Women Trailblazers

Candid Career Advice from 30 Trailblazing Women

After insightful conversations with 30 game-changing women leaders this year, we’ve uncovered a treasure trove of practical tips and advice. Here, these women – from CEOs to CMOs to some of the media and advertising industry’s top trailblazers – offer some inspiration and guidance to impact both your career and daily life.

Make Bold Moves

"Be bold and take chances. Great things rarely come to those who wait. Patience may be a virtue in fishing and family life, but it normally has very little to do with success in business." – Marcie Allen, Founder and President of MAC Presents

"Be fearless. I always tell my employees that if you do not have a slightly uncomfortable feeling in your stomach every day, you probably are not pushing yourself hard enough. This industry changes so quickly and if you are doing the same thing you did yesterday, the same way, you will 100% fall behind." – Kasha Cacy, Global CEO of Engine

Don’t wait your turn. You’re ready. … And you don’t have to wait to take career risks such as taking a stretch assignment, launching a side business of your dreams or taking that new role which you think you’re only 60-70% ready, because you’re ready now. – Daisy Auger-Domínguez, Workplace Culture Strategist

Believe in Yourself

For women, especially – be curious and be confident. Sometimes in certain rooms, there may be feelings of hesitancy but push through that and step forward. Nothing is more important than having confidence in your abilities and acting as if you belong, because you do." – Jill Gregory, CMO of NASCAR

"I always tell my kids that confidence is 90% of being successful in anything, and I think that applies at work as well. Believe in yourself, your ability to do the job, and to overdeliver. I also think it’s important to play to your strengths and to focus on what you do better than anyone else." – Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer of WWE

"Don’t put the ‘no’ on yourself. Don’t let the accepted norms dictate your creativity. I always pitch ideas and solutions if I believe they are growth opportunities for the company and I am not afraid to push again if initially rejected. I believe in constant iteration and refinement." – Rachel Weiss, VP of Strategic Growth and Open Innovation, L’Oreal USA

Don’t be afraid to do what’s right, especially when the risks are high. While it may be risky in the short-term, in the long-run it may be the key to unlock material change and as long as you’re true to your values, you’ll be able to sleep at night." – Ronalee Zarate-Bayani, CMO of LA Rams

"Never be afraid of standing up for what you know is right. … Not everyone shares our point of view, but we know that it’s the right thing to do to shed light on these causes, bring purpose to our work and use our creative voices to incite change." – Madonna Badger, Chief Creative Officer of Badger and Winters

Be Intentional

Be purposeful about the roles and projects you seek, to set yourself up for future success. On my path to CMO, I considered the skills I would need to secure that role, and went after them." – Deirdre Findlay, CMO of Conde Nast

"I am seeing a lot more next-generation leaders and managers proactively manage their careers and ask for clarity and feedback on how to progress. … Careers are long – and you want to be set up for success. – Jen Wong, COO of Reddit

Raise your hand for high-risk assignments. If you’re brave enough to take on a role or project that others have passed on, it could result in the opportunity to make an immediate and lasting impact. And you gain confidence and visibility in the meantime." – Lara Hood Balazs, CMO of Intuit

Support One Another

“Give back to other women on their way up, regardless of where you are with your career. Madeline Albright once said ‘there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women’ and I am a big believer in that. It is hard enough out there, and we should support one another." – Mary Beech, former EVP and CMO of Kate Spade New York

“A true sponsor just doesn’t say something nice about you when you are not in the room, but they are getting you that raise, that promotion. Words cannot build or raise a family. Financial recognition can." – Tiffany R. Warren, SVP and Chief Diversity Officer of Omnicom Group and Founder and President of ADCOLOR

“Get a true smart friend at work… The complexities of an office environment are highly situational, fraught with unique personality issues, and interdependencies. Because of this, only friends within your office can really give you advice on how to advocate for yourself – they can hold up a mirror to you, provide you with the candor you need to help you put on your best self and succeed at your job and in your career." – Sarah Hofstetter, Board Member, Cambpell's

“Set up an informal group that will support you and help you accomplish your goals. Jessica Bennett does a good job of outlining this concept in her book Feminist Fight Club." – Maryam Banikarim, Executive Advisor and Former Global CMO of Hyatt

