Relationships

15 Career Tips From Smart Women


What are you working on these days? This week, I’d love to feature career-themed posts. To kick things off, here are 15 quotes about career from smart women…

On being confident:

I love women who are bosses and who don’t constantly worry about what their employees think of them. I love women who don’t ask, “Is that OK?” after everything they say. I love when women are courageous in the face of unthinkable circumstances, like my mother when she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Or like Gabrielle Giffords writing editorials for the New York Times about the cowardice of Congress regarding gun laws and using phrases like “mark my words” like she is Clint Eastwood. How many women say stuff like that?

Mindy Kaling

Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, “I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with your actions and your voice.

Tina Fey

On working hard:

Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.

Madeline L’Engle

Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.

Tina Fey

On shaking things up:

Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.

Nora Ephron

On dealing with critics:

My unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.

Tina Fey

Yes, the more successful you are—or the stronger, the more opinionated—the less you will be generally liked. All of a sudden people will think you’re too “braggy,” too loud, too something. But the trade off is undoubtedly worth it. Power and authenticity are worth it.

Jessica Valenti

On being flexible:

I used to dream about one day being at Wimbledon. I could taste the strawberries and cream I could see myself curtseying there at center court. And I didn’t make it there, obviously, as a tennis player, but let me tell you even though I had a mic in my hand instead of a tennis racket for ESPN when I went to cover it for the first time; to me it was like ‘check! Wimbledon.’ You have to be creative in reaching your goals and I think that’s what really helped me so much in my life both professionally and personally. Just not being too rigid. Having goals and setting goals, but being flexible with them and knowing that it might not quite look like how I think it’s going to look and that’s okay.

Robin Roberts

On letting go of perfection and being good enough:

I think this…”perfectionist gene” that too many young women have holds them back, and instead they should be really aiming for “good enough.” You don’t have to be perfect. Most men never think like that. They’re just trying to figure out what’s the opening and how they can seize it. They’re not thinking about, Oh my gosh, I’m not perfect, my hair’s not perfect today, I wore the wrong shoes. No.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30…What I learned about bombing as a writer at Saturday Night is that you can’t be too worried about your “permanent record.” Yes, you’re going to write some sketches that you love and are proud of forever—your golden nuggets. But you’re also going to write some real shit nuggets. And unfortunately, sometimes the shit nuggets will make it onto the air. You can’t worry about it. As long as you know the difference, you can go back to panning for gold on Monday.

Tina Fey

On finding balance:

Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. That’s what I have to say. The second is only a part of the first… There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul…People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit. But a résumé is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.”

Anna Quindlen

To follow your life’s guidance, you may have to reassign some seemingly important things to ‘unimportant.’ If you believe that pleasing your horrible boss or having a spotless clean house is a higher priority than playing with your children or sleeping off the flu, be prepared for a long and strenuous battle against destiny.

Martha Beck

At the moment, our society’s notion of success is largely composed of two parts: money and power. But it’s time for a third metric, beyond money and power—one founded on well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder and to give back.

Arianna Huffington

On being human:

I still go to a party and say something embarrassing to someone, and then write them a weird e-mail about it the next day, and then write them a text because I think they didn’t get the e-mail. No matter what happens with your level of success, you still have to deal with all the baggage that is yourself.

Lena Dunham

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

Nora Ephron

Looking forward to talking about careers this week. And I’d love to know: What’s your career field? Or if you’re in school, what are you studying?

P.S. Blogging as a career, signing emails “xo” and the wobbly path to success.

(Photo from 30 Rock. Thanks to Caroline Donofrio for researching quotes.)

  1. Lola says...

    I discovered this blog as of today. I’m being a bit rebellious by perusing the site all day as I’m here at work, as opposed to working. But what am I to do if I need some form of inspiration due to the shitty boss I have?