In HR, we often think about how to successfully engage employees and empower them to reach their professional and personal goals. Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to doing this. So when I was invited to attend this year’s Forbes Women’s Summit, I was thrilled for the opportunity to tap the event for fresh inspiration.

The Forbes Women’s Summit is a diverse gathering of 300 female leaders who come together to discuss leadership principles, world issues, and how to best leverage our spheres of influence. The Summit was held in June at Chelsea Piers in New York City and featured speakers including Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx; Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam’s Club; and Jessica Alba, actress and co-founder of The Honest Company. In addition, comedian and actress Chelsea Handler and publishing executive Steve Forbes (pictured above) spoke about the importance of believing in yourself, perseverance, and doing what you love.

It was a humbling experience to be in the presence of so many women who are recognized as game changers in their respective fields, and I couldn’t wait to hear about the different paths they took and what kept them motivated along the way.

The first step to success is finding your passion; the second is making the bold decision to pursue it. The third? Finding and engaging with others who are willing to come along for the ride.

Though the Summit hosted several celebrity guests, I found the most impactful presentations came from women with ordinary backgrounds who did extraordinary things with their time and talents. While their stories were vastly different, all of these speakers had a common approach in reaching their goals.  I took away three tips for success that we can all utilize in our personal pursuits of fulfillment and career satisfaction.

  • Follow Your Passion
    Every single woman I met and learned from at the Summit was incredibly passionate about her field, whether it was business, technology, entertainment, or philanthropy. The first step to success is finding your passion; the second is making the bold decision to pursue it. The third? Finding and engaging with others who are willing to come along for the ride.
  • Fill a Need
    Another theme that presented itself throughout the course of the Summit was the idea of fulfilling a need that had not yet been met. In some cases, it was inventing a product that could serve a large, unsatisfied market. For others, it was identifying a group of people who could benefit from a new, unestablished service. Whatever the case, the most inspiring women at the Summit all had a distinct version of the same story; they saw a need, realized that no one else was filling it, and took it upon themselves to get the job done.
  • Pursue Your Goals with Unapologetic Tenacity
    One of the consequences of doing something that no one else has done is that there are no rules or guidelines to follow. All of the women at the Summit chose to take the road less traveled, and that road came with a multitude of obstacles. You never hear a success story along the lines of, “I found something no one else was doing, I tried it, it went well, and I didn’t have any problems.” Every woman I heard from started down an unclear path and in most cases, were told they were crazy to do so. Each one had to overcome tremendous setbacks, yet had unwavering confidence because she felt that her work or cause was too important to give up. In order to make a difference, these women followed their passions with an unsurpassable level of tenacity and strong will.

These principles can motivate us as people, and employees—to confidently chase after the goals and ambitions we find most important and build a network of support along the way.

At Workday, we put our employees at the center of everything we do. We’ve found that their engagement is key to not only a positive company culture, but also to drive business growth and success. By encouraging employees to pursue their goals and fostering a culture of support, we (as organizational leaders) can ensure that our people are engaged and passionate about their careers. Attending the Summit gave me the opportunity to learn from an incredible group of women, and I hope I’ve been able to pass on a bit of the inspiration I’ve gained along the way.

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