22 Female Execs Share the Dad Advice that Changed their Lives

22 Female Execs

Share the Dad Advice that Changed their Lives

In honor of Father’s Day, numerous female CEOS and business leaders gathered together to share inspirational advice they received from their first and most important man in their lives: their dads.

1. Lisa Richards: Co-owner of RPZL Hair Extension and Blowout Salon in NYC
Lisa Richards

“My dad always gave me the best financial advice and life preparation. Since I can remember, I was paid $10 for an A, $5 for a B, nothing for a C, and I owed him $5 for a D and $10 for an F.  I would have to pay taxes at the end of the year on my academic earnings. I was advised to never purchase anything I couldn’t afford and to pay off my one credit card in full each month and to never pay interest. He taught me how to manage my salary and tax returns so that I owed nothing and got nothing in return, at the end of each year. He also taught me how to have the perfect balance between checking, savings, bonds and investments for both long and short term gain and to manage my money responsibly. With his advice, I had a 401K at 21 (which I promised him that I’d NEVER withdraw early on), a 529 for my kids the day they were born and purchased my first apartment in NYC when I was 25 (to avoid paying rent for someone else’s financial appreciation). I still apply all of his rules today to my personal finances and find they’re equally applicable to running a fiscally responsible company.”

2. Jaclyn Mellone: Personal Brand Strategist of Jaclynmellone
Jaclyn Mellone

“My dad’s passion for what he does is contagious! I helped him start his business back in 2004, hoping I would share his same enthusiasm towards real estate! Unfortunately I didn’t, but he has been beyond supportive of my entrepreneurial endeavors! I’m lucky to have a dad who I can also call a mentor. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from him over the years has been that the key to success is relationships. This is not just something he would say, but a way of life for him. Family, friends, his team, vendors, business associates and clients…he has always taken the extra time or will go the extra mile to create genuine meaningful relationships. Despite how big his business grows, his family always comes first. (He still takes my calls during meetings, just in case I need him! #truestory) This has lead him to not just be successful in business, but in life as well. Isn’t that the true definition of success anyway?! When I started my online business working from home with a toddler, I could have easily hid behind my laptop and landing pages. But with my dad always inspiring and encouraging me, I invested just as much time into social media as I did into actually being social. I sought out mentors, mentees, friends, and mastermind sisters. As my business has grown and evolved in the past 2 years, I owe so much of that to investing just as much time in people as I do into projects, and above all keeping the same family first priority.” 

3. Jennie Ripps: Co-founder and CEO at Owl’s Brew
Jennie Ripps

“My dad was a great asker of questions.  He taught me that no matter how sure I was of my own decisions that I would benefit from asking others for their thoughts. My father taught me to welcome other points of view, as a way to hone my own thought process, and in order to gain additional perspective.”

4. Ursula Diaz: Co-founder of Leading Medical-Grade Skincare Line, Honor MD 
Ursula Diaz

“My father has given me great advice over the years, but something that he told me that really resonated with me and something that I constantly remind myself of when I am faced with a challenge (in my personal and professional life) is: ‘not to take anything personally and to always act as diplomatically as possible.’ He went on to explain the importance of maintaining one’s composure when dealing with a difficult person or disappointments that may arise in business. Other helpful pearls of wisdom that he shared with me were ‘don’t fear the unknown’ and ‘no matter what happens – success, setbacks or disappointments, life will go on.'”

5. Melissa Smith: Founder of The PVA, a Virtual Assistant Staffing Company and Author of Bestseller Hire the Right Virtual Assistant and Host of the Admin to VA Summit
Melissa Smith

“My dad died 10 years before I started my business. His advice on life is what I build my business foundation on: ‘It is better to give than to receive.’ He was a giver in every sense of the word. My dad raised three children on his own and gave us everything he had. I’ve built a career and business on it. My great joy in life is serving others. From my first job waiting on tables when I was 13 to now serving others in their careers and businesses, nothing gives me greater joy. It is truly a privilege and an honor when someone allows me to serve them.”

