10 Women on Success As They Know It

  • Ambika Pai

    How do you define success?

    Success is movement, however small, in the right direction.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    My title is Global Head of Strategy. I oversee a large technology brand at an ad agency called Gyro (yes, like the sandwich). Strategy is a pretty nebulous word, but I usually describe myself as a creative culture consultant. Someone who uses a thorough understanding of people and trends to inform how brands express themselves to the world.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    I started with months of developing exceptional LinkedIn stalking skills and sending out hundreds of cold emails my senior year of college. I now say email-prose is one of my best talents. I took a get-my-foot-in-the-door approach at a company I admired, and then got to know everyone I could, took on every project that came my way and helped in any relevant or non-relevant capacity. There's something to be said for the power of simply stepping in and stepping up.

    Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    Not at all. Believe it or not, before the days of Mad Men, advertising wasn’t one of those fields people thought of when asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

    I wanted to be an English professor. Then a psychologist. Then neither. But the attributes at the core of both English and Psychology – research, critical reading, creative writing, precise expression, understanding what makes people's hearts flutter and then using creativity to trigger it -- those attributes are what I really loved. Once I found advertising, everything seemed to translate perfectly.

    What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    The people part. I love the work us advertisers do for companies, but there’s nothing like sitting in a room watching people tear up, laugh hysterically or simply sit with a deep understanding that work has struck a human chord. Being on a team that can make that happen makes me incredibly proud.
  • Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    These days I don’t get the Sunday Scaries as much as I get the Sunday Saddies. I love my professional life, but I’ll always strive to prioritize aspects of my personal life (as we all should, IMHO). Spending days at home with myself or with the people (and puppies) I love most will always be my favorite.

    Do you have dreams? What are they and do they feel achievable?

    In the early days of AOL Instant Messenger, my screen name was dreamer919. Sit with that for a sec.

    Sometimes I feel like all I do is dream. I'd love to write a novel. Or a Bollywood screenplay. Or host an HGTV show. Or start my own agency that puts charity at the center. Or maybe become a CSO!

    New York has turned me into my most extreme dreamer. Here, everything feels possible.

    Do you feel successful?

    I can feel myself getting smarter, stretching my limits, expanding my understanding and learning more about myself and the world around me all the time.

    According to my definition of success? Yes! I’m successful. It’s a huge breath of fresh air to be able to say that.

    According to others? I’m successfully getting to a point where IDGAF. ;)
  • Gabrielle Prescod

    How do you define success?

    I think Michael Phelps is probably the most successful human. I mean, he's like an 18-time Olympic champion, who can top that?! But I know I can't measure myself against that in any realistic way.

    I guess I define success as doing what I love and reaching a level where I'm in control of everything creatively. Being my own boss, essentially.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    I am the Market Editor at Interview Magazine. Basically that means I am responsible for the contemporary market as well as denim, lingerie, swim and hosiery. It is my job to know about any new or emerging talent in any of those categories but also to know who makes the best tights or who has the best jeans each season.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    My older sister and I have always been super close and she started interning a few years before me. She would always come home and tell me all the crazy stories about what she did at work and I was like "Omg, I have to get in there!" So I started interning in fashion too and the rest is history. It is great to work in the same industry as your sibling because it is another level we can connect on.

    Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    As a kid, I don't think I realized that you could make something you were passionate about into a career just because everyone in my family was either in business, or law or teaching or something but I just never saw that future for myself.
  • What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    I love being able to support younger designers and emerging brands. Anytime I call something in that I really love and believe in and it gets featured? It's the best feeling.

    Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    100%! I'm convinced everyone does. If someone says they don't, they're probably lying. But I don't have trouble falling asleep. I'm a professional sleeper.

    Do you have dreams? What are they and do they feel achievable?

    I don't think I have conventional dreams. I'll feel like I've made it when I own a 2-3 bedroom apartment and have a personal driver.

