One of the best things about attending networking sessions is the variety of people you meet. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know some really interesting women entrepreneurs with some seriously cool businesses.
Today, I’m going to try to replicate that experience for you online. Earlier this month, I asked the question: Which women entrepreneurs have influenced you and why? I got dozens of responses from both men and women, and I’ve tried to organize them for you below. I hope you find the answers as fascinating as I have!
The #1 woman entrepreneur who has influenced me is no doubt Indie Lee. She left her lucrative career as an HBO executive when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her blog, tweets (@Indie_Lee), and Instagrams are always positive and uplifting.
— Raquel Castillo, www.growthink.com, @RaquelGrowthink
I know I have many influences and, for that, I am thankful. However, two women that stand out are: Mary Morrissey (@marymorrissey) and Sandra Yancey (@sandrayanceyeWN). Mary Morrissey has inspired me through her story and example. She is a loving wife and mom, a successful speaker and business woman. Mary has exercised her faith to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles, and has used her influence and power to help others do the same. Sandra is a great role model as an entrepreneur, wife, and mother. Sandra runs the biggest conference for women entrepreneurs in North America. Her Hispanic heritage and achievements in spite of struggles, as well as the integrity she displays in each of her endeavors is inspiring beyond words. Her passion is simply contagious.
— Elayna Fernandez, www.ElaynaFernandez.com and www.PositiveMom.org, @positivemommies
Lillian Vernon and Estee Lauder gave away free products on the streets to encourage people to bond with their products, and Debbie Fields convinced people that a cookie was worth nearly three dollars a pop. What many people don’t know is that Debbie Fields’ husband stood on corners handing out those cookies. This is what impresses me most. These were not women who wondered if they would succeed, but rather women who were smart enough to surround themselves with people who believed in them.
— Colleen Sheehy Orme, www.colleensheehyorme.com
Ali Brown’s (@alibrown) story, from rags-to-riches, is very inspiring and so is her mission to show women how to thrive and grow a profitable business too. Ali’s newsletter, tweets, FB posts, and teleseminars offer inspiration and motivation, as well as tons of practical business advice for women entrepreneurs like me!
— Trudy Scott, www.everywomanover29.com, @everywomanovr29
Julie Auslander (@julieauslander) is a serial entrepreneur who realizes the amazing blessings in her life, shares her successes by giving back to up-and-coming business owners and continually makes time to mentor me, and share her years and wealth of experience. In this world of fast-paced competition it is rare to find a person willing to give in that capacity!
— Heather Cox, www.certifymycompany.org, @certifymyco
My #1 influencer is Marie Forleo (@marieforleo). She is completely herself in a world of carbon-copy business coaches. Her business model and advice is completely based on her many innate talents, life experiences, and intuition. Her hilarious weekly advice videos inspire me to be the creative in my business and fully live my life!
— Lindsay Lopez, www.formpilates.com, @lindsaylopez_
Rachel Sklar (@rachelsklar) has influenced me tremendously — she’s one of the bravest people I know! As the founder of Change The Ratio (and now TheLi.st), she’s been working on behalf of women and minorities in tech since before it was cool.
— Kathryn Minshew, thedailymuse.com, @KMin
Sara Blakely (@SPANXinc). Lots of people have ideas, Sara acted on hers — founder of the now billion-dollar empire that is Spanx. Spanx solved a direct problem Sara had, so she knew it would be popular with other women who shared that exact problem.
— Mike Collins, www.jackalopemarketing.com, @youcanbeawriter
Leslie Bradshaw, (@lesliebradshaw) is a loud voice for women leaders who need to be inspired to do great things. She has shown me how much I need to follow, listen to, and read about great women leaders so I can aspire to be more like them.
— Melanie Spring, www.Sisarina.com, @Sisarina
In 1977, Joani Blank (@JoaniBlank), a sex educator in San Francisco with a master’s in public health, founded Good Vibrations — only the second store in the US with a focus on women’s sexuality. I joined the company as a graduate student in sexology in 1990 at Joani’s invitation and it has turned into a career as well as an adventure! Joani sold her business to its employees in 1992, giving dozens of women and men the opportunity over the next decade-plus to be business owners as well as activists and educators. Joani helped change the world of sexuality for women by making information and pleasure-oriented products accessible.
— Carol Queen, http://www.carolqueen.com/pages/queen.htm, @CarolQueen
Laura Roeder (@lkr) has inspired me the most, because she’s my age and has built the kind of genuine, helpful business that I want to build. She’s smart, down to earth, and positive all at the same time!
