Wake up early. Make your bed. Limit your screen time. Tackle your hardest tasks first. These practices are all commonly referenced ingredients to success and, while they certainly have their place, sometimes we need to sprinkle in a bit of unconventionality in order to kickstart our journey to success. 

What if instead of waking up early, you woke up when your body was naturally ready? Or instead of prioritizing making your bed, you prioritized making new connections? Or how about instead of just limiting your screen time, you also limited how many times you were saying, “yes”? These are just a sampling of the unexpected habits the following 50 women have implemented into their lives that have been crucial to their success.

Whatever definition of success you’re currently pursuing, I hope the following pieces of advice help propel you to the goals you are aiming for. After all, sometimes thinking outside of the box is exactly what we need to reach our biggest dreams.

Markea Dickinson-Frasier

Co-Founder and COO of Thermaband, a health-tech company that provides thermal comfort through a temperature regulating bracelet and connected companion app. 

“I’ve developed a habit of watching documentaries/reading books about Black people that built something great, which helps instill a sense of strength and invincibility. For example, in the 1950s, my great-great grandfather, William Chester Ruth, who was born to a slave, had been granted more than 50 patents for inventions such as a baler feeder, a cinder spreader, and a farm elevator. This realization has provided the fuel and tenacity to continue pushing in my own founder’s journey—because he and others could, I can.”

Kinsey Wolf

Founder of Lane Collective, a marketing and growth strategy consultancy for future-focused businesses.

“Cultivating an artistic practice has been crucial to my success because it keeps my creative problem-solving skills sharp. Approaching the proverbial blank page with new ideas and materials requires letting yourself get lost so you can find your way out. In short, making art helps me practice flexibility, playfulness, and creativity. These skills are essential for my work as a startup marketing consultant where the competitive landscape seems to shift daily.”

Jenny Hanh Nguyen

Co-Founder and CEO of Y’OUR Personalized Skincare, delivering personalized skin care that’s simple, transparent, and “just works” using data science and human expertise.

“I love to use the Pomodoro Technique to keep my performance and well-being in check. It’s an amazing time management method with focused work sessions followed by short rests to promote consistent concentration and stave off mental fatigue. My version also includes HIIT workouts during my five-minute breaks between each Pomodoro session. I like to think of it as a way to train my body while my mind takes a breather.”

Emily McDonald

Co-Founder of My Founder Circle, a community that helps established female founders scale their businesses.

“I schedule two workout classes a week as non-negotiable meetings in my calendar. When I exercise regularly, I am more clear headed, more strategic, and much better at my job. I used to feel guilty taking this time to workout on workdays, but I now think about exercise as an important part of my job. It allows me to be so much more efficient and productive and truly is a game changer for achieving success. I schedule these “meetings” the week before so that they are booked and I know that I have that time.”

Ada Chen

Founder and CEO of Chuan’s Promise, a natural skincare line focused on sustainability and inclusivity.

“It seems counterintuitive, but explicitly making time to not work has been a major part of my success at work. Blocking out time for non-work projects, hobbies, activities and the occasional life admin task has helped me understand and value the time I spend on my business. Setting this boundary has helped me achieve more outside of my business and work, improved my own health and wellness, and helped me become more productive when I am working.”

Kristina Libby

Creator at The Chunkos, best friends for sick kids in hospitals.

“I believe that the more diverse our experiences are, the better our intuition is, and that intuition equates to our ability to see around corners, which is the key to success at an executive leadership level. This means I’ll try kite surfing, take Indian cooking classes, and go to a noise concert. There is a lesson to be learned in every experience.”

Jen Wan

Co-Founder of Soteri Skin, the first and only skincare that balances pH long-term so sensitive skin sufferers can enjoy long-term relief from itchy, scratchy skin.

“I shower in the middle of the day. Since most of my work is remote, I generally don’t need to worry about my hair or makeup for the majority of my workday. Often, during the workday, my stress levels can build up without me noticing. This shower break stops that progression in its tracks, and something about the running water helps me clear my mind, so I can return to work refreshed and with better mental clarity.”

Amanda Aldinger

CEO of Antonym, a luxury copywriting and brand voice strategy studio that conspires with beauty, food, and lifestyle brands.

