03/17/2014 01:25 pm ET Updated Mar 17, 2014

The No-BS Guide To Success

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Success can be a truly beautiful thing. A killer job title, widespread acclaim, and personal gratification are just a few rewards for straight-up hard work and ingenuity. But, just as inspiring? Everything leading up to it. We firmly believe that it's actually those small slipups, doubts, fears, and, yes, even big-money impulse purchases that make the journey so special.

And, the nine women ahead can attest to this. They are leaders in their industries, entrepreneurs who took risks, and they can proudly say they're "the first." They've won prestigious awards like MacArthur Fellowships and Pulitzers, and some really need no introduction — but let's not get ahead of ourselves yet. First, they spill on what their rise to the top was really like, dishing on everything from the time they got fired (or held on by the skin of their teeth) to when they were shocked to find what came up after googling their own name. Ahead, these ladies break it all down and give us the secrets to their not-always-so-smooth road to success.