While women make up half of the population and have made amazing contributions to history, less than 6% of us hold CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, according to Catalyst’s Women in S&P 500 Companies list. While there is an obvious gender gap of women at the helm of the biggest companies in the world and the lack of representation is frustrating, it’s also a reason for women to be an inspiration to and for others when we reach the mountain top.
Throughout my career, I have been blessed to hold CEO positions at two different companies, Neora and Live Happy. I worked very hard to get to where I am today, and I like to believe that I achieved these positions the right way: resilience, a positive mindset and leading with purpose. I practice these three things on a daily basis, and it has helped me every step of the way. These simple acts are not hard to do but it does take work and commitment, and I promise you the more that you build these strengths, the better your life will be.
Angela Duckworth, psychologist and author of the New York Times best-seller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, says people who are “gritty” place a high value on their goals, and they know that to achieve those goals, you must understand the investment it takes to get what you want. You may not be the most talented person out there—and most successful people aren’t—but the ones who truly want to accomplish their goals find a way to get there. After years of research on the subject of grit, Angela found that talent may be a factor in success, but effort counts twice. Those who truly learn to bounce back from life’s adversity and persevere on the other side deserve everything they earn.
When we started Live Happy, we did so with the idea that everyone deserves to have the information on how to live a happier life. No longer was the research on the good life stuck in the halls of academia. We did this because we believe in happiness in every aspect of life, especially in business. If you run a business and your employees aren’t happy and engaged, your customers aren’t happy and engaged either. This means you are losing money. Research shows that happiness raises nearly every business outcome, including sales, productivity and accuracy on tasks. Not by a little, but a lot. In some cases, by nearly 40%. Happy employees work harder, miss less work due to health issues, are less likely to quit and earn more than those who are not. Create a kind, positive and compassionate environment and you will reap the rewards. The bottom line is happiness is good for any businesses’ bottom line.
Find Your Purpose
This is very important to me. I would not have been able to accomplish what I have in my life if I didn’t have a defined purpose of how I wanted my professional and personal life to be. When your life has purpose and meaning, that means your hard work and effort are not being wasted. Our mission statement at Neora is Make People Better. For Live Happy, it’s Making Your World a Happier Place. These are both aimed at putting others first. We are here to serve people, mentor people and help people. Behind our products, our services, our offerings or our contributions are people helping people. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I believe our success is a direct result of our collective purpose to make this world a better place.
I know these actions aren’t exclusively for women. In fact, everyone should practice them. But as women, the work is harder, the path to success is longer and the mountain top is higher. If we find the things in life that truly make us happy and those around us happier too, then the authenticity of what you are trying to accomplish will be clear and the journey will be worth it. While women may only hold a small percentage of CEO positions today, it’s more than 50 years ago and it will be more 50 years from now if we continue to make progress by being empowering leaders that leave the door open for others to follow.
Deborah K. Heisz is Co-Chief Executive Officer of Neora. With more than 20 years of leadership experience in a variety of roles within the direct-selling industry, she has successfully built and led strong teams to achieve strategic goals. Deborah also maintains her role as Chief Executive Officer of Live Happy, LLC and is the co-founder and editorial director of the positive lifestyle magazine Live Happy and the Happiness Movement. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in English, Deborah also holds an MBA from The University of Dallas.