Resilience lesson #1: early obstacles fuel success

How facing down challenges early in your career can translate to big success later on.

08 Jul 2019

This is the first in a series of spotlight articles about resilience, highlighting the stories of women featured in the UBS sponsored Wall Street Journal e-book Resilience: How 20 Ambitious Women Used Obstacles to Fuel Their Success.

The Wall Street Journal’s Veronica Dagher talked to Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks, bestselling author Jen Sincero, FOX cable news anchor Melissa Francis, and former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Kate White about how they overcame obstacles early on in their careers, specific choices they made, and then turned these challenges into fuel to help them move forward. What may have felt like the hardest step to take, was ultimately the crucial step to success.

An important part of being able to overcome challenges is being able to navigate financially. Our Own Your Worth research shows 56% of married women defer financially to their spouse, even though eight out of ten women will be solely responsible for their financial well-being.1 We are committed to helping women take charge of their lives by being involved in all decisions that affect them—including financial decisions. As the women shared with Dagher, financial empowerment matters. We’ve culled some key #ownyourworth lessons for prevailing when the hurdles, hitches and roadblocks seem to keep coming.

Push past your fears

Angie Hicks

Founder of Angie’s List

Angie Hicks describes herself as a shy introvert. But when she was having a trouble landing a job after college in 1995, she realized that she would have to step outside of her comfort zone if she wanted to be able to support herself.

When a former boss suggested they start a business together—a subscription service to a directory of crowd-sourced reviews—she almost turned him down because it seemed too risky. Instead of letting her fears get the best of her, she adopted the attitude that she didn’t have much to lose.

That business became Angie’s List, and Hicks became the face of it. But to get Angie’s List off the ground, Hicks had to pound the pavement and talk to strangers all day long.

“She spent her mornings going door-to-door trying to convince people to pay $20 a year to join her fledgling subscription service. Hicks could spend five hours walking around in various neighborhoods and might only sign up one subscriber,” Dagher wrote.

It was frustrating, and at times terrifying, for Hicks, but she kept pushing past her fears and embracing each new challenge. In 2017, the business sold for more than $500 million.


Get used to doing things you’re not comfortable with or don’t feel like you’re particularly good at, Hicks said.

Jen Sincero

New York Times Best Selling Author

For Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life published in 2013, it was all about pushing past her limiting beliefs. Her fear manifested as complaining about why she couldn’t catch a break.

She had spent a chunk of her adult life frustrated, and wondering why she wasn’t as successful as she wanted to be. Though she tried various endeavors (playing music, freelance writing, knitting), even into her early 40s, she could barely pay her rent for her tiny Venice Beach apartment (which was little more than a converted garage).

The aha moment happened during a backpacking trip to India. Being there changed her perspective on everything. She finally realized that no one else was holding her back but herself. She wound up writing her book when she came home, and even though no one believed in it at first, Sincero continued to believe in it and to promote it. Ultimately, it became a New York Times bestseller.


“Cling to your decision to create the life you desire like your life depends on it. Because guess what? Your life does depend on it,” Sincero said.

Advocate for yourself

Melissa Francis

FOX News anchor

Melissa Francis was the only one in her graduating class at Harvard to take a minimum- wage job upon graduation. Everyone else went for the flashy, high paying finance jobs, but she knew there was an opportunity inside of that seemingly dead end as an entry- level producer at a small television station in Maine. Then when the job ended, she was determined to find a job at a larger market.

Francis spent months cold-calling station managers and drove up and down the East Coast in a rental car, trying to get meetings with news directors.

She faced daily rejection, but refused to give up—and finally caught a break at a station in Providence, RI. While the experience was painful, it ultimately boosted her self-confidence. “I thought ‘wow,’ I can come back from failure and defeat,” she told Dagher. Today, Francis is a co-anchor for shows at both FOX Business Network and FOX News.


You are your own best advocate, cheerleader and judge of opportunity. Follow your out, but never expect it to be easy.

Kate White

Former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief

When Kate White was first starting out in magazines, she found herself stuck in the promotions department. She found a female mentor, and spent her free time writing freelance articles for the Glamour Magazine, and building up her experience. She finally landed a job as a feature writer for the magazine after producing a 13-page proposal about why she should be in the editorial department. From there, she went from being an employee in the editorial department to running it as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 14 years.

White learned that speaking up was especially important for women, who are less likely to be promoted than men and are typically paid less than men who do the same job.


Gutsiness pays off. “I couldn’t find any examples of where it got in my way,” White said.

Next in the resilience series: Managing the Juggle

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