by Jené Luciani
Coco Chanel once said, "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous." This piece of advice from one of the world's most famous fashion designers (among other tidbits) is as inspirational today as it was when she launched her first perfume in the 1920s.
Recently, when groundbreaking Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown passed away at age 90, it was clear her legacy would live on in her many pieces of printed advice. Among her controversial admonitions? "Marriage is insurance for the worst years of your life. Save the 'best' for when you're single."
While Chanel and Brown were pioneering career women in their day, now there's no shortage of inspirational females at the top of their fields-and there's plenty they can teach us. Whether they've spent years climbing the corporate ladder, helming a major fashion house or magazine, or building a billion-dollar brand, these powerful 10 women learned the ropes of their chosen profession, raised families, and mastered the art of balance. Here's the best advice you can take from them.
Sheryl Sandberg1. Sheryl Sandberg: Chief Operating Officer of Facebook; 10th Most Powerful Woman in the World (Forbes); age 42
"I've cried at work. I've told people I've cried at work. And it's been reported in the press that 'Sheryl Sandberg cried on Mark Zuckerberg's shoulder,' which is not exactly what happened. I talk about my hopes and fears and ask people about theirs. I try to be myself-honest about my strengths and weaknesses-and I encourage others to do the same. It is all professional and it is all personal, all at the very same time."
Helen Gurley Brown2. Helen Gurley Brown: American Author, Publisher, and Businesswoman, and Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years
"Cosmo was all about getting somewhere from nowhere. If you could start as un-prepossessing, nothingburger, mouseburger, as me and get along just by doing the best you could, then wasn't that a good idea to try?"
Mary Kinney3. Mary Kinney: Executive Vice President and COO of Ginnie Mae (Government National Mortgage Association); age 59
"The wisest advice I ever got was to build my career on what I want, not what others want for me. This means acknowledging that while you may not be the best at something, you can still reach your goals if you possess the passion and drive. That also means taking care of yourself. Exercising and maintaining a healthy diet are essential to helping manage the stresses of a high-profile position."
Marla Gottschalk4. Marla Gottschalk: CEO of The Pampered Chef, Ltd.; age 51
"Find your passion and a mission you believe in. When you feel like you make a difference in people's lives, it becomes so much more than a job. For example, I know family mealtimes are vitally important. So it is very motivating to lead an organization focused on that."
Lisa Bloom5. Lisa Bloom: Celebrity Attorney; Founder and Managing Partner of The Bloom Firm; age 50
"The best advice I can give can be summed up in one word: Read. Don't be one of the 80 percent of people who didn't read a book last year. Reading is mental fitness. It is a workout for your brain. You just cannot get enough intelligent information without a steady diet of written articles, commentary, and most importantly, books. Readers do better in school, earn more money, are better citizens, have happier personal lives, and are more actively engaged in the world around us. Books get our minds out there, into the world of ideas, and where our brains go, our bodies follow."
Gina D'Ambra6. Gina D'Ambra: Founder of LuxMobile Group; age 34
"Ignore people who say no to what you feel in your heart is a great idea. The worst that can happen is it doesn't work, but you will have achieved the success of simply trying."
Pam Alabaster7. Pam Alabaster: Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs of L'Oréal USA; age 51
"Continuous learning leads to continuous improvement. Commit yourself to advancing your knowledge, skills, and expertise. The business environment is quickly changing, and your understanding of the leading practices, thinking, and emerging tools will help you manage for better results. Be a lifelong student."
Gail Warrior8. Gail Warrior: CEO and Founder of The Warrior Group Construction; age 44
"As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I often get asked about how I deal with that issue. I respond that the barriers for women in business are much less today than even 10 years ago. And even if being a woman in your business sector may be an issue to some potential customers, don't let it be one to you. In business, you set the tone by being a competent professional, so you establish yourself as someone qualified to get the job done and let that speak for itself. I truly believe women are natural leaders and entrepreneurs. So grow your business based on your skill sets and your brain! As women, we have a lot of both!"
Reema Khan9. Reema Khan: CEO of s.h.a.p.e.s. Brow Bar; age 35
"Always look at the big picture. I started as one small beauty shop in Chicago and now have more than 65 locations around the world. I took things slow and evaluated the market. Set reasonable goals each month to stay on track, and in the end, you will become that much closer to reaching your dreams."
Jenna Fagnan10. Jenna Fagnan: President of Tequila Avión; age 39
"As one of the few female executives in the spirits industry, I've learned to not worry about making mistakes-everyone makes them! Women are all perfectionists and find it hard to leave certain things in the past, but it's best to just learn from it and move on!"
Want more advice on shattering that glass ceiling? Check out these pearls of wisdom from more women at the top!