In celebration of Women’s History Month, today’s personal growth guide features inspiring advice from 10 empowering women on how to be fearless and follow your dreams. Whether you’re a self-made entrepreneur, a career woman climbing the corporate ladder, or even a passionate gal with a side hustle, this advice is for you.

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From renowned fashion and beauty leaders to multi-national media mavens, award-winning entertainment and travel industry professionals, business executives and educators, and entrepreneurs read on to find out why these illustrious women are exemplary role models for us all.

Featured in alphabetical order, these successful women share their motivating thoughts on why you should pursue your dreams, how to become more self-confident and powerful, and tips on how to overcome fears and obstacles.

Empowering Women - Anike Sakariyawo - Educator and CEO of SEEK Foundation

Anike Sakariyawo is an Educator and the CEO of S.E.E.K (Seeking Education Empowers Knowledge) Foundation, Inc., which is a mobile non-profit, 501c3 organization that provides services in various communities by educating and empowering children to become tomorrow’s leaders. She is an award recipient for “100 Successful Women In Business,” was featured in the social media promotional video for Oprah Winfrey’s 2020 Vision Tour, and has been seen in Thrive Global Magazine, Biz Women, and other media.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams?

  • Never give up on pursuing your dreams! As cliché as it might sound, dedication and consistency will bring success. Stay the course and keep striving, even during the midst of adversity. If you give up, you will never know your full potential.
  • Stay positive. It is so easy to become discouraged when you feel like consistent work is not producing any fruits! What is said and believe in your mind will happen.
  • Financial literacy: Understand and monitor your financial data. Finances are extremely important because the fiscal data tells a story about the trends of your company. The patterns will allow you to make a strategic decision for your company.
  • Mentorship: It is important to learn from experts in your field. They have valuable experiences, knowledge, and strategies that may help your work’s process and progress, transition smoother and or faster.

How can women become more self-confident and powerful? 

  • Invest in self-care mentally and physically. If you cannot sustain yourself, how can you sustain a company? Often, we find ourselves investing in the company but neglect on improving ourselves. In addition, when we feel good about ourselves, we are prone to be more productive.
  • Know and believe that you are worthy of the products and services offered to people by not discounting yourself to fit in. People do business with people they trust! If you are selling a product and or services with integrity and great customer service, your prices, and product, will not be devalued.
  • Give your self-grace: Often times we are so busy trying to meet the physical and mental demands of a strong woman. Whether it may be meeting deadlines, being on time for meetings, taking care of the home, taking care of children and husband, trying to make room for a personal life, etc. We have a habit of deserting ourselves. Give yourself grace when you have not met an expectation. For example, it is okay if you showed up late for one meeting. Relax and continue to be present and move forward with your day.

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

  • Fear means to be afraid. The best tip to overcome fear is to be okay with the unknown and failing. Many people are scared to fail because of the unknown. Individuals prefer to live financially, physically, and mentally in a safe space. Failing allows you to see the unknown and how to strategically plan for the same or similar event in the future. Also, failure creates remarkable success stories.

Empowering Women - Antonia Hock - Chief Executive of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center

Antonia Hock is the Global Head of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center and was recognized as one of the “Top 25 Women to Watch in Luxury” in 2019 by Luxury Daily. In her role, she leads a dynamic advisory business focused on innovating the Customer Experience and Talent Experience for clients worldwide.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams?

My advice to women pursuing their dreams is don’t change your personal narrative on your road to success and remember that everyone around you is dreaming too—so embrace your personal path!

I was fortunate to learn this advice firsthand from an exceptional female leader who was my mentor. She had a complicated family life and a complicated upbringing, and instead of hiding that from all of us, she invited us all into her world. She gave me the confidence that I could be my full self at work and not compromise my identity to succeed.

Your life lessons, your compassion, and your humanity are advantages — not something to be discounted in a professional setting.

How can women become more self-confident and powerful?

Early in my career, I learned an indelible lesson that no matter what level of experience, women should find their voice and make a mark. My advice is to spend less time thinking about it and simply start by doing!

