10 life lessons for getting where you want to go

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Written By: Geri Stengel

It is out of these experiences that life-lessons are learned. Gillian Zoe Segal author of the book, Getting There: A Book of Mentors, talks about life lessons that can help get you to where ou want to be in life. Below are 10 of the lessons that the women entrepreneurs Segal interviewed learned on their rise to the top.

1.) Dare to fail
"If you never fail, it means you are not trying hard enough," said Kathy Ireland, super-model-turned entrepreneurial mogul. Failure is our greatest teacher. Yet the idea of failure paralyzes many us so we fail to take the risks that might spur growth.There's no shame in failure. When you do fail, react quickly, learn from your mistakes, and move on.

2.) To stand out, take the risk of doing something new and different
Rachel Zoe turned a fashion assistant job at YM into styling stars, such as Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, and Keira Knightley at major events. What kept the stars coming back to her was the chances she took in giving her clients looks that were unexpected and sometimes even slightly controversial. The looks weren't always successful, but clients were willing to take the risk.

When publishing candid photos of celebrities became widespread, Zoe's business expanded into dressing clients for their daily life, too. In 2011, Zoe launched her own line of clothes, a contemporary collection that includes ready-to-wear apparel, footwear, and jewelry. She's also published two books, was the executive producer and star of her own television show, and started a digital media company and online style destination, the Zoe Report.

3.) Visualize where you want to go

Sara Blakely founder of SPANX credits a very powerful and simple tool for her success — visualization. Blakely was making cold calls to sell FAX machines. She started visualizing selling something that she created and actually cared about. She was specific with her visualization and even wrote it in her journal.

One day, in the hopes of looking better in a pair of fitted white pants, Blakely cut the feet off of a pair of pantyhose. The moment she saw how good her butt looked, she knew she had the idea for a business that she was looking for.

4.) Share with people who can help you, shield yourself from naysayers
Friends and family love you and don't want to see you fail. When they don't get your big idea, they can do more harm than good, especially in the beginning when you're the most insecure about the idea. For a year, Sara Blakely kept her idea for a new form of body shapewear a secret from anyone who could not directly help move it forward.

When she did tell her family, she got deflating comments like "Well, honey, if it's a good idea why haven't the big guys done it?" and "Even if it does turn out to be a good idea, the big guys will knock you off right away." But she'd invested a year of time researching the idea, patenting it, naming it, and creating the package, so she had the confidence to continue even though others doubted her.

5.) Never take "no" as an answer
If Blakely was going to succeed, she needed a prototype. Phone calls to mills produced chuckles when she described what she wanted to do. Undeterred, Blakely took a road trip to many of the mills that had previously rejected her. She thought her trip was unsuccessful until she received a call several weeks later. A mill owner was persuaded by his three daughters that Blakey footless pantyhose had merit.

How do you keep going when you receive all those "nos?" "I could encounter 99 unresponsive or critical people and feel discouraged, but just a little positive reinforcement from another person would pick me up and keep me going for a long time," said Wendy Kopp founder of Teach for America.

6.) Physical confidence leads to emotional confidence
When Jillian Michaels, the fitness expert, was young, she was bullied for being overweight. Her mother enrolled her in a martial-arts class. Michaels only got serious about martial arts when her instructor threatened to kick her out of the class. Breaking two boards with a sidekick as part of her second-degree blue belt test gave her the confidence to stand tall in school. No one ever picked on her again.

No surprise that speaking coaches advise nervous speakers to strike a Wonder Woman pose before going in front of an audience.

7.) Go with your gut
Not every venture Michaels embarked on has been a success. She did a reality TV show called Losing It. She never liked the idea of giving people who were 300 to 400 pounds just six weeks to lose weight. But she was afraid if she didn't take the opportunity, she would never be given another. The show failed. Michaels learned to trust her gut.

8.) There is always a way
When you hit an obstacle, find a way around it. For example, if you want to sell a product and can't get a retailer to take it, sell it yourself on the Internet, Michaels advises. If you have a message you want to get across but can't get your own TV show, put your material on YouTube or iTunes. There is never only way to do something. Keep moving in the direction you want to go until you find the path.

9.) Show traction for your idea
Kopp pitched a lot of people to raise funding for her social enterprise but, from the very beginning, she had set her sights on money from Ross Perot. He had led a campaign to improve Texas schools and Kopp was from Dallas.

He never returned a call or a letter until Kopp demonstrated that college students would sign up for the program. Her first grassroots recruitment campaign generated 2,500 responses and a lot of media coverage. Finally, Perot responded, but only if she could match his $500,000 grant on a three-to-one basis. This grant proved to be the catalyst Teach for America needed and it gave others the confidence to come through with the remaining funds needed.

10.) The devil is in the detail
Many people think that success is about coming up with a big idea, inventing something new, or finding the perfect job, said Kopp. "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration," said Thomas A. Edison. Success comes from the way you handle everything after the big idea.

Which lessons will you apply to get you where you want to go?


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