6 women share the #BossLady who inspired them

You know how the saying goes — behind every successful woman are a gaggle of others who read emails, bounce ideas, contribute feedback and send inspirational quotes on Instagram.

The power of sisterhood is found throughout every medium of life — from career to families and beyond. For many successful entrepreneurs and executives, it’s taken a little bit of “Girl Power” to push them up the ladder, helping them to acknowledge and know their worth. From grandmothers to mentors and celebrities, these dynamite professional women share the #BossLady who made a difference in their life.

In honor of Women’s History Month — or frankly, any time of the year — let their evoking stories inspire you to reach out to that woman in your life who made a big difference in who you are today.

“Yes, women can rock the home and the office.”

“I am lucky to count my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother as my key influencers. Together they showed me every day the amazing tasks women can accomplish both outside and inside the home. All three experienced what it means to be a single mom, sole provider, and caregiver. They experienced many trials and tribulations; they truly defined for me what it means to be a lady. I think the one thing we have a tendency to forget is that at the end of the day we are women—not men and we should embrace our differences. We should not have to act like a man to get ahead or be successful.”

— Kerry E. Yates, Founder, CEO and beauty inventor, Colour Collective

“Be unafraid to take risks.”

“My #bosslady inspiration would be Reese Witherspoon. We are the same age, and I grew up in Nashville knowing and hearing about her. When I was in college, I even had the chance to serve her and her then-husband, Ryan Phillippe, dinner at a restaurant I was working at! I find great inspiration in that because I firmly believe that anyone can make a positive impact in their life starting with their own microcosms and what is important to them. And by doing so we are fact taking on the world. She had many doors shut in her face in Hollywood, so she became an activist helping get greater representation for those who struggle to rise in Hollywood — including women. Being aware of, and following, her journey has inspired me to take risks, to be an entrepreneur in my own career, to embrace the painful parts my life and then use that to fuel my advocation of issues that are important to me. As it pertains to advertising and creativity, she inspires me to embrace growth and change, to focus on mentorship and to have fun, not take myself too seriously and do what comes natural. There’s enough room in this world for all our very specific voices. She’s a feminist with tons of self-awareness, a strong sense of humor, a boldness and true grit. She calls it intersectional feminism, I called it inspiration. Embracing who we are deep inside, letting it shine on the outside and then taking positive action in whatever ways we can.”

Marian Williams, Group Creative Director at O’Keefe Reinhard and Paul

“Remember to listen.”

“She’s actually someone I have known for many years: Mary Powers. She gave me my first ‘real’ job after I graduated from college, as a promotions and marketing intern at a local Toronto television station called Citytv. In those early days, she was one of those people who went out of her way to help me. Never underestimate the power of someone believing in you, especially when you’re just getting started. They see things you couldn’t possibly have the experience to see yourself, and that is a wonderful gift. Mary was a great listener — she gave people the time they needed to feel heard. But she was not a ‘softy’, she knows her stuff and could cut through the bullshit like nobody’s business. She was a total badass and hugely respected, enormously creative and articulate.”

— Maggie Fox, CMO, Workhuman

“Be a human leader.”

“My grandmother came out of extreme poverty, without any precedent for education in her family. She became a pediatrician and ran research on treatment for rampant tuberculosis in children in the most remote parts of Siberia at the time. Dedicating herself to a greater mission, all while caring for her children, holding the family together and essentially surviving while my grandfather was in one of Stalin’s political concentration camps and the country was in shambles. When she tells me her stories, I often wonder how could someone who has gone through so much, still hold so much grace? When she told me of how she inspired whole teams to turn some children’s hospitals around from complete neglect to reasonable environments, how she gained respect from colleagues, fellow physicians and more specifically men at the time, I get inspired. I get inspired by her presence, by the way she communicates, by the ‘humanness’ in her as a leader and the care she gave to each of her little patients and the larger mission. By how she never lost sight of what was important to her – her family, integrity and the wellbeing of all. To me, that’s a striking example of a woman in her true power and I am truly blessed to have her in my life as an example.”

— Dr. Sophia Kogan, CMO of Nutrafol

“Be a teammate.”

“My business partner, Allison Rapaport. She is the CEO of Every Mother inspires me. First and foremost, Allison follows through and conducts her life and her job with integrity. She consistently does the right thing, and she shows up to do exactly what she said she would. She is a team player, and she leads by example. I went through the difficult experience of having to unwind an early partnership that was detrimental to the growth of the company, and then running the company solo while remaining cash-flow-positive until I partnered with Allison, who is a dynamo and a wonderful teammate. Partnering with her is the best business decision I have ever made, and one of the best personal decisions I’ve made in my life. Choosing the right partner is absolutely critical, for both the success of your business and the quality of your life. I credit Allie with nurturing this culture and setting a great example of rolling up her sleeves and doing whatever needs to be done with a ‘can do’ attitude. She also reminds me that perfection is the enemy of the good — so we keep going, and don’t let ourselves get bogged down by tendencies toward perfectionism that can impede progress.”

— Leah Keller, Founder and CCO, Every Mother

“Be open to when the sparks fly.”

“Gabriela Lugo, Owner of Revek Entertainment, an entertainment production company out of Los Angeles is my #bosslady and without her, I would not be where I am today. About eight years ago, in my New York City apartment, I decided to manage ‘talent’ on the side of my full-time office job. At the time, it meant a specific Food Network Star which ended up leading me on several journeys leading up to this particular one I am on today with The Cookie Cups. After a chance meeting with the talent in question, I consulted with my friend and apartment neighbor who at the time worked at The Wendy Williams Show, and was my voice of reason for the entertainment world that quite frankly, I knew nothing about. I asked her if she thought this was a good idea and if she thought I could even do this. She said, ‘Yes!’ without hesitation. This let to my first session in ‘Entertainment Management 101’in her apartment while I took notes. The old school way with a pen and pad of paper. She inspired my journey and set off a spark inside me that I never knew existed.”

— Nicole Pomije, creator of The Cookie Cups