    The ultimate dream is to have a private jet but I'll settle for being able to cancel my Uber account.

    Do you feel successful?

    Well, I still have to fly commercial so I'm not quite there but...soon!
  • Mary Cecilia Mitsch

    How do you define success?

    I think success is defined differently for each person. For me right now, success equals maintaining a level of confidence so that I can effectively balance and enjoy love, work, friends, giving back, sleep and workouts. And laughing a lot.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    I'm a Director at Marianne Boesky Gallery. The gallery represents about 30 (mostly young and mid-career) artists and I work with several of them as they develop their careers and artistic practice. I also work with art collectors and curators, not only in sales but also in building dialogues around the gallery's program.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    Right out of college I felt particularly directionless—I was in a shitty relationship with a shitty college boyfriend and I was making shitty choices to accommodate him and his career after we graduated. I had a wake-up call one day and realized I was throwing my life away. I more or less moved to New York City two weeks later and managed to score an internship at an international gallery called Hauser & Wirth. I've been working at large contemporary art galleries ever since.
  • What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    I get to interact with the most interesting people -- artists, collectors, curators, art historians, other dealers -- and I learn something new from these people every day. I also love working for a strong, independent woman. The art world is a boys' club. The top-earning living (well, and dead) artists are men. Many top dealers are men. Many of the top art collectors are men. I like working for a woman because she serves as a role model and it's easier for me to envision myself in her shoes one day —which is an aspiration of mine.

    Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    No, because I like pressing reset.

    Do you feel successful?

    Most days. I do laugh everyday. But don’t get me wrong, I have days full of doubts just like everyone else. I also read this New York Times article and acknowledge that I’ve been considerably fortunate and lucky in my life.
  • Dominique Ward

    How do you define success?

    So much of how the world views success is based on achievement, status and money. I’d like to think that my idea of success is based on overcoming obstacles and satisfaction.

    But admittedly, the fact that I have several multi-year plans may carry a strong hint of *cough* bullsh!t on the achievement tip. I can’t deny that a perfectly crafted Excel formula makes me want to high five everyone in sight. Especially if I struggled on it.

    I was an athlete for most of my life so while I try to focus on defining success outside of pure "achievement" terms, I still savor the sweet taste of scoring a personal record.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    Senior Analyst, Business Operations & Strategy at Frog Design.

    I’m responsible for analysis, business insights and recommendations for best practices to our Executive Leadership team. Also, I make damn pretty charts.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    Someone took a chance on me. A VP of Finance at a startup offered me a job that, frankly, I wasn’t really qualified for. While I knew that I could do the job -- I've always taken every opportunity I have to learn -- I reminded him that I had no finance background and no interest in accounting. But he knew I could do the job and trusted his instinct.

    Although I no longer work in finance, it was a really great opportunity for me to learn what it takes to run and scale a business.

    It turned out to be a good leap of faith on his part, and on mine.

    Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    For a very long time I wanted to be an engineer. If you had asked me on the first day of my freshman engineering courses at Purdue, I’d have said I’d be designing spacecrafts or satellites for Lockheed Martin.
  • What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    I’m a problem-solver. I love being able to solve business problems and to figure out the best way to achieve a goal.

    Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    Actually, no. There are very few Sundays when I’m overcome with dread. I really enjoy my job and enjoy the people I work with. More often than not I’m excited to go into work early on Monday and I don’t feel a way about staying late on a Friday night.

    Do you have dreams? What are they and do they feel achievable?

    I have plans as opposed to dreams, and I tend not to reveal them to others until they’re within reach. I have several concurrent 5-, 10-, and 15-year plans. All with clearly defined action items, targets, contingency plans and reassessment points. I feel like most of them are achievable and within the realm of possibility, but it’s always good to leave wiggle room and the reassessments are key. I always check in with myself to make sure the path I'm on is actually what I want.

    Plans change. That can be good.

