On Monday night, Fortune magazine (owned by Time Inc., the same parent company as Real Simple), brought together prominent women in business, philanthropy, government, academia, and the arts to celebrate global women leaders at the “Most Powerful Women Evening With...” dinner in New York. Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Aerin Lauder, and Martha Stewart spoke to the crowd. They shared, among other insight, some of the best advice they ever received from their role models.
Before she was the President and CEO of Sam’s Club, Rosalind Brewer was a girl in Detroit looking up to her mom and dad. “Both of my parents worked for General Motors in the automotive industry and they both did manual, hourly labor, and my dad moved his way up to management,” she said. “Being the youngest of five, there were four of us in college at one time and my dad worked three jobs to get us through, to absolutely the very end. All I know is hard work and hard work ethic. It’s what I’ve grown up on.”
The founder and creative director at AERIN and the style and image director of Estée Lauder reminisced about her grandmother Estée, who began the eponymous cosmetics company in 1946. “One thing she did teach me was the importance of hard work, passion, and loving what you do,” Lauder said. “She had this incredible quote, which was ‘telegraph, telephone, tell-a-woman.’…She really understood the power of women, and at the time that she started, that was unheard of.”
While Stewart said her father Eddie gave advice “freely and on a daily basis” to her and her five siblings, one piece of wisdom really stuck with her. “He said, ‘You can do anything you want,’” the former stockbroker said. Of course, there were some stipulations: “You had to work hard, be proud, get a good education, work for it—and that’s what we did, all of us.”
Now a grandmother, Stewart is carrying her father’s torch. “Even if your daughter or your granddaughter maybe isn’t so pretty, or isn’t so smart, tell her she is,” she said. “You keep reinforcing that and you know what? She’ll grow up to be beautiful and brilliant and do just what she wants to do.”