One of the first questions we asked Mary Lynne was “Is this where you imagined you’d be?” Her answer? “No.” Mary Lynne imagined she would marry Jacques Cousteau’s son, become an oceanographer and Harvard Professor, and in turn have won a Nobel Prize by now. She may not be doing what she expected and planned, but Mary Lynne seized every opportunity she could, leading her to the life she lives now. (And a Nobel Prize isn’t out of the question just yet!)

Don’t map it all out: The best advice Mary Lynne has to give is to not define your path. As a student and a young professional, you think you have to have it all mapped out; a plan in place that will guide you through the next forty odd years. But having a plan set in place before your career and life really begin closes a lot of doors. Worry about getting through the next year. When opportunity knocks, see what it has to say. Don’t ignore it because it isn’t a part of your plan.

When do you make that change?: When you are comfortable. Once you have grown comfortable in your role, you are contributing more to your company’s growth than your company is contributing to your growth. Ask yourself: Am I being challenged? Am I learning new things? If the answer is no, then it is time to make a change.

Overcoming the fear of failure: When she starts to worry about failure, Mary Lynne’s mantra is “So what if I fail? What is the worst that will happen? The sun will still come up tomorrow. I will still have my family. I will have this experience. I will figure it out.” No matter what it is, you will come through it. You will figure it out and move on because you have to. It is going to be fine.

Self-doubt: What’s the biggest thing holding women back? Self-doubt. Mary Lynne says women need to remember that they are leaders. They inspire people. They have the potential to do anything.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions: When she started her first business, Mary Lynne knew nothing about business. So she surrounded herself with people who did. She asked questions from those who had the experience and listened to their advice. People want to give back and help. Just ask. The worst they can say is “no”.

The Ripple Effect: Thinking of the Ripple Effect is a great way to put the fear of failure and self-doubt into perspective. Mary Lynne encourages us to remember that even if you are only impacting one person, that is still a huge success. In impacting that one person, you also impacted an entire family, and in turn a community, a town, a country and so on.

Procrastination: Making sure you are reaching your goals and staying challenged can sometimes be confusing and hard. Mary Lynne suggests drawing up a list of 10 life goals you want to accomplish – whether it be in 5, 10 or 20 years. Every day do something to hit your goal. Even if you only accomplish up to goal 3, it’s still progress. For a more in-depth reference, check out her book recommendation Eat that Frog!. You can think of Mary Lynne feeding her frog Pearl as you read!


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