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Julia Polk: How to Take a Career Break and Come Back Confident

How do we balance the demands of work and family? It’s a dilemma most career women face, and one that Julia Polk confronted when she had two young daughters at home. Her solution would take her on a non-linear journey to success as an investment banker and healthcare executive. “I’ve come and gone a bunch of times” from the workforce, she says. “I think my children benefited from it — I know I did.” Today Julia is chief financial officer of healthcare startup IQuity and a valued mentor to...


Maneet Chauhan: Lessons on Career and Family from a Celebrity Chef

Maneet Chauhan left her native India to attend the Culinary Institute of America and has gone on to become a culinary ambassador for Indian food in her roles as a chef, restaurant owner, cookbook author and Food Network star. She made it to the top of the male-dominated food world as the mother of two young children, including a son who was born on the day her first restaurant opened in Nashville. The irrepressible Maneet shares how she discovered her love of cooking as a child growing up...


Caroline Hobby "Getting Real" Navigating Fear to Find Peace

As a member of the Top 40 country music trio Stealing Angels, Caroline Hobby thought she’d landed just where she always wanted — on the top rungs of the music business. But when the trio broke up and her dream crumbled, she was forced to re-envision her life and begin a journey toward a meaningful new career. Host of the popular celebrity podcast “Get Real!” and entertainment correspondent for CMT, Caroline tell us what she learned about the meaning of success during her two appearances...


The Voices Behind Her Story of Success

Why would two busy young women with career, family and volunteer commitments take on the challenge of starting a podcast? Find out what launched Leah and Ellen on their journey to share the stories of high-achieving women, an endeavor that’s become all-the-more relevant in the #metoo era. This time around, our podcast hosts turn the tables and interview each other about their career paths and the personal challenges they’ve faced. For Leah, a turning point came when she found the courage to...


Cordia Harrington: The ‘Bun Lady’ Shares Her Recipe for Success

After establishing herself as a successful McDonald’s franchisee, Cordia Harrington was determined to take her career to the next level by becoming a supplier for the world’s largest restaurant chain. Her efforts were rejected 31 times before McDonald’s finally gave her the go-ahead to launch a bakery business. Today Cordia, also known as “the bun lady,” is CEO of The Bakery Cos., which sells more than $100 million of buns and other baked goods annually to McDonald’s, grocery stores and...


Retta Gardner: The Importance of Raising Your Hand

Retta Gardner’s career proves that you don’t have to leap from company to company to work your way to the top. For more than two decades, Retta has stayed with Guaranty Trust Mortgage Co., one of the top 100 mortgage companies in the U.S., making herself visible along the way and seeking out challenging new assignments whenever she could. She’s now CEO of the billion-dollar mortgage lender, and she credits a strong work ethic and continuous learning as key factors in her rise to the...


Diana Warner: The Taylor Swift Effect

Fashion and jewelry designer Diana Warner learned something special about success from observing Taylor Swift, who surrounds herself with fiercely loyal and protective people. Diana calls it the “Taylor Swift effect” — the desire to build a network of supporters who protect you so you can give back to the world. “I wasn’t really aware of how to say no,” she tells us, and unless you learn how to say no, “you don’t have anything left to give.” Diana shares the story behind the 2005 launch of...


Jessica Harthcock: Pushing Past the Obstacles to Success

At the age of 17, Jessica Harthcock suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury during a gymnastics training session, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. Though doctors told her she would never walk again, she learned to walk unassisted after six years of intensive therapy. That same determination led her to launch Utilize Health, a growing business that helps patients find the best treatment for neurological conditions. Jessica tells us what it was like to be thrust into the...


Mignon Francois: Believing in the power of your own ideas

Mignon Francois’s family was drowning in debt and down to their last $5 when a neighbor knocked on the door and placed an order for 600 cupcakes from her fledgling home bakery in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood. Mignon decided to take the last few dollars she had and buy ingredients to bake more cupcakes, a decision that ultimately “got us out of debt, out of brokenness and turned us into the number one bakery in Tennessee.” Founder and CEO of The Cupcake Collection and mother of six,...


Misty Mayes: A CEO in the Role of Servant Leader

Misty Mayes believes that every organization and every person is capable of positive change — an attitude that led her to launch a management consulting firm that has garnered national business awards and won acclaim for its commitment to community service. Misty formed Management Solutions in 2002 after a successful career as an industrial engineer and project manager, all while raising three sons with her husband Sam. She once turned down an opportunity to meet with President Obama so she...


