Six Female Professionals Share the Advice that Shaped Them #IWD

8 Mar

To paraphrase one of the greats – Poet Laureate Maya Angelou – ‘women are phenomenal’, and on this International Women’s Day I want to radiate positivity and lift anyone up who needs it right now.

I’m lucky to have a broad network of women that I tap in to for a number of things: career advice, emotional support, proof-reading, drinks, yoga-ing, holidaying and everything in-between. They cover all manner of industries, roles and even countries. So I thought I’d do you a solid this IWD and pass on the gift of advice and support that they’ve shared with me.

Here’s what six of the women from my knowledge network had to say when I asked them what advice has helped to shape who they are today.


Photo: Paul Proshin

The Poet

“Hard work beats talent”

For a long time I thought of things as good or bad: ‘Is this poem good enough? Was that set amazing? Did I kill it with the audience?’ A lecturer once told me about a band that cut their record deal and instead built a subscription with their fan base (made up of around 2K followers). The fan base would pay an annual fee and as a result get an album from the band. The band could create what they wanted, and the fans got the music they wanted. How powerful is that? All they needed were 2K people in THE WORLD who liked what they did in order to create something meaningful.

There are plenty of people who watch movies I think are awful, dance to music I don’t understand, or like YouTube videos I find offensive, for me to know art is subjective. We all have different tastes so it’s not about questioning ‘is this good enough?’ It’s about gaining integrity being the kind of artist I want to be. Curating the audience I want to gather, collaborating with the people I want to work with and grafting hard to get them on board.

“Growth is struggle”

There’s something called the ‘conscious competence matrix’. The concept states that in order to learn and grow we need to have experienced struggle and ignorance. This really helped me see moments where I fail, struggle or feel crap rather as moments of revelation and epiphany, and that these moments are as essential and important as smashing it/winning/succeeding.

“Train Physically”

Yoga, swim, skate, dance. Connecting with your body enables you to be present, neurologically speaking, and when you’re present it’s impossible to feel things like anxiety (I learnt this from Ruby Wax’s talks on mindfulness). I’ve also found the journey of building physical strength and flexibility a parallel metaphor for me as an artist. To build strength you need to make small breaks in the muscle for it to grow back stronger, but not reach for a weight so heavy you rip the muscle. You also need to breathe and stretch to maintain flexibility in that muscle. As with my art, it hurts to push myself further to write about my trauma, to integrate dance with poetry, to write grime lyrics. But every break, every pain, every deep breath represents progress.

The Brand Strategy Consultant

“A life isn’t measured by what you have, but by what you give”

This is a quote I remember my mum saying, but I’m sure she must heard it from someone. It literally sums up my mum and I will always associate this with her. Her whole life she has been about providing for people, contributing to society, creating things. She is the most generous person I’ve ever come across.

“Done is better than perfect”

Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s COO) said this, and it took me so long to truly learn its meaning. For me it’s about letting go of pride, and understanding that sometimes perfectionism can often hold you back. I repeat this to myself about five times a day!

“Always be a little kinder than necessary”

I saw this in an Instagram post from a friend and it’s so true. Especially in these troubled times, the world needs more kindness.

“The early bird catches the worm”

I love this one. So often in life you’re winning, if you only get there early and think ahead!

The Teacher

“Unconditional love means accepting someone for who they are now, not who you hope they will be one day”

I came across this in a book I read called ‘The Wait’, it’s stuck with me because I’ve spent so much time trying to change someone into who I thought I wanted them to be, and in doing so forgot why I fell in love with them in the first place. After giving birth, I’ve felt a new kind of love, which has taught me to appreciate people for who they are at this moment in time.

“Make peace with your past and move on”

This was said by one of my girlfriends after a heart-to-heart. I used to spend too much time going over what was, what happened and what I could or shouldn’t have done. It frankly took too much of my time and I could have spent that time nurturing friendships that I have. In essence, stop, make peace with your past and keep it moving.

“Don’t cry over spilt milk (unless it’s breast milk, then cry away!)”