Embrace and Celebrate Diversity

"By now, we’re all well-versed in the studies and reports that show that companies with more diverse teams, across race, ethnicity, gender, religion and other dimensions deliver stronger business results. Business leaders need to set an intention to have representation at the executive and board level. They have to be comfortable shifting the power and giving “others” a seat at the table. It is really that simple." – Danielle Lee, Global VP of Partner Solutions at Spotify

"The advice I always share is to pick people and environments where you can learn and stretch. It sounds simple but it’s actually hard to find both of these; consistently. … If you are around smart, accomplished, generous, secure, innovative, kind, determined people – you will have a better shot at becoming these things yourself." – Jacki Kelley, President and Chief Client Officer of Dentsu

"Whether you’re the minority or one of many women in the room, it’s crucial to do your homework and come to the table with a strong point of view….Early on in my career, I made sure I knew my facts forward and backward so that I had the conviction to make my voice heard." – Melanie Whelan, former CEO of SoulCycle

Remember We Are All Human

"Operate by the 10-foot rule – whenever you are within 10 feet of someone, I don’t care if you know them or not, smile and say hi. A) It establishes your personal brand of someone who is friendly and approachable, and B) you never know down the road when that person you always said hi to in the cafeteria becomes someone you are directly working with – gifting you a much easier start on that project." – Val Vargas, SVP, Advertising, Creative Services and Hellolab at AT&T

"The very pedestrian advice that you should always follow-up, answer emails, send thank yous and never drop the ball. It’s remarkable how far you can get if you follow that maxim." – Tina Brown, CEO and Founder of Tina Brown Live Media

"Women should literally practice imperfection. It builds our resilience and makes us more comfortable going outside our comfort zone. I tell women to send an email with a typo in it. Or go to the grocery store without makeup on. Whatever makes you think ‘no way, I can't do that!!!’ ... do that." – Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code

"People need to believe in themselves, forgive themselves for not being perfect and do what you love – it sounds trite, but it really does make a difference." – Aimee Lapic, CMO of Pandora

Be Your Authentic Self

Whenever I’m facing a difficult meeting or a tough decision, I start with the content of the discussion and that dictates the style of clothes I will be wearing. This combination gives me an inner sense of preparedness. Everyone should find that thing for themselves – the thing that makes them who they are and gives them the confidence to be their bold self." – Tatiana Vivienne Jouanneau, CMO of Duracell

"Be authentic, future-leaning, change-embracing and present. It’s so easy to get lost in technology and stray from your focus. Even with today’s ways of connecting globally through technology, for me, there is no better way to connect with teams, partners and customers than to visit and engage in the markets we operate in." – Lynne Biggar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Visa

I was never someone who could feel comfortable with the status quo, but for many years I followed a safer and more secure corporate path. It wasn’t until I left my own safety net that I found the things that I was personally passionate about, and then I truly began to thrive." – Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of Ad Council

Always Be Curious

"Be curious and be generous. Curiosity is deeply linked to learning. I believe that if you keep changing and evolving, you’ll always have a job. … I believe that generosity has incredible, unused power in business." – Dana Anderson, Chief Transformation Officer of Medialink

"Considering the dizzying pace of change—no one on Earth can keep up—you have to remain curious and humble about what you don’t know. … Whether you’re just starting out, or a seasoned executive, don’t get pigeonholed into a narrowly defined path. If anyone ever says you need the exact cookie-cutter qualifications or experience as the previous person in a role, don’t listen. Anyone with this mindset is allergic to change, in which case, you don’t want to work for them anyway." – Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising and Partnerships of NBCUniversal

Know Your Worth

“Ask for the raise. Go for the stretch job (even if you don’t have all the experience just yet). Push past the fear of not having “enough” experience/time/worth to achieve the next step in your career right now." – Bozoma Saint John, CMO of Endeavor

“The best negotiating advice I have ever received is to pick one portion of your offer and push on it hard….Just pick one lever – salary, equity, bonus percentage, flex time – and give a good rationale for why that is meaningful to you." – Susan Vobejda, CMO of The Trade Desk

When it comes down to it, adding value, knowing your value, and being a critical team member puts you in a good spot to ask for more money. Find ways to get an audience with senior executives, raise your hand to do additional projects, one area with tons of opportunity is new business." – Val Difebo, CEO of Deutsch