Yesterday marked the first day of the third annual Forbes Women’s Summit, a gathering for women business leaders around the world.
This collection of powerful and important women meant one thing: they had a lot of powerful advice to share.
1. Saying “no” can sometimes be the most powerful thing you do for yourself.
Deborah Dugan, CEO of (RED) gave some great advice about saying “No.” She turned down a recruiting position for a major company to work in nonprofit. “They told me, 'Would you like to have breakfast with Bono in the morning?’”
But she said no to the position and as a result she created the global HIV philanthropy and awareness organization (RED)’s famous and “spent three hours talking about how you make kids care about things and about what it is in your life that made you care.”
2. Pick yourself back up.
Chelsea Handler, comedian and TV show host of her self-titled show admitted to being fired from several waitressing jobs, and blowing a showcase in Montreal. She gave some nice advice, “Your lows don’t ever last that long,” said Handler, “You have to pick yourself up and if you bomb again, you might want to think about not being funny,” she quipped.
3. Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.
Two women at the summit had things to say about this:
Sara Blakely, an American businessperson and founder of Spanx gave a great gem of advice for new business owners, "As soon as you can afford to, hire your weaknesses."
Chelsea Handler also discussed her new venture working with Netflix. “I think they’re progressive and I think they’re smart,” said Handler, who is now working on a four-episode docu-comedy for Netflix. “I always want to be surrounded by people smarter than me.”
4. Do what you love.
This one has been said before, but it’s so important to reiterate. And the women of the Forbes Summit thought so too.
Ever heard of Barefoot Contessa? An Emmy Award Winning show? Well Ina Garten if she didn’t just go for it and do what she loved. Garten told the audience that the best advice she would give her twenty-something self: “Do what you love. If it’s fun, you’ll be really good at it. And don’t worry so much.”
5. Seeing yourself in a man’s world can be hard.
Jessica Alba is more than just a pretty actress, she’s the CEO of a billion-dollar company. But she went through a time where she couldn’t see herself as more than just a pretty actress.
"People just saw me as this girl in a bikini in movies kicking butt — maybe not the brightest bulb,” she said. “It took three and a half years of condescending nods and pats on the back of ‘good luck’, or ‘go back to endorsing things or go do a perfume.’
CEO Jennifer Hyman, of Rent the Runway which is valued at upwards of $600 million also had a story. Once, the head of a venture capital firm called her “adorable” and asked whether she was having “fun” playing with clothes.
These women built up their business and ultimately saw the power they had in their company.