“The rigor, discipline, and rest required to train for marathons has had an unexpected and resounding impact on my professional life. Running a marathon, or any distance really, is a mental game—your mindset is the No.1 driver motivating your body every step of the way. It’s the same with entrepreneurship. On the days when I’m daunted by the tasks ahead, I cross the mental start line and tap into the same well of endurance that helps me push through 15-, 17-, or 26-mile runs, and suddenly I’m in the flow.”

Valerie Red-Horse Mohl

Co-Founder of Known Holdings, a Black-, Indigenous-, Latinx- and Asian American-founded growth platform focused on the investment and sustainable growth of the New Majority.

“Many business ideas came to me while submerged in water. As an indigenous woman, I feel the living qualities of water, so I dedicate at least three days a week to uninterrupted meditation, praying, and thinking while swimming. Knowing our Mother Earth is predominantly water, and how much it meant to my ancestors, I feel deep gratitude to my Creator for the beauty and healing water brings.”

Marissa Shapiro

Founder of Martha, a New York-based consultancy that builds brands from the inside out by partnering closely with clients to create brands that claim space in their respective markets.

“Saying no. I started my business by saying yes to everything, so the idea of it felt counterintuitive to success. Then, the first time I said no to a client I felt not only immense relief, but was met with a wave of new opportunities. Highly recommend it.”

Desiree Almodovar

Founder of The Inlay, combining strategy, design, and marketing to grow legendary brands, from concept to IPO.

“Now that many of us are working from home more, I was finding that our team and partners were craving new environments to get creative juices flowing again. Last year, I began to host partner meetings in unconventional settings such as galleries and nature trails. This habit has greatly improved my business as relationships with our entrepreneurial partners have strengthened, leading to highly inventive and successful projects.”

Mez Gallifuoco

Founder and CEO of The Mad Ones, combining an innovation lab, venture studio, and investment fund to bring your startup, scaleup, or corporation to the forefront of disruption.

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“Regularly seeking out and embracing new experiences and perspectives. This can include traveling to new places, trying new activities, or interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures. By exposing yourself to different experiences, you can gain a wider perspective on the world, which can lead to ideas and insights that can benefit your work or business. Additionally, learning and adapting to new things can help to build resilience and flexibility, both of which are valuable traits in an entrepreneur.”

Lolita Taub

GP at Ganas Ventures, a 100 percent Latina-owned and -led firm, investing in pre-seed and seed community-driven startups in the U.S. and Latin America.

“The practice of building and maintaining strong relationships with the community I work with has been crucial to my success. In the venture capital industry, it can be easy to focus solely on financial returns. Still, I have found that by prioritizing and investing in relationships, I can create a more meaningful and sustainable financial and social impact. This habit has not only helped me to be more successful but has also allowed me to foster more inclusive and equitable outcomes within the industry.”

Elena Rue

Co-Founder of StoryMine, a women-owned video production company that marries strategy and creativity.

“In school, I almost never raised my hand. In meetings, I am the last one to speak, if I speak at all. For a long time, I saw this as a weakness, or something I needed to get over or get passed. But now I see incredible value in really listening to others in meetings, and taking the time I need to think deeply about what is being said so that I can offer a different perspective to the conversation.”

Molly Rodau

Founder and CEO of Collectively, a people development practice that is changing the future of work by preparing individuals, teams, and organizations to thrive in the midst of complexity.

“Wearing jeans and sneakers! I don’t operate in workplaces where this is common attire, and I’ve gotten feedback in the past that I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I didn’t dress more professionally. After going through a phase of feeling awkward wearing a suit, I decided to commit to wearing clothes that made me feel expansive, free and creative—which happens to often be jeans and sneakers. Building this habit has allowed me to show up more authentically in my work and release a lot of baggage around what it means to be a visible female leader. If my jeans are a barrier for you, I’m not for you. Since I’ve built the habit of self trust in my wardrobe, I’ve tripled our revenue.”

Marissa Pick

Founder of Marissa Pick Consulting LLC, providing strategic consulting focused on digital transformation, content marketing, social media strategy, personal branding, and more.

