Adweek magazine interviewed five of the advertising/media world’s most powerful women for its Women’s Issue. The stated topic was “The triumphs and trials of smashing the ceiling.” Offering their opinions are Nadja Bellan-White, senior partner and managing director of Ogilvy & Mather; Mika Brzezinski (shown), co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”; Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles; Sarah Hofstetter, CEO of digital marketing agency 360i; and Nancy Reyes, managing director of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, New York City.

To the first question asked, “Is there something like a cool factor about being empowered in the workplace?” Coles responds,Well, I think it’s more than a cool factor. I mean, it’s what’s happening in the culture—and it’s about damn time it’s happening in the culture. Suddenly, I think women are feeling more comfortable talking about it. I think people like Mika and Sheryl [Sandberg, who both pen career advice content for Cosmo] have led the way for women to own their ambition. And the really shocking thing is how few female leaders there are still, and that’s what we need to be working on. The message that we feel resonates in the magazine, that we’ve really seen resonate is about female leadership and about women fessing up to being ambitious and wanting big jobs, a lot of money and leadership roles.”

Asked why she is one of few women who run ad agencies, Hofstetter says, “I can say that I think there aren’t more largely because a lot of agencies end up mirroring the clients, and the clients haven’t necessarily turned over nearly as much. So when there are CEOs walking into a room and then the senior clients are all men, and they say to you, ‘Oh, hi. How are you?’ and I say, ‘Hi, I’m Sarah,’ they say, ‘Oh, so what do you do?’—as if I’m an account executive. And I say, ‘Oh, I’m CEO.’ ‘Really?’”

The best piece of advice Hofstetter says she has received? “The best I got—and listening to people here, it looks like either you’ve gotten it or you’ve given it to yourself—is, you are going to be spending a lot of time working, so you better love what you do. And I’ve switched my career a couple of times, and I think that that was what gave me my North Star—you have to love what you do. Because you’re trying to inspire a lot of other people, you’re spending a lot of time doing it, and it’s got to be rewarding. So somebody gave me advice very early on: If you’re going to be spending all this time, you better love what you do. And when you don’t, it’s time to do something else.”

Brzezinski shares the best advice she received: “The best advice I’ve ever gotten is advice I give to young women … especially young women trying to get into television and this type of career, but any type of high-level, high-stress job: Don’t forget to get married and have kids if that’s something you want. A good guy is hard to find, and the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life. And for me, anything that I’m doing in my career is, for me personally, not worth it if I don’t have a family to share it with. And when I was fired and I went home, I was very proud of that decision because I would have been really upset if I had passed up on that opportunity.

“But I think it actually is the best advice because I think nothing makes you better at what you do and who you are than having a partner in life and children to raise. That’s my opinion—some people choose not to have that. It is also the worst advice I’ve ever gotten. Because it’s hard, and they don’t like you back sometimes. Do you notice that, teenage girls … What? They don’t like you.”

Read the complete Adweek interview here. Whose answers do you find most compelling? Share your thoughts at

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