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Lessons in Life

Words of Wisdom from Influential Women

Article by Julie Meyer

Photography by Ruth Novella

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

Mindy Lin

CEO and Founder, Damsel in Defense

What woman inspires you and why?

My mom. I have never met anyone else who was so selflessly well-intended. She inspires me to be the best wife, mom and daughter that I can be and to use my life to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

What is the best decision you ever made?

The decision to marry my husband. His belief in me gives me the confidence to operate in life and business with him together. He leads at home and steps aside to let me lead at work with such humility. He truly makes me want to be the best that I can be, and that all started in my decision to marry him.

How did a mentor influence your life?

Growing up, my dad was the bravest man who ever lived. I remember when I had started my first business and taken on my first big job. I asked him to help me with it, and on the final day driving home, he told me he admired how brave I was for taking on such a big project. I remember the shock of it because I wasn’t nearly as brave as him who was even fighting cancer at the time, but then I had a sudden realization that I was now an adult in my dad’s eyes and that everything about that required us both to be brave.

Life Lesson

I have learned that work/life balance is a myth, and it was setting me up for constant failure and shame. I’ve accomplished work/life integration and being able to give myself grace in not being able to do it all. With the help of God and my husband, I am pretty darn proud of the two incredible humans I have managed to raise.

Shelley Coates

Creator and Co-owner,

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I love the flexibility my job offers. I work from home, which allows me to be available for my five kids. There are also exciting opportunities for travel and collaboration with other bloggers, influential women and top companies that make this job unique and fun. Plus, HowDoesShe is all about empowering women, and that’s very rewarding.

What woman inspires you and why?

All women do. It’s why we started HowDoesShe. I’d look around at my friends, neighbors and women in general and think, "Wow. How does she do that?" Women are astounding people who power families, schools and society. Sometimes a woman’s example is a quiet one but nonetheless profound. To all women out there: you are amazing.

What is the best decision you ever made?

Investing that first $100 into an idea we thought might flop. I remember thinking, as I had twin babies and a toddler at the time, you know how many diapers that could buy? That first $100 investment and all the time and effort that followed paid off big, and my life has been so blessed.

Life Lesson

The biggest lesson I learned from building HowDoesShe from the ground up is to just go for it. Sometimes you just need to jump in with both feet. We all have dozens of great ideas buzzing around our heads, but until we shrug off fears of failure and stop making excuses, they’ll never happen. When Alison, Missy and I first started meeting late at night when all our kids were in bed, we had zero followers, very little content and tons of doubts. Now nine years and over 2 million followers later, we recognize starting our business turned out to be a very good idea.

Paige Wiscombe

International Business Manager, Women Ignite International

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Significance. Knowing that what I do matters and makes a difference is definitely my favorite part. I love that every day we are changing people’s lives and helping them grow into their best self, both personally and professionally with inspiration and education. We are creating a safe space for authentic collaboration, support and true community.

What is the best decision you ever made?

The best decision I ever made was to go left when the plan was to go right. When I was approaching my college graduation, I had an overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t supposed to lock myself into a career as soon as I graduated. The idea of traveling the world took over every thought, but as someone who always had a plan and is super responsible, these ideas were terrifying and pretty unrealistic.

Then one day after reviewing all the options for the 100th time, I decided I really didn’t have anything to lose. I didn’t love my current jobs, but I was making enough that I could save for a big trip and then quit them both before I would leave on my big excursion. I could come home with a fresh start and perspective and find a career that truly sparked joy in my heart. I booked the ticket. I went right. The 67 days I spent solo backpacking was by far the best decision I have ever made. I have never learned so much about myself and felt so alive. Those experiences have continued to lead me to go after things that fill my cup up and to be brave in the pursuit of those things.

Life Lesson

In my early adult years, I had a few experiences of being lied to by the people that I cared about most. These are probably my least favorite memories and feelings, but the lesson learned has served me well. I can always go back to those feelings and memories when I am struggling with being upfront and honest and know that even when what I have to say may not be the greatest, truth is always better than lying. I know that I never want to spark those feelings in anyone else. In honor of this lesson, I tattooed the word honesty on my foot. This lesson is something I will honor forever. 

Jennifer Swindell

CEO and Managing Editor, Idaho Education News

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I’m a journalist who can influence positive change in our world.

I serve on behalf of citizens as a watchdog over government and tax dollars. My news service informs taxpayers, parents and educators so they can contribute to meaningful conversations about education reform. I’m also a storyteller who has the privilege to meet and write about amazing people doing extraordinary things. I respect the tremendous responsibility I have to be accurate and fair because our work can change lives.

What is the best decision you ever made?

The best decision I ever made was to start Idaho Education News, a nonprofit online news site devoted to providing awareness of the critical issues that affect Idaho’s children and their future.

After a 20-year career as a reporter and editor at the Idaho Statesman, I was blessed with the opportunity to start Idaho Education News. We are a team of journalists dedicated to writing about education policy creation and implementation and best practices in teaching and learning. We have thousands of daily followers, and we engage with more than a million people a year on our website, social media platforms and print publications. 

What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?

I’ve surrounded myself with amazing people. I’ve hired smart and talented professionals who produce meaningful and award-winning work.

I’ve made good personal choices, too. I have great friends, a fantastic husband and an entertaining dog. I even have cool neighbors and a swanky hairdresser.

Life Lesson

Focus on what’s going right. Support the people in your life to do their best work and live their best life. And always work hard, play hard.