“Set boundaries. One of the greatest lessons that life has taught me is to say no to things that don’t align with my priorities. Setting clear boundaries has helped ensure that the accolades I’ve earned at work don’t come at the expense of my personal health and well-being. While learning to draw a line between work and home isn’t always easy, it’s possible. Part of the reason I decided to work for myself was to find a better work-life balance.”

Gabriela Ariana Campoverde

Founder and CEO of Miren, helping financial institutions monitor their investments for regulatory exams.

“I schedule coffee with fellow founders or professionals who work outside of my industry or vertical. It gives me the opportunity to gather new insights and hacks and learn from their experiences how to approach a problem I am currently facing in my own company.”

Dzhuliana Nikolova

Co-Founder of OneUpOneDown, a platform for highly-relevant mentorship experiences for women in business and tech, powered by AI-matching technology.

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“The ability to zoom out in order to detach and observe instead of react. The ability to say no, stop pleasing everyone, and be laser-focused. The balance between these two skills.”

Julie Shen

Founder of Springstead, an advisory and consultancy practice that works with female founders and consumer businesses to develop, launch and grow their initiatives.

“I slow down to speed up. In business, results and performance are critical so we persevere and we drive forward. But that level of persistence gets heavy, and eventually you hit a point of diminishing returns. As leaders, we have to be attuned to when we need to slow down, scale back, and return to base so we can reset, recharge, and reenter with better clarity and focus.”

Cecilia Pagkalinawan

Founder of NFT4Good, a collective of artists, innovators, and philanthropists joining forces to save planet earth and its inhabitants by curating art drops and raising funds.

“I’ve started living nomadically and got rid of my apartment in New York City and gave away all its contents including my clothes. I now live out of a suitcase. I first lived in a treehouse in Tulum, Mexico at the beginning of the pandemic and have since stayed in eco-hotels, yurts, tents, RVs, and guest rooms from Key West, Florida to Bolinas, California. Living out of a suitcase and traveling with my rescue dog, Shorty, has allowed me to significantly reduce my carbon footprint and consumption since I no longer have a ‘home.’”

Jessie Young

Global Lead, New Verticals at Uber Technologies, changing the way the world moves for the better.

“Move every day. Move for 20 minutes minimum. Move with no rules how—run, dance, stretch, or spin. Move first thing in the day, before coffee, before emails, before sunrise. It sets the tone for the day, and reminds me that I can control the chaos by containing myself.”

Jessica Greenwalt

Co-Founder of Unum Game, a blockchain-based gaming company.

“I change my location frequently. Sometimes this means working out of different rooms in my house or hanging out in coffee shops, but more often than not, this involves going to other cities. I used to worry that always being on the move would be disruptive to life and work, but constantly mixing up my environment sparks new ideas. Hopping from city to city also creates opportunities for me to make new friends and better keep in touch with old friends. My inability to sit still—which I’ve reframed as an ability to and desire to adapt to new experiences—has kept me at the center of the action in the rapidly evolving world of Web3.”

Denise Terry

Chief Marketing Officer at Evolution One, supporting the evolution of human consciousness by providing energetic and consciousness-expanding experiences.

“Meditating three times daily for at least five minutes has accelerated my productivity, kept me grounded and aligned, and expanded my emotional and mental capacities to lead my team with creative solutions in the face of challenge. I am able to accomplish more output with less effort, stress, and anxiety by devoting more time to the practice of silence, presence, and alignment. It takes less than 30 minutes of time daily, but adds more to my productive capacity than I ever imagined was possible.”

Jess Villela

Founder of Jess Villela, a sales and leadership coaching service for service-based women owned businesses.

“The habit of re-defining what success looks like has been critical to actually achieving success. Life moves in seasons and, as we grow and learn, we must be willing to evolve our concept of success. In order to stay in integrity with my values and my current stage of life, I consistently give thoughtful attention to re-evaluating what it means to succeed. I filter my time management, strategic efforts, and life rhythms through that lens at least annually.”

Diane Darling

Speaker, Instructor, Author, and Leadership Coach at Diane Darling LLC, specializing in professional networking strategies.

“To overcome my fear of public speaking, I took acting and stand-up comedy classes. That out-of-the-box and strategic mindset have been a contributing factor to my success. I was even the commencement speaker at MIT Charm School.”

