Tips for Success from Female Business Execs

Three powerful women, among the best in their fields, reveal what it really took to get ahead--and what the view looks like from the top. (Hint: It's spectacular!)

marie claireLisa Randall Theoretical physicist, Harvard University

1. DON'T LOOK FOR GLASS CEILINGS. In male-dominated professions, sometimes it's best to hunker down, work hard, and pay no mind to the challenges. "The fact that I was first meant there was no one before me--but it wasn't an active thing I was doing," Randall says of her accomplishments.

2. DON'T UNDERSELL YOURSELF. Too many women downplay their skills. Not Randall. "I was always good at math," she says. "But I was good at everything. It sounds obnoxious, but I was just smart."

3. LOOKING POLISHED PAYS OFF. Randall's fashion sense and good looks help sell her message: to demystify physics and get more women into the profession. "When you're reaching out to people beyond the scientific community, image does matter," she says.

10 Tips To Climb To The Top of Your Career

marie clairemarie claireMeryl Poster President of television production, The Weinstein Company

1. BE PERSISTENT. Despite initially being turned down for a job, Poster hounded the well-known William Morris talent agency until she landed a spot in its legendary mail room. "When I decide I want something, I go for it," she says.

2. SMALLER FIRMS USUALLY OFFER MORE OPPORTUNITIES. Poster left William Morris to work as an assistant at Miramax, then an unknown movie studio. "I grew and took on responsibilities as the company grew," Poster says. "I wasn't an assistant that long."

3. KNOW WHEN IT'S TIME TO STEP BACK. After 16 years building up Miramax into a Hollywood powerhouse, Poster felt burned out and accepted a development job at NBC Universal. "I needed that time to recharge my batteries," she explains.

Money Rules All Women Should Live By

marie claireShawn Holley Celebrity defense attorney

1. EVERY CLIENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. Holley relished defending even petty-theft cases. "You could make the difference between someone going to jail or being able to provide for their family," she says of her years as a public defender.

2. DON'T APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR SUCCESS. Holley was part of O.J. Simpson's defense team. "It's the prosecution's job to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt--if he was guilty and got away with murder, then the prosecution failed," she says.

3. EMPATHY IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS. Holley, who has represented Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, calls even her rich, sometimes reckless clients underdogs. "I'm making sure the system is fair," she says. "And I really see that as an honorable role."

Read more about these top female business executives at MarieClaire.com.

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