6. Deeanne Akerson, Co-Founder of Kindred Bravely
Deeanne Akerson

“My dad was also my high school English teacher, and he was fond of telling his students, ‘There’s no such thing as good writing, only good re-writing.’ Even though I’m not a writer, I’ve tried to follow that advice through college, my own teaching career, and my journey into parenthood. Of course I wanted everything to be perfect, but if I’d waited for everything to be ‘just right’ before launching my own company, I never would have taken that first step. Instead I focus on improvement over time: doing the best I can with what I have and looking for ways to make it better the next time.”

7. Trish Golderer: CEO and Life Coach at True You Health Solutions, LLC.
Trish Golderer

“I owe so much of my success to my dad. My dad has a true American story that when you love what you do and work hard to be the best at what you love to do, success will follow. The other day I was having lunch with him and my Mother. We were talking about work and some of the struggles I have faced. In that exact moment, he said something I really needed to hear that I had seemed to forgotten. My Dad said to me, ‘you have to love what you are doing right now and stop looking at what you don’t have yet.’ That is the best advice he could have given me and words I live by each day. Those words have given me so much perspective in my career and to take it one day at a time and make that day count!”

8. Dana Marlowe, Accessibility Partners, LLC
Dana Marlowe

“When I was just starting my IT consulting firm, Accessibility Partners, my best lesson came from my step-father. All along, my step-father told me ‘Everything counts.’ These simple, two words, can be applied to so many of the business decisions that were occurring at the beginning and still today. It is this general advice that I was able to remember when dealing with large new prospective clients and the same words ring true when maintaining older ones. It keeps everything in perspective for me and teaches me that everything is important, no matter the size. Plus, it helps me make sure I don’t overlook any details. With my busy life, I know I need help with that!” 

9. Treasure Hinds: Co-founder of Anvil Studios
Treasure Hinds

In this field that is heavily dominated by men, Treasure always cracks a smile when she thinks of the advice from her father: “Illegitimi non carborundum,” Latin for “don’t let the bastards grind you down.” It’s a bold attitude that also helps inspire her design work, encouraging her to think more freely about what’s possible in product design.

10. Danni Lin: CEO of GREAT WINE, Inc.
Danni Lin

“Investors are looking for returns, either short-term or long-term – they are not just buying high-sounding ideas! If you can prove your company has value and can make money, investors will invest. Always remember that investment could help speed up the growth of a business, but cannot change the nature of a company if it is not profitable. Yes, it is very easy to run into a situation that the bank balance is almost zero for startups. Instead of panicking about when money will be running out, be careful with every penny the company spends. This practically strikes a balance between dreams and reality, especially at a time when not everything is perfect yet.” Think like a CEO and not like a CEO. “As a CEO, it is very important to always think and learn, and keep an eye for new opportunities. I enjoy speaking with people whose background is very different from mine, because this will enable me to see things from different perspectives.” From time to time, Lin does organize wine tasting events for entrepreneurial-minded friends so they can exchange ideas about wine and marketing. “There will be times you will learn something which does not answer an urgent need of the business at that particular moment, but always keep your mind open and unrelated dots will join someday. The most fatal mistake a CEO can make is to think there are low jobs or low positions within a company that a CEO should not be involved.”

11. Daniella Rabinovich: Co-Founder of WearABible
Daniella Rabinovic

“I never thought I would become an entrepreneur, but when the opportunity to start WearABible was presented to me I went to the one person I always looked up to when it came to the business world, my Father. He warned me of the many obstacles women face in business and as entrepreneurs, but to be aggressive, attack everything head on and to always go with my gut.”

