Women are in the midst of transforming the world of work—at least according to Arianna Huffington.
“Women are saying we don’t want just to be on top of the world the way you men have designed it because it’s not working,” said Huffington, founder and CEO of wellness startup Thrive Global. “Women are leading the way in redesigning the way we work, the way we live.”
The media mogul-turned wellness guru appeared at the Great Place to Work Summit in San Francisco last week, where she shared the stage with Jennifer Morgan, SAP president, Americas and Asia Pacific Japan. The two shared some of their best career advice and insights—and while many of their tips apply to people of any gender, they didn’t shy away from speaking directly to the women in the Summit audience.
Here, some of their most memorable advice:
Friends don’t let friends make decisions while sleep deprived.
Huffington has spent the last few years becoming sleep’s biggest fan and lobbyist, and her devotion to shuteye was on full display Thursday, as she cautioned the audience against the dangers of making key decisions when you’re dragging. “I can identify every mistake I’ve made in my business life, and mostly they were hiring mistakes—is there any bigger mistake?—It was when I was exhausted and I was basically ignoring the red flags…or wanting to check something off my to-do list to be less overwhelmed.” The takeaway: Make time to rest, your career will thank you.
The struggle is real—so share it
When you’re the boss, it can be tempting to pretend you always have all the answers. But revealing your own limitations can be powerful, says Morgan. Sharing your doubts and uncertainties—and how you work through them—can help empower your employees.
“When you’re rising up and you look at the people above you, I think all of us think they have it all figured out—that there’s a special answer key out there that you will be exposed to someday,” she says. “The reality is… I haven’t found it yet. So, I think as leaders it’s really important that we share the reality of the struggles and challenges, and to share what works for us.”
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Embrace your feminine side
Morgan rattled off a list of qualities that she often sees in women: empathy, humility, authenticity, vulnerability (“and when I say vulnerability, I don’t mean weakness”). “In the past these were traits women were trained not to share—that those aren’t leadership traits,” she said. But in today’s digital world, people are increasingly looking to work for someone who embodies those humanistic values, said Morgan: “Being your true, authentic self captures more followership and creates a lot more success than trying to be somebody you’re not.”
Managers aren’t mind readers
Huffington shared the story of a woman who was struggling at work because her manager had set a daily 7:30 a.m. conference call, the same time she needed to drop her daughter off at school. The conflict was disrupting the woman’s life—but it turned out that her manager had no idea.
“Women are often very reluctant to speak up about what’s important to them, especially when it comes to children, because they think it’s going to be see seen as a sign that they’re not sufficiently dedicated, that they’re on the ‘mommy track.'” she said.
The solution to such problems can be as simple as creating better communication, noted Huffington. Employers must do better about asking workers what they need—and employees must be better about about telling them.
While it’s not a new thing for Huffington—indeed, she’s been beating this particular drum since at least 2014—I have to mention her invocation of #StyleRepeats because I think it’s such on-point advice. Noting that she’d worn the same dress to two previous events before appearing on the Great Place to Work stage, Huffington told the women in the audience, “we’re at a competitive disadvantage with men—we waste an enormous amount of time and energy on picking a different outfit for every occasion.” So, level the playing field by buying something you love—”I’m not against beautiful clothes”—and “wear it again and again and again.”