Shanila Sattar

Founder of AlwaysPlay Studios, the go-to for training in the healing arts, supporting practitioners in high-level training, mentorship, and holistic wellness.

“I come from Bangladesh, where mid-day naps are built into our culture as a norm. Leading a business in Western society doesn’t always lend itself to incorporating natural body rhythms into the workplace. Adapting naps and rest has totally shifted both my personal and business success.”

Thamina Stoll

Founder of Give Her Dollars, an initiative and call-to-action to help women build wealth for themselves and other women.

“Society may tell us that in order to succeed, we must always be playing our cards just right, but I have found that when I am willing to take off the mask and reveal my vulnerabilities, I am able to build deeper, more meaningful connections with those around me. It is through this type of authentic engagement that I have been able to build a strong personal brand that others are emotionally invested in, and that has been a big accelerator in first my academic and later my professional career.”

Yewande Faloyin

Founder and CEO of OTITỌ Executive Leadership Coaching, offering executive leadership coaching to help leaders manage their energy for a direct business impact.

“Dropping the hustle culture that was such a huge part of my previous success as a McKinsey consultant. I’ve ditched my alarm and now wake up naturally each day. My morning routine is filled with performance-enhancing activities like yoga, bible readings, and a nature-focused walk before starting my workday at 10:00 a.m. I take ad hoc breaks to fuel myself and keep my energy up. It initially felt unambitious and I often worried that I’d end up minimizing my potential. The reality is the opposite: I’m working the “least” I ever have, yet having the greatest impact and enjoying life more than ever before.”

Katie Ward

Photographer at Katie Ward Photography, LLC, a photojournalist turned brand, editorial, and portrait photographer aimed at creating photos that feel genuine.

“Acceptance. I think that the best habit that I’ve adopted over the past few years is radical acceptance of where I am. I do my absolute best in focusing on and accomplishing current projects without getting stuck in the worry of if that’s good enough to reach long-term goals. I find that by accepting rather than feeling shame about the many things that hold us back, like not being further in my career or money goals, I’m able to produce better work that moves me forward faster.”

Lona Vincent

Director, Global Sourcing Activation at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, seeking to positively impact human health through innovation.

“It’s a common belief that success is the sum total of the chances that you’ve taken. For me, the unexpected habit that has been crucial to my success is the mastery of saying no. This means gracefully and graciously setting hard limits, not taking on too much, and not being afraid to walk away. Eleanor Brown spoke about these choices, these habits, in a way that really stuck with me, saying, ‘I will make a decision and if it turns out to be the wrong decision for me, I will walk away quickly and without shame.’”

Lindsay Gonzalez

Founder of SWIM LLC, a fractional COO service leading early-stage tech companies from zero to one.

“Make the right connections as often as you can, without any expectation that there will be any benefit. Connecting interesting people who should know each other—be it for professional or personal reasons—has always made me happy. I never expected how far this habit would get me when the time came to launch my own business. Heaps of people I’ve reached out to for connections to amazing tech founders did so without hesitation, and so many have mentioned the connections I’ve made for them in the past.”

Ankita Terrell

Co-Founder of My Founder Circle, a community and mastermind for established founders looking to scale their companies.

“Habit stacking has been life changing for me and the success of my business. The idea is you start with something you already do and then add something new incrementally until your new habits and routine get to where you want them to be. I add a new small habit to my routine every few weeks and it’s been easier to adopt new patterns.”

Anouck Gotlib

CEO of Belgian Boys, creating whole ingredient foods with a European twist so families can prepare less, smile more, and indulge better.

“This is going to sound crazy, but I have my very own walk out song just like a major league athlete. Before important meetings I always play, “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest. It is so happy and light, with the good vibes that get me dancing to release some stress, clear my head, and take that walk into that meeting as the best version of myself.”

Trish Boes

Founder and CEO of UnlimitMe Technologies, LLC, creating learning experiences and products that help create a growth mindset for college and university students.

“One habit I have developed over the past year is to meditate and say a prayer focused on allowing me to let go of any ego attachments and to show up from a place of pure love, appreciation, and service. It sounds a bit out there, but it has totally shifted the way I show up in business because it takes the pressure off me and just allows me to support others and serve the greater mission.