— Felicity Fields, www.felicityfields.com, @FelicityFields
I don’t know Heidi Roizen personally, but I love the Harvard Business Review case study about her and about how it was taught with the main protagonist (her) being described as a man in one class and a woman in the other. The “man” was overwhelmingly better liked than the “woman.” I like Heidi’s story and background, because as a woman in technology, first, and finance, later after an MBA, I have faced and observed situations where women are negatively perceived for the same behaviors as a man. I love the fact that Heidi triumphs in spite of the challenges that most women often get cowed by, or pretend don’t exist.
— Florence Lowe, http://www.sqbluesky.com, @florencelowe
Jean Arnold’s an icon in the industry and a woman of sheer grace. Showing how to take passion and perfection in business and framing it with humility and style has made my career rewarding both professionally and personally.
— Danielle Westfall. www.invino.com, @dwestfall
Martha Stewart! She has somehow been able to maintain amazingly high standards in her aesthetics and dissemination of valuable information while becoming the phenomenon she is. With all the junk and empty entertainment in magazines, TV, etc., I find it miraculous that she has been able to maintain the quality of focus as she has.
— Sherrie Mathieson, http://www.sherriemathieson.com, @sherriestyle
Barbara Corcoran’s (@BarbaraCorcoran) book Shark Tales paved the way for me to launch my company SassaB LLC. She had solid advice and the success to back it up! Barbara is the true definition of a woman entrepreneur!
— Tracy Sanders, www.SassaB.com, @SassaBLLC
Three women entrepreneurs who have influenced me over the past two years: Laura Fitton (@pistachio) was one of the first female entrepreneurs I could relate to: passionate about her company, honest about her failures, witty about the ever-present struggle of juggling daily responsibilities, and infused with the same sort of crazy optimism that I also felt in my bones. When I was working to scale Roammeo, Danielle Weinblatt (@dweinblatt) picked up the phone and gave me some candid advice about her own journey from accelerator to full-time founder. She has recent experience as a student, employee, and founder. And whenever I need to be inspired to take a stand on something for the sake of my startup, I read Cindy Gallop‘s Twitter updates (@CindyGallop). She is devastatingly hysterical in her honesty and determined to tackle some of the world’s most-ignored industries, such as porn and action-based branding.
— Jessica Cole, www.roammeo.com, @jessunscripted
Frieda Caplan created a whole new niche market for specialty produce where none existed before; especially challenging as a pioneering woman in the man’s world of the 1960s produce industry. Her brand is in almost every grocery store today and she opened markets for growers around the world with unusual fresh fruits and vegetables (think kiwi fruit and radicchio, which were never found on the American palette before Frieda introduced them). It inspires me every day to search for new and unusual vegetables for my farmers to grow, helping them sustain their businesses in a highly competitive industry.
— Richard W. VanVranken, http://worldcrops.org
Marshawn Evans (@marshawnevens) has inspired me. Her accomplishments show me that nothing is impossible. Her example of giving back, taking time out and reaching back to bring others along with her; her strong work ethic (winner of Donald Trump’s Apprentice), author of Skirts in the Boardroom, reminding us there is a platform for women everywhere and it’s not just the kitchen.
— Chantay Bridges, http://www.losangelesrealestatenow.com, @ChantayBridges
Author J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling), of Harry Potter fame, is a great inspiration. She was a struggling, single mother who did not allow poor circumstances to prevent her from achieving her goals. Her story is my “go-to” read when times get tough.
— Hunter Valmont, www.HunterValmontPR.com, @HunterValmontPR
Jane McGonigal’s tweets (
@avantgame) are insightful, engaging and conversational, adding to the conversation about technology, gaming and society while giving a behind-the-scenes look at her life as a gaming expert, writer, entrepreneur, and speaker. Her commitment to her vision is striking, and as an independent insights and strategy consultant, I consider her path and vision often.
— Britta Schell, about.me/britta, @schellular
Angela Yeh (@YehID) started her company about a year before I did and has given me a good road to follow. She is constantly evolving her business and herself to mesh with the times and has a holistic approach to her work. She’s always thinking of other women business owners and how she can help them and connect them to help them grow as well.
— Susan L. Combs, www.combsandco.com, @InsuranceVixen
And what about you? Who has inspired you lately? Tell me in the comments below!