Redefine Power with Moira Forbes

ForbesWoman is redefining power and Moira Forbes is wielding the pen, setting out to make her mark on the world of journalism and media.

You know ForbesWoman as the prestigious publication that creates the list of the The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and you might have even seen our own Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide, featured as one of the Power Redefined Spotlights on the Forbes website in May. So what is Moira’s role? As President and Publisher of ForbesWoman, she’s the woman behind the company with the Forbes name and the creative vision to back it up, leading the publication towards a future that recognizes power in the board room and in the community. This month, Dress for Success spoke with Moira Forbes to find out what makes the everyday women of today the power women of tomorrow.

More often than not, the most successful people are the ones fueled by a passion for what they do. Moira is no different, having set her sights on a career in journalism from an early age. “I had always been fascinated with media ever since I was a child. Whether I was doing makeshift interviews with giant home video recorders or publishing a newspaper, it had always been a passion of mine.”

Soon, Moira went from pretend publisher to up-and-coming journalist, graduating from Princeton University and Harvard Business School in pursuit of her media ambitions. In 2001, she dived headfirst into her career at Forbes, joining the London office to work for ForbesGlobal. Representing four generations of publishers, Moira launched ForbesWoman in 2008, creating a multimedia platform to service women in business and leadership. “We like to think of ourselves as a 96-year-old start up at Forbes, and this women’s initiative was just that.”

And she didn’t stop there. Moira is also the founder of Forbes Executive Women’s Board and the host of Success with Moira Forbes, a dynamic video series that features exclusive interviews with women such as Sheryl Sandberg, Bethenny Frankel and Arianna Huffington. Speaking with power women about the ups and downs of their career, Moira uncovers the true essence of their success.

“Sometimes when you have a passion that you know has a higher purpose and value to the community or a vision that can change the world, you think that in itself is enough. But to create a community around it, you need to do a lot of communication. Other people may be supportive, but you still need to get them on board.”

So how do you turn doubters into believers? Moira knows it’s easier said than done. When she first pitched the idea for ForbesWoman, few people were eager to invest in a publication that gave women business advice instead of beauty tips. “Someone said, ‘Fifty percent of financial decision makers are women, but we don’t really market to women.’ It was a wake up call to me. When you’re doing something new, you constantly have to bring it to life.”

Determined to transform her innovative idea into a thriving reality, Moira quickly learned that the best way to win over the skeptics was to speak their language. “My greatest growth was coming to understand that I had to help people see the opportunity through the lens of their business and perspective.” Ironically, taking a step back to see the bigger picture is what often helps us narrow in on our success. An even better view, Moira says, is the one you gain from someone else’s angle.

Not only has ForbesWoman become a pivotal media force in identifying the world’s most powerful women, but it has also become a leader in redefining the very meaning of power. Whether she’s making a Forbes list or a grocery list, Moira believes that women leading initiatives of community outreach should be ranked right alongside those leading boardrooms of major corporations.

“The whole definition of power has changed dramatically over the past decade. Especially for women, there are now more opportunities to exert power in untraditional ways. Power today is defined by influence, not just the control of companies, currencies and countries. It’s about whether you can you shape opinion and champion a cause you believe in.”

And if the measure of power is the reach of our influence, then our impact upon the world is determined by what we choose to do with it. Economic independence may be the first milestone on the journey to success, but Moira wants you to know that changing course afterwards may lead to the most rewarding opportunities. “The power women on our list take their influence and experience in one arena to drive change in another. None of these women have charted their course in conventional ways.”

Moving forward, Moira is taking her own advice to heart and leading ForbesWoman down the road less traveled. Focusing on the ForbesWoman website, she wants women like you to become an active part of the discussion that inspires her work. “ForbesWoman is a content continuum and we want to create powerful opportunities for women to connect with each other around that content, as well as network with one another.”

Redefine what power means to you! These three tips from Moira will help you influence your career and make your mark on the world:

1. Communicate your ambitions.  Never assume that people know your career aspirations. Far too often, we think if we put our head down and work hard that people will recognize our ambitions. People aren’t mind readers. Always communicate your aspirations and accomplishments.

2. Redefine failure, and then fail more. It’s a scary word for many us, but if you redefine failure as taking a calculated risk you’ll take on new challenges and grow. The toughest experiences in our lives are the ones that provide the greatest insight. Push yourself.

3. Give yourself a break. Power women always say that they wish they were less hard on themselves. We’re all our own toughest critics, but take a step back and ask yourself, “In five or ten years, is this going to matter?” You have to take a step back to gain perspective.

2 comments

  1. Hi, my name is Hillary Wylie and I am twenty years old living in New York City, attending fashion school, working in the fashion industry, involved in charity work, and trying to make a living in New York City. After reading this article, it truly gave me more motivation and determination to continue my dreams and never give up. I truly believe that woman can make a difference in this world and Maria seems to be a huge inspiration to woman and has proven herself to many people. I could not agree more with Maria’s three tips that will help you influence your career and make your mark on the world. I complete agree that it is so important to communicate with others, everyone is so busy trying to work their hardest and it is so important to always communicate with one another rather it be your teachers, your co-workers, your parents, your friends etc. No one can read minds while trying to work hard and follow their dreams and passion. I have learned that if you always communicate it only builds strength amongst your piers. Secondly, I agree that failure is a scary word but we all have to fail in order to build our strength. Every time you fail you only get stronger and learn from your mistakes. It is hard for people to accept failure sometimes, but the people that can accept it and learn from it tend to continue and move on and only learn. Challenge is something we all have to face in order to succeed. I am only twenty years old and have learned the more I challenge myself and take risks the more I learn and the more I can accomplish. It takes a lot of strength out of me, but I know in the end it is always worth it. You must have a mind set that you want to succeed and you must surround yourself by people that support you and want the best for you and you must do the same for them. Life is not easy and we all have to learn the hard way sometimes. Lastly, it is so important to take breaks and give yourself some breathing room. If we push ourselves to hard we only fail if we do not take breaks when we know we should. We all want to keep going and never give up but there is a point and time where we must stop and take a break in order for our minds to rest and breath and then start again so we can continue our passions, careers, and dreams. I am always open to sharing my stories and helping others! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me!

    1. I firmly believe that the key to success is to follow your passion – whatever that might be i.e. working with people, teaching our young, developing new technologies, creating exciting new fashion trends etc. I worked in the magazine business for many years and every day I woke up excited to go to work. I saw firsthand that with a little luck, and alot of hard work I was on the right path. My career started at the bottom with an entry level internship position (unpaid) after college but led to a full time paid position a short time later. In five years, I went from an Account Manager position (selling ad space) to Publisher and never looked back. I went to every industry event I could and grabbed every business card from every person I met and followed up with an email saying how much I enjoyed meeting them. I volunteered at many of these events so I wouldn’t have to pay the hefty ticket prices. With a little creative thinking you can do the same! Wishing all of my sisters much luck as they pave the way for their own success in life.

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