Julia Polk: How to Take a Career Break and Come Back Confident

“Cut yourself some slack and believe. The moment you believe (in yourself) you perform better.”
— Julia Polk
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Her Story of Success...

How do we balance the demands of work and family? It’s a dilemma most career women face, and one that Julia Polk confronted when she had two young daughters at home. Her solution would take her on a non-linear journey to success as an investment banker and healthcare executive. “I’ve come and gone a bunch of times” from the workforce, she says. “I think my children benefited from it — I know I did.” Today Julia is chief financial officer of healthcare startup IQuity and a valued mentor to many healthcare entrepreneurs.

About This Episode...

Julia explains why she was lucky to have female role models early in her career and what she did to stay connected during her extended breaks from the workforce. She also tells us about the value of diversity in leadership teams, the issues women face in raising capital for a business, how to overcome the imposter syndrome, why the first step for any startup is understanding its customers and why she thinks younger generations will have more opportunities for flextime work.

 
 

Maneet Chauhan: Lessons on Career and Family from a Celebrity Chef

“I am a strong believer that your actions are like boomerangs — what you send out in the world comes back to you.”
— Maneet Chauhan
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Her Story of Success...

Maneet Chauhan left her native India to attend the Culinary Institute of America and has gone on to become a culinary ambassador for Indian food in her roles as a chef, restaurant owner, cookbook author and Food Network star. She made it to the top of the male-dominated food world as the mother of two young children, including a son who was born on the day her first restaurant opened in Nashville.

About This Episode...

The irrepressible Maneet shares how she discovered her love of cooking as a child growing up in India, the synergy of working closely with her husband, how she managed a new restaurant while her newborn son was in neonatal intensive care, how she compartmentalizes each aspect of her life to be 100 percent present in whatever she does, and the advice she offers aspiring young chefs.

 
 

Caroline Hobby: "Getting Real” Navigating Fear to Find Peace

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Her Story of Success...

As a member of the Top 40 country music trio Stealing Angels, Caroline Hobby thought she’d landed just where she always wanted — on the top rungs of the music business. But when the trio broke up and her dream crumbled, she was forced to re-envision her life and begin a journey toward a meaningful new career.

About This Episode...

Host of the popular celebrity podcast “Get Real!” and entertainment correspondent for CMT, Caroline tell us what she learned about the meaning of success during her two appearances on the CBS TV show “The Amazing Race.” She also shares the lucky break that landed her a job as a song plugger and brought her back to Nashville, how she copes with the hills and valleys of life, why it’s important to make your self-talk more positive and affirming, and how she’s learning to feel more comfortable during periods of rest. “Say your life is a train, you either hop off on that first breakdown and you live there — you live in that failure and you think you’re done, or you grab a lesson, you pick yourself up … and you start walking forward.

 

The Voices Behind Her Story of Success

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Her Story of Success...

Why would two busy young women with career, family and volunteer commitments take on the challenge of starting a podcast? Find out what launched Leah and Ellen on their journey to share the stories of high-achieving women, an endeavor that’s become all-the-more relevant in the #metoo era.

About This Episode...

This time around, our podcast hosts turn the tables and interview each other about their career paths and the personal challenges they’ve faced. For Leah, a turning point came when she found the courage to leave her small-town Tennessee home and make a life-changing new start as a flight attendant. For Ellen, landing her dream job on Wall Street didn’t bring the personal fulfillment she’d hoped for. Together, they’ve pursued a shared dream: creating a supportive community where women can connect and support one another on the road to success.

 

Cordia Harrington: The ‘Bun Lady’ Shares Her Recipe for Success

“Giving each other hope is a very important thing we can do every day.”
— Cordia Harrington
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Her Story of Success...

After establishing herself as a successful McDonald’s franchisee, Cordia Harrington was determined to take her career to the next level by becoming a supplier for the world’s largest restaurant chain. Her efforts were rejected 31 times before McDonald’s finally gave her the go-ahead to launch a bakery business. Today Cordia, also known as “the bun lady,” is CEO of The Bakery Cos., which sells more than $100 million of buns and other baked goods annually to McDonald’s, grocery stores and other institutional clients.

About This Episode...