12. Stefanie Parks: Founder of DermWarehouse
Stefanie Parks

“My dad has taught me so many things in my life. He taught me to be strong, to take initiative, to work hard, and so much more. There are two things, however, specifically, that he has taught me that have made me successful in my current business, which is actually a business we started together.. My dad is a dermatologist with a practice in Columbus, Ohio. He started his practice 30 years ago (the year I was born). My whole life my dad has taught me to take care of my skin and protect it from the sun at all costs. Literally the only thing I ever remember my dad yelling at me about at any time in my life was getting a sunburn! He taught me how important it is to care for your skin and that if you do, you will look younger and be healthier for longer. Not only has this been the basis of his business, it is now the basis of our business together, an e-commerce store selling skin care and beauty products, DermWarehouse. The other, more business-related lesson that my dad has taught me is how to be a good listener. My mom is the outgoing one in their relationship always chatting away. My dad is quieter and though he doesn’t always say a lot, he’s a great listener and he gives great advice. In my business, it’s important to be a great listener. All the time, I’m listening to concerns of customers to help them find the perfect product. I’m listening to the brands I work with about marketing strategies, popular new products, and what they think will work well for us. I’m listening to media trying to hear and see what it is people are excited about at any given time. My dad taught me that sometimes you don’t really have to say anything at all. If you just listen to what people are saying to you, really listen to their concerns and what they want, not only will you gain their trust, you will learn so many things that can help you in your own life and business. I owe everything to my dad, and to both of my parents, for teaching me all the lessons and giving me all the tools I’ve needed to start my dream business, to turn it into a success, and also to be successful in life in general.”

13. Angela Pan: CEO of Ashley Chloe, Inc., a start-up in San Francisco that makes wearable tech, like the Helix Cuff Bluetooth wireless headphones.
Angela Pan

“In 2011, I immigrated to the United States from Singapore to pursue my dreams of innovation. My father has been so influential in my life from the beginning. He taught me the importance of being an entrepreneur. I grew up with family running their own businesses so I’ve seen how a company runs from the beginning. This taught me how to be an entrepreneur and to never give up. I learned how integrity is important in business, to work smart and to follow my passion. From this influence at a young age I began to want to start my own business. The advice below I got from my dad since when I was young: never give up, must have a strong mind, and never be afraid of being lonely.”

14. Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
Paige Arnof-Fenn

“My dad walked the halls every day and he knew everybody’s name, not to mention their kids’ and pets’ names, birthdays – you name it. His door was open and he always had coffee or tea available so people could stop in with news, good and bad. Being accessible and approachable is important if you want a culture where people can admit they don’t have all the answers and need help in a certain area.”

15. Adrienne Scordato, CEO & Founder, Atrium PR
Adrienne Scordato

“‘No one can fault you if you just try your best,’ my dad would say. Back then, he was speaking about doing well in school, but I think about it often – especially when I fail.  When we don’t “win” it is easy to beat ourselves up for not securing that new project or garnering that media hit.  But sometimes, for whatever reason, something doesn’t come to fruition.  And that is a great time to pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that at least you tried and you did everything possible to make it happen.

Somehow, that makes it an easier pill to swallow. It also keeps you going strong instead of pouting off in a corner somewhere. Today I run a very successful PR agency that has experienced double and triple percentage growth year on year. But Atrium PR would never be where it is today if I didn’t try my best every single day. Thanks DAD, for giving me that gift that keeps on giving!”

16. Nicole GranatoWomen’s Health & Nutrition Expert of Nicole Granato Wellness 
Nicole Granato

“My dad always told me in any situation I was going through: ‘Don’t look at the tree, look at the forest.’ It helped me navigate through issues and look at the bigger picture.”

17. Rachel Sutherland, Rachel Sutherland Communications
Rachel Sutherland

“My dad, John Micoli, has worked in casinos for at least the past 25 years. As my public relations company was growing early on, I was almost paralyzed by decision making and strategy, especially about new client acquisition. What if I did something wrong? What if, what if? He brought me back to Earth and out of my self-induced panic spiral with one casino-inspired parable: ‘If you want to win big, you’ve got to play big.’ Ever since, if I catch myself minimizing my company’s impact or ability I remember that gambling-inspired lesson.”

18. Morgan Montgomery, Co-Owner of Paisley & Jade
Morgan Montgomery

“I’ll never forget a day early on in our business when I felt overwhelmed, unsure, and a bit lost.  There wasn’t any major crisis, it just was at the point where the shininess of our new venture had worn off and there was a LOT of work to be done, and I was feeling a bit defeated.  I called my dad, who owned a successful company of his own before he retired, and just put out there that I was feeling like this was harder than I had ever imagined. He listened thoughtfully, and then passed on the piece of advice that this mentor had given him at a similar point in his career: ‘NOTHING HAPPENS WITHOUT AN ORDER.’  It’s such a simple statement, but it’s so true – without an order, or a booking, or a buying customer, the rest of the business doesn’t even matter, because it just. won’t. happen.  I have that quote displayed on my desk, and that small nugget really transforms how I approach my day to day and the business overall – it helps me organize what tasks I do when, prioritize what’s really important, and focus on the bigger picture, rather than the minutiae!”

