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What Success Looks Like For 10 Exceptional Women

Success, it’s a subjective term, susceptible to the influences of society and culture. In the western world, success is often associated with financial affluence and career achievements but here at Girlboss, we’re on a mission to shake things up.

Each week on Girlboss Radio, host Sophia Amoruso asks women who are widely recognized as successful about their definitions of the term. If you’ve listened to an episode of Girlboss Radio (if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?) you know the women on the podcast are incredibly talented and have the industry accolades to prove it. From award winning journalists to Olympic athletes and serial entrepreneurs, our roster includes women who are accomplished AF. But, perhaps the most impressive part of these interviews is how each woman identifies with success.

Ahead, get inspired by 10 women who are redefining success on their own terms. Remember success is a moving target. Let this be a reminder that you absolutely have the authority to choose what success means to you, and the ability to change your mind. You have our permission.

Michelle Phan

“Success, to me, has always been taking care of the immediate people around me: my family, my friends. If every single person on earth took care of the people immediately around them, we would have an overnight utopia on earth.”

Miranda Kerr

“Success is when you can go to bed at the end of the day and know that you’ve given your best, and you’ve lived the day almost as if it’s your last. You feel good about what you’ve done. You can sleep well knowing that, you know what, ‘If this is all ends tomorrow, I’m good.’ You can die with a peaceful, happy heart.”

Katie Couric

“Success means making people think about something a little bit differently [and having an impact]… It could be one person getting screened for colon cancer, it can be one person who says, ‘That documentary about transgender people really helped me understand and changed my perspective, and educated me, and made me be more compassionate.”

Ibtihaj Muhammad

“Success to me is whatever you make it and however you want to define it. Sometimes success is responding to emails in a timely fashion. It’s taking time for myself, like getting a manicure or saying ‘no’, to something. So often we feel pressure to do everything and to give everyone a piece of us—and then there’s nothing left for ourselves.”

Gwyneth Paltrow

“Success to me is relationships that function really well, where there’s a beautiful feedback loop between people.  I think without relationships of quality, you are not a successful person. So, if you don’t have a good relationship with your partner, your children, your best friends, then I think it’s very hard to claim success. And it’s also free and it makes life feel full and rich and happy. The quality of your relationships dictates so much how your life feels, so for me, that’s the number one.”

Leandra Medine

“Success is waking up in the morning and feeling super-charged. Like so eager for the day. If I could wake up every morning and feel like I am suppose to be here—the earth is not rejecting me, that’s enough.”

Lilly Singh

“I think for me success is enjoying what I do, making sure I’m healthy and happy. Also, a big part of success for me now is how many people can I help be successful. Because how long can you continue just chasing your own ambitions? That’s never going to end. There’s never going to be a number I hit in terms of subscribers or views or money where I’m like, ‘Oh now I’m successful.’…I think the real legacy is how many other people can say,”Oh I accomplished what I did because Lilly helped me out with this.”

Sarah Jessica Parker

“It means choice, and it’s the thing I want so much for every woman. It’s the thing I think a lot about, as I recognize how hard it is for so many women to have the life they want… Because financial success allows you to have the things you need in your life.”

Angelica Ross

“Success is absolute happiness. Becoming successful is a journey of ups and downs, of setbacks, of winds, of challenges. But you have to be able to create the state what we call ‘absolute happiness’ and not ‘relative happiness.’ When that check comes, when I get that job, that relationship—or all these different things—and I’m happy now because of that thing. But success is to still be happy and whole throughout it all, and to be able to count it all joy and know that the game is not over till it’s over.”

Karley Sciortino

“We all have to do things for money. But being able to spend the majority of my time on things that I’m interested in, is what I consider success. That sometimes means sacrificing bigger paychecks for creative control, or creative fulfillment.”

Lizzie Velasquez

“Success to me means learning to be comfortable in the things that make you uncomfortable. I think for me that means going out and trying things that terrify you at least once. Because in that moment when you’re doing it, you’re instantly going to learn so many things about yourself that you never would have learned unless you took that risk… I mean, even if it goes horribly wrong, at least you’re going to have a story to tell another day, and if you go out and you’re hugely successful at something that you were so scared of doing, you’re gonna be able to trust yourself a little bit more.”

Anjelica Huston

“Success to me means I can put bread on the table … I don’t think one is constantly successful. It’s a kind of thermometer that goes up and down. But I do think I’m lucky, and I think that success has a lot to do with kind of going after things. And there is … there’s an energy and outreach that I think, kind of, is a successful approach. I see monetary success as one thing, and then there’s spiritual success. And I think spiritual success is … that’s the one that we should be more interested in. What makes me feel good? What can you do to help the world? These are elements that I think deserve to be called successful rather than I’m sitting with a large bank account.”


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