I learned this very early in my career by watching it unfold in front of me. Our entire regional leadership team was meeting for a full-day workshop, and there were eight of us seated around a table. Our Regional Vice President was running the meeting. Two of us were women, and at the end of the day, my fellow female colleague had said very little. She diligently took notes and listened intently all day. At the end of the meeting, our Vice President asked her to stand up and said in front of all of us that she should go clean out her desk because she failed to contribute to our meeting and our future. And that very day, she was walked out of the building. She was smart, but never found the confidence to use her voice.

It’s important to always find your contribution. Every time, no exceptions. Everyone has great ideas and insight. Never let circumstances intimidate you, quiet your creativity, or silence your best ideas.

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

Fear is a construct that we all create in our minds. Most of the time, I see it rooted in the desire to not publicly fail. But failure is the key to growth, empathy, and creation, so it’s important to change that narrative in your mind. Great leaders who are further in their careers all have stories of great failures along the way to greatness. Remember that!

My advice is to challenge yourself to be courageous with your ideas, contributions, and what you champion. Developing fearlessness is something that should be practiced every day by being conscious of when you feel fear, and then actively making the choice to engage and push ahead. It gets easier over time through practice, and often the best breakthrough moments come from charging ahead!

Empowering Women - Celina Lee - Career Coach Writer Podcast Host

Celina Lee is a renowned career coach, award-winning writer, and podcast host of Live Your Dream with Celina Lee. She has coached many professionals out of unfulfilling jobs and into careers they love, and has spoken at TEDx, and given keynote speeches at Industrial Designers Society of America, MIT, Stanford University, and many others. She has achieved her childhood dream of writing a book and founded Give One Dream, a community that inspires many people around the world to achieve their dreams.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams? 

First, Write down your dreams. Writing it down gives us clarity, and by committing it to paper, we make it more real and concrete. Studies have shown that people who wrote down their dreams and goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not.

I’ve always had the habit of writing down my dreams. When I was in middle school, I was constantly bullied at school, and life was painful for a 12-year-old. One day, I wrote down all the dreams I wanted to achieve in my life, including writing my book. I also wrote an encouraging letter to myself. Many years later, I saw my dream list that my mom had kept, and was very surprised to learn that I had achieved all my dreams! 

Second, share your dreams with others. By sharing, we’ll be held accountable and more motivated to take action to make it happen. Also, by telling other people what we want, we’ll get more help. 

Whenever I have a new goal or dream, even if it’s just an idea and I have no idea how to make it happen, I tell everyone about it. This motivates me to take action because I don’t want to be embarrassed the next time I see them. Also, you never know who, and who may be able to introduce you to someone who can help you.  

When I had the idea of starting my podcast, I told everyone about it, and one of my friends introduced me to her ex-husband’s friend who had a podcast, and he helped me so much to get started. I had no idea she knew anyone in the industry. If I had kept quiet from the fear of failure or embarrassment, I would never have been able to get the help. 

Third, start to take small action every day that will get you one step closer to your dream. When you have big dreams, it can seem intimidating and you may not even know where to begin. You don’t have to know how to get there yet. Think about “what is one small action I can take today to get one step closer to my dream?” And then take that action. 

All the things I did in my life, I didn’t know how to do them in the beginning. It includes writing my book, creating a community, Give One Dream, to inspire people to pursue their dreams, starting a podcast, and becoming an entrepreneur.

So how did I do it? I just started from where I was at and took the next small action. I reached out to people, I showed up, and I asked for help. And one small action after another resulted in me achieving big dreams which led me to my next path and then to an amazing journey of discovering my calling of becoming a career coach. I now help others to find fulfillment in their careers and do meaningful work.

How can women become more self-confident and powerful? 

Action lessens fears and grows confidence. You have to act before you are ready to act because you will never feel ready. Taking action even when you feel fear takes courage, and that is how you build confidence and become more powerful.

While interviewing many successful people for my podcast and my book, I’ve discovered that the people who have achieved an incredible amount of success didn’t necessarily have the best education, had wealthy parents, or had the best network. In most instances, the complete opposite was true. But they didn’t let their circumstances define them or prevent them from moving forward. They just went out and tried things. And eventually, they built lives that are fulfilling, rewarding, and meaningful.

