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17 Powerful Quotes from Pioneering Businesswomen

Sometimes it requires great effort to stay motivated in your career.  Experiencing frustration or discouragement is a common occurrence in the lives of most professional women.  The path to success is fraught with obstacles like unconscious bias, sexism, racism, and ageism.  It’s no wonder we feel deflated or defeated from time to time.  It’s at those moments that we need to hear powerful quotes from pioneering businesswomen like:


1. Barbara Walters – Journalist, author, and the first female co-anchor of a network evening news show, ABC Evening News

“I was the kind nobody thought could make it.  I had a funny Boston accent.  I couldn’t pronounce my R’s.  I wasn’t a beauty.”

2. Madame Curie – Physicist, chemist, and first woman to win a Nobel Prize

“I have frequently been questioned, especially by women, of how I could reconcile family life with a scientific career.  Well, it has not been easy.”

3. Joan Rivers – Comedienne and first woman to host a late-night television network talk show, The Late Show with Joan Rivers

“I succeeded by saying what everyone else was thinking.”

4. Annie Oakley – Sharpshooter and renowned international star

“Keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect.  Finally, you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success.”

5. Ursula Burns – First black-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Xerox

“I’m an advocate for change and eager to break a little glass when needed.”


6. Agatha Christie – Author and Guinness World Records holder as best-selling novelist of all time

“As life goes on, it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day.”

 7. Jennifer Lopez – Actress, singer, and first woman to have the number one film and album in the same week

“Things don’t always turn out exactly the way you want them to be and you feel disappointed.  You are not always going to be the winner.  That’s when you have to stop and figure out why things happened the way they did and what you can do to change them.”

8. Lucille Ball – Comedic actress and first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions

“I’m not funny.  What I am is brave.”

 9. Indra Nooyi – CEO of PepsiCo and consistently ranked as one of the most powerful women in the world

“At the end of the day, don’t forget you’re a person, don’t forget you’re a mother, don’t forget you’re a wife, don’t forget you’re a daughter.”

 10. Julia Child – Award-winning chef, author, and television personality

“I think you have to decide who your audience is. If you don’t pick your audience, you’re lost because you’re not really talking to anybody.”

Related Reading: Why a Physical Attractiveness Stereotype Crushes Opportunities

11. Vera Wang – Fashion designer and business mogul

“Don’t be afraid to take time to learn.  It’s good to work for other people.  I worked for others for twenty years.  They paid me to learn.”

12. Nellie Bly – Trailblazing investigative journalist

“Accept praise for its worth – politeness.  Be brutally frank with yourself.  It’s safer.”

 13. Aretha Franklin – singer, songwriter, first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

“We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white.”

 14. Mary Kay Ash – Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics and award-winning businesswoman

“Every achievement, big or small, begins in your mind.”

 15. Sara Blakely – Founder of Spanx and billionaire businesswoman

“I think my story says that, when women are given the chance and the opportunity, that we can achieve a lot. We deliver.”

16. Amelia Earhart – Aviation pioneer, author, and first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”


 17. Estee Lauder – Co-founder of Estee Lauder Companies and the only woman on Time magazine’s 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century

“When I thought I couldn’t go on, I forced myself to keep going.  My success is based on persistence, not luck.”


So, did you think those were powerful quotes?  Do you feel empowered?  If not, tell me what words of wisdom or iconic women inspire you and keep you moving forward in your career.

Life is better when we lift each other up.

Enjoy 17 Powerful Quotes from Pioneering Businesswomen.  These motivational quotes will inspire you to reach your career goals.

39 thoughts on “17 Powerful Quotes from Pioneering Businesswomen

  1. Thanks for posting these inspiring quotes! Pinned for future reference.

    1. Thank you, Mimi. I appreciate every comment and share I get. I read a few motivational quotes when I am struggling or discouraged. I hope it works for you too.

  2. Not that I didn’t already love Agatha, but this: “As life goes on, it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day,” fully hooked me. I think women over 40 (not to limit the younger ones) are incredibly powerful. By that age, we really settle into ourselves and start to say, “Really world? Who asked your opinion?”

    1. Hi, RoseMary. Lovely to hear from you again. I agree with you completely. As we mature, we care less about the opinions of others and more about the things we truly value. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Wonderful comments that we can learn from. I was in the audience many years ago and Barbara Walters was a participant on a panel. This was right after she was appointed the first female co-anchor of a network evening news show. I was stunned at how many people in the audience — I should say men — questioned why she should be paid $1 million a year (that was the rumor). Would they have asked that of a man? Doubtful. It’s not easy to be “first” in anything as a woman. You’ll always be challenged.

    1. Wow, Jeanette. That is a sad commentary on the financial value of women in our society. To think someone would actually stand up and ask a woman why she thinks she should be paid as much as a man is appalling. I would have loved to hear Barbara’s answers. I hope she politely shut them down. Thanks for sharing that experience.

  4. This post inspired me to look up Wikiquote’s entry for Madonna (, a businesswoman if ever there was one; Madonna’s words of wisdom include:

    “Fame is a by-product. Fame is something that should happen because you do work that speaks to people and people want to know about your work. Unfortunately the personality of people has taken over from the work and the artistry and it’s this thing now that stands on its own. I don’t think one should ever aspire to being famous.”

