Empowering Women for Success (and a giveaway!)


Real Simple and Fidelity hosted the “Women in Success” event in San Francisco this week, and I had the privilege of being asked to cover the evening’s festivities on my blog. I was so excited that some pretty amazing women would be speaking, including actress Ali Larter!


The event was held at the stately Bently Reserve, which is a popular venue for elegant weddings and galas. With the rows of Chiavari chairs and beautiful floral arrangements, I felt like an honored guest. After grabbing a drink from the bar, I found a seat next to…a man. I think his significant other (sitting on the other side of him) dragged him in. Or maybe he was there for the food.

Kathy Murphy, the president of Fidelity Personal Investing, opened the night by sharing some sobering statistics about women. Did you know…

66% of 4th grade girls like science and math, but only 18% of all college engineering majors are female?

60% of 4th grade girls feel “happy the way I am” but only 29% of young women do?

And while most women are better at saving money than men, and nearly 50% are the primary breadwinners, wives tend to leave the household investments to their husbands.

What’s worse is knowing that I, too, fall in that category. I let Mr. Wonderful handle a majority of the investing. My mind simply shuts off when he starts talking about IRAs (what does that stand for again?) and index funds. It’s confusing. I hate numbers (and acronyms). After all, he’ll always be around to help me…right? Apparently most wives don’t start learning about investing until they get a divorce, or their husband passes away. It was food for thought.

I was inspired by the panel of women who shared that night – Ali Larter (actress from Heroes), Janet Hayes (President of Williams-Sonoma) and Christine Bronstein (founder of A Band of Women). Not only are they all businesswomen, but they are moms and wives, too. Here are some of the best quotes of the evening (some are paraphrased…I couldn’t type fast enough!):

What is success to you?

“Finding joy in both your work and spending time with family…while still having kindness and grace.” –Ali Larter

“Success is finding that inner peace within yourself.” –Christine Bronstein

“I never thought about success…I just wanted to do a good job.” –Janet Hayes

Why did it take until your 30s to figure out stuff?

“By the time you’re 30 you have just enough life experience to really start to trust yourself. We all have good intuition – you just have to use it.” –Janet Hayes

“It takes all your mistakes in your 20s to realize this is what I want, this is who I am.” –Ali Larter

How do you balance putting yourself first and putting your kids first?

“Find things you enjoy with your kids.” –Christine Bronstein

“Find your moments, whether it is 5 minutes or the 45-minute commute home.” -Janet Hayes

How do you keep and build your relationships while maintaining your success?

“Choose wisely. There’s not a place in my life where I feel like I have to edit myself. Life is too short and our lives are too busy.” –Ali Larter

“Finding common touch points with other women.” –Christine Bronstein

“When you can find a company whose value matches yours, then all that competition disappears.” –Janet Hayes

The evening wrapped up with an open bar and a selection of gourmet hors d’oeuvres. Unfortunately, releasing a bunch of hungry women to fight for a few skewers was a battlefield I was not ready for. I did manage to score a delicious bite of steak and potato, and a piece of toast, which sustained me until I got home and had a proper meal.

I also received a generous gift bag from the event, which I will be passing on to one lucky reader. With over $100 worth of goodies (including the book Nothing but the Truth so Help me God, $25 for shoes.com and a chic leather card case from J.Crew), you don’t want to pass it up!


What does success mean to you?
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  1. Karen C says

    Wow, some pretty heavy stuff for my morning read but just as relevant and important to get my day started right!

    I’m in my late 20’s and still struggle with the term success. I agree with the ‘definitions’ the panel of women shared. Growing up, I definitely associated success with money, a fancy corporate role/position, a family and a house (with a white picket fence…). Now, as I become more comfortable and accepting of who I am, some of these things aren’t as important anymore. I realize that my definition of success changes through my experiences.

    So for now, my definition of success is being content with what you have, accepting of who you are, and to have the ability to find happiness in all the things that you do.

    Life’s a journey and we’re all working towards success :)


  2. Ashley Bree Perez says

    Success to me means living a life where one is happy and fulfilled. I want to one day own my own company and have a family. :)

  3. David Tracy says

    Success is walking faithfully towards my destiny, picking myself up when I fall, relying on God for my strength and perseverance and recognize that every failure is just another way not to do something the next time.

  4. Kellie Stephens says

    If I’m being honest here, success to me means figuring this relationship thing out (especially marriage but also friendships), I suppose this doesn’t come across as very independent but I’m starting to recognize this means working on myself rather than trying to change people. Part of figuring relationships out to me also entails knowing when to end an unhealthy one – even if that relationship falls into a traditional category of being essential (such as mother-child) – this is the kind of tightrope that’s terribly, terribly difficult to navigate.

    I’m really glad you posted this topic and question – reading responses from other women has been very heartening. Hope everyone is off to a great week!

  5. Dianne says

    In my opinion success means being happy. You can have a million dollars and a mansion but if you aren’t truly happy I wouldn’t call that success.

  6. Chris C. says

    To me, it’s not measured up to other people’s standards or based on money or a job title. It’s being happy with what I have been blessed with, but still striving to grow each each day. Success to me also depends on how I live out my life each day in light of my faith in God.

  7. Steph Siah says

    For me, success means being able to look back and know that I followed God’s promptings and plan, even if it was countercultural or counterintuitive at the time.

  8. Andrea Isabel Rust says

    Success to me means maintaining a Godly family unit. Most other things are not priorities to me.

  9. Nicki says

    To me success means being happy, healthy, with my loved ones. Everything else is just an extra bonus.

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