Over a course of eight weeks this summer, I completed interviews with 100 inspirational women. Yes, you read that correctly. 100 interviews. Eight weeks.
Why would I do such a thing? Well, my world imploded on itself and what else would someone do when their world implodes? Commit to starting a movement. Or at least that's what I did. I committed to exploring the lives, stories and passions of inspirational women with the goal of bringing their inspiration to light to fuel inspiration in others.
Let me tell you -- these women are phenomenal. From teachers, to comic book authors, to entrepreneurs, to drag queens, to professional athletes, to moms and more. Each of them possess an undeniable strength and passion. I can't help but share some of my favorite takeaway moments from the interviews.
12. It's OK for others to underestimate you.
"I have been underestimated at times and that has brought me enormous opportunity. People weren't expecting me to be as competent or as capable. There is nothing like being underestimated. It's a huge advantage. When people underestimate you have the ability to astonish them pretty easily." -- AnnMarie Houghtailing, Founder, Millionaire Girls Movement
11. But never underestimate yourself!
"Whether it's in your personal or professional life - do not underestimate yourself. There is a tendency in women to do this, but in reality it's very dangerous to accept less than your best. You are more powerful than you can possibly imagine." -- AnnMarie Houghtailing, Founder, Millionaire Girls Movement
10. Playing it safe is not an option.
"My biggest inspiration is not one single person, but rather it's a woman who wakes up in the morning and says, 'Today I am all in.' All in for their relationships, marriage, parenting, business ownership, being an employee, etc. I feel like we hold back and spend so much time playing safe. Our world would be dramatically different if we all showed up 100 percent in every aspect of our lives." -- Debbie Whitlock, Radio Host and Business Consultant
9. Embrace your differences.
"It's ok to be different! I spent a lot of time trying to fit in and never did it very successfully. I have a past that is different being born in a cult, I have a different name, I was born in a different country, I have a different body, etc. I spent so much time trying to be normal and wasted so much energy in my life on this. You don't find who you truly are if you're trying to be like everyone else. Also it steers you down a path that isn't yours. It wasn't until I started to embrace who I am that I could find my true voice as an artist." -- Sonnet Simmons, Artist and Songwriter
8. There's nothing better than women supporting women.
"This is the role I have in life, my passion, and the biggest gift that I have to give. It is to take something that a woman is scared of and help propel them forward, uplift one another, and really engage in the most beautiful way to be the most utmost they can be in life. I help them take their fears and make it so the fears don't make sense. It allows the the person to identify their worth, beauty, and allow them achieve anything they want once they see past their self-imposed limitations." -- Violette de Ayala, Founder, Femfessionals
7. Being uncomfortable can change your whole world!
"I want to share a challenge. I challenge the women reading this to wake up in the morning (as often as you can) and look at yourself in the mirror. Stare at yourself for longer than might be comfortable until you start seeing past your face and you begin to see who you are. Then say the things out loud to yourself that you wish that others would say to you. Share this love with yourself and see how the world around you changes." -- Emily Greener, Founder, I Am That Girl
6. Fashion matters, but it's not everything.
"I feel most feminine when I can express my unique personality through my clothing and makeup, but also own the room with my knowledge, creativity, and the power of my words." -- Giannina Silverman, Author
5. Femininity and kicking ass are not mutually exclusive.
"I make a really conscious effort of embracing my femininity. Recently I was on 'The Most Dangerous Women of Comic Con' panel. A fellow panelist pointed out that "strong female characters" have all had to physically kick ass. There is no emotion involved. Which is exactly what you'd expect from a male action hero. We're still valuing the traditional masculine aspect of action heroes in women. I make a very conscious effort all the time to kick ass and be feminine at the same time." -- Jenna Busch, Founder, Legion of Leia
4. Celebration is key!
"I was such an Atlas as a child, with the world on my shoulders. I looked at the sadness of the world and forgot to seek the laughter and joy. My little girl and I dance and sing made-up silly songs and laugh all the time, every day. I'm getting to look back at my childhood through her and see all the joy alongside the sorrow that I missed. She teaches me to celebrate life. It is wondrous to be alive." -- Christina Kiki Kelley, Team Leader, U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling Team
3. Moms are awesome.
"My mom is my biggest inspiration. She dedicated her entire life to her kids. Now, as a step mother, I see the amount of dedication, time commitment, and personal freedoms you give up in life in order to be a great parent." -- Sarah Boyd, Founder, Simply Stylist
2. Being a woman in this time is a huge opportunity and a blessing.
"In my case I have created a company for female entrepreneurs. I believe that it's an opportunity or calling that I have been put here now for a reason. It's by no strange coincidence that there are opportunities becoming available for women and there are new paths that we are creating. We've come out of the 70s feminist movement and the 80's wonder woman era and are realizing that maybe we can do this another way. Maybe it's ok to want to do it all and have flexibility to be at home and to work. Entrepreneurship is an answer to a lot of that. If I wasn't a woman I wouldn't get to be a part of this revolution. The fact that I am a woman means that I can move this forward in my small way." -- Nada Jones, Founder, LTD365
1. All women are inspirational.
"I originally felt really intimidated to participate in these interviews thinking, 'What have I accomplished that's inspirational?' But perhaps that's the beauty of it all. You don't have to be Mother Theresa. You don't have to be Hillary Clinton, Arianna Huffington or Sophia Amoruso. You just have to be the best version of yourself, and you're bound to make a difference in at least one person's life. So I just hope this book inspires you to be your own inspiration." -- Mallory Armstrong, A Circular Life blogger
So now I ask you -- how will you inspire the world around you? Share your answers HERE and contribute to The Inspirational Woman Project movement!