Katharine Campbell Hirst

CEO of IdeaShift LLC, working as a thought partner to female founders and executives using coaching, strategy, and writing services to catalyze their impact.

“In a year of intense personal growth, I wrote a manifesto of truths I know about myself and the nature of the world around me. I re-read it every month to bring myself back to what I stand for. And I edit it to keep it up to date with what I’m learning. It’s an invaluable tool to re-ground in my truth and my power—and one day I’ll turn it into a book.”

Melinda Wang

Multi-hyphenate corporate lawyer, contemporary art curator, educator, entrepreneur and investor at Melinda Wang.

“Always go down the rabbit hole. If a news item, social media post or tangential comment piques my interest, I dig deeper to understand the topic, even if it’s often in the form of late-night scrolling. This has helped me build a broad knowledge base that is often directly beneficial to my multi-hyphenate professional pursuits—counseling law clients in a myriad of industries, curating art exhibitions about a variety of socially-engaged issues, teaching a course titled ‘Navigating Global Change’, and evaluating angel investments.”

Sally Joy Wolf

Founder of LightWorks, empowering executives and their teams to flourish both professionally and personally through well-being advisory, workshops, keynotes, and coaching.

“Having a personal dance party before my workshops and keynotes has enabled me to begin client sessions with a self-confidence that used to elude me. Dance consistently lights me up. In a matter of a single song I can connect to myself, get my energy flowing, and ultimately feel unstoppable. While I’ve loved dancing for decades, it wasn’t until the pandemic that I incorporated my favorite workout into this trusted final step of meeting prep. And now, from my apartment to a hotel room, an elevator to a bathroom stall, it delivers every time!”

Meenakshi Das

Founder of Working with Disabilities, a support group for working professionals with disabilities, which has more than 3,500 members on social media.

“Unlocking the power of self-advocacy has been a game-changer for me. By learning to confidently ask for what I need—whether it be accommodations or additional support—I have been able to tap into my full potential and excel in my career. Letting go of the limiting belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness has led to increased confidence, and better overall mental well-being.”

Anna Vladi

Founder of METL, onboarding the next generation of users from the world of traditional finance into the wonderland of digital currency.

“I started learning Chinese Metaphysics BA-ZI, which is ​​a method of analysis of destiny, and this helped me tremendously in my success. I raised money for my startup last year, made seven -figures, and my business is growing exponentially.”

Rachel Rofe

Founder of CustomHappy, creating and dropshipping unique, one-of-a-kind products all around the world.

“Starting a new business can be intimidating, but I like to take a flexible “spaghetti at the wall” approach and try out various strategies to see what works best. I have a general aim, such as “help a million people in 100 days,” or “make $20,000 a month,” and then test out lots of different ways to possibly achieve it. This helps me gather valuable market feedback without overthinking it. I’ll go with whatever options my intuition nudges me to and then look at the data for how to move forward.”

Annie Franceschi

Founder of Greatest Story Creative®, helping coaches, consultants, and service business owners confidently brand and grow their greatest businesses without marketing burnout.

“Tracking my time has been a game-changer. As a service-based business owner, time is money. Since I started tracking my time in 2017, I’ve had the key insights to better know what services to cut, when to raise prices, what should be delegated, and so much more. It’s so simple yet so powerful that time-tracking has helped me nearly double my business revenue while working fewer hours than ever!”

Kendra Koch

Founder of Touchy Feely, a wellness platform that helps neurodivergent and highly sensitive people overcome the stressors of modern life.

“People usually laugh when I tell them that in order to be successful, I embrace mediocrity and quitting. The narrative that we should do everything at 100 percent is so damaging. We have limited resources and energy, which should be used for what’s most important and impactful. If something isn’t helping you reach your goals or can be done by someone else, quit. Or, do just enough to get the job done but don’t waste energy trying to perfect it.”

Caley Adams

Founder of Wildes District, an NYC-based design studio that specializes in luxury and e-commerce brands in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and health and wellness sectors.

“When I was just starting our studio, I felt very overwhelmed by the amount of work coming in and found it difficult to manage my time and still fit in personal things like exercise and friends. I then discovered a tool called Harvest Forecast, which is typically used for estimating employees’ allocation and bandwidth in a 40-hour week. I started using this for myself personally and professionally. It has become an extremely helpful way to gauge my overall bandwidth and look ahead to anticipate which weeks are going to be busiest. This allows me to more intentionally plan for which priorities will need to shift and allows me to bake in stress-reducing activities ahead of time for the weeks that are over capacity.”

