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How Carol Roth Went from Beauty Contestant to Small Business Expert

If you ask Carol Roth which of her 60,000 Twitter followers she’s most proud of, she’ll tell you it’s the National Football League. She even knows the exact number of people the league is following—not that she’s counting.

“That really is one of my proudest accomplishments,” she said. “I wear that with a badge of honor.”

Roth, an on-air contributor at CNBC, judge on Mark Burnett’s America’s Greatest Makers and author of the New York Times bestselling book The Entrepreneur Equation, began her career in 1995 at an investment bank called Montgomery Securities.

She did not take a traditional route to the job.

It all started when Roth found out banks fly candidates in for final-round interviews. She wanted a free trip to San Francisco, where Montgomery was based. The only problem, Roth said, was that her on-campus interview with Montgomery conflicted with the Ms. Illinois beauty pageant, which she was competing in.

Through sheer persistence, Roth set up an alternate interview date, and got to the final-round interview in San Francisco. She hated the city but loved Montgomery, and spent her first five years there, staying through a couple mergers.

Listen to our full interview here:

During the 1990s—when finance workplace culture was notoriously unpleasant toward women—Roth knew she was getting herself into an industry where she’d have to navigate sexism and objectification. But she was so intent on her work—”It was just such a unique opportunity to learn that I just wanted to suck up every little piece of it”—that she put her head down and did what she does best.

“I honestly had very little awareness that I was a woman. I was just very aggressive and very focused on what it was that I wanted to do,” Roth said on Fortune Unfiltered. “And I was really, really good at it. I was that sick person who wanted to work 20 hours a day, seven days a week, and just completely throw myself into it.”

Check out this week’s episode of Fortune Unfiltered as Roth and Aaron Task discuss her early investment banking career, her small business consulting work, her hatred of the term “woman entrepreneur,” and that whole NFL Twitter thing.