Understanding the mindset of fearless girls and addressing their challenges is crucial to understanding successful women leaders’ fabric. To achieve that, our team asked successful women leaders to step up and frame a question that their younger self would ask their present self. Understanding the present leader’s perspective is our greatest shot in understanding the definitive success indicators that have helped some successful women leaders find success through all the odds. Many courageous and successful leaders jumped in and helped us understand their perspective and outcome, a wonderful collage of crucial insights for aspiring leaders to understand and seek answers of. Then women leaders took an extra step and answered those foundational questions seeking insights from their life’s journey. We hope you all like it.

From: Anne Robie, Chief People Officer at Turnitin
Q: What is the secret to success and happiness?
A: The secret is….there is no secret. There is just each moment, and the collection of moments lead to your every day, and all those days lead to your life. Live for every single moment.

From: Deeksha Joshi, Head of Strategy, GRS Liberty Mutual
Q: How did you find success through so many insecurities and struggles?
A: Insecurities and struggles are an essential part of growing up. We don’t work against our fears and struggles but work with them. One key ingredient that helps through darkness is faith. The faith that if you spread light, you will be bound to enjoy some of it. So, life is a journey to find and spread light. Always remember that gratitude is your weapon of choice to acknowledge all those kind souls that stepped in front and helped you find light in the darkness. Life is not a bed of roses, but it is a lot simple and fun if you are the reason for someone else’s success.

From: Phidelia Johnson, Chief Human Resources Officer at PAC-J Services
Q: Why didn’t you pursue your dream of becoming a lawyer?
A: Though becoming a lawyer is still on my bucket list, life seldom happens the way we planned. Don’t stress over which career you will end up with, but keep your eyes and mind open to recognize career opportunities even in uncharted areas. I had never considered management as a career choice, yet I loved it and made a success of it.
Follow the path that life leads you to, regardless of the opinions of others. Life will sometimes throw you a curveball, but don’t let that stop you from pursuing your dreams no matter how long it takes. NEVER diminish small beginnings because life is about exploration and self-discovery. It’s a journey, not a destination.

From: Zaina Orbai, Chief People Officer at The RealReal
Q: How did you create a successful life for yourself despite your early life struggles? 
A: I would answer the same as the advice I would give to my younger self. Believe in yourself AND surround yourself with others who believe in you, especially choosing a spouse who will lift you up when you have self-doubt and help you become the best version of yourself. Leave behind those who are nay-sayers in your life, they are only holding you back from creating your own version of a happy life. 

From: Melissa Rose, CEO at Melissa Rose Consulting
Q: How do you juggle a full-time career and a family of 5 children?
A: Progress over perfection. If you choose to juggle it all, accept that you are going to drop balls along the way. It’s par for the course. Focus on what you’ve accomplished not on what you haven’t.

From: Jeanette Winters, Talent Doc at Winters Advisory Group
Q: If I weren’t afraid of failing, what would I try?
A: I would have pressed myself harder in the sciences area. It was necessarily hard – just completely unknown to me. I could never take a chance of failing because my grades were the very ticket allowing me to be at the University. I needed to give myself the opportunity to fail “outside the system” to grow even more.

From: Fabienne Smolinski, Chief People and CSR Officer at Arbonne
Q: How did you get to where you are while balancing family?
A: Balancing is a myth. The minute you put that out of your head and know there are times where you family won’t come first and where your work won’t come first. It’s more about aligning yourself to cultures, people and organizations that support you. If you’re in an environment that doesn’t value family and understanding the struggle of trying to “balance” it all then you are making your life harder. Make bold decisions that are aligned to your value system and you’ll always win with family and with work.

From: Pam Stampen, Chief People Officer at TASC
Q: What is possible?
A: Anything you set your mind to and they are willing to back up with the work needed to achieve it.

From: Christie Marzari, CLO State of MS at Aflac
Q: Is everything going to be okay?
A: Absolutely. Have faith in yourself. Don’t ever sell yourself short and believe you can do anything you put your mind to.

We understand it takes courage to use your platform, show your vulnerable side, and showcase insights that has helped you achieve the success that most find an inspirational feat. On behalf of team Work2.0 and TAO.ai, we want to thank all the leaders who are working tirelessly to contribute to the ecosystem and imparting change that is lifting the entire ecosystem to be a place of equity and fairness. While it’s a job too big for any single person, it requires a consistent dialogue/leaning-in and pushing the bar forward, and we salute all the women leaders for working tirelessly to achieve that. I hope all the readers will spread the word about this blog and extend the conversation within their community.