How Seven Female Leaders Got Through Their Anxiety

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You may have an idea for starting a business but find yourself filled with too much anxiety to take the first steps. Sometimes, it helps to know where to turn to for confidence to follow through with your business plans. Specifically, there are seven prominent female leaders that you can look to as role models, who struggled with similar anxieties and still came out on top.

Tanya Zhang

Before becoming the founder of Nimble Made, Zhang was having a tough time finding a job after college. She was a graphic designer but found the jobs offered for this role to be too dull. For five years, Zhang was worried that she might never find a career that she loved. As time went on, Zhang found herself feeling more challenged and excited by the startup space than the corporate world. Trying out different companies may have been nerve-wracking, but it helped take her out of her comfort zone. 

Zhang started her D2C eCommerce brand in 2018. This side hustle eventually ended up becoming her full-time job. Nimble Made became the name for her business, where Zhang creates slim-sized dress shirts to fit your needs. She advises that it is important to find a career that you find enjoyable. Focus on the positive parts of the work instead of focusing on the stressful parts. Having a passion or a side hustle can help make your full-time job more bearable and give you something to look forward to.

Maria Pergolino

Maria Pergolino’s anxiety stemmed from the fear of not being able to achieve enough, as well as the worry that she was choosing the wrong dream to chase. Instead of putting so much focus on the long term, Pergolino decided to set smaller, short-term goals for herself. Because of her confidence and expertise in the field of marketing for B2B sales and marketing technology companies, Pergolino decided to take on a leadership role in helping others succeed within these fields. She is now the chief marketing officer at Active Campaign, which is an email marketing platform for small to mid-size businesses. Pergolino advises that the best way to overcome your limits is by using sponsors and mentors to guide you. Instead of playing the expert, she believes it is best to look up to those who have achieved their goals to point you in the right direction.

Lais Pontes Greene

Lais Greene was afraid of not being able to measure up. She used to work in the sales sector of the fashion industry. While Greene got promoted to a director position, she felt the constant pressure to do more, work harder, and take on more projects. Greene felt like she was not being appreciated but also wanted to impress her peers and employer. She is now the founder and president of her consulting firm. Greene had to check in with herself and think about what true success is. As a result, Greene found that success is about finding balance, learning to say no, and setting healthy boundaries between herself and her clients. Greene believes that while you may feel inclined to want to keep moving up to the next level, you should appreciate each level of success and not be too quick to jump ahead. 

Dani Egna

Dani Egna aimed to find her place in the art world. With a major in fine arts and an emphasis on painting, she hoped to find a career where she could put her talents to good use. She dreamed of a creative career but worried she wouldn’t be able to make a living. Egna overcame this fear by using her fine art skills to create temporary tattoos. She created her brand, Inked by Dani, after being asked to draw body art doodles using eyeliner at a college party. The designs became a hit. Egna believes you should speak to a career counselor as a means of exploring the best career path options for you. Once you decide on a focus, seek the appropriate connections and contacts within your chosen industry. 

Monica Shuken

Even having your own business can raise anxiety levels. When Monica Shuken co-created her own company, Qüero Shoes, she was working 14-hour days. She worried she would not have time for herself or her family. She overcame her anxiety by prioritizing her deliveries. Shuken advises others not to worry about achieving everything at once. Take the time to map out your short and long-term goals. Creating a clear and manageable plan tends to ease anxiety. Shuken makes it a priority not to overschedule to avoid feeling overwhelmed. She is not devoted to going to every social event, as making time for her family and loved ones is more important to her mental and emotional wellbeing.

Sharon Rowe

CEO and founder of Eco-Bags, Sharon Rowe, dealt with plenty of financial stressors like dealing with low-paying actor gigs. On many occasions, Rowe was worried about paying off her student loans and her rent. Still, she felt like working in corporate-paid jobs was not worth it if it did not make her happy. Rowe believes that it is up to you to make a change in your life. It is important to be connected, engaged, and work on big picture goals to contribute to the world around you. 

Lisa Barnett

Early in her career, Lisa Barnett suffered from self-esteem issues after being told by her first supervisor, who was a woman, that she would never be taken seriously because of her feminine, high-pitched voice. Barnett decided to embrace her role as a newbie in the business field and is now the president, co-founder, and chief marketing officer of Little Spoon. If these leaders were able to tackle their anxiety head-on, you can do the same thing.

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