What you can learn from influential women

Success can mean different things to different people: a large salary in your bank account, a promotion, succeeding at starting a new business or seeing your children graduate. Whatever your definition of success, we’ve put together a list of influential women who have valuable advice to share to help you make your aspirations a reality.

1. Gender parity can be a motivator

‘How can we ensure we get equality in our homes, in our communities, in our places of work? I think you have to start at home. Bill [Gates] was the top of the biggest, at the time, software company in the world, and of course he was used to being the CEO. So when he retired we had to really look at that and say: “Okay, well, why am I driving the kids to school more? Who’s getting them ready for school? Who’s participating in what roles?” Unless you have those uncomfortable conversations in your marriage, and you make sure you have equality there, at least for me, I didn’t feel like I could be out in the community talking about equality.’
Melinda Gates, American philanthropist, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and former general manager of Microsoft

2. Achieving success comes with embracing the risks

‘Is taking a risk a good idea? I have no idea! That is why it’s a risk, right? There is no right time, but there is an inner knowing when you want to go ahead and do the unthinkable. Following your inner knowing is always a good idea. The risk might not always work out the way you thought it would, but following through is what improves your ability to be daring. Building that muscle is what makes you comfortable with change and unfamiliar spaces.’
Pride Maunatlala, Head of Marketing at The Foschini Group

3. You can learn from your past actions

’Just trying to figure out how to balance being a mother of a six-year-old and twins that need me, and giving myself creatively and physically – it was a lot to juggle. It’s not like before when I could rehearse 15 hours straight. I have children; I have a husband; and I have to take care of my body. I definitely pushed myself further than I knew I could and I learnt a very valuable lesson: I will never, never, push myself that far again.’
Beyoncé, entertainer and performer, on her 2018 Coachella performance

4. You can forge your own path

‘As a researcher, you are often told you should read all the available literature and build on it. But this locks your thinking and then you fall into the same traps as the other researchers. I approached [my] problem as if it were an untouched area of research.’
Fatima AlZahra’a Alatraktchi, nanophysicist and inventor of PreDiagnose, a tool that can detect problematic bacterial infections faster than traditional methods

5. Be open to accepting advice and help

‘I was very aware that even when I announced that I was having [a baby], that there was this sense that I needed to somehow prove that it was possible for women to do everything. And I have always been open about saying that actually, I can’t. I can’t physically do the job of being prime minister and mother by myself. … I do what I do because I have the support and help and co-parenting of my partner. That’s how I do what I do; I’m not a superwoman, and we shouldn’t pretend that we are – that does a disservice to all women and raises expectations that no one can meet.’
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE.


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