My mum has always taught me not to worry about things that are done, I can’t really change them. I take from the statement that you shouldn’t waste your time worrying about things beyond your control, it is what it is.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy (SFF) Writer

“Make mistakes. Because if you’re making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, make new mistakes, make glorious, amazing mistakes […] don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it.”

This comes from Neil Gaiman, one of my favourite authors who’s not only an inspiration to my career but also to my life. His words are like home: I always find comfort or inspiration in them. Making mistakes was, and still is, a way I learn about myself.

“Be bold. Be brave. Be confident. Be proud.”

This was instilled in me by Anna my tutor at a writing course I attended. While she said this about writing, this can translate to any part of life, to whatever you turn your hand to. Feel empowered in what you do.

“Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.”

I heard this from Hayao Miyazaki. He creates some of the most fearless, adventurous, intelligent and not-sorry-for-who-they-are women, and that gave me strength growing up to be the only thing I can be, myself.

“Always listen to your mother.”

My mother would disown me if I didn’t also include the most important advice: She’s a wise, inspirational woman after all.

The Marketing Manager

“Treat others as you would like to be treated”

This is the best advice, or definitely the one I try the most to follow. An oldie, but such a goldie! I guess it’s enveloped in religion – do good – but also a principle of karma. This is one that my parents have always tried to instil in me, and that I am very thankful for. From a small ‘good morning’, to helping lost tourists find their way in London, to extending love and sympathy to a friend in time of need, this advice has always kept me grounded and also true to myself. After asking yourself the question: ‘How would I like to be treated?’ It leads you to think, why would I behave any differently? After all, what goes around comes around.

The FX Hedge Fund Trader

“Don’t just work harder, work smarter”

A great reminder from my mentors at work. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t get anywhere without putting the effort in. But to make sure you’re the one getting that promotion you’ve been working so hard for, be a fearless networker and get to know the people who are making the decisions. Don’t just rely on your boss to know you’re doing a good job, make sure their boss knows too (and don’t think of it as blowing your own trumpet, merely getting the recognition you deserve). Delegate tasks if possible, to ensure you can concentrate on high profile projects, the list goes on. You’re still doing your job to the best of your ability, you’re just being mindful of making your efforts count!

“Just keep swimming”

Inspiration straight from Dory in Finding Nemo. If you’re feeling really down and afraid to do something that has to eventually get done or simply lacking motivation or even facing a mental block, all you have to do is start and then just keep going. You will get there in the end. Just think positively. Plus singing this over and over will make you chuckle if nothing else.

“Do what is right, not what is easy”

The wise Dumbledore said something similar. Always follow your moral compass, stay grounded and think of others before you act.

“Heath first!”

My dad reminds me of this frequently. It can be so easy to get caught up and overly stressed out with work and any life issues, so much so you end up making yourself sick. You get to a point where it’s really not worth it. Just remember there is only one of you, so take care of yourself.


Photo: Splitshare

It’s interesting that the right advice hits us at the right time, and hopefully some of these words resonated with you.

I’d love to hear any advice that’s helped to shape you – regardless of whether you’re a woman or not – drop it in the comment box below along with what you take from it!


2 Responses to “Six Female Professionals Share the Advice that Shaped Them #IWD”

  1. charandtheweb March 15, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    Amen to all of this. This is such an inspiring and motivating post, exactly what I needed to read today. Making peace with your past and growth is struggle are 2 things I can definitely relate to. Another one that has worked for me is to stop comparing myself to others once and for all. I feel like we’re never going to be happy if we can’t have a positive relationship with ourselves and focus on what YOU are doing, instead of what others are doing. Once I started to focus on me, things just went a whole lot better. It also helps with self confidence, which is a nice added bonus.

    I’d love to feature your article on because I think it’ll definitely speak to our audience. Would you be interested in becoming a Creator? I’d love to give you some more information so feel free to shoot me an e-mail. Hope to hear from you.

    • ellaouise March 15, 2017 at 11:02 am #

      Means a lot, thanks Charlotte, what’s the best email for you? Would be interested to learn more about Creators. Is it like Medium?

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