No Settling, No Judgement, No Limits: Advice for Young Women from 11 Influential Leaders

IMPACT Group’s CEO Lauren Herring was recently named one of St. Louis’ Most Influential Business Women of 2015 by The St. Louis Business Journal. Among her peers, she is recognized for her remarkable accomplishments in the workplace and her dedicated contributions to the St. Louis community.

As a young girl, Lauren’s mother, Laura Herring, who founded IMPACT Group in 1988, raised her with the philosophy that she could be anything she wanted. “Her encouragement was often, ‘Whatever you choose to do, do it to your best,’” says Lauren.

After taking over IMPACT Group at a young age in 2009, she quickly recognized she didn’t have all the answers. “Business needs, technology, and infrastructure are always evolving. The only way everything can get done is with a team.” Over the past six years as CEO, she has realized how important that team is. “Surround yourself with great people. It makes all the difference,” says Lauren. “I am incredibly blessed by who has chosen to join the team at IMPACT.”

Lauren hopes young women will be eager to step into leadership roles at their future organizations. “Don’t limit yourselves,” she says. “Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, and sometimes people see greater opportunity and value in us than we see in ourselves.” She believes that women with ambitions shouldn’t hide it. “Raise your hand for opportunities. At 26, I raised my hand and told my mom I wanted to lead international business growth at IMPACT Group. It was something I was passionate about and really wanted to do.”

Now, Lauren can see how it prepared her for the role of CEO. “Be willing to put yourself out there and take a risk. That way you’ll never wonder, ‘Could I have done that?’”

Professional development opportunities are a great way for women to gain exposure and acquire the skills that are needed to lead a division or an organization. IMPACT Groups offers talent development programs, such as Women in Leadership, to further develop the strengths of women through one-on-one coaching, assessments, and web-based tools while providing them with avenues to achieve their ambitious goals.

Read on to learn more inspiring tips for the next generation from Sharp Heel’s article, Advice and Expertise from Extraordinary Female Business Leaders.

Lynne Marie Finn, President and CEO, Superior Workforce Solutions, Inc.: “Don’t be afraid to fail. And that doesn’t mean to go into something where you haven’t thought it through, or done the necessary preparation for it. In fact, if you haven’t done the necessary preparation for it, you’re probably going to fail! But if you’ve thought it through, and have a plan, and there’s still the risk that you might fail –because, logically, you might still fail — don’t be afraid of that. It makes you grow and it makes you better at what you do.”

Laura Grondin, CEO and President of Virginia Industries, Inc.: “You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to make disappointments, and you’re going to have to deal with scary things. The most important thing in the long run is to just work through it. Keep going.”

Larraine Segil, the CEO of Little Farm Company: “You will likely change careers 7-10 times in your life. If you choose something and don’t like it, change. It’s not forever. So, don’t get anxious or nervous about what you’re ‘going to be when you grow up,’ because if you don’t know yet, you will find out. And then there’s always the opportunity to be something different, anyway!”

Judy Girard, President Emeritus of Food Network and HGTV: “Whatever you enjoy doing and whatever makes you feel alive, that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s the direction you’re supposed to go.”

Susan Aselage, President, The Seabury Company: “So you may think you know where you’re going — and then you may not like it and switch, but that doesn’t mean that that experience was wasted. It will all come back to you at some point.”

Roz Alford, Founder and Co-Principal, ASAP Staffing, LLC: “Don’t just be content. Challenge yourself and create your next opportunity. People get stuck or bogged-down because they’re either afraid to move to something else, or they don’t know what else is out there. So, challenge yourself, and don’t be content. You can do it.”

Kim Hibler, Global Vice President of Sales, Citrix: “When people ask me what I could have done differently, I say: I wish I had taken more risks. So, with this in mind, I ask you to think of baseball…it’s pretty hard to get on base; sometimes you have to steal; and you never know if you’re going to make it if you don’t take your foot off the bag and try to make a run for the next one! The point is that you can always go back, you can always touch back on the base. So wear your seat belts and wear your sunscreen — but take lots of risks.”

Kris Manos, Partner, Sanderson Berry: “Don’t be afraid to use the power of the network and your connections to help yourself. I’ve seen a lot of people who have connections that can help them get a job, but somehow think using those connections means they’re not doing it themselves. But the reality is that you still have to do it yourself; all you’re doing is using a connection to open the door, but you still have to prove yourself. It’s much easier if you use the power of the network.”

Mary McLean Evans, Managing Director, C200: “When someone in your network asks something from you, a favor or assistance, start with the answer ‘YES’ and begin with a platform of giving back. You should always be willing to help others, just as you’re asking for their help too. It’s an incredibly powerful thing.”

Janet Muhleman, President, re:group, inc.: “I encourage all of you to be really curious and ask really good questions. When you meet someone new, really look deep into that person, because you never know who could change your life. Ask them questions, who are they, and see how they can possibly influence your life at a later date.”