11 Successful Women Open Up About Overcoming Major Career Setbacks

Updated 02/05/19
Sophia Roe and 10 other wildly successful women on how to overcome career setbacks
Annie McElwain

How do you overcome a major setback in your career? Whether you're rebounding from a devastating layoff or suffering in the pit of a creative slump, the most important thing is to not lose hope. If there's one thing we've learned from  with thriving businesses, like the founder of DryBar  and founder of CultureBanx , it's that the path to success isn't a linear one. Nor does attaining success ensure that you won't encounter disappointments once you've "made it."

For some much-needed perspective on the topic of failure, we asked 11 to weigh in on how to overcome career setbacks. Ahead, Lo Bosworth, Joy Cho, Jaclyn Johnson, and other resilient entrepreneurs included on this year's coveted  presented by Chevrolet share their personal experiences with facing down daunting hurdles, discouraging bumps, and intimidating roadblocks. If you're looking for motivation, keep scrolling to gain words of wisdom from a group of women who are redefining the definition of success, and, for that matter, the definition of failure.

Jen Gotch, Founder & CCO, ban.do

Jen Gotch, Founder & CCO, ban.do
Annie McElwain

"I talk a lot about resilience, which is essentially the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. I've been resilient for as far back as I can remember, and for that, I am incredibly grateful. Bumps and hurdles hurt for a second, but they always teach me something that I can use for future bumps and hurdles. I feel stronger and wiser knowing that I've moved beyond them. I don't know that there is a strategy, it's just a mindset to keep going, be optimistic, do some creative problem solving, and don't stay down for long."

Huda Kattan, Founder of Huda Beauty

Huda Kattan, Founder of Huda Beauty
Courtesy of Huda Kattan

"It's really all about where you apply your focus. If you focus on the bump or hurdle, it will start to consume you and won't benefit you. You just have to learn from your mistakes and apply those learnings to future situations and remain positive. No one is perfect, and problems will always arise. It just takes being solution oriented and positive to get through it all."

Elizabeth Chambers, Founder & CEO BIRD bakery

Elizabeth Chambers, Founder & CEO BIRD bakery
John Russo

"Hurdles happen every day. I kind of love a 'no' because that means something isn't meant to be and we are forced to take new roads. Taking challenges head-on is important and forces you to perfect your business. There aren't failures; there are opportunities for success."

Shivani Siroya CEO & Founder at Tala

Shivani Siroya CEO & Founder at Tala
Annie McElwain

"I remember the problem our team set out to solve and the people we are solving it for. Our customers and our mission are my consistent north star, and honing in on them are extremely helpful. I have also embraced the importance of taking time off to recharge and spend time with friends and family. Last year, I hiked Mount Batur, and the rigor of the experience and doing it along with close friends provided refreshment and energizing clarity."

Lo Bosworth, Founder of Love Wellness

Lo Bosworth, Founder of Love Wellness
Courtesy of Lo Bosworth

"I consider bumps in the road to be the greatest measures of success. It's how you deal with problems that define your character and strength. There is a solution to every problem if you're willing to discover what it is. I thrive on the solutions."

Shantell Martin, Artist

Shantell Martin, Artist
Connie Tsang

"I keep drawing. I keep working. Staying committed to the work and faithful to the practice is something very important to me. Also, I still practice going out into the world and seeking a 'no.' By that, I mean to say that I ask for things expecting to get rejected. I consciously practice becoming more comfortable with rejection. When you do that, you will see that more often than not you will get a 'yes' and that it actually feels great to hear 'no,' which is a sign that you're growing and aiming higher and higher."

Joy Cho, founder & creative director, Oh Joy!

Joy Cho, founder & creative director, Oh Joy!
Annie McElwain

"Whenever I'm feeling in a slump, I know it's time to try new things. That doesn't mean changing my business completely, but what are new ideas, new concepts, new parts of the business I could explore? Even though my work is creative and always different, after a while, everyone needs to change things up to stay inspired and excited."

Sophia Roe, Chef

Sophia Roe, Chef
Annie McElwain

"As long as you know and understand that at the start of every venture there will be hiccups, and bumps in the road, you sort of give yourself permission to stay calm when you're staring face to face with one. 90 percent of what I worried would happen, never ended up happening anyway. It's very important when things go wrong to stay calm, assess the situation in a realistic way (leaving the emotion as far out of it as possible), and shift gears accordingly."

Magdalena Kokoszynska, Lead Creative Designer, Chevrolet Color and Trim

Magdalena Kokoszynska, Lead Creative Designer, Chevrolet Color and Trim
Courtesy of Magdalena Kokoszynska

"I've learned in my life that patience is truly a virtue, so I try my best to be patient. They say, if at first, you don't succeed try, try and try again, and I firmly live that every day. A bump or hurdle might just be what you need to grow and to move outside of your comfort zone, so I have learned to accept these bumps as small opportunities. It is important not be fearful, and to know who you are, and trust your instincts. And most importantly to dream big, because only you can create the dream within yourself.

I didn't always know where the roads would lead but I always met people along the way who helped me in the right direction, be thankful for those people and seize those opportunities."

Jaclyn Johnson, CEO & Founder, Create & Cultivate, author, WorkParty

Jaclyn Johnson, CEO & Founder, Create & Cultivate, author, WorkParty
Jessica Bordner Photography

"Hurdles are par for the course as an entrepreneur and frankly, unavoidable. I always approach roadblocks as a learning lesson to ask: How did I get here? How am I getting past this? Hitting a bump in the road will eventually help you navigate your way away from them in the future. As an entrepreneur, you have to know that resiliency is required, but you will also find you are stronger than you ever imagined."

MILCK, Atlantic Records singer/songwriter

MILCK, Atlantic Records singer/songwriter
Jen Rosenstein

"My mother taught me to be generous. My father taught me to never blame others. I taught myself to take big risks, and trust in my vision. I also believe that we are exactly where we need to be, because there's either a lesson we haven't learned yet, or there's a test being given to us to see how much we truly want something. I find that a lot of people get discouraged too easily. I am abnormally patient and am very obsessed with self-help books, etc, so this combination makes for a good combination for pursuing an arduous industry like that of music.

When I'm at a bump or hurdle, I like to take a look at my own actions. I like to hold myself accountable. Sometimes I can be too hard on myself, but I do think this intense passion to be better is the reason why I am here."

Next Up: 13  open up about what life is really like at the top.

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