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11 success secrets we learned at the Be Fearless Summit

Calling all girl bosses!

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Spring has *finally* sprung and summer is upon us, which means that between jobs and internships, there's no shortage of opportunities to slay. Whether you're dipping your toe in the profesh pool for the first time or you're planning for the future, there is a right way and a wrong way to make it in the real world. 

Actually, there are a lot of do's and don't's when it comes to following your dreams, and we learned 'em all at the 2019 inaugural Be Fearless Summit. The event, presented by social media influencer Alexa Curtis and Girls' Life magazine (hi!), went off Friday, March 15 at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa., and was filled with empowering advice from empowering people (think: teens like you, female executives, entrepreneurs and more!).

The advice was sweet—and so was the swag. Attendees were treated to a bevy of freebies from Pamprin, Post-it Brand, Summer's Eve, BlumeOOLY, Yoobi, Conair, ZapZyt, Smashmallow, Fujifilm, Rael and more. Peep the gift bags below—then enter to an amaze period starter kit (check it out on the left!) using the pink button at the bottom of this post. 

Now, to help you cultivate the kind of cool-girl courage you need to succeed in life and reach your goals, we've rounded up the 11 takeaways we learned at the inspiring, all-day event.

Be Fearless Summit host Alexa Curtis

1. Don't listen to your doubters
The Be Fearless Summit started as all great things do: with a simple idea. Alexa, 21, was inspired by similar summits and conferences geared toward high school and college students to create an event all her own—but she had her fair share of naysayers along the way.

"Everyone told me I would fail," Alexa shared during her opening remarks. But being told no is something she's used to. She heard it from the publishers who declined her book proposal, the networks that turned down her TV show and from the colleges that passed on the opportunity to host the Be Fearless Summit. "Every no is just a yes in two years," Alexa said. Or, lucky for Alexa, much sooner. Drexel University said yes to the summit—and thus the event was born. 

Michelle Cordeiro Grant (L) of Lively and Karen Bokram (R) of Girls' Life magazine

2. Go with your gut
Sometimes you just know, you know? Karen Bokram, CEO and editor-in-chief of Girls' Life, knows that to be true. "I always knew I wanted to work in publishing," Karen said during the event's keynote discussion with Alexa and Michelle Cordeiro Grant, founder of lingerie brand Lively.

But having an interest in something is not the only thing you need to succeed. You have to work, ofc, and you must ask for opportunities. As a teen, the now-magazine maven learned that the parent of one of the children at the daycare where she worked was a magazine editor. The second she discovered this, Karen made a simple but oft overlooked move: she just asked the parent for advice on breaking into the industry. Why? Because "If you don't have the resources yourself, you know someone who does," she said.

Christina Tancredi of MusicChoice

Christina Tancredi, COO of MusicChoice, echoed Karen's statement at the How to Crush It in Corporate (and Beyond) panel, adding that women shouldn't feel any type of way about asking for anything. "As women we feel like it's not our place to be assertive, but it absolutely is." 

Zandra Cunningham of Zandra Beauty

3. Follow your passions
When Zandra Cunningham's dad refused to purchase another tube of lip gloss to add to the then-9-year-old's already overflowing collection, he had no idea that he'd just planted the seed for a life changing idea. Soon after his refusal, the now-18-year-old created her own lip gloss...which eventually morphed into Zandra Beauty, a cosmetics company complete with body scrubs, deodorant, vegan soaps and, of course, lip products. Now 9 years on since she launched the brand, her products are available in over 700 Target stores. And to think, it all started with her love of lippies.

From L to R: Gabby Frost of The Buddy Project, TedxLeBow speaker Nika Chugh, Alexa Curtis and Zaniya Lewis of the YesSheCanCampaign

What you do can also be rooted in your personal experience. "I decided to start my organization because I faced a lot of adversity in college," said Zaniya Lewis of the YesSheCanCampaign during the Activism and Impact panel. The YesSheCanCampaign works to inspire, empower and share the stories of girls who are overcoming adversity while striving to complete their education. 

Michelle Cordeiro Grant 

4. Be kind to yourself
As any student knows, you have to hustle hard if you want to check everything off of your to-do list. But when you're throwing all you have into getting good grades, kicking butt at track and planning the perf spring dance, there's no doubt that you're going to become overwhelmed from time to time.

If you feel that you're doing too much, heed Michelle's advice: "Be good to yourself first. If you don't pause and recognize why you're hustling, what's the point?" Couldn't have said it better ourselves!

Jarrett McGovern of Rise Brewing Co.

5. Make yourself uncomfortable
When it comes to making your dreams come true, you should know that things won't always be as easy as it seems in the movies, television or on social media. You'll go through much struggle and strife (aka tears), and you'll no doubt have to get out of your comfort zone—but that's a good thing.

"Force yourself to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation," said Jarrett McGovern, founder of Rise Brewing Co., a nitro cold brew coffee company he started in his Brooklyn apartment without any real knowledge of the coffee industry. When you make yourself uncomfortable, you grow. And if you're not growing, then what's the point?

Chinae Alexander, influencer and host of "Press Send" podcast

6. Do good
We know what you're thinking: I'm not a social media influencer, so this doesn't apply to me. That's where you're wrong.

