By Carrie Kerpen, CEO
#GirlCrush. This hashtag-able term has become a bit of a phenomenon on social media over the past few years. It’s how we express our admiration for fellow women--often in regard to their looks. Whether it’s an Instagram photo of a celebrity or our BFF, we’re eager to gush: “Stunning. Gorg. Want to be her.” But as much as I agree that Emilia Clarke is crazy beautiful, there’s someone else I’d much rather hear you rave about: your #BusinessGirlCrush.
A “business girl crush” is a woman we admire for her attractive career, her striking confidence, and her gorgeous ability to lead. She’s someone we channel when we want to feel like a better version of ourselves--in work and in life.
Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting plenty of women who fit the bill. But my biggest business crushes are two women who fully represent the kind of leader I want to be: Sheryl Sandberg and Bev Thorne. I’ve long admired Sheryl for her ability to significantly impact a business. The ad models of both YouTube and Facebook were revolutionized thanks to Sheryl. As for Bev, who currently serves as the CMO of Freedom Mortgage, I’m in awe of the way she dazzles any room she enters with her quick thinking. I also love how she challenges everything in a way that makes you rethink your own approach and figure out how to improve it.
I’m curious to know what qualities others admire most about their own business girl crushes. So I turned to the women of my podcast, “All the Social Ladies,” and asked them that very question: “Who do you look up to most in business? And why?”
Here are a few of my favorite responses.
Cara Friedman, Head of Social Media at ClassPass
“I've always been a huge fan of Aliza Licht* (EVP Brand Marketing & Communications, alice + olivia). She's a trailblazer when it comes to PR and social, but more important, her passion for mentoring is admirable. She's a super successful leader, is constantly giving back to a younger generation, and gives chances to young professionals.”
Heather Neary, President at Auntie Anne’s, Inc.
“Wendy Clark! She's a powerful executive, mom, and wife. She is honest and real and doesn't sugar coat stuff. She is really candid about the challenges she faces in her roles. I heard her speak at a Coca-Cola women's event. When someone asked her about balance, she blatantly said, ‘Balance is 50/50. There's no such thing as work/life balance. I admit that and recognize that and when I'm home, I am 100% present for my kids. But I'm also a better mom because of my career.’ I'm paraphrasing to some degree, but you get the gist.” Wendy is currently the CEO AT DDB Worldwide.
Kate Retherford, Social Media Marketing Manager at T-Mobile
“Jen Johnson, VP of CARE Operations at Frontier Communications, where I used to work. After starting in the call center, she spent approximately 15 years working her way up. She's done everything from business ops to social media, and so much more! She does it all while being calm, cool, and collected. I have never heard her raise her voice or lead with anything but understanding and patience.”
Lorraine Hale, Sr. Director of Marketing at Bimbo Bakeries USA
“Aside from my go-to, Oprah, I would say Indra Nooyi, who is the CEO of PepsiCo and has done an amazing job of leading the company into new market platforms, has advanced diversity and inclusion initiatives there, and has spoken openly about her struggles to balance work and life when her children were young.”
What do these crushes all have in common? They’re strong, fearless female leaders. Women are already judged too much on their looks. Let’s celebrate their leadership instead.
Who’s your #BusinessGirlCrush?
Carrie Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable Media, a social media agency. She is passionate about social media, and connecting women in digital via her podcast, All The Social Ladies. Tweet her @carriekerpen.
This post originally appear on Forbes.