ALTOONA, Iowa — Kathy Ireland is a supermodel-turned-megabusiness owner. But she said it’s the failures of her career that have taught her the most.
“I’m a slow learner,” she admitted, shortly before speaking to a capacity crowd of 800 at a Prairie Meadows ballroom, where she headlined the Iowa Women Lead Change Conference.
Ireland said one of the best things about her modeling career was rejection. “I didn’t realize it or appreciate it at the time,” she said.
But she said that rejection pushed her for a world beyond modeling. “I’ve never felt comfortable earning my paycheck based on how someone else perceived how I looked,” Ireland said.
And that’s saying something for a woman who starred as a swimsuit model for more than a decade straight in Sports Illustrated and made big money doing it.
Ireland built an empire outside of her modeling career that started with selling her own line of socks. Now that empire has grown to more than $2 billion in annual revenue by selling those socks, along with wigs, furniture, books and videos. “The rejection gave me the perseverance to say…’you said, no, but at least we’re talking.’”
Now, Ireland is talking as she hopes to inspire other women to follow their dreams. Part of her advice for women is not to agree to do everything. “I was 40 years old before I learned ‘no’ was a complete sentence.”
“We have to say ‘no’ to good things in order to do great things,” Ireland said.
Her other bits of advice:
–Learn to delegate
–Have a strategy
–Don’t let other’s opinions destroy you
–“My CEO skills are my mom’s skills”