The following quotes are excerpts from Marianne Schnall’s interviews, many of which appear in full in her book What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?: Conversations About Women, Leadership and Power.



“I think women just have to be willing to step up, take risks, take chances, and know there will be some setbacks. One of my favorite sayings is that setbacks are always an opportunity for a comeback. I think when you’re willing to take those risks, no matter what they are, that it can be a very rewarding, satisfying career, no matter what business you decide to go into.”

— Mary Fallin • Governor of Oklahoma 


“Being brave is not being unafraid but feeling the fear—and doing it anyway. Since we are communal animals, find one or more other people who share our experience, and who support us in talking about it and finding a solution. When you feel fear, try using it as a signal that something really important is about to happen.” 

— Gloria Steinem  Writer, Political Activist, Feminist Icon

“Here’s the one thing that I worry about: we’re not willing to make mistakes. We’re very nervous about making a wrong move and we worry that if we make the wrong move, then the consequences will mean that we never recover from them. It’s okay—in fact, it’s better than okay—to make mistakes, really big mistakes sometimes. So I would want to say to young women, ‘Hey, run for office, even if you think you’re going to lose. Take a hard class, even if you’re going to get a C in it. Go ahead and follow love, even if it doesn’t work out.’ Just a little bit of courage to make mistakes, because that strikes me as where all the good stuff happens.” 

— Melissa Harris-Perry • Professor, Author, Political Commentator 


“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. If may even be necessary to encounter the defeat so that we can know who we are. So that we can say, ‘Oh, that happened, and I rose. I did get knocked down flat in front of the whole world, and I rose. I didn’t run away; I rose right where I’d been knocked down.’ That’s how you get to know yourself. You say, ‘I can get up! I have so much courage in me that I have the effrontery, the incredible gall, to stand up.’ That’s how you get to know who you are.” 

— Maya Angelou  Poet, Writer, Civil Rights Activist 


“Be passionate about what you believe in and do not be afraid to stand alone, because you may find yourself in a position one day where you have to stand alone. When you know it’s that important, don’t be afraid. That doesn’t mean it’s easy; it isn’t. But if you know that if you feel strongly about a certain position and certain values or a certain view, and if you believe you’re right, then you should be able to stand alone.” 

Olympia Snowe  Former Senator of Maine