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

Most people don’t achieve their dreams because they overthink and underact. And they let their fears of rejections and failures talk themselves out of just trying things. You need to learn how to reframe rejections and failures as the evidence that you are trying, challenging yourself, and getting one step closer to your dream.

When I was trying to write my book, I got more rejected than I had ever been until that point in my life. A lot of people didn’t even write me back, and some people were rude to me. It bothered me a lot at first, but I decided to reframe my rejections as the evidence that I’m trying and getting one step closer to my dreams. 

If I wasn’t trying to write my book which was my childhood dream, I wouldn’t be reaching out to people, and I would have no reason to be rejected. Therefore, these rejections were just the evidence and proof that I’m taking action and getting one step closer to my dream. 

I now have all my coaching clients do “rejection challenges” where the goal is to get as many rejections as possible. I celebrate their rejections with them and coach them to not care as much about the responses, because we can only control our actions and not other people’s responses. It is amazing what they have been able to achieve when they no longer let their fears get in the way of just going after what they want. 

Empowering Women - Chiara Boni - Fashion Designer La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni

Chiara Boni is the renowned Italian fashion designer behind the luxury womenswear label, Chiara Boni La Petite Robe. As shown at NYFW each season, Chiara’s upscale designs are sold at top department stores and boutiques around the globe (including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and others). Her apparel has been seen on celebrities like Niecy Nash, Jamie Chung, Brooks Nader, Lais Ribeiro, and more.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams?

To be brave! It’s not a comfortable world for dreamers and their dreams. It’s more than a gender topic. Following your own dream is very challenging for every single person talented and passionate.

How can women become more self-confident and powerful?

Discovering their unique superpowers and using them to make incredible their lives! We are all magnifically different from each other. This is the magic of every Woman.

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

Start doing things! Every war beginning starts with a battle.

Empowering Women - Deborah Riley Draper - Filmmaker

Deborah Riley Draper is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed filmmaker, motivational speaker and advertising agency veteran. Variety Magazine named her to their “2016 Top 10 Documakers to Watch“ list. In addition to this, she was a 2018 TEDx speaker, 2019 Facebook SEEN Initiative participant, 2017 NAACP Image Awards documentary film nominee, and a frequent guest on panels and in the media speaking on storytelling, diversity, and advertising.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams?  

I did a TEDx talk entitled “Greenlight Yourself”. I believe that we have the power to transform our dreams into reality. And, we are responsible and accountable to greenlight ourselves.

The first step is to say this is what I plan to accomplish. Now, it won’t happen instantaneously and you will have to put the work in and create opportunities. But it will come.

Don’t get discouraged by other people’s successes or timelines. You are unique and your journey to your dreams is unique. Greenlighting yourself means not waiting for someone else to tell you that you are worthy of that dream or waiting for someone else to give you permission to start.

Go! Plan, Execute, Learn, Re-tool and Go again!

How can women become more self-confident and powerful?

First, think of all of the women who historically had to be courageous and powerful in the most legally oppressive circumstances and how they found a way to find their voice and use it.

I always think of Tidye Pickett and Louise Stokes who are among the subjects of Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, a book and film I both authored and directed. They were two young black girls who faced the Nazi regime as Olympic athletes at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. They supported each other and shined brightly.

Don’t measure yourself against anyone else, use other women as inspiration and not competition. Find a tribe that is encouraging and supportive and ensure that you are encouraging and supporting to others as well.

Look in the mirror and love yourself every day.

Take the time to do the little things for yourself that make you happy and empowered. Each day that you remind yourself of the little things that you have accomplished and express gratitude, the next day you will be just a little more confident and a lot more empowered.

When I directed a film for the first time and when I authored a book for the first time, I was struck initially by the fear of being a first-timer.  I broke down the big goal into very tiny goals and every time I scratched a task off of the list, I grew more confident.  I am rather motivated by scratching things off of the list.  LOL.

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?  

