1. “I have never been motivated by money.”– Robin Chase, founder, Zipcar (sold to Avis for half a billion in cash in 2013).
2. “I got my start by giving myself a start. I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations . . . I have built my own factory on my own ground.” – Madam C.J. Walker, first American female millionaire, founder Madame C.J. Walker
3. “I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like.” – Coco Chanel
4. “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”
5. “I started The Body Shop in 1976 simply to create a livelihood for myself and my two daughters, while my husband, Gordon, was trekking across the Americas. I had no training or experience and my only business acumen was Gordon’s advice to take sales of £300 a week. Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me business is not financial science; it’s about trading: buying and selling.” – Anita Roddick, founder The Body Shop
6. “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” – Helen Keller, co-founder ACLU (was also blind and deaf, and her family though she should be institutionalized as child)
7. “Never be ashamed! There’s some who will hold it against you, but they are not worth bothering with.” – J. K. Rowling
8. “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, founder & CEO, iVillage (Her company earned a $2B net worth in 1999.)
9. “When my company started really growing, I didn’t have any help in my house at all. I had the upkeep of my daily life, I had a one year old and a three year old, and I had my house. So I had to prioritize.” – Julie Aigner Clark, founder Baby Einstein
10. “I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.”–Estee Lauder
11. “My observation…is that the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you’re rising to middle management your kids need you because they’re teenagers, they need you for the teenage years.And that’s the time your husband becomes a teenager too, so he needs you. They need you too. What do you do? And as you grow even more, your parents need you because they’re aging.
“So we’re screwed . . .
“Train people at work. Train your family to be your extended family…. If you don’t develop mechanisms with your secretaries, with the extended office, with everybody around you, it cannot work. You know, stay at home mothering was a full time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full time jobs rolled into one. How can you do justice to all? You can’t.” –CEO Pepsico Indra Nooyi, 13th Most Powerful Woman In The World according to Forbes
Top women CEOs share something
It’s not beauty, talent or even brains. It’s persistence. They do the work. Born into slavery like Sara Breedlove (or Madame C.J. Walker as she renamed herself) or afflicted with real setbacks like sickness leaving her deaf and dumb, these women CEOs and founders come from different cultures but are united in their energetic, relentless and loving pursuit of their own dreams.
Top women CEOs have one thing in common: they built things their way, in their time, on their terms. They leave legacy on many levels. No one likely outside of their own family would have bet on their chances–and many of them have a number of divorces and disappointments along the path. But as CJ Walker put it, she built her factory on her own ground. That’s where you start. Right where you are. Go get it, you go-getter!
Got a favorite quote from a woman CEO or founder? Let us know in the comments below. Keep inspiring each other.