Ten tips from fierce women

As a contributor to The Huffington Post, I’ve interviewed an all-star lineup of prominent women – from accomplished business owners to fierce world leaders. Here’s a roundup of their kernels of wisdom for how to thrive in your career.

Work from the bottom up:

President of Cinnabon Kat Cole preaches the value of working from the bottom up. Cole began her career in hospitality as a hostess and worked in virtually every position available at a chain restaurant before her varied experience led her to the top role at Cinnabon in 2010. To gain a deep understanding of what it takes to excel at the top of your field, you have to be prepared to work your way up from the bottom – which often involves doing those jobs that you’d rather put off.

Develop leadership values:

Leadership takes work, and there are certain core values that many successful leaders exhibit. Julia Gillard, former prime minister of Australia, credits values such as hard work, fairness and stoicism as the building blocks of an effective leader.

Write out your plan:

Writing out your plan on paper gives your goal the ‘legs’ it needs to get moving. Diana Wright, founder of the luxury hair accessories company Pulleez, reinforced this tactic in our Q&A. She uses a five-point goal plan with specific actions tied to achieving them – an approach that has helped her build her business and plot its direction.

Do your research:

Poor preparation leads to poor performance. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski advises to always do your homework beforehand so that you can lean on specific research when negotiating a contract, looking for a good deal or prepping for an interview. You’ll be armed and ready for action when it matters most.

Be prudent:

Starting a business? Don’t purchase what you may not be able to afford, Laura Tenison, founder and managing director of successful babywear company JoJo Maman Bébé, told me in our interview. She created her global brand with a small investment, and to this day, does not use hire purchase or credit to buy items for her business.

Build your financial cushion:

Saving across all aspects of your financial life is critical for your business to prosper. Lynda Webster, founder of The Webster Group recommends building a financial cushion when times are good in order to ensure that when you hit a rough patch, you’ll have funds to fall back on.

Keep on hustlin’:

You have to hustle to get what you want in your career. Bobbi Brown, makeup artist and founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, did this from day one and she attributes it to her continued success. How do you hustle? Don’t be afraid to chase opportunities, actively network and get yourself out there!

Specialize in excellence:

Overpromising or embellishing what you can do will inevitably lead to disaster. Lynda Webster advocates for doing a few things with excellence, rather than being average at many things. Anyone who is considering launching a business should focus on specialization and honing certain skills.

Don’t apologize:

Why we should we apologize for our goals and big ambitions? Mika Brzezinski insists that women should stop apologizing (check out her advice in this recent interview). Instead of downplaying your aspirations and apologizing for yourself, embrace what you want and be assertive.  

Be tough:

The common thread in my interviews is this: you have to be tough to survive and excel in your career. Look to the advice of your mentors and inspiring individuals like the women above. Their guidance will keep you grounded and resilient when you hit challenges and roadblocks in your career.

Laura Dunn specializes in content creation, social media and bespoke PR, and works with brands, organizations and individuals in both the USA and the UK. Laura started blogging in 2008, creating her blog Political Style. Laura writes for The Huffington Post, Fortune and many other publications. You can follow Laura on Twitter here: @lauraemilyd.

Ten tips from fierce women