Face it!  Fear is so debilitating that you have to face it.  Write down your fears and what is driving them.  What is the worse possible outcome for each of those fear?  Are these real fears or are you creating them in your head?  There is always a solution and if you can’t fear it out, take your list to a smart friend or trusted advisor who can help you find a solution.

Empowering Women - Elaine Binder - CEO of Spongelle

Elaine Binder is the CEO & Founder of Spongellé, a luxury bath and body company specializing in patented body wash infused buffers, revitalizing moisturizers, and one-of-a-kind diffusers. The company has been featured in Health, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, and other publications.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams?

Follow your dream, play devil’s advocate and ask a lot “what if”; feel good about your inventions but also make sure you are not competing with large companies in the same category unless you have something proprietary on your hands or, you can afford to raise money to quickly introduce your brand to the proper channels of distribution. The benefits are huge and the reward is a dream if you play your cards right.

How can women become more self-confident and powerful?

I think we are born leaders to begin with! I believe if women set their minds on something, we can move mountains. The question only comes how, when, and at what price.

Stay focused, find people who share your dreams yet be open to criticism and don’t ever take it personally. Use the negative to your benefit and change it around. Feel good every morning to face a new day and new challenges as these are how we become strong and self-confident!

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

The only fear there is is the fear of lack of funding. Fear creates confusion, fear creates stress and fear is someone you don’t want next to you when you think of doing something on your own. Fear has no place in your home unless you are not prepared for your venture in the right way or ignore the advice of experts and think you know it all, YOU DO NOT!

So, to overcome fear is to be prepared. Take as much time as you need to make sure you know all the next steps, tomorrow, next week, etc. Rushing into business, is not a good idea.

Be aware of all the bumps on the way and only then, do it! Believe in yourself, believe in your strength and what you can do, but have an open mind and listen. You can do it!

Empowering Women - Julia Haart - CEO Elite Model World - Photo Credit Lucy Van Ellis

Photo Credit: Anthony Tudisco

Julia Haart is the Group Chief Executive Officer & Board of Directors of Elite Model World and the Creative Director of the brand’s new fashion label e1972 (which made its global debut at NYFW in February 2020). Elite Model World forms the largest model management network on the planet. They represent over 3,700 top models and talent (including Kendall Jenner, Coco Rocha, Irina Shayk, and Adriana Lima) across 52 countries.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams?

Give yourself permission to dream big. So often the limitations that we see are in our own minds and as women, we have been taught to aspire for less, to be “pleasing and grateful.” This is the biggest impediment to success. Allow yourself to claim what you really want and then go for it!

How can women become more self-confident and powerful?

Do first and never ask permission.  If we look to others for our guidance and for our self worth, that is what can keep us down. Society has taught women to seek approval, to be polite. I think the way to combat these entrenched social mores is to ignore them completely.

Learn to listen to your own voice. Learn to become more self-reliant so that you don’t seek approval from others. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake! That’s a big step in the ladder to your success. And most importantly, don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you’re “inappropriate or rude, or acting like a bitch”.  Take that as a compliment.

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

I call it the ‘doomsday philosophy.’ When I’m afraid of something, I imagine what the worst possible scenario could be. I name it and then envision it in my head. Once something is named, it’s not as frightening anymore. Use your imagination and imagine the worst, and the minute you do, you realize it’s not as bad as you imagined and you can handle it, feel prepared and not afraid.

Empowering Women - Lisa Sugar - Popsugar

Lisa Sugar is the Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of PopSugar (which is a global media and technology company that reaches 300 million monthly readers and 32 million social media followers) and the author of the book, Power Your Happy: Work Hard, Play Nice, and Build Your Dream Life. PopSugar creates engaging content designed to “power the optimism and dreams of women around the world through positive, purposeful, and playful content”. From celebrity pop culture, fashion, and beauty articles to fitness videos and more, PopSugar has developed a variety of multi-media channels to serve its (primarily) female-based Millennial audience.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams?

It’s important to stay passionate and excited about what you believe in. There will be so many obstacles and inner voices saying its the wrong time but if you truly believe in something don’t wait. Find any spare time you can to work on what you are daydreaming about. It may take weeks or years but hopefully, it will happen with passion, patience, and determination.