Ashley Rector

Founder of Quimby Digital, combining high-impact ideas with strategic insights to create content that informs, entertains, and inspires people to make connections.

“One of the most successful tactics I have ever used to make sure my to-do list isn’t out of control and things get done, is if an email request comes in that can be done in under five minutes, I do it when I see it. This has led to reducing the anguish you have when your to-do list is a mile long and builds goodwill with co-workers, clients, and employees. Being responsive is an important skill to cultivate.”

Lindsay MacMillan

Head of Community Engagement at Sleeping Giant Capital, empowering a new era of leaders to acquire and grow West Michigan businesses.

“At the end of every networking coffee or phone call, I’ve formed the habit of asking the question: “What’s one thing I can be doing right now to support you?” So often, networking chats are self-oriented, and this service-oriented question immediately shifts the energy. The other person tends to feel grateful I’ve asked, and they often open up about a challenge they’re facing or a goal they’re working toward. It leads to a deeper bond between us and they tend to turn the question back on me, too, allowing me to ask for help when I otherwise would have been reluctant. This simple habit of asking how I can support someone else has allowed me to successfully build meaningful connections in my career, built on compassion and reciprocity.”

Haley Lieberman

Founder and CEO of Shop Tomorrows, an award-winning secondhand marketplace for exchanging goods and services between friends, neighbors, and networks.

“In today’s increasingly digital world, I have found that by intentionally incorporating analog moments into my daily routine, I have greater personal productivity and stronger communication with my team and peers. For example, rather than rely on note-taking apps, which require a distracting computer or phone, I store notebooks at every workstation, handbag, and even in my car to jot down thoughts without the distraction of any other content. Compiling the notes at the end of the day is a short, critical step that further cements the information I’m writing.”

Michelle Glauser

Founder and CEO of Techtonica, a nonprofit that helps women and non-binary adults with low incomes overcome barriers to tech careers.

“It may sound overly simple, but I prioritize sleep. And it’s a good thing, too, because I’ve learned that things you’re passionate about can expand to take up every moment of every day. As a founder working on a cause I deeply believe in, I’ve had days where I work from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, and without that priority, I may never sleep. Prioritizing sleep allows me to reset my perspective and make a difference in a sustainable way.”

Rose Mangiarotti

Founder and CEO of ReliaBra LLC (DBA Perkies), creating innovative undergarments for women to wear.

“Embracing the challenges has been crucial to my success as an entrepreneur. A quote that really resonates is from George Addair: ‘Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” Overcoming challenges is how one grows and succeeds.’”

Lisa La Nasa

Founder and CEO of diaVerge Diabetes Education & Coaching, helping to improve your health with diabetes education and coaching, online courses, and support.

“The very best thing I’ve done for my success is become a digital nomad, with a family, for the past 14 years. This has fostered incredible resilience, being comfortable with the uncomfortable, and empathy with people and cultures who are different from my own. I started diaVerge Diabetes while living in the middle of Argentina, and through frequent moves, many overseas, it has kept me a beginner, seeing things with new eyes, and understanding how our clients feel when starting something big and new and scary, but potentially wonderful and life-changing. I’m constantly stepping out of my comfort zone to relearn what I thought I knew, and that’s exactly what we help our clients to do with their health.”

Elizabeth Galbut

Co-Founder and Managing Partner at SoGal Ventures, a women-led VC firm that invests in world-class early-stage diverse founding teams. 

“An unexpected habit that has been critical to both my success and SoGal Ventures’ success is to always follow my gut instinct. If I believe in something, I invest in it with conviction. When Pocket and I started SoGal and were looking for minority founders to invest in, people told us one industry we were crazy to invest in was custom shampoo and conditioner. Well, our first portfolio company, Function of Beauty, went on to become our first unicorn. Trusting my own instinct has consistently been crucial to my success and something I would strongly recommend all female founders practice.”

All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community and diverse ecosystem amplifying extraordinary entrepreneurial women through PR opportunities, authentic connection, and high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to its monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.