shoes

Jimmy Choo co-founder on the importance of emotional intelligence

January 31, 2014: 11:04 AM ET

"I've learned that every time I go against my intuition, it's a mistake," says Tamara Mellon.

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FORTUNE -- Famed shoemaker Jimmy Choo had the technical skills to build a beautiful heel, but co-founder Tamara Mellon honed the company's vision. Her savvy landed the shoes on countless celebrity feet and shows like Sex and the City, solidifying the stilettos' icon status. Since leaving Jimmy Choo in 2011 -- it was bought by Labelux for a reported $811 million -- Mellon launched her own eponymously named fashion line and published In My Shoes, a raw look at the ups and downs of building the high-end brand.

Fortune's Most Powerful Women started as a list in 1998, kicked off its annual Summit the following year, and has since become a community of the preeminent women in business, government, philanthropy, education, and the arts. This Q&A series features one MPW's personal take on leadership, aspirations, and balancing it all.

1.What is the best advice you ever received?

 Trust your instincts -- I've learned that every time I go against my intuition, it's a mistake. Go with your gut. My father always told me to think outside the box.

2. What was the last book you read?

A book by Susan Jeffers called Feel the Fear ... and Do It Anyway. It taught me not to be frozen by fear. Fear is a natural instinct and push through it.

3. What would you say to a group of young people looking to enter the tough job market?

Use internships to your advantage. Be prepared to do things you don't necessarily want to do. Do not act entitled! Learn the industry, whichever it is, and be willing to take risks.

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4. What do you do for fun?

Spend time with my daughter, visit art galleries with my boyfriend, travel, and read in bed.

5. What business or technology person do you admire most? Why?

Ben Horowitz -- he is one of the smartest investors in the Valley. He invests in early-stage startups and always seems to pick the right ones from Facebook (FB) to Pinterest to Twitter (TWTR). We are similar in age and both obsessed with hip-hop. He also has an amazing blog.

6. What is one trait every entrepreneur needs more today than ever?

Emotional Intelligence. Those with emotional intelligence are more self-aware, motivated, and aware of other people and environments. They are able to think outside of the box and more willing to take risks.

7. What is one goal that you would like to accomplish during your lifetime?

Raise a happy and healthy daughter and to start a foundation that fights for women's rights and gender equality around the world.

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8. What was your first job?

I set up a stall in Portobello Market selling t-shirts

9. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

To teleport! I wish I could be in many places at once.

10. What's your advice for first-time authors? 

Make sure that it is from the heart and it is in your voice. When something is authentic people will resonate with it.

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