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A Few Wise Words from Some Witty Women

May 26, 2016

Who runs the world? As Beyoncé postulates – girls. We have seen strong women rise to the top of their field, be they the arts, business or politics. The benefit of this go beyond equity and social justice – research from La Trobe University found a positive link between female board membership and financial performance. Diversity from the top to the bottom is good for business.

Particularly in the retail industry where women make up 60% of the workforce.

Nobody knows this better than the former David Jones CEO, Paul Zahra, who believes diversity helped the retailer ride out the GFC storm. “More diverse ideas brought to the table means greater innovation which leads to growth,” said Mr Zahra, now a member of professional services firm PwC’s diversity board.

From a pure commercial standpoint it makes sense to listen to voices that have been traditionally marginalised. A fresh perspective could be the innovative paradigm shift to elevate your business. To get you started, here are a few select quotes from some women who are at the top of their game about success, leadership and work.

On a positive outlook:

“Don’t complain. There’s a great chapter in Ben Horowitz’s book called The Hard Thing About Hard Things called ‘Nobody Cares’ and he talks about how he was running Netscape and one of his investors looks at him one day and tells him, ‘Ben, nobody cares — just do your job.’ You can make a million excuses for why something didn’t go well, but ultimately, just fix it and get on with it. Be a solutions person.” — Emily Weiss

“The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.” – Barbara Corcoran

On gender:

“I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” – Madonna

“Every woman I know, particularly the senior ones, has been called too aggressive at work. We know in gender blind studies that men are more aggressive in their offices than women. We know that. Yet we’re busy telling all the women that they’re too aggressive. That’s the issue.” – Sheryl Sandberg

“You’re not in competition with other women. You’re in competition with everyone.” – Tina Fey

On Diversity:

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

“We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity life would be very boring.” – Catherine Pulsifer

“Diverse teams bring together different working styles, competences and approaches – invariably making them more creative with the potential to achieve better results.” – Kathrin Menges

On finding balance:

“Life-fulfilling work is never about the money – when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it.” – Eileen Fisher

“You can’t possibly give a damn about other people if you don’t give a damn about yourself. At one point, when I was having a very stressful period in my career, I realized that the most important thing I could do for my team was not hire great people. It was not to raise a lot of money. It was actually to take a run every morning.” — Kim Scott

On leadership and managing a team:

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

“We need to accept that we won’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

“Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.” – Mary D. Poole

“My father had a simple test that helps me measure my own leadership quotient: When you are out of the office, he once asked me, does your staff carry on remarkable well without you?” – Martha Peak

On taking risks:

“Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready.” ― Amy Poehler

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” – Ginni Rometty

“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

On hard work and persistence:

“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

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” — Arianna Huffington

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estée Lauder

“I worked so hard during my childhood to meet this goal: By the time I was 30 years old, I could do what I want. I’ve reached that. I feel very fortunate to be in that position. But I’ve sacrificed a lot of things, and I’ve worked harder than probably anyone I know, at least in the music industry. So I just have to remind myself that I deserve it.” — Beyoncé


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