1. Every girl needs girlfriends.
I always make time to kick off my shoes and let my hair down with girlfriends. I count on them to keep me centered and tell it like it is. And to trade clothes with me.

2. Nothing beats being yourself.
My grandmother, a five-foot, no-nonsense spark plug, loved to tell dirty jokes. She didn't have a college degree, but her saucy personality helped her thrive as a secretary in the state legislature—and she taught me that being true to myself might actually help me get ahead.

3. Body image matters.
After I had kids, I struggled with my weight, and male colleagues said horrible things about my appearance. I hated how my confidence dipped so low because of something superficial, but then I realized that it's good to know I feel my best when I'm happy inside and out.

4. Sometimes losing is winning.
I took up squash at Dartmouth and once had to play against Yale's second-best starter. I almost chickened out, telling my coach that I was afraid of losing and looking like a failure. She replied that losing isn't failure; quitting is failure. I did end up losing—badly!—but three decades later, I still follow her advice.

5. Politics should be about people.
While trying to pass a health bill for workers exposed to toxins in the aftermath of 9/11, I got wrapped up in legislation—until a senator said I needed to convey why the proposal was truly important to me. She helped me see that facts and figures count, but people are at the heart of every issue. Having empathy matters most.


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