Blog Posts by Secrets To Your Success

  • Secrets to Your Success: Kristen Trattner

    Imagine falling in love with food without even being able to taste it. While battling cancer, baker and co-owner of the Nickel Diner Kristen Trattner did just that.

    More on Shine: The pay-it-forward restaurant: one diner sparks a chain reaction of kindness

    As a visual effects artist for George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, Kristen was accustomed to tight deadlines and pressure. Working 12 hour days, she didn't think twice about a swollen lymph gland until she went to the doctor and a week later, at the age of 36, was diagnosed with stage 3 tongue cancer.

    Due to the radiation treatments, Kristen developed third degree burns on her face and in her mouth. "Everything happens in your mouth. It's where you speak; it's where you taste; it's where you kiss," Kristen explains. "So when this area closes down, you sort of forget what it's like to be human."

    Even though she lost her sense of taste, she discovered a love of cooking. "I would cook, and I would cook all day,

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  • Secrets to Your Success: Elisa Strauss

    Confetti Cakes founder Elisa Strauss grew up making sugar cookies with her grandmother and always loved baking, but she never considered making a career out of it. Instead, she went to college for art, which led to a career in textile design and a job at Ralph Lauren.

    Elisa was enjoying her career in design: she was flying to Paris for fashion shows and visiting factories in Italy, and she loved being creative for a living, but she made amazing cakes on the side. One of her co-workers asked her to make a cake for Ralph Lauren's 60th birthday and she responded by making one in the shape of one of his favorite cars from his car collection. Everyone at the party was impressed and suddenly, Elisa had orders from other coworkers and prominent fashion designers.

    Looking to build her cake designing skills, Elisa started going to pastry school at night while still working in fashion. She'd work her day job, hop on the subway to school, take her classes, and then head back to work. She

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  • Secrets to Your Success: Sara Blakely

    Spanx founder Sara Blakely was a door-to-door fax machine salesperson who was miserable with her life when she wrote in her journal, "I want to come up with an idea that I can sell to millions of people."

    Shortly after that, the quest to find what to wear under white pants gave her that idea she was looking for. At the age of 27, she walked into a department store shapewear section and was unhappy with all her options. Frustrated, she went home and cut the feet off her control-top pantyhose. Spanx was born.

    Blakely found a textile mill to make a prototype and then spent a year refining the product so that it wouldn't slip or roll up. Then she took those door-to-door sales skills and went to department store buyers with her product, often modeling the "before" and "after" effect herself to make her point. Neiman Marcus agreed to carry the product and by 2000, Oprah Winfrey had named it to her annual "Favorite Things" list. From there, business boomed.

    Today, Spanx is sold in over

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  • Secrets to Your Success: Lisa Price

    Twenty years ago, Carol's Daughter founder Lisa Price made an initial investment of one hundred dollars to sell her homemade creams at a church flea market. Today, that business is a cosmetics company with 34 million dollars in annual sales.

    For Lisa, her first career, as a writer's assistant on The Cosby Show, paved the way for her future as an entrepreneur. She says she loved her job and the creativity it demanded, and she learned what it was like to do something that you love. She says being happy at her job inspired her to be creative when she was home, and she started experimenting in her kitchen, making fragrances and creams that she'd give as gifts to her friends. In 1993, her mother suggested she sell those homemade gifts at a church flea market. Lisa says she had no idea at the time that she was starting a business.

    Lisa continued to sell her products on the side, but still held down a day job in television production. It wasn't until she was pregnant with her first child,

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  • Secrets to Your Success: Jennifer Gilbert

    In 1991, at the age of 22, Jennifer Gilbert survived a horrific random attack. Accosted and stabbed with a screwdriver by a man who had followed her into a New York City apartment building, Gilbert suffered 37 stab wounds by the time the attack was over. She nearly lost her life.

    As she began the slow recovery process, Gilbert realized she didn't want to shy away from life; she wanted to embrace it instead. The business major had some small experience working in event planning, and as she got back on her feet, it became clear to her what she wanted to do: she wanted to be around people celebrating, and to help people enjoy their special moments.

    Two years after landing a job at a small event planning company, Jennifer started her own company, Save the Date, at the age of 25. By 29, she had been named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year.

    Today, the company employees fifteen people full time and does close to 30 million dollars in business each year. Jennifer attributes that

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  • Secrets to Your Success: Wendy Williams

    Talk show host Wendy Williams may seem outgoing and confident these days, but she insists she's always felt like an outcast.

    Growing up in suburban New Jersey, Williams says she struggled in school and failed to live up to her academically-focused family's high standards. She graduated at the bottom of her class and was told she'd never be successful, but Williams found her niche in college - when she became a successful radio DJ. From there, her career took her to New York, where she became well-known not just for playing hot music, but for dishing out hot gossip. Williams was suspended without pay on more than a few occasions, but she says that only helped her career as she became known for saying things other people wouldn't.

    In 2008, Williams left radio to start her own successful syndicated television talk show. On air, she's shared her own personal stories, something she says has been a main reason her show has been such a success. She's shared openly about her battle with Read More »from Secrets to Your Success: Wendy Williams


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