11 Super Successful #BossLadies Give Us Their Best Career Advice

Image: Instagram/@_yasemin_y

“A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not to be done” – Marge Piercy

It wasn’t too long ago that women weren’t allowed in the workforce. In fact, travel back in time just 60 years ago, and a list like this may not have even been possible. Today, women are taking control of their lives. They are inspired and inspiring others to climb corporate ladders and shatter glass ceilings. The world is seeing more and more women graduate from post-secondary school (even more so than men), entering the workforce and championing their fields.

It’s safe to say that strong females have paved the way for women in the workplace – Beyonce said it best when she said, Who run the world? Girls. And while the path to success seems daunting – one might even say scary as hell at times – everyone has to get their start somewhere. No #GirlBoss made it to the top without a few challenges along the road.

So, in lieu of International Women’s Day, we spoke to 11 of the most accomplished and badass #BossLadies we know – from all different backgrounds and industries – about the words of wisdom that helped them on their path to success and the advice they would give to #GirlBosses in the making.

Halla Rafati, Managing Partner at Halo Public Relations

The best career advice I ever received: 
“Success has many parents, it’s failure that’s the orphan.” (by my mentor, Dimitrios Zarikos, RVP, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts)
Everyone takes credit for success, but no one wants to own up to failure. It’s human nature so rise above it – share the fame and take the blame. It will all work out in the end and you’ll be a better leader for it.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
Your relationships are your currency. Everything about the field of public relations is based on how well you manage and nurture your relationships. Stay mindful of this fact and be careful whose toes you step on today… they might be connected to the hands that will help you tomorrow. And if that sentence offends you, you’re in the wrong industry.


Dana Rook, Brand Manager at Kao Corporation 

The best career advice I ever received: 
“Be present at all times.”
I remember early in my career, just after university, my superior whom I held tremendous respect for, told me that to become a strong leader one always needs to be present. By this, she meant to be engaging, be passionate, have an opinion, ask questions and have an impact. Never sit back and let things pass by without playing a role. From a business perspective, this drove me to develop more confidence as I asked more questions, provided my own POV without hesitation and in turn learned through experiences. I have often reflected on this comment and believed that as a result, I have been able to have much greater influence over the path of my career and the impact I have been able to make along the way.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
Find your passion. I have always believed that passion drives success. Passion in one’s career may not necessarily present itself in the way we expect but by developing a passion for the work one does, it can lead to great things. In order to do this, one needs to determine what is truly important to them. This can drive your career path and help when making decisions along the way. When you find a career path and organization that aligns with your own beliefs, it is easy to develop a strong sense of passion, enthusiasm, and commitment. These qualities help positively influence your own personal brand, your greatest asset in all of life!


Natalie Dusome, Founder at Poppy and Peonies

The best career advice I ever received:
“Own your craft.”
Own your business, don’t let your business own you!

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
Be passionate about what you do. The fashion industry sounds glamorous, but it’s not all lipstick and heels. It’s important to be passionate about what you do and set goals. This will help you get through those all-nighters or when things get tough. If I didn’t set goals for myself and my company it would be easy to give up and loose focus. I’m also a big believer in positive thinking and the law of attraction. I would recommend knowing what you want and ensuring everything you do is getting you closer to your goal.


sarah kwan

Sarah Kwan, Co-founder and President of non-profit group, Lean in Canada 

The best career advice I ever received:
“Lean In.”
Okay, but seriously – part of leaning in is getting out of your comfort zone and taking bold moves, and this has many benefits. Not only will it push you forward professionally, but doing new and scary things – and then realizing you’ve got a handle on it and have nothing to be afraid of – will also grow your level of confidence immensely. There are so many other invaluable pieces of advice people I’ve met have shared with me. One is to build your own group of ‘raving fans’, who will champion you and advocate on your behalf. In a work setting this could be peers who think of you as a phenomenal teammate, clients who love the work you’ve done for them and will highly recommend you to others, and crucially, sponsors – those who are senior to you or more influential in some way, who believe in you so much they’ll give you visibility to their network and access to opportunities for growth. It gives you a lot of credibility when people toot your horn for you.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
Figure out what you don’t know, and find advisors and mentors to help you fill in the gaps. When we started Lean In Canada, we didn’t know anything about running a non-profit and seeking out advice from people like lawyers, small business coaches, and experts in board governance helped us to achieve our goals more successfully and avoid pitfalls as we grew.

Go out and network. Networking has been a key ingredient in a lot of the milestones we’ve achieved, whether it’s funding from sponsors, building a board of directors, and gaining some of our best speakers.

Make sure that while you’re working hard at building, you also take care of yourself. It’s easy to get burnt out when you’re building a non-profit; resources such as time, money, and staff are scarce when you start out – but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Be intentional about giving yourself time away from work; you’ll only come back more refreshed and productive.

Don’t forget to step back from the day to day and plan your priorities deliberately. It can be easy when you first start to be so consumed by the operational tasks you have to do, but similarly to giving yourself time, stepping back to do strategic planning, setting annual objectives and monthly and quarterly focuses puts in perspective what’s critical to the growth of your organization.