Cordia relates the inspiring story of running her first McDonald’s as the single mother of three young sons. She tells us how her company strives to help its employees reach their full potential, why she tries to be transparent about the struggles she’s faced, and why helping others in the business world make connections has become the most fulfilling part of her work.

 

Retta Gardner: The Importance of Raising Your Hand

“If there’s an opportunity within your company, even if it’s out of your comfort zone, go for it, try it. You’re not going to know until you try.”
— Retta Gardner
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Her Story of Success...

Retta Gardner’s career proves that you don’t have to leap from company to company to work your way to the top. For more than two decades, Retta has stayed with Guaranty Trust Mortgage Co., one of the top 100 mortgage companies in the U.S., making herself visible along the way and seeking out challenging new assignments whenever she could. She’s now CEO of the billion-dollar mortgage lender, and she credits a strong work ethic and continuous learning as key factors in her rise to the top.

About This Episode...

Retta gets real about leaving a newborn baby to go back to work and shares her thoughts on the importance of taking credit for your own ideas, what she learned from her predecessor as CEO and the best way to deliver bad news.

 

Diana Warner: The Taylor Swift Effect

“I need people around me to love and support me no matter what, in order to be the best version of myself.”
— Diana Warner
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Her Story of Success...


Fashion and jewelry designer Diana Warner learned something special about success from observing Taylor Swift, who surrounds herself with fiercely loyal and protective people. Diana calls it the “Taylor Swift effect” — the desire to build a network of supporters who protect you so you can give back to the world. “I wasn’t really aware of how to say no,” she tells us, and unless you learn how to say no, “you don’t have anything left to give.”

About This Episode...

Diana shares the story behind the 2005 launch of her successful fashion and jewelry brand Diana Warner Studio – a favorite of red carpet celebrities and TV shows like “Gossip Girl.” She tells us why you have to be vulnerable to be creative, what our clothes communicate to the world about who we are and why she strives to make customers feel comfortable in her stores.

 
 
 

Jessica Harthcock: Pushing Past the Obstacles to Success

I can’t tell you why patients like myself recover and some don’t. Once we crack that code . . . then I can take a big step back and say we did it.
— Jessica Harthcock
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Her Story of Success...

At the age of 17, Jessica Harthcock suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury during a gymnastics training session, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. Though doctors told her she would never walk again, she learned to walk unassisted after six years of intensive therapy. That same determination led her to launch Utilize Health, a growing business that helps patients find the best treatment for neurological conditions. 

 

About This Episode...

Jessica tells us what it was like to be thrust into the fragmented world of recovery and rehabilitation, why her family was instrumental in helping her bounce back, how she and her husband Adam combine their roles as spouses and company executives and how she persevered in the long search for angel investors to finance her business.

 
 
 

Mignon Francois: Believing in the power of your own ideas

I had $5 and a decision to make.
— Mignon Francois
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Her Story of Success...

Mignon Francois’s family was drowning in debt and down to their last $5 when a neighbor knocked on the door and placed an order for 600 cupcakes from her fledgling home bakery in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood. Mignon decided to take the last few dollars she had and buy ingredients to bake more cupcakes, a decision that ultimately “got us out of debt, out of brokenness and turned us into the number one bakery in Tennessee.”

 

About This Episode...

Founder and CEO of The Cupcake Collection and mother of six, Mignon tells us how she followed through on her dream of starting a business, how her company has created a legacy for her children and why she wants to hold the ladder for others climbing the rungs toward success. 

 
 
 

Misty Mayes: A CEO in the Role of Servant Leader

I have this saying — learn from your past, prepare for your future and perform in the present.
— Misty Mayes
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Her Story of Success...

Misty Mayes believes that every organization and every person is capable of positive change — an attitude that led her to launch a management consulting firm that has garnered national business awards and won acclaim for its commitment to community service. Misty formed Management Solutions in 2002 after a successful career as an industrial engineer and project manager, all while raising three sons with her husband Sam. She once turned down an opportunity to meet with President Obama so she could attend her son’s championship soccer game in Tennessee. “ I think we as women can beat ourselves up over all the things we miss, but I try to focus on the things that I was there for. Its a day-in, day-out struggle,” she says of her efforts to combine parenting with her management role.