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19 Badass Boss Ladies Share Career Advice That'll Change Your Life

Fix your job, fix your life.

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1. Betsey Johnson, legendary fashion designer.

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What do you do: Fashion designer and founder of eponymous clothing line Betsey Johnson.

Your favorite piece of advice: Hang in there! Someone long ago said it takes “blood, sweat and tears." Know that no matter what you are doing, if you are pushing yourself to be the best you can be in your career, there will always be challenges. One day you love your job and the next, you might hate it. But if most days are good, and you are challenging yourself in a meaningful way, with a little luck you will have the career of your dreams! I’m a believer in luck. It’s a cosmic thing that shows you the writing on the wall. Also, keep a lot of horseshoes around your apartment.

2. Aya Kanai, chief fashion director at Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Redbook, Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day.

Instagram: @ayakanai

What do you do: I oversee all fashion content for five magazines. Everyday is wild and crazy, but also fun. It's pretty awesome to get to provide fashion ideas for women of all demographics, from teens to grandmas!

Your favorite piece of advice: I am not one to quote internet memes but “Nevertheless, she persisted” seems appropriate here.

3. Courtney Adeleye, founder of hair care line The Mane Choice.

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What do you do: I am the founder and CEO of The Mane Choice, a vastly growing beauty brand in the multicultural space. We create healthy hair care and body products for adults, children, and babies. All of our products contain essential vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients to support an overall healthy lifestyle.

Your favorite piece of advice: Everyone has natural gifts, and EVERYONE has the capability to learn new skills. Marry those natural gifts and skills to maximize your career or business! Be diligent and always go the extra mile.

4. Zoe Lister-Jones, actress and star of the TV show Life in Pieces.

Zoe Lister-Jones

What do you do: I'm an actor, writer, director, and producer.

Your favorite piece of advice: There are so many discouraging voices that we are faced with throughout our lives that we can easily internalize feelings of self-doubt. Continue to push yourself to listen to your gut and trust your instincts.

5. Jane Iredale, founder of Jane Iredale Cosmetics.

Jane Iredale

What do you do: I am the president and founder of Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, Ltd., a comprehensive line of makeup developed with quality minerals and skin care ingredients that are good for your skin and create a healthy, radiant glow.

Your favorite piece of advice: The best piece of advice anyone ever gave me was “always do what you say you’re going to do.” This not only builds a reputation for yourself of being dependable and trustworthy but it also makes sure that you don’t over-promise. If you know that you’re going to have to follow-through, then you tend to measure your responses to new situations and projects. You can be counted on. In business, this is invaluable.

6. Erica Sackin, director of communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

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What do you do: I'm the Director of Political Communications for Planned Parenthood, which means I manage our DC communications office and oversee all of the organization's political, electoral, and legislative media and communications work.

Your favorite piece of advice: Trust yourself. The most terrifying thing in the world can be to confidently assert your opinion, without qualification and without apology. You won't always be right, and that's OK. But as long as you can give solid reasoning, and you're willing to learn from your own mistakes, keep going. No one else is going to speak up for you, and sooner or later you’ll realize you’re the person in the room giving others the confidence to speak up, too.

7. Linda Evangelista, iconic supermodel and creative director and vice president of Erasa Skincare.

Instagram: @lindaevangelista

What do you do: Supermodel and creative director and vice president of Erasa, a skincare line.

Your favorite piece of advice: If you are truly passionate about your job, you will never ‘work’ a day in your life. I am inspired everyday in my new role and I'm excited to go into the lab each week and discover new ingredients that can help women feel confident in their skin. Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to go after what you want.

8. Heidi Zak, co-founder and CEO of ThirdLove bra and underwear.

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What do you do: I am the co-founder and CEO of ThirdLove, a bra and underwear brand that believes fit should come first.

Your favorite piece of advice: Many times women feel less qualified to apply for roles even when they have an identical background or skill-set as a male who applies. Women generally don’t apply unless they feel they meet ALL of the listed qualifications. You CAN do it — go after what you want!

9. Rose Marcario, CEO and president of Patagonia.

Tommaso Mei

What do you do: I'm the CEO and president of Patagonia.

Your favorite piece of advice: Lead by example, take risks, and have courage. I don’t think you should imitate men and the way that men lead. When I was coming up, all I had were male CEOs to gauge what a CEO was. At a certain point, I just had to abandon all that because I didn’t relate to them.

What’s most important is developing your own value system, what you believe is right and wrong, your own style. Women understand that we live in an interconnected world, they understand the value of collaboration. They bring these ideas to the discussion and to the way they problem-solve. There is a critical conversation we need to be having about the role business plays long-term and its impacts on society. With the right leadership and the right view of responsibility to profit, people and the planet, I believe that business can be a force for good in the world. It’s women leaders I’m most inspired by right now — I just wish there were more of them.

10. Trisha Yearwood, country music superstar and host of the Food Network show Trisha's Southern Kitchen.

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What do you do: I’m a recording artist and a home cook with a tv show!

Your favorite piece of advice for women: The saying is that women work twice as hard for half as much, and I know that it’s true. While I encourage and applaud women to continue fighting that unfair fact, I also encourage women not to use it as an excuse. The hardest working, most successful women I know NEVER complain about their gender. They just put their heads down and work. Keep working. Keep pushing. Keep striving for excellence.

