Social activist Betty Friedan once said, “The problem that has no name — which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities — is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease.”
Of course, she is absolutely and unequivocally right. The good news, however, is that we’ve come a long way as a society, particularly in regards to affording women the appropriate power and responsibility they deserve. We’re not quite where we should be — that’s still going to take a long time — but we are moving forward.
Queue the long list of strong female entrepreneurs and executives that make and break the modern world of business. They are out there, they are thriving and they are changing the face of startups as we know them.
More importantly, they exhibit precisely the qualities, traits and talents we should all aspire to — both man and woman alike. If you’re looking to learn a few things, pull up a chair and listen attentively.
1. Sue Bryce
Professional Photographer, Founder of Sue Bryce Education
It may not seem so now, but the very talented Sue Bryce comes from humble beginnings.
“My path to self-employment seemed, to me, a natural evolution. But, it wasn’t based on a great desire to build a business. Rather, it was borne out of necessity. After 13 years mastering my craft, I was still an employee and I simply had reached a ceiling of how much money I could earn in my career.”
Unsatisfied with her proposed cap, Bryce broke off on her own and launched her now famous photography career. She pushes the boundaries regularly, challenging herself to “create on a larger and larger scale every year.”
“My desire to build, create and learn surpasses my fear. Every challenge I’m faced with now becomes a greater experience of learning my true power.”
Bryce now teaches others to build a profit out of their own photography business.
Vice President of Data Sync Technologies
The technology field is one that has not been historically diverse, but that is changing rapidly. Women are at the forefront of that change, lobbying technology as a whole to new heights. Campbell signed on to the Data Sync Technologies team in 2004 and has helped it achieve meaningful partnerships, including U.S. intelligence and defense contracts.
“Thanks to my time with Applied Technology Solutions — a woman-owned small business — I was able to construct a foundation for success that helped me later in my career. Above all, I learned that the state of women in technology was being propelled forward, and I wanted to be a big part of that momentum.”
Founder and CEO of Chelette Enterprises Inc.
From an early age, BeateChelette had an entrepreneurial spirit. She started a poster distribution business out of her bedroom, simply because she loved posters. Today she is a professional entrepreneur, having created her own support company to help other small-business owners reach success, too.
“Later in life, I worked at Elle Magazine as a photo editor. I had a lot of freedom to express my ideas — after all, ideas are what a magazine thrives on. But still … something was always missing. Upon further examination, I arrived at three facts:
- I wanted to be the boss.
- I had a lot of ideas, and my bosses didn’t necessarily agree.
- I wanted to change the world.
And here I am today! I’ve been an entrepreneur pretty much my entire professional career. You have to overcome the fear, and it’s a lot of work, but the rewards are fantastic.”
We can all stand to learn a few hidden secrets for reaching startup success, and Beate can help.
4. Clara Barton
Founder of American Red Cross
Clara Barton was paving the way for women in the late 1800s, something very few — but certainly prestigious — peers can attest to. She made it clear that the future of industry and equality should only move in one direction.
“I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.”
The American Red Cross still stands today, a testament to Barton’s immense drive to help and care for others.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post
It’s impossible to spend time on the Internet and not come across something influenced by the media empire that Arianna Huffington is responsible for. Best known as the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, she can inspire us all. Her achievements are what happens when you refuse to give in to doubt, fear and hopelessness, which so often plague today’s landscape.
“Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”
You will not achieve success by giving in to your fears. Stand up and take on the world, or at the least the challenge that’s in front of you right now.
6. Tara Gentile
Creator of the What Works Network and Host of the What Works Podcast
Tara Gentile has earned her spot on this list not just because of her incredible achievements, but also because of her proclivity to help others, which became the staple of her business. She now headlines a network for professionals, teaching others how to turn their services into a successful product.
“I decided to become a business owner after I was looked over for a promotion while nine months pregnant. Six months after my daughter was born, I started a little niche website and community. I then purchased an existing blog business, and almost overnight, started making more money than I had in my previous job.”
How’s that for inspiring? She trekked out on her own and built a business that far surpassed any previous positions she might have held.
Making a Difference in Modern Enterprise
Strong entrepreneurial spirit through-and-through is the takeaway here, as you’ll notice that each of these women — every single one — had the perseverance, drive and talent to reach success. These women and their stories are certainly a good example of what it takes to thrive, so draw inspiration from their words and use it to build your own career — whatever that may turn out to be.
About the Author
Lexie Lu is a web designer and CX enthusiast. She is a contributor to Marketo, Website Magazine and Envato. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dog, watching HGTV and baking. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.