    Do you feel successful?

    Today I do. That feeling can change day-to-day. Sometimes a problem leaves me particularly stumped and that can be defeating but the idea of the challenge is intriguing and in a way it's inspiring to be challenged. Every day is an opportunity to do better than I did yesterday.
  • Sari Ingerman

    How do you define success?

    I think success is progressing toward a goal and recognizing each progression, however small, as a success in its own right.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    I am an On-site Sales Coordinator at Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. I work on the sales team for one of the new development condominiums the company represents.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    I happily skipped over the childhood fantasy of becoming a firefighter or veterinarian and instead went on walks with my dad around my hometown of Brooklyn, observing the architecture and new construction. To say I gave myself no other options would be accurate.

    Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    Working in real estate? Absolutely. But the beauty of working in an industry that is constantly developing -- pun intended! -- is I get to develop with it. I can remember the exact moment my goal transitioned from working on individual apartments to working on entire buildings.
  • What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    I spend my work days inside of the building I represent while it is actively being constructed. It would be difficult to not be proud as I literally experience its progression.

    Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    Honestly, no! The only thing I fear is not getting back in there and continuing to hustle.

    Do you feel successful?

    While I feel successful now, I think it's crucial to recognize success as an ever-changing path. I've learned to celebrate every progression along the way as a step toward a greater goal.
  • Lacey Tompkins

    How do you define success?

    I believe success has a relative definition. To me, success is not only defined by traditional accolades and achievements, but by the growth fostered in your environments, both inside and outside of work.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    I’m a Digital Display Lead at an advertising agency. I plan, buy and execute digital campaigns on behalf of brands. It’s a dance of figuring out who to reach, when, and where to reach them on the interwebs.

    We see you when you’re sleeping. We know when you’re awake.

    Just kidding! Sort of.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    As Lemony Snicket might say, it was a series of fortunate events. In college, I was very interested in social media and how it could be utilized for brands. I became involved with various internships and projects that increased my excitement about the industry. I then turned to a very obscure search engine called Google to learn more about the scale of the advertising landscape, which ultimately led to my first full-time gig.

    Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    I’ve always imagined that I’d be in a very collaborative field, one that requires teamwork and constant communication with and learning from other people. Advertising absolutely requires this. I’m not sure 10 minutes goes by without having to communicate with someone!
  • What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    My passion has always been people – understanding and learning more about them. My favorite part of advertising is that this is essential. To execute a successful campaign, you need to learn about the brand, the initiative’s messaging and goals, and figure out who your target is and how to best reach him or her. If you’ve done it right, individuals have seen and engaged with your ads because they’re specifically relevant to them.

    Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    I like to use Sunday evening as a time to think about the previous week, as well as the one ahead. Usually this is not too scary, but hey, sometimes to-do lists are really long.

    Do you have dreams? What are they and do they feel achievable?

    I imagine achieving dreams being something like when Lizzie McGuire sang “What Dreams Are Made Of” on stage in Rome. I'm still waiting for that pop star moment, though more realistically, I have many varying goals based on different life stages. Only time will tell if they're achievable.

    Do you feel successful?

    At the end of each day, I like to ask myself, “What did you learn today?” If I have answers, then that day has been successful.
  • Arielle Krinick

    How do you define success?

    Feeling genuinely balanced in every aspect of your life – relationships, career, exercise, spirituality – whatever makes up your world.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    National Sales Executive at Global Brands Group | Planet Sox. We're a leading global manufacturer and importer of private label, branded and character socks, legwear and related accessories. Basically, I sell socks to big-box retailers.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    I studied at FIT, so the apparel industry was naturally in the cards. I made a point to intern every semester of college in a different field of the business so I would learn what type of work I liked. It ranged from styling for magazines, fashion PR, visual merchandising, retail sales. After graduation, my first job was designing for a children's clothing manufacturer. It struck me very soon after that I needed to be selling.
  • Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    No, I never thought I’d be selling socks! I’ve realized that I enjoy the business of selling: building relationships with my buyers, helping them achieve their goals and growing my business in the process.

