At The Daily Muse, we aim to bring you, the ambitious Gen Y woman, smart, practical, and inspirational advice for your career and your life.
In our experience, the best advice of all comes from those who have been there. Women who had big, crazy dreams—and achieved them. Who saw the glass ceiling—and crushed it. Who dealt with the same issues we deal with today—and learned from them, gathering wisdom, experience, and success along the way.
So, we’ve recruited a lineup of our role models—intelligent, influential, and inspiring women who’ve had insanely successful careers—to share with us what they wish they could tell their younger selves. We invite you to peek into the past (photos included!) of some of the most successful women around us, and glean some amazing advice from the lessons they’ve learned.
Because, let’s face it, figuring things out the hard way really kind of sucks.
Arianna Huffington, Founder of The Huffington Post
Now that we’ve got your attention, don’t worry: she’s not advocating anything inappropriate. We’re kicking off our series with the indomitable Arianna Huffington telling her younger self—and us—to get enough sleep. Sounds tough, but if the 31st Most Powerful Woman in the World can swing it, I guess we can, too. (For the record, we'd also tell her younger self that she’s a total knockout).
Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor
When Hilda Solis was in high school, her career counselor told her she wasn't "college material" and that she should become a secretary. Turns out, she did: The U.S. Secretary of Labor. And here's what she'd go back and tell her ambitious younger self.
Liza Donnelly, Staff Cartoonist for The New Yorker
When Liza Donnelly began selling her work to The New Yorker in 1979, she was the youngest cartoonist there and one of only three women. Things have changed, thankfully, but one thing has lingered: the failure of women to speak our minds. You must speak up, Liza tells her younger self. (She’s now making up for lost time at TED, the United Nations, and on TV interviews worldwide.)
Cindy Gallop, Founder and CEO of If We Ran the World
From the moment we're born, the world conspires to make us feel insecure, says Cindy Gallop. And she wants to change that: she seeks to redefine the way society thinks an older woman should act and look, and she would remind her younger self that she’s beautiful—exactly the way she is (we agree).
Sandy Jen, Founder of Meebo
You’d think that, as an executive of one of the country's fastest growing Internet companies, Sandy Jen probably stresses quite a bit. But that’s exactly what she tells her younger self not to do. Because, while there are lots of things to worry about, there are many more you’ll miss if that stress consumes you.
Joanne Wilson, “Gotham Gal” Blogger and Angel Investor
As a young woman, Joanne Wilson charged full-speed ahead in her career, constantly desiring to successfully move forward. It got her great places, but she’d tell her younger self to not be so concerned with what’s next, and instead, enjoy each moment.
Nicole Lapin, Founder and CEO of Nothing But Gold Productions and CNBC Anchor
Nicole Lapin, former anchor of CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange,” used to smile and nod during conversations about finances and the stock market. And then something stopped her in her tracks.
Carole Geithner, Clinical Social Worker and Assistant Clinical Professor
Carole Geithner is a successful Clinical Social Worker, Assistant Clinical Professor, and author. If she could give her younger self some advice, she would tell her to stop worrying about having a plan all of the time and to embrace the changes life throws at you.
Kim Bottomly, President of Wellesley University
The President of Wellesley often tells her daughters and students to stay focused on what truly matters most to them. But, she also knows that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Read on for her inspiring story.
Marcia K. McNutt, Director of U.S. Geological Survey
The first female director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Marcia McNutt has had an incredible career. But working on the Gulf Coast oil spill cleanup efforts made her realize that she could never do something mediocre again.
Joanna Barsh, Director at McKinsey and Co. and Author
The author of How Remarkable Women Lead, Joanna Barsh knows what it takes to be exceptionally successful. Her advice to her younger self, and to us: Don't let fear hold you back.
Julie Bornstein, Senior Vice President of Sephora Direct
Put it on paper. That’s the advice Julie Bornstein would give her younger self: to write down her dreams and goals for the future—from the lofty to the mundane. It sounds simple, but it can also be a powerful anchor for your future.
Jennifer Hill, International Tech Venture Lawyer and Media Commentator
After a life-changing trip, Jennifer Hill realized the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. As she'd tell her younger self, there are always reasons you can find not to experience new things—but the benefits of doing it anyway can be amazing.
Sola Obayan, Owner of BTO Solutions
When you’re young, you think you have it all figured out. You hear those adages, those clever clichés—and you roll your eyes and get back to doing your thing. But Sola Obayan would tell her younger self to pay a bit closer attention.
LaVelle Olexa, Retail Executive
As a fashion model and retail executive, LaVelle Olexa spent the better part of her career running in heels—the higher, the better. And looking back, her footwear choices held a lot of wisdom that she wishes she could share with her younger self.
Kim Armor, CFO of Comcast Ventures
As a child, Kim Armor played the game Perfection non-stop. And when she got older, she realized that paying attention to details was the best way to minimize the "flying explosions of yellow plastic" in her adult life, too.
Neale Godfrey, Chair of Children's Financial Network
Neale Godfrey had it all—family, friends, and a fabulously successful career—but constantly felt bad about not being able to do it all, all the time. Read on for why she wishes her younger self could let go of that guilt.
Joyce Kulhawik, Arts and Entertainment Critic
Renowned arts and entertainment personality Joyce Kulhawik is a tough critic. But she wouldn't judge her younger self—she'd tell her to love herself exactly as she is. Because that's where true power comes from.
Marguerite Kondracke, President and CEO of America's Promise Alliance
Marguerite Kondracke, the President and CEO of America's Promise Alliance, has had a fast-paced, illustrious, and successful career. But she'd tell her younger self to take time to smell the flowers, too. Here's what reminded her of this important truth.
Lande Yoosuf, Entrepreneur, Media Personality, and TV Casting Producer
As a TV producer for MTV, VH1, BET, and more, Lande Yoosuf is used to managing high-profile projects. But, she would tell her younger self, as a young professional pursuing her dream career, to remember to manage her finances just as effectively.
Photo of woman courtesy of Sam Edwards/Getty Images.
Adrian was The Muse’s very first employee (ask her about the early days!) who built the Muse editorial team from the ground up. Now, she serves as Editor-at-Large, launching new content products and sharing expert career advice with Muse audiences online and off. When she’s not Musing, you’ll find her planning her next dinner party or international vacation. Say hi on Twitter and Instagram.More from this Author