We asked and they answered! Our five amazing speakers from the upcoming Sept 21st Woman’s Advantage® Retreat in the City offered their insights on success, what motivates them who their role models are, and more.

Here’s what Mary Cantando, founder of the Woman’s Advantage® Forums, told us!

What is your definition of success?
I have different definitions of success for the various roles that I play in life.

  • As a mother, my definition of success was that all three of my children grow up to be happy and contributing members of society. To achieve this, I made all major decisions based around that goal.  I didn’t care if they graduated from university, got married or had a great career (BTW: All three did all three.), but that they be satisfied with the lives the lead and make positive contributions to society.
  • As a spouse, I believe my husband and I are each tasked with pushing each other to become the best people we can be. So I have a responsibility to make him great, and he likewise, me. So my definition of success as a spouse/partner is reflected in the difference he makes.
  • As a business owner, I want my offerings to make a difference in the lives of others. I want to either help people MAKE or SAVE money by using my offerings. I want to enhance their lives. At the same time, I want to enhance the lives of my employees and contractors. And, I want to make as much money as possible doing these things for my customers and employees. So my definition of success as a business owner relates to customers, employees and profitability.
  • As a human being, I want to impact as many people as possible both during and after my lifespan. These may be people I know and those I will never even meet. People who wait on me in a restaurant and people who read my books. I have been gifted with many capabilities and it is my responsibility and DELIGHT to be able to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Has your definition of success changed from when you began to today?
My definition of success in business has evolved greatly from when I first started. Initially, my focus was on how to make the most money possible. Then I learned that you can’t make money without happy customers and employees, so I began to focus more and more on those two things. And I found when I focused on enriching the experience that others around me were having—by either using our offerings or working as a part of our team—the money just naturally flowed in my direction. So the more I help others, the more I personally gain and the greater my success.

What motivates you to keep going on?
I get really jazzed by the fact that The Woman’s Advantage® Forum, books and other products make a huge difference in the businesses and lives of women I’ll never even meet. Whenever I get tired or am working against a deadline that I’d like to push out, I think about women in Vancouver or Tucson or Chicago who NEED me to finish that project so they can grow their businesses and hire that one guy who needs a job and his kid can have a new pair of shoes or set of Legos or winter coat. So, I think of the trickle down effect of what I’m doing and the potential is tremendous. When I go to speak in a city like Vancouver, I wake up that morning thinking, “Today, I’m going to change the economy of Vancouver.” Now that may sound grandiose or egotistical to some, but I really feel that way. I believe that the more wisdom I can share with women business owners, the greater impact I can have on the local economy. If I’ve got the capability to make a difference and I don’t do that, then that space will go unfilled…and that kid will have to use her winter coat from last year that’s a bit too small. If you come to hear me speak in September, I’ll tell you a story about a new pair of shoes that you’ll find hard to believe.

How do you keep going when the going gets tough?
Think I answered this in the question above.

What rewards are important to you as a successful business owner?  This can encompass everything from money onwards…
Of course, money…because it all kind of starts there…money allows me to live without worrying where my next mortgage payment will come from. But even more so, it allows me the time and wherewithal to experience things I never dreamed of as a child, like international travel and sitting on boards and supporting non-profits that are doing things I believe in. Beyond money, I’m always honored to receive awards as they are an indication that some segment of society believes what I am doing has value. This goes back to that goal I had for my kids of being happy and contributing to society. And, I get great pleasure from receiving emails, letters, and cards from women I’ve never even met who tell me about the difference I’ve made in their businesses and their lives. That really turns me on!

In your opinion, who is a great  female business role model?  Why?
I’m old enough to remember when women had three basic paths in life: stay-at-home wife, nurse or teacher. So I’m always excited to see women doing BIG things with their lives. I think Indra Nooyi, CEO and Chair of the Board of Pepsico is an amazing woman. She was born in India and was able to overcome a tremendous cultural learning curve to become arguably the most prominent businesswoman in the world.

But I’m equally impressed by women like Sheila Hale Ogle, who never attended college, worked her way up as the secretary to the CEO of a large advertising agency. When she realized that she was doing 80% of his job, she quit and started her own, successful, ad agency. She has built, bought and sold several businesses and now, in her late 70s is still running two businesses and holds important roles on multiple boards.

Another friend of mine, Van Eure, owns one of the largest restaurants in the southeastern US. She has the largest wine cellar south of New York City and people fly in from all over to eat a meal at her Angus Barn. But the thing she’s most proud of is her low rate of employee turnover in an industry that is notorious for high turnover. So she doesn’t judge her success in dollars or bottles of wine sold, but how long that sous chef or waitperson has been a part of her team.

And, each of YOU serves as a sparkling role model, not only to women just starting their businesses, but to women like me, who receive daily encouragement from knowing you’re out there working hard, working smart, working to make a difference in your local economy and your industry as a whole. You inspire me!