    What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    Keeping people's toes warm!

    In reality, work keeps me mentally fulfilled, and charity work keeps me emotionally fulfilled.

    Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    There's nothing a yoga class and a glass of wine can't fix.

    Do you feel successful?

    Some days more than others. Truly living a balanced life is always a work in progress, in a good way.
  • Kristen Catania

    How do you define success?

    I think the people who don't define themselves by other people's definition of success are the most successful. I’d rather be happy and considered unsuccessful to others than the other way around.

    But also: success was being able to pay my credit card bills without asking my parents for help. The moment that happened, I told everyone I knew. It actually felt like I could do anything.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    I’m a PR Coordinator at PR Consulting. I work alongside two amazing team members on seven accounts, so there’s always a ton going on. I assist with sample trafficking, credit circulations, compiling monthly reports for our clients, getting shipments out to different accounts, sending releases, and making sure our client racks look presentable.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    Pretty much by accident. I was finishing my Master’s program in London studying journalism with the hope of working at a fashion magazine. My sister connected me with a friend who was in PR to help put the word out, and it turned out she was looking for an intern at that time. We met, hit it off, and I started the following Monday. I immediately caught the PR bug and never looked back.

    Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    During different times of my life I imagined myself in different roles, but I’ve always felt that I'd go nuts sitting at a desk 9 to 5 every day doing the same thing over and over, and luckily PR affords me a lot of opportunities to change up my day. No two days are the same and I’ve never had a day where I woke up truly not wanting to go to work. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by coworkers who have become my close friends and confidants, as well as my role models.
  • What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    Fashion week is probably the most stressful yet most fulfilling time of every season. I remember calling my dad on such a high from the rush after my first show. The loudness of the music and the flash of the photographers' cameras -- it was the best thing I’d ever seen. I don't remember the details, only the feeling. I had been on the team for 6 weeks and I've never felt so confident in myself and so sure that I could succeed. It was kind of an "ah-ha" moment where I felt secure in the decisions I had made to get me there, and I could tell from the tone in my dad's voice as he listened. It’s exciting for me when the people I love are so supportive of the things I throw my heart and soul into.

    Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    Not really…I kind of love Sunday actually. I like to wake up late, lay around in my pajamas for a few hours, clean my apartment, make dinner. It’s probably the one night a week where I really plan to cook. There are few things better than a lazy Sunday afternoon with a side of Netflix.

    Do you feel successful?

    The fashion industry is tough to get into and even tougher to succeed in, but I try to celebrate small successes and remember to feel gratitude that I get to do what I love. I’d rather be exhausted to the point of tears doing what I love than to never get the chance to do it.

    I believe the more you work at something, the prouder you become of it, and isn’t that what success really is? Doing something you can be proud of and can share with the world?
  • Amanda Finnerty

    How do you define success?

    To me, success is knowing that you are doing the best you possibly can to have a positive impact on yourself and the people around you. What you do for a living is only part of what success is. Relationships with friends and family are just as important.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    I'm a 4th grade teacher.

    How did you come into your line of work?

    As cliché as it sounds, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I had always looked up to my own elementary school teachers and knew that teaching was something I wanted to do. I did a 5-year Master's program and had some fantastic professors who were wonderful mentors and completely reaffirmed what I had already known -- that I’d be able to make a difference, even if it was a small one, as a teacher.

    Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    Well, I’m doing what I always imagined I’d be doing as far as job title goes. I definitely had a more idealistic view of what my job would be like before I started. I thought I’d be able to jump right in and be this fantastic teacher and everything would be easy and perfect. I really had to get used to the parts of the job I didn’t know about while I was in college, like the difficulties of dealing with parents, the ever-changing curriculum standards, the different expectations of administrators. Teaching is so much more than standing in front of a class and I definitely didn’t know how much more before I was really in it.