11. Angélica Fuentes, founder of A Complete skincare.

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What do you do: I'm an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and women's rights advocate.

Your favorite piece of advice: Always remember that gender does not define you. You are free to pursue your dreams. You have the power to control and guide your own life based on what you want, not on what other people expect from you. You have to accept yourself. It is not easy and it requires courage, but it is the first step. Then, be proud of all the experiences that have made you who you are today. Keep in mind that the past is gone and you have to continue going forward. You are not perfect, nobody is. Use every challenge to become a better person, to grow, to reveal your true self. Allow yourself to be happy, allow your heart to feel. Find the strength within yourself, you already have the power.

12. Nellie McKesson, senior manager at Macmillan Publishers.

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What do you do: I run a small development team whose goal is to create tools and workflows to help the company run more efficiently, generally leveraging automation as much as possible. So, I write a lot of code and go to a lot of meetings.

Your favorite piece of advice: The best piece of advice I read when I was just getting started — and I think this is genderless advice — is to find something to be interested in or excited about with whatever you end up doing. Every job is going to have those tedious tasks that you hate doing — even at high levels. Find the things that get you excited to come to work, and make sure you spend your brain energy thinking about those things. Let those carry you through the tedious parts.

13. Debbie Allen, legendary actress, dancer, choreographer, and executive producer of Grey's Anatomy.

Randy Shropshire

What do you do: Basically everything. This year, Debbie was honored with a Lifetime Achievement at the 42nd Annual Gracie Awards Gala.

Your favorite piece of advice: Women by nature are born to take on more than their weight, to nurture, to educate, to produce, and often without ego. I just think that women should support other women, which is not always the case unfortunately.

14. Sabrina De Sousa, co-founder of NYC restaurant Dimes.

Instagram: @https://www.instagram.com/sabsdesousa/?hl=en

What do you do: Co-founder of Dimes restaurant, deli, and market.

Your favorite piece of advice: Work hard, show passion, and make yourself indispensable. Be confident and follow your heart.

15. Achelle Richards, global artistic director at e.l.f. Cosmetics.

Achelle Richards

What do you do: I am the Global Artistic Director at e.l.f., I’ve been dreaming up and innovating products for the company for nearly 12 years. I’ve done a little bit of everything at the company since I joined during the startup phase, and love that I get to continue to work cross-functionally among teams.

Your favorite piece of advice: Be honest, find a mentor in the career field you’re interested in if you can, like yourself, and be happy with what you are doing. I was once asked if I wasn’t working for e.l.f. what would I be doing…I replied with “if I wanted to do it I would be doing it." Life is too short to not chase the dream and live the journey to get there.

16. Kay Buck, CEO of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST).

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

What do you do: I am the CEO of CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking), a nonprofit organization that is spearheading efforts to end modern slavery and human trafficking. We've developed model programs that have helped survivors of trafficking rebuild their lives, empowered those who have been stripped of their own voices with a community of support and a platform to speak out, and educated thousands on the need to take action. In 2014, President Obama honored CAST with the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Your favorite piece of advice: I think the best way to succeed, even though it seems counterintuitive at times, is to help build others up as much as possible. This allows you to create a long-term community of support and it’s always beneficial. You have to keep that in mind that you can’t operate in a silo – you have to reach out and have a whole network of people.

17. Frida Polli, neuroscientist and founder of Pymetrics, a company that uses games to match job candidates with positions.

Frida Polli

What do you do: Neuroscientist and thought leader on the use of big data. Prior to pymetrics, Frida was an award-winning neuroscientist at Harvard and MIT, where her innovative work on cognitive and emotional brain function was internationally acclaimed.

Your favorite piece of advice: It’s good to have a network of peers and mentors. It’s hard to develop but critical to have.

18. Hillary Kerr, chief ideation officer and co-founder of Clique Media Group.

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What do you do: I'm the chief ideation officer and co-founder of Clique Media Group, which includes Who What Wear, Byrdie, My Domaine, Obsessee and College Fashionista, and The Thirty.

Your favorite piece of advice: At the end of the day, you have to remember that you’re the CEO of your own career, and need to think about its needs, both in the short and long term. No one else will care about it the way you do, so make sure that you’re creating achievable, measurable goals for yourself, and are always thinking about not just your next steps, but the tools you need to get to said steps. I think oftentimes young women — myself included — tend to be a bit more passive about their careers, thinking that by working hard, they will be recognized. And that’s true to a degree, but it’s not enough. You need to be proactive and look ahead; your dream career isn’t going to just fall into your lap.

19. Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester.

Instagram: @thefifthtrimester

What do you do: I'm the author of The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom's Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby and the founder of The Fifth Trimester movement, which helps parents and businesses work together to create a more family-friendly workplace culture.

Your favorite piece of advice: Don't forget to think about your *career* as much as you think about your current job. You have to build time in for that kind of big-picture thinking, and it's all too easy to get so caught up in the details of the day to day. Every few months, ask yourself, do I feel satisfied? Burnout is real....and if you're burning out before you have kids, you'll have a harder adjustment when you're heading back to work as a new mom.

Also, it can help to recognize that we are living in a time when American women are having a kind of crisis of expectations...that we need to be SO happy and SO good at everything we do at work and at home (notice I used the word "satisfied," not "happy" above). That's just crazy and unrealistic, and when you through a big personal life change into the mix (like a baby), those expectations can lead to real emotional struggles.

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