Lexi Miles, Founder/Beauty entrepreneur of WAXON Waxbars

The best career advice I ever received:
“The first impression is everything. So is the second.”
Our mission at WAXON is to offer the BEST wax experience, every time- so quality and consistency for our clients across all our locations is everything. Personally, I also think it’s important to always be ‘on’. Whether you are meeting someone for the first time or not, always try and walk away from a conversation having made a positive impression.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
Self-awareness is key before taking that leap! Step 1: Understand your strengths but most importantly, know your weaknesses and surround yourself with a team that makes up for those weaknesses. Step 2: Create a killer culture so they never want to leave! Richard Branson said it best, “Train people well enough that they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”


Janet Zuccarini, Founder and owner of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group

The best career advice I ever received:
You should only ever be doing 2 things when it comes to work; you are either doing your passion or discovering what your passion is.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
The restaurant business has very slim profit margins, so know your numbers and run your business accordingly. I am amazed when I see operators and they don’t know what their food costs, labour, rent, etc. should be. If any of these numbers pop up a little, you are on your way to closing your doors. 


surinder bains

Surinder Bains, Founder of Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris

The best career advice I ever received: 
Once the business loan and overheads are finally paid for and your profits are coming in… remember to save enough in the reserve for a rainy day. There are always unforeseen circumstances that will come your way in the challenging world of business.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
Stay true to your original vision no matter what advice you may receive from others. Listen to your supporters and critics with an open ear but ultimately be the creator of your own business destiny. Your passion and hard work will never fail, providing you do not go over your head with the initial budgets created for the development of the business.


natasha koifman

Natasha Koifman, President of NKPR

The best career advice I ever received:
I struggled in the beginning of my career trying to achieve work-life balance. A few years ago, I was at a conference and Shelley Broader, the CEO of Wal-Mart Canada introduced a new concept to me – work-life integration. It totally clicked. I love my job – I don’t feel the need for a separate “work me” and “life me”. I’m the same person and I bring the same set of values to my work and my personal life. This framework has helped me successfully integrate my work and life, and is exactly why I am more at peace and accepting of my life today.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
Be ready to learn. You’re not expected to know everything, but you need to be humble and willing enough to learn it. Have a good attitude – this is half the battle. And finally, think about the contribution you want to make to the world. We should all want to leave it a better place than when we came into it.


Kiara LeBlanc

Kiara LeBlancVice President, Brand & Creative Director at Saje Natural Wellness

The best career advice I ever received:
“Don’t wait to be asked. If you want that role, promotion, new responsibility, be it. Be it so damn well that it would be ridiculous for you not to get it”
I grew up with a mistaken belief that going for something without being invited to, meant you were being too bold or precocious. On top of that, I thought asking for it was cheating – you had to silently “earn” it. This advice changed my views and cranked up my tenacity to always go for it. If you don’t, someone else will. If you want that manager role, start behaving like one, and when you do that job well, those around you can’t and won’t ignore it.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
Find the perfect balance between staying true to your own ideas and creativity while being extremely open-minded to the ideas of those around you. The creative field is subjective and everyone has a point of view, which makes it remarkably fun while coming with the small hurdle of a lot of opinions coming at you. To strive in this environment, it is so important to not lose sight of your vision and the creative edge that got you started. At the same time, when you are blessed to be surrounded by people who care, they will all have thoughts, opinions, and ideas and often there is much to gain and learn from them. So keep an open mind, learn as much as you can from your surroundings, all the while keeping your own true north guiding you.


laurie simmonds

Laurie Simmonds, President and CEO of Green Living Enterprises 

The best career advice I was ever given:
 “A business arrangement is only successful if it is good for both partners.”
A successful company needs a steady stream of profitable business deals but you must never get greedy. It’s important to ensure all your business dealings benefit your client or customers as well as your bank account. Customer retention is dependent on good relationships and good relationships will build a reputable brand and a healthy, profitable business. Green Living lives by the motto, Do Good. Do Well.

A piece of advice from me to someone new: 
To build a successful career in an integrated marketing company, you need to be creative and capable of executing a variety of programs simultaneously. All agencies are looking for people they can trust to manage their clients and the vast number of tasks involved in each program delivery. You need to be efficient with your time, have a strong attention to detail and good communication skills. The best way to break in is as an intern. Ask for a work term in every department. As you rotate through each department you will gain the skills required to grow your career in many areas of the business and developing broad skill sets will make you indispensable.


Anna Koniaris, National Face Expert for Caryl Baker Visage

The best career advice I was ever given:
Caryl Baker told me in my first interview with her, “Find your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Not every day is an easy day, especially in the beauty business. It’s demanding and fast paced with long hours – but when you love what you do, as I do, I couldn’t imagine doing anything different. The business of cosmetics inspires me each and every day.

A piece of advice from me to someone new:
If you want to succeed you have to be completely invested in what you’re doing. It’s important to own who you are and what you do. In essence, you need to become your own brand.

RELATED LINK: 4 Tips to Work Smarter, Not Harder

What piece of career advice resonated with you the most? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.

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Vv Magazine is the new and improved extension of View the Vibe. We strive to give you great stories with different perceptions, opinions and viewpoints while also covering the latest trends in food, fashion and beauty. Stationed in Toronto and Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary are coming soon!
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