I have to say that when it comes to my experience as a female leader in a male-dominated industry, it has been a pretty positive one. Of course, I’ve faced numerous roadblocks over the years. There are still “good old boys” clubs out there in just about any male-dominated industry and preconceived notions about women in leadership roles. Overall, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of really supportive people, but my journey has its share of challenges.

From starting my business to ultimately taking over sole ownership of it, I’ve had many experiences that helped me become a great leader and succeed. Today, I’m sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned with you.

Lesson #1. Be Present, Be Curious, and Be Ready to Pivot

Every business owner knows that owning a business is an adventure. It’s a journey that’s going to be filled with plenty of highs and lows. Being present and enjoying the experience is important to living your best life and finding satisfaction in your work.

Sure, it’s going to be hard. There will be plenty of curveballs and surprises that, in addition to the day-to-day things we all manage and deal with, create challenges. As a female leader in a male-dominated industry, you might experience some additional insecurities or even judgments from others. But you have to be resilient, because getting past those bumps in the road will make success all the more enjoyable for you when you achieve it.

When you do encounter challenging times and struggles, be curious and learn from them. Don’t ever let anyone lower your standards or make you feel like you aren’t capable of accomplishing something. Find different ways to reach your goals by pivoting and exploring other paths. There’s never just one way to get where you want – you just have to be open to making them work in a way that’s true to your values and mission.

Lesson #2. Trust Yourself

Here’s the thing: you are a leader because there’s something inside of you that brought you here. You are completely capable of doing anything and everything that’s in front of you. You just have to trust yourself. Being a female leader in a male-dominated industry might be intimidating sometimes. But trust me: You’ve got this.

Never let someone else’s perception be your reality. Stay true to you and to the parts of who you are that guide you in your decisions. People will always have opinions, and that’s okay! You have to be confident in yours too, though. Like I said before, there’s more than one way to reach a destination or a solution. Always trust your gut.

Michelle Sukow working at her computer, managing her personal and professional life.

We as women tend to be pretty tough on ourselves, and you know what? We don’t give ourselves enough credit. Remember, you survived 100% of your days so far, and you’ve gotten through 100% of the best and worst situations you’ve encountered. Never forget how capable you are!

Lesson #3. You’re Going to Fail (and That’s OK)

I’m going to be really honest here: You are going to fail. Maybe more than once. And guess what: It’s OK! When you think about it, failures are markers that you tried something and it didn’t work. Like anything else in life, you just have to keep going. As a female leader in a male-dominated industry, you might be sensitive to how your failures look to others. Well, guess what? Everyone else fails too.

Learn from each and every failure along the way. Don’t dwell in your disappointment. Reflect on what happened and analyze it to see what you could have done differently. Your success will come from learning from your mistakes and finding new and better ways to move on. 

The reality is, we all fail, and we all get stuck in our frustrations over it sometimes. Just recently, I felt pretty stuck in not knowing which way to go. You can let that feeling paralyze you and keep you from growing. Or! You can use your fear to motivate you to keep going. I think most entrepreneurs and business owners have learned how to do that, how to let their failures catapult them into new beginnings. You can do it, too.

Moments of failure are times it’s extra important to have an inner circle you can count on. It’s in those times that the people you surround yourself with can either motivate you or bring you down. Surrounding yourself with positive people who want the best for you will only encourage you to keep pushing and keep aiming for what you want.


As leaders and as women, we need to build each other up and support one another. One person can’t do everything. We all have tremendous opportunities to be impactful leaders in this world, and it’s completely up to you what kind of leader you want to be. Take these lessons to heart, get out there, and be the badass you are!