Women around the world share lessons learned during the pandemic

By Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 11:48 a.m. ET, March 12, 2021
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2:15 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Katie Horwitch, founder "Women Against Negative Talk"

Katie Horwitch, founder of "Women Against Negative Talk," said the biggest lesson she's learned from the pandemic is about having the power to face your fears.

"True fearlessness is when the fear you have of a situation is less than the faith you have in yourself."

"Lowering your fear is super hard. And to be honest, I’d never advise anyone to write over their fear (and definitely wouldn’t ever order them to just “think positive” and ignore the rest.) Fear is there for a reason. It’s a human emotion and serves an important purpose," she explained.

"But upping your faith? That’s a different story. Every tiny thing you have faith in – notice it. It counts. List out the reasons you already have to have faith in who you are. And slowly, the fear-to-faith scales start to tip from the fear over to the faith."

1:56 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Brandi Rhodes, professional wrestler

Brandi Rhodes, professional wrestler and the chief brand officer for All Elite Wrestling, said the pandemic taught her that you "always have to be able to adjust and adapt on the spot."

"Things are changing and you just have to be malleable. You have to make it happen. You also have to be super sensitive to people’s feelings. Everyone is experiencing this pandemic in a different way. So always just be attuned that, hey, you’re not the only one in this, there are other people in this. We’re all in this together."

2:08 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Lily Rabe, American actress

From CNN's Jacqueline Rose

Actress Lily Rabe.
Actress Lily Rabe. Courtesy Lily Rabe

Actress Lily Rabe told CNN the pandemic showed her "an uphill day doesn't necessarily mean a bad tomorrow."

“One thing this time has profoundly reiterated to me is how emotional arcs are never linear. An uphill day doesn’t necessarily mean a bad tomorrow. Find whatever it is that can bring you back to the present moment, again and again and again.”

1:59 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Moogega Cooper, planetary protection engineer for the Mars Mission

From CNN's Gloria De Leon

Moogega Cooper is the lead planetary protection engineer for Mars 2020 and is involved with the InSight Mission, preventing NASA satellites and probes from contaminating other planets.

"Living through the pandemic has taught me many things but one of the lessons learned is the importance of constantly sharpening ones communications skills," she told CNN.

"In the time of virtual meetings and interactions, it’s important to remember that your colleagues aren’t mind readers and nor are you. So understanding the person’s communication style and understanding your dynamic will really allow you to keep that positive momentum going."

"Living through the pandemic has also shown me that humans are capable of remarkable things and of PERSEVERING through very difficult times. So let’s keep surprising ourselves and doing fantastic things in this world," she added.

1:10 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Sheryl Sandberg, founder of "Lean In"

From CNN's Poppy Harlow and Nora Neus

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and founder of "Lean In," said the pandemic has impacted women more than men but it has also shown us how strong women are.

"Women are strong, women do the great majority of the world’s work," she told CNN.

"We are in the middle of a health crisis, we are in the middle of an economic crisis, and we’re in the middle of a crisis for women. But through it, we know how strong we are, we find that strength inside, and we help not just pull ourselves through it, but we help other women."
12:53 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Dr. Ala Stanford, founder of the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium

From CNN's Gloria De Leon

Dr. Ala Stanford is a pediatric surgeon and founder of the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium, an organization focused on advocacy and education for African Americans to reduce the incidence of disease and death from coronavirus.

She told CNN she's proud that her innovation and my action during the pandemic "saved people’s lives because we decided that the lives of Black and Brown people mattered."

"What I am most proud of is that it was an idea that materialized into action and saved lives and that now we are part of education and advocacy and reducing the health disparities in Philadelphia and that is long lasting, saving lives and lifetimes and now administering the Coronavirus vaccine so we’ve only just begun." 

12:33 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Lauren Bush Lauren, co-founder FEED Projects

From CNN's Poppy Harow and Nora Neus

Lauren Bush Lauren, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of FEED Projects.
Lauren Bush Lauren, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of FEED Projects. Courtesy Lauren Bush Lauren

Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of FEED Projects, Lauren Bush Lauren, describes how pre-pandemic she was trying to do it all.

"Be a present mom, manage my family's busy life and activities while also be a stellar CEO and go above and beyond on the work front," she told CNN.

"This striving for an unachievable state of productivity and perfection often left me feeling like I was falling short in one or many areas. One big lesson I have learned during this time of necessary pause is the need to release the idea of a 'perfect' mom/CEO/friend and set more reasonable expectations for myself; in essence be easier on myself."

Lauren acknowledged that this is often easier said than done but urged women "to be kind to themselves and also prioritize some time to do things that feed their souls while also being present for those who rely on them." 

12:13 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Kristine Rodriguez, founder of GRL Collective

From CNN's Veronica Rocha

Kristine Rodriguez, founder of Latina-owned lifestyle brand GRL Collective, said the pandemic has taught her to save some compassion for yourself.

“What’s one lesson I've learned is to not only have empathy, compassion, and patience for others but to save some for yourself.”
12:17 p.m. ET, March 8, 2021

Dawn Ostroff, Spotify chief content officer

From CNN's Molly Shiels

Dawn Ostroff, Spotify's chief content officer.
Dawn Ostroff, Spotify's chief content officer. Rick Loomis

Spotify's chief content officer Dawn Ostroff reminded us about the importance of boundaries.

"Find the space to think big picture. In order to be your best self professionally and personally, compartmentalizing your time and establishing a finite end to the work day and the beginning of the evening is crucial," she told CNN.

Ostroff's advice comes as many people, both men and women, are working from home, blurring the lines between our personal and professional lives.

"Try to take yourself off of the zoom screen hamster wheel and make time for visionary and creative thinking about your business and your life," she added.