top of page

Success on Your Own Terms: Insights from Iris Zimmerman on Redefining Success

I am sitting on a train today and thinking about our interview with Iris Zimmerman. Iris answered a question in a way that no one else had up to that point: How do you define yourself?


Iris explained that in her life, her early successes led her to be defined by others and that it was a part of who she was, but it was not the entire Iris.


What is success? How long does it last? Who defines success for you?


And what happens after you have reached that peak of what is believed to be success? How do you transition into the next stage of your life, and can you find success again?Iris talked with us about something I know will resonate deeply with you: embracing transition and finding your purpose.


As entrepreneurs, we often embark on a journey searching for success and personal growth. But this Olympian's path to purpose took an unexpected turn: Iris- a mixed-race, nerdy kid who eventually became known as Iris the Olympian- has a story not just about conquering the world of fencing, but about finding her true calling and creating a space where others find their belonging. We were inspired as we explored Iris's journey of self-discovery and resilience, and I sit her today thinking about how that never ends.


Iris had found her purpose in a sport that brought her a sense of belonging and identity. She and her sister discovered that fencing connected them with a community where they felt they truly belonged. Their parents, both immigrants to the United States, encouraged them to pursue sports as a means to secure college scholarships. Iris and her sister excelled in fencing, earning scholarships to Stanford, and making it to the Olympics.


Olympian Fencer Success
Iris the Champion

After retiring from the sport, Iris felt lost and unsure of her next steps. That's when she and her sister decided to buy the fencing club where they first began their journey. Their goal was not just to produce champions, but to create a space where anyone could come and be their best selves. They wanted to build leaders and provide a sense of belonging for all who walked through their doors. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Iris's sister, Felicia, worked tirelessly to maintain the club and provide a place for kids to thrive. Through her journey, Iris has learned the importance of finding purpose and creating spaces where others can find their sense of belonging and success.


Sending light out into the world leads to it rebounding back to you in unexpected ways.


“We cared about education, we cared about the kids, we cared about...building people who could be leaders, people who just could find spaces that they could continue to thrive even beyond us.” - Iris Zimmerman

Representation and Visibility in Entrepreneurship Success

Iris underlines the significance of representation and visibility in entrepreneurship. BOSSY began as a place for women business owners to see others like them, and we see the need for minority-owned businesses to have the same space. Reflecting on the emotional impact of witnessing those with shared experiences achieving success, she underscores the role of authentic representation in motivating and inspiring individuals. Iris’s decision to create a YouTube channel for visual representation of her own unique journey signifies the power and influence of visibility in breaking barriers and encouraging entrepreneurship. This understanding has helped her leverage her own platform and make a difference in the lives of others.


“I think I would define where I am today as being a mom, as being a leadership and performance coach, as being a wife and being a friend, being part of the community.

-Iris Zimmerman


Autonomy and Time Management Mastery For Success

Iris's story sheds light on the undeniable importance of mastering autonomy and time management. The autonomy to control one's own time is central to individuals, particularly entrepreneurs, pursuing their unique paths to success. Through her journey, Iris embodies this value, emphasizing that effective time management fosters personal and professional growth, leading to fulfillment and success on one's own terms. Time is freedom for Iris, and that statement hit me like a ton of bricks. Time equals freedom.


Many of us struggle to find that freedom of time in entrepreneurship. When running your own business, it often feels like we are working 24/7. But we do get to maintain control over those hours. For instance, I am on a train to NYC with my daughter today because I have maintained that freedom through it