How can women become more self-confident and powerful?

Every woman is different and for me, I became confident building an audience that loved what we were creating at POPSUGAR. Knowing we had a huge audience coming to read our content multiple times a day boosted my ability to work harder. I would recommend women figure out what makes them happy and strong and figure out how to spend more time investing in themselves to feel that confidence. It’s a matter of practice and discipline that comes over time.

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

Surround yourself with family and friends. Seek out places that feel safe. Try something scary over and over again until you get those nerves to subside. I used to hate public speaking but being able to talk to our growing company and eventually write a book and go on tour talking about it allowed me to feel way more comfortable in front of others. I went from being anxious, losing sleep and feeling nauseous to learning how to control that fear and pump myself up to address large crowds.

Empowering Women - Rebekah Bastian - CEO and Co-Founder of OwnTrail

Rebekah Bastian is the CEO and Co-founder of OwnTrail, a self-guided mentorship platform built from a collection of women’s life paths, and the author of Blaze Your Own Trail. She has been recognized in the Puget Sound Business Journal “40 Under 40” and the Female Founders Alliance Champion Awards. She has been profiled in Fast Company, Geekwire, Seattle Business Magazine, and Crains, to name a few. She is a Forbes contributor and has bylines on Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ms. Career Girl, and RealLeaders. 

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams?

Following your dreams is about visualizing them coming true, and taking the steps to make that happen. Seeing other women that share your same identities and experiences in the places you aspire to, and understanding the path they took to get there (bumps and all!) can make it a lot easier to find your own path there.

How can women become more self-confident and powerful?
I really believe in the power in numbers. When we share our journeys with each other, share what we’ve learned, the mistakes we’ve made, the difficulties we’ve made it through – that give other women the confidence to navigate their lives, and the power to make it through any obstacles. We can all be that for each other.
What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

I think that instead of seeing fear as something that needs to be overcome, it’s more authentic and effective to embrace fear. Recognize that this thing you’re about to do is scary, name that feeling and acknowledge that it’s valid. And then channel bravery and move forward.

Empowering Women - Sera Bonds - Founder of Circle of Health Intl

Sera Bonds is the founder of a leading feminist global aid organization, Circle of Health International, and a social impact company called Waking Giants. She is a social justice activist committed to working towards balancing the scales of access, equity, and availability in sexual reproductive healthcare. Through her role, she has raised over 20 million dollars for social actions and public health programs impacting over 3 million women globally.

What advice would you give to a woman about following her dreams? 

Root yourself in your why. Why is this your dream? Get as clear as you can about it. Visualize what it is that you want to achieve down to what it smells like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like. Feel your feet firmly planted in this iteration of you and your dreams.

Then, make a plan. An actionable one divided up into bite-size pieces. When you get off track, don’t judge yourself just get back to work. Remind yourself of your why and let it guide you.

How can women become more self-confident and powerful?

Call on your ancestors and mentors. None of us are alone, although we often feel that way especially when we are entrepreneurs and changemakers. We all stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. The grandmothers who toiled, the mothers who sacrificed, the sisters who are actively cheering us on. Surround yourself with the women who are your champions and shed the rest. Stand in that power. It is yours. You’ve already earned it simply by being alive. Take up that space and root yourself in it.

What is your best tip on how to overcome fear?

My mom told me when I was little that fear is the other side of the same coin as excitement. I remind myself of that when I get scared. Sometimes fear is protective, if it is, then listen to that and get yourself safe. But when fear is not protective, then turn that coin over and tap into the excitement and joy that drove you to take the risk, to do something new, to make a change. When I am afraid of failing, of letting people down, of losing, I close my eyes and envision all of my friends, family, even Beyonce and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, standing behind me. They’ve got my back just like I have theirs, and in that sense of support, of safety, I move forward.

For more inspiring advice from other empowering women, check out last year’s International Women’s Day article on I&C featuring tips from 25 female leaders and celebrities (including Bobbi Brown, Miss USA, and more).


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