Marcie Allen: A Music Industry Visionary Redefines Success

After a decade in the music business, Marcie Allen “saw a huge void that was waiting to be filled” and launched MAC Presents, an agency that creates partnerships between leading brands and top artists like the Rolling Stones and Foo Fighters. The agency's success has made Marcie a powerful figure in the music industry, but she’s quick to reveal that her climb to the top was marked by challenges, stumbles and setbacks — as well as a personal reappraisal of what success really means. Marcie...


Holly Coltea: When Career Meets Motherhood

Holly Coltea moved to New York City as a young woman and achieved many of her lifelong goals — working for a Madison Avenue ad agency, earning her M.B.A and succeeding in the corporate world. But like many young women, she found that having children forced her to re-evaluate the direction of her career. “When you have kids, it is clear as day — what you need to be doing and what you don’t need to be doing,” she says. Holly chose to get off the corporate treadmill, move back to her hometown...


Amy Tanksley: From Boardroom to Barbershop

Amy Tanksley grew up thinking that risk was a four-letter word and that choosing a job in corporate America was following a safe path. But after a rough and tumble experience in the volatile oil and gas industry in Houston, she set out on a quest for risk she could control, and in 2008 opened Uncle Classic Barbershop, which now has 5 locations in Nashville. In today's episode, Amy discusses the wake-up call of almost starting her career at Enron, the challenge of finding funding for a...


Erica Rains: Success Is Not A Number

Erica Rains has made a career out of constantly finding new ways to connect with people. After nearly two decades working in public relations, advertising, radio, and TV, Erica decided to seek out a new challenge by opening a restaurant and catering business, The Chef & I, with her talented chef husband, Chris. Erica and Chris celebrated the restaurant’s new location, which offers cooking classes and a chef training program, in downtown Nashville. In today’s episode, Erica talks about the...


Tonya Lewis: Trading Complacency for Courage

Five years ago, Tonya Lewis chose to leave a safe career in school counseling to open a business in one of the most risky and challenging industries: restaurants. But after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, Tonya’s coffee shop and café, The Post East, has blossomed into a neighborhood favorite for healthy eating, great coffee, and a community space for bringing neighbors and friends together. In this episode, Tonya talks about the challenge of walking away from a career with certainty and...


BONUS EPISODE - Kathleen Burns Kingsbury: Achieving Expert Status

In this bonus episode hosted by past Her Story of Success guest Rita Mitchell and recorded before a live studio audience at a women and wealth conference in Nashville, Kathleen Burns Kingsbury talks about how she made the journey from clinical psychology to financial empowerment counseling, becoming a published author with nothing more than a copy of “Writing for Dummies”, and the overlap between self-esteem and financial success. As a wealth psychology expert, Kathleen believes financial...


Rita Mitchell: Overcoming the Nos

Rita Mitchell (IG: @ritapmitchell_oyp) summarizes her story with one word – determination. And her career proves it. A 35 year veteran of the financial services industry, Rita went from being told she didn’t have enough experience to be a waitress at Red Lobster to a top executive at First Tennessee Bank, breaking barriers at every step along the way. In that time, she passed the Series 7 broker exam with a 6 month old baby, started her own financial advisory company, and left all of her...


Courtney Whitmore: Turning a passion into a lifestyle brand

After finishing college, Courtney Whitmore (IG:@pizzazzerie) took a safe, secure job as a career counselor, but she soon realized she wanted something entirely different — a creative pursuit where she could be her own boss. Looking back on that time in her life, she says, “I knew I wanted to work for myself but I didn’t know what that looked like.” Since hosting dinner parties was a favorite activity, she decided to launch a website in 2010 to focus on entertaining and party planning. Today...


Corbette Doyle: The career rewards of lifelong learning

Corbette Doyle describes herself as a “serial expert,” one who consistently pursues new information and builds new skills. It was this career approach that brought her leadership roles at Aon, a Chicago-based consulting and risk management firm where she built a health care industry practice from the ground up and served as Chief Diversity Officer. Now a Senior Lecturer in Organizational Leadership at Vanderbilt University, Corbette says it’s vital that women lay the groundwork for career...


Ruta Sepetys: An acclaimed writer finds her voice

Ruta Sepetys (twitter:@rutasepetys) is one of the most admired writers in contemporary children’s literature — with the bestsellers Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray among her riveting historical novels for young readers. But it was only after a 22-year career as a music business manager that she finally found the courage to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. The turning point was a trip to her father’s homeland in Lithuania, where she discovered a long hidden family secret....