19. Samira Far, founder of Bellacures
Samira Far

“When I was in the 9th grade, I walked into first day of Spanish class. The teacher was a character from a movie. She had a plastic flower in her hair and yelled at us the entire period, warning us how strict she is. She handed out a page of rules and in other words, told us not to breathe because it would be too noisy. I went home crying and begged my parents to talk to the school and change my class. She had scared me into a puddle of tears. My father looked at me and told me that sometimes people will behave this way and it’s up to us how we decide to respond to them. He asked me again and again, ‘What can you do about it?’, to provoke analysis of strategies I could implement to cope with her intimidating teaching methods. This moment was the first time I became conscious of my will. From this day on, because of his advice, I had a strong relationship with will power, aim and determination. This moment shaped one of my core strengths. When values and innate skills become conscious, we evolve and transform. The values and skills that surface in our early years are usually the most powerful. Needless to say, my father was right. Society encompasses more than a handful of folks who use intimidation as a communication strategy.”

20. Diane Nicoletti , Co-Founder of EventMates, and President and Founder of Rubik Marketing
Diane Nicoletti

“Ever since I was little my dad would end every day with and always be nice to others!  I can never get that out of my mind and probably in a good way! I always try and treat every person, vendor, client with respect and keep it nice. It has kept my ethics and values strong even when it’s tough!”

Jude Miller Burke
“Success advice learned from my father: to turn a negative experience into a positive one and to never give up. My dad is resilient and has a hardiness that helped him weather tragedies and difficulties in his personal and work life. He role modeled being tenacious and persistent. Each morning he woke up with an optimistic attitude about what the day would bring.”
22.  Sandra Shpilberg, Founder and CEO of Seeker Health
Sandra Shpilberg and father

“’This Will Pass,’ or the way Dad would say it to me in our native Spanish, ‘Ya va a pasar,’ is brilliant advice for business and life.

Growing up, Dad would say ‘this will pass’ to me a lot: when I had a skinned knee or experienced a severe burn, when I was disappointed about a bad grade (it was a 92) or the way a friend talked to me, or when I had a broken heart. No matter what stage of life, Dad would look me in the eyes and say with complete conviction: ‘this will pass.’ He had been a small business owner and then an immigrant in the United States, and had certainly faced his share of obstacles. Back then, I wouldn’t always believe Dad that ‘this will pass,’ but life would continuously prove him right.

The power in ‘this will pass’ is in recognizing the impermanence of an obstacle. Dad saw obstacles merely as temporary blips in a worthwhile, long journey. Permanent obstacles seem impossible to overcome and can shrivel one up into a useless ball of inaction. But, once the permanency of an obstacle is disarmed, it is easier to remain hopeful, optimistic and strong and seek the way forward.

As founder and CEO of Seeker Health, a digital health company improving the way that people with serious diseases learn about and enroll in clinical trials, ‘this will pass’ has been my daily mantra. As my company navigates a complex business and regulatory environment, I used Dad’s advice to focus my strength and remain calm in the face of obstacles. Early on, we faced an obstacle in obtaining regulatory approval for our materials and process, but once we understood the hold up, the obstacle led to the development of important improvement that are key to our product. In the process of internalizing ‘this will pass’ I discovered this: obstacles have not only passed, but they have been the source of the most significant improvements we’ve made as a company.   

Although Dad passed away two years ago, he would have been proud of my ‘this will pass’ attitude as I have built Seeker Health into a thriving business. I am deeply grateful for his advice. And as I pass this brilliant phrase to my own children, I’ll add a few words: ‘This Will Pass. And Allow It Teach You The Way Forward.'”

Aly Walansky

Aly Walansky is a freelance lifestyles writer based in New York City, who contributes regularly to iVillage, SheKnows.com, xoJane, Huffington Post, and The Fashion Spot as well as many other print and web outlets.

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