Stephanie Eidelman
Mar 12 4 min read

3 Lessons About Growth and Leadership That Could Have Changed My Life a Long Time Ago

Stephanie Meisel Eidelman is the owner & CEO of ‘Women in Consumer Finance,’ a serious leadership development event and an intimate, high-energy experience where attendees make genuine friendships, build stronger networks, and enhance their executive skills, all while dedicating time to their career aspirations. Stephanie is a member of the Women's Presidents Organization (WPO), serves on the board of LIFT (whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty), and is a Vital Voices Global Partnership 2023 VV Grow Fellow. Her passion is to get more women to the tables where decisions are support more inclusive financial services, more satisfying and rewarding careers, and financial independence for all women.

In my 35-year career, I’ve realized three essential lessons about growth and leadership. They apply personally as well as professionally.  

First is that growth comes from discomfort.

I run an annual women’s leadership summit. Sometimes, I recruit speakers and workshop leaders who were attendees in the prior year and stood out. Typically, I notice their fabulous energy and authenticity and want to give them the chance to be on stage. 

Some require convincing. They suggest maybe their boss should have the opportunity instead. I’m not deterred; I know they are nervous and this may be out of their comfort zone. But boy, will they grow and gain confidence from the experience, and afterward, they will be proud and happy they did it. 

I also know that others will be inspired because they’ll see someone like them on stage and think they can do it too. 

And this is exactly what happens. Lives are changed – both on stage and off – every year. 

To quote a saying made popular by Joyce Meyer that captures this beautifully, “Do it afraid.” And just as importantly, if you’re not afraid, pay it forward and support someone else who is doing it afraid. You just may change a life.


Second is that your network is your most valuable asset

You have probably heard of Stacey Abrams, the politician and voting rights advocate from Georgia. But you may not know that she’s also an accomplished author of both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a kick-ass entrepreneur. In the book she co-authored called Level Up, she said, among other terrific nuggets of advice, “Your network is your net worth.”  

Achieving success often involves building and maintaining strong relationships with people who support and advocate for your goals. Additionally, if you possess social or professional capital, it's important to be generous with it and assist deserving individuals who may need access to opportunities. 


Third is that being intentional is incredibly powerful.

I listened to a podcast recently where Hillary Clinton interviewed Amanda Gorman, the famous young American Poet who read her poem, The Hill We Climb, at Joe Biden’s inauguration. One thing especially struck me. Amanda wants to be president in 2036. Evidently, she knew this in middle school. 

Many of us had dreams in middle school. For instance, my son was absolutely sure he would be a professional baseball player, but he had no particular plans to practice.  Amanda, however, took her dream so seriously that she decided then and there that she would post no selfies or extra social media that might affect her ability to run for office in the future. If you’re lucky, you had an encouraging family who said, you go, girl and supported your ambitions. Apparently, Amanda’s twin sister took it just as seriously because she made the same pledge to curb her social media because she knew her behavior could affect her sister’s political aspirations.

I share this because I thought, “Wow, what an example of working on your career consciously and paving your path.” Of course, Amanda is not the President (yet). But she’s still in her twenties and look at what she’s accomplished. You can bet that her focus and intention setting contributed to the success she’s already had.

These are lessons I wish I had absorbed much earlier in my life. But then, we often have to learn things for ourselves in order to appreciate their truth and power.


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