way." -- Caits Meissner, poet, storyteller, and arts educator.
- "Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader." -- Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo
- "I work really hard at trying to see the big picture and not getting stuck in ego. I believe we're all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose... When you connect with that love and that compassion, that's when everything unfolds." -- Ellen DeGeneres
- "Dreams are lovely but they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It's hard work that makes things happen. It's hard work that creates change." -- Shonda Rhimes, Creative/Executive Producer, Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.
- "The comfort zone is a nice place, but nothing grows there. Take the leap today and start your business!" -- Caroline Cummings, Founder and CEO, Varo Ventures
"Career choice and progression doesn't have to fit into the standard societal mold. Do what you love and want to do. Find what you're good at, what you can sell or provide that is unique to you and go for it." -- Dana Donofree, owner, AnaOno
"Just because you are CEO, don't think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization." -- Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo
- "I learned to always take on things I'd never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist." -- Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM
"The only real negative that can happen when you fail is if you haven't learnt from it." -- Maile Carnegie, Managing Director, Google Australia/New Zealand
"When women gather, great things will happen." -- Leymah Gbowee, peace activist, Nobel Peace Laureate.
- "Learn from every mistake, because every experience, particularly your mistakes, are there to teach you and force you into being more of who you are." -- Oprah Winfrey
- "I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that's how you grow. When there's that moment of 'Wow, I'm not really sure I can do this,' and you push through those moments, that's when you have a breakthrough." -- Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo
- "I want every little girl who's been told she's bossy to be told again she has leadership skills." -- Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
- "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." -- Marie Curie, Physicist and first woman to win the Nobel Prize.
- "We need to accept that we don't always make the right decisions, that we'll screw up royally sometimes - understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success." -- Arianna Huffington, Co-founder/Editor, Huffington Post
- "Do something you love." -- Lisa Sugar, Founder, President and Editor in Chief, POPSUGAR.
"The best way to leapfrog in your career is to get advice from someone who's done what you're trying to accomplish. It helps clear all the doubt." -- Heather Anne Carson, Co-Founder, Repable
- "Our emerging workforce is not interested in command-and-control leadership. They don't want to do things because I said so; they want to do things because they want to do them." -- Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Mondel
- "The most effective way to do it, is to do it." -- Amelia Earhart.
- "Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." -- Harriet Beecher Stowe, American abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
- "Nothing is impossible; the word itself says 'I'm possible'!" -- Audrey Hepburn, film and fashion icon.
- "It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." - J.K Rowling (Billionaire Author)
- "Somewhere in the world there is a darkness only you can heal. To do it, you have to face your shame." -- Noelle Schwantes, author and founder, Change Your $tory, and the proud wife of the one who wrote today's column.