    1. Hello, Andrew. I thought about using a quote from Madonna in this post. She is always so bold and honest. I like the one you chose. There are so many people out there just working for fame and wealth and they don’t really care about the product they are selling. Quality is critical. Thanks for your insight.

  5. Fabulous Jen an inspiring way to end my week. I’ve pinned for future reminders!

    1. Greetings, Sue. I’m glad you feel inspired now. That was the purpose of the post, after all. I appreciate you pinning it. I am grateful for every share I get! Have a lovely day.

  6. Hi Jen, thank you for sharing these wonderful words of wisdom. Very inspiring.

    1. Hi, Damien. You’re welcome. Thank you for the praise and the comment. Have a great day!

  7. Thank you for sharing these words of encouragement from women who have often had to play second fiddle in society. Double whammy for black women! M My favourite quotes are by the late Joan Rivers and Julia Child.

    Obstacles and hindrances will come but staying focussed and determined will get you to your destiny.

    1. Hi, Phoenicia. I hope you watched the YouTube video within the post of Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox. She had a tough road and persevered. She is an amazing role model for all women. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. I appreciate it.

  8. Lovely compilation! My weekend has begun on some Inspiring notes 😀
    Thank you, Jen, for that 🙂

    1. Howdy, Sushmita. I’m glad you feel inspired by the quotes. Sometimes we women just need a few words from role models to motivate us. Have a great weekend and thanks for sharing.

  9. Hi Jen,
    I enjoyed the quotes. I am/was a big fan of many of these women. I liked Oakley’s since it applies to blogging. I stumbled your post.
    PS Lucy was funny.

    1. Hi, Janice. It’s hard not to be a fan of these incredible ladies. What great role models. Thanks for the comment and the Stumble. I am grateful.

      1. I am linking to your article this Saturday. I also tweeted.

        1. Hi, Janice. Thank you so much. I appreciate your kindness. We all can use some inspiration from time to time.

  10. Wonderful quotations! I think the one that resonates with me the most is Julia Child’s because ultimately it’s about being true to yourself. As an author, this is a critical issue for me, getting to that point where I was no longer writing for ‘everybody’ but for a specific audience. That’s the way I approach the articles I publish on my blog as well. I have a specific reader in mind and if others enjoy the content that’s great, but my approach is not for everyone and I’m okay with that. Thanks for sharing these great quotes!

  11. Hi Jen, I’ve been feeling a little down at not having any family left and doing 1010ParkPlace by myself, so this comes at a great time for me. Thank you, Brenda

    1. Hi, Brenda. I’m so sorry you have been feeling low. I truly hope you find some comfort and companionship soon. 1010ParkPlace is lovely, but you need human contact too! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any of us in the Women of Midlife FB group.

  12. Love these quotes! This is a great tweet to share. Very insuring.

    1. Hello, Teri. I’m pleased you love the quotes and thanks for the tweet. I always appreciate shares on social media. Have a brilliant week!

  13. These are fabulous! I love this one from Lucille Ball, “I’m not funny. What I am is brave.” I shall remember this……….being fearless and not afraid to fail is a wonderful trait.

    1. Hi, Ellen. I just watched a PBS show about female comediennes, including Lucille Ball. According to some, she was called Lucille Balls because of her business prowess. Good for her! Thanks for your input. I am grateful for it.

  14. Thanks for sharing these inspiring quotes! Pinned for future reference.

    1. Hi, Dhaval. I’m glad you approve. Thank you for pinning this. I always appreciate social shares!

  15. Love these quotes. I’m feeling very inspired now, thank you 🙂 I love the Amelia Earhart one, taking the first step is definitely the hardest

    1. Hey, Rachel. I love these quotes too. They keep me motivated when I start feeling down. Thanks for your feedback.

  16. Pinned for future reference. I particularly like the Julia Child and Estée Lauder quotes. Even back then they knew a thing or two.

    1. Hi, Vicki. Thank you for pinning my post for future reference. I appreciate that. This list inspires me when I need a little boost. I hope it will do the same for you.

  17. “I succeeded by saying what everyone else was thinking.”
    Thanks for sharing these incredible quotes! I’m currently on Pinterest trying to find them in a pretty format to set them as my lock screen. I think daily positive reminders help keep the positive vibes up.

    1. Hi, Jordan. I think I will make a few of these quotes into pretty pins. I should have done that anyway. Check my Pinterest account @LifeWiseLady in a few days on my Inspirational Quotes board. Thanks for sharing your feedback. I am always grateful for that.

  18. Very inspiring! Thank you to these women for forging the way. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hey there, Jennifer. These women are tremendously motivating, right? I read this post when I am feeling down and need inspiration. It always cheers me up. Thank you for being such a dedicated reader. I appreciate it more than you know.

  19. Hi Jen! Great quotes! My favorite is #5 with Ursula. Love it when she says, ““I’m an advocate for change and eager to break a little glass when needed.” Thanks for the inspiration! ~Kathy

    1. Hello, Kathy. Ursula is definitely a woman to admire. There is still too much glass to break, but with women like her holding a hammer, I think we will smash what’s left. Thank you for sharing.

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