“Maybe no one in this room will ever work in social media—but you have influence in your life as a person, as a woman, as whatever you identify as. You have influence," Chinae told the audience at her How to Build Your Brand on Instagram talk. "So you have to, first of all, take advantage of it. But second of all, feel responsible for the things that you’re putting out into the world—whether you’re talking to one person or a million people.” 

So how can you apply this to your real life? Always strive to do good and to be good, whether that's in school, at work or in your personal life. When you put positivity out into the universe, you get positivity back. 

From L to R: Zandra Cunningham, Kerri Quigley of The Fashion Class, Jarrett McGovern, Karen Bokram

6. Allow yourself to fail
Just as you need to push yourself out of the box, you also need to give yourself the space the mess up. We know this sounds backward, so allow us to explain: We're not here to convince you that getting a C on the English paper you worked really hard on or coming in second at the regional debate tourney will bring you all the warm and fuzzy feels—well, at least not right now. 

"Every single failure that I've ever had has gotten me to a place where I wake up joyful every day," Jarrett told attendees during the How to *Actually* be an Entrepreneur panel. While falling down doesn't feel good in the moment, amazing things can happen *after* you've gotten back up, dusted yourself off and learned a lesson from your failure. 

Alexa Curtis (L) and Daniella Mohazab (R) of Happy Pill

7. Say no
This one is probably a head-scratcher, too, but just hear us out: You need to say no to some things in order to succeed. Eventually you'll get to a point—and you may already be there—where you find that you can't keep up with all the things you have and want to do. That's when you'll need to start saying no, whether that's to something you've already committed to, like tutoring your coach's bestie's little brother in science (when your own HW is piling up...), or an opportunity that's yet to present itself. 

Here's why: "You have to realize that you can't do everything," said Daniella Mohazab, founder and CEO of mental health org Happy Pill, during the Mindful Matters panel. "There will be trade offs, but through that you'll find what makes you happy. It's not going to be easy, but it's possible."

From L to R: Alexa Curtis, Nika Chugh, Zaniya Lewis, Gabby Frost

8. Find your people...
Being fearless and following your dreams can be, well, a lot sometimes. You're constantly putting yourself out there, learning and trying to better yourself, and it's exhausting. Know this: You're not alone. You can lean on your friends, family, S/O, fellow interns, teammates, coworkers—really, anyone you trust who understands you.

Take Gabby Frost, for example. The Buddy Project, the org she founded that aims to prevent suicide and self-harm by pairing people as buddies and raising awareness for mental health, likely wouldn't exist without the following that the 18-year-old cultivated and maintained on her fan account on Twitter prior to starting the org. But The Buddy Project didn't become a success simply because she had a cool 50k followers when she tweeted out the idea for it. It worked because her followers understood it.

"People don’t take girls very seriously," Gabby noted during the Activism and Impact panel, "and I think without having such a supportive community I wouldn’t have been able to keep going."

Amanda Rantuccio (L) and Josie Brown (R) of Hulu

9. ...And then stay in touch
Your peers now will be your peers for year and years to come. It's important to connect with them while you're working together in Girl Scouts, on your art project or elsewhere, and to stay connected with them *after.*

Also important: keeping up with the people that got you to where you are, whether it's your peers, your boss or the person who actually hired you.

"I’ve always worked hard and maintained relationships with the people I’ve worked for or with and that’s always led to my next job," said Amanda Rantuccio, a brand leader at Hulu (formerly of Apple).

Luci Rainey (center) of Comcast

Luci Rainey, SVP Consumer Marketing and Marketing Tech at Comcast, agreed, also noting, "At the end of the day, it’s your relationships that are going to further your path in life."

Josie Brown and Amanda Rantuccio of Hulu

10. Keep learning
For those on the brink of graduation, know this: "You don't have to know everything," Amanda shared during the Secrets of Success from the World’s Coolest Companies panel. "Do things you like and new opportunities will always present themselves."

Luci also provided a simple, similar sentiment to the high school and college students at the event: "Take risks."

We need to know: What's your biggest goal in life? How are you pursuing your passions? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Photo credit: All photos courtesy BG Productions Photography and Videography

Now that you're ready to conquer your goals and reach your dreams, you can enter to win an empowering period prize pack sponsored by Pamprin, Summer's Eve, Blume, ZapZyt and Rael. Simply click the pink button below the slideshow to enter. (Don't see the button? No worries. Just log into your GL account or create a new one, then it'll appear.)

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    Did someone say free?
    Swag bags filled with Pamprin, Post-it Brand, Summer's Eve, Blume, OOLY, Yoobi, Conair, ZapZyt, Smashmallow and more!

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    Camera ready
    Fujifilm ready to give away goodies at the 2019 Be Fearless Summit.

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    Say cheese!
    Attendees perusing Fujifilm snaps and chatting cameras. 

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    Teamwork makes the dream work
    Team Girls' Life and the host with the most: Alexa Curtis, ofc.

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    Media mavens
    Chinae Alexander and Kelsey Haywood Lucas, Girls' Life magazine's content and marketing director, dissect the realities of social media.


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by GL | 3/24/2019