     
  • What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    The little "ah-ha" moments make me feel proud. When I look at a student who has really been struggling to understand something light up and say, “I get it!” I still get such a great feeling. It’s kind of awesome to know that you’re the reason they learned something new. I also have a few letters saved from parents and students that I read when I need a little pick me up -- they help me remember that it's all worth it.

    Do you get the Sunday Scaries?

    Of course! Doesn’t everyone? Monday mornings can be tough with a classroom full of 20 nine-and-ten-year-olds. You never know what kind of weekend they’ve had.

    Do you have dreams? What are they and do they feel achievable?

    Somewhere down the road I’d like to go into higher education. I feel like becoming a professor would allow for me to pass on my own educational philosophies to new teachers. It would be cool to have that sort of influence. I’m not in a rush to leave the classroom just yet, but when I’m ready, I’ll start going down that path.

    Do you feel successful?

    I don’t always feel successful, but there are times when I do. A lot of the time I’m thinking of ways I can improve upon things or what I would try next time. That’s the great part about teaching: you can always try again, and most of the time the kids think you’re wonderful no matter what.
  • Angela Dimayuga

    How do you define success?

    Everyone has a different definition of success. Mine is staying inspired, always learning and just going for it. And I think making an impact and supporting those around you is key.

    What's your title and what do you do?

    Executive Chef, Mission Chinese Food NYC. I also consult with our sister restaurants Mission Cantina, NYC and Mission Chinese Food SF and am working toward becoming a partner!

    How did you come into your line of work?

    I feel lucky to say that I knew I wanted to be a chef since I was a kid. I loved the process of it, watching cooking shows on PBS and watching and helping my Mom, grandma and nanny cook for my massive family.

    Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

    Sometimes I'm shocked because I'm doing way more than I ever imagined I'd be doing. As a kid I imagined working hard to become a chef, but I've found that the industry is requiring us to be more dynamic and involved with design details, collaborations and overall operation, which I love. It really fits my personality.
  • What about your work makes you feel proud and/or fulfilled?

    Getting to work with my team at our NYC headquarters is always my favorite. I've worked with the company for 4.5 years and I'm happy to say that we've finally gotten to a place with solid managerial infrastructure and a great line of communication. The team is much bigger than ever before and that makes it so fun to troubleshoot creatively.

    Do you have dreams? What are they and do they feel achievable?

    I do have dreams and I definitely feel they are achievable. One of my greatest dreams was surpassed last year. We were randomly selected in a participating group of chefs to swap places with Noma (ranked the no. 1 restaurant in the world for many years). I'd always dreamed of interning at their fermentation lab. Instead. Danny (the founder of Mission Chinese Food) and I got to be in charge of their entire brigade and collaborate with their chefs and on-site flavor chemists! We were able to produce anything -- the sky was the limit -- and a team of 30 people were available daily to do a collaborative with us on an MCF pop-up at Noma.

    I never imagined that could happen. It showed me I could dream a little bigger and be surprised.

    Do you feel successful?

    Yes, I do feel like I am genuinely doing what I was meant to be doing. In terms of how I personally measure success, one major milestone was when one of my past cooks referred to me as her mentor. This was so huge for me because I had a mentor as a younger cook and it was crucial for my growth and confidence. Now she is opening up her own restaurant!
Haley Nahman | May 31, 2016

Let’s talk about the pursuit of success and why it can feel so treacherous.

At the outset of Mental Health Month we asked you to share the inner workings of your minds. What’s going on up there? What’s keeping you up or out? And several of you mentioned you were struggling to find an appreciation for your own flavor of success. Since finding our own flavors of everything is exactly what we set out to do every day at Man Repeller, this really spoke to us.

It’s no surprise that to recognize a more normal life as a successful one can feel impossible when every interview, profile and magazine cover focuses on the same barometers of success: a wide audience, a deep wallet and a life that is somehow other.

But we all know you don’t have to be a billionaire teen entrepreneur artist to be successful! There are men and women all around us who are pushing back on this narrow definition every day and we wanted to switch things up and give them the microphone.

So we reached out to 10 women we admire from different backgrounds and industries who are kicking ass, finding fulfillment and defining success in their own terms. Check it out and then tell us: how would you define success if it were up to you?

Psych! That was a trick question. Because it us up to you. So instead tell us: how are YOU successful?

Photographed by Simon Chetrit (follow him on Instagram @simonzchetrit).

successful-women-profiles

  • Macey Lewington

    Great post! I admire ladies with big careers! Like me! If you want check my business: http://www.sofacleanerslondon.co.uk . I’ll be glad to share tips and experiences with other ladies like me!

  • View

    I really enjoyed this, very inspiring! But what about the women who feel successful because they have raised happy kids? Or the women who overcame health problems or ran a marathon? I feel like this article only covered the traditional side of success that centers around a career.

    • I totally get what you mean, but I definitely preferred this being centered around career success. However, it’d be great to see another article that did talk about other kinds of success! I guess keeping one theme helps with having the same questions for each person.

      • Vic

        You’re probably right about about it being easier to focus on one theme but yes, a separate article would be great please Man Repeller!

        • Amelia Diamond

          This article was definitely career-success focused, but as even that little pocket of success (+ our Round Table) points out, there are SOOOO many different kinds of success, so yes, count on another SOMETHING that explores and celebrates success in ways that don’t just involve a job – or a job in the way that we typically think of it!

  • Really great way to start the week after the long weekend. Also, having spent the weekend in NYC really helped inspire me. It really is true what people say about New Yorkers doing so much!

  • disqus_cKJqYPcKP6

    I really liked this post. As a relatively recent college grad (May 2015) this past year has been a pretty decent struggle in transitioning to this new adult life – coupled with the fact that I’ve moved back home to save some $. Specifically I’ve struggled with finding purpose in my job and comparing myself to others that I’ve graduated with. I realized that I hate where I’m at currently, but I’ve been trying to figure out then what exactly am I seeking for in a job to give me fulfillment and satisfaction. I think for me, success means to tangibly feel that I’m making a positive impact growing a business or a team by performing a role that requires both analytical skills and creativity. Ultimately I’d like to be at a place where I can be respected and trusted for the work I produce, while being able to comfortably afford moving back to the city and owning my own apartment. Sometimes it can feel pretty far off, but I’ve been trying to keep in mind the idea that it’s about the journey and not just the destination.

  • Natty

    this is EXACTLY what i needed today. THANK YOU

    • Amyllim

      “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!ti880ur

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  • So inspiring! I loved this post so much: it really made my day reading the stories of these successful women!

    Aria

    https://pandaonavespa.wordpress.com/welcome/

  • Jenn18

    This was a great read! Does anyone know Ambika’s outfit details? Love her jumpsuit. 🙂

  • Loved this post and seeing success in all sorts of forms. Thank you!

  • Jane doe

    I can say that one of the people in this article is full of Shit I watched their parents do their papers throughout his and the beging of college. Success for one of your women was handed her through other peoples work and connections. Was born into money as well. You should be reporting real inspiring people ones that really had to work to get to the top, not breezing through family friends. Tell the truth sari ingerman.

  • Jane doe

    I can say that one of the people in this article is full of Shit I watched their parents do their papers throughout h.s. and the beginning of college. Success for one of your women was handed her through other peoples work and connections. Was born into money as well. You should be reporting real inspiring people ones that really had to work to get to the top, not breezing through family friends. Tell the truth sari ingerman.

  • Al

    Would be nice to see a scientist/researcher in these lists for once. Despite what many people think, it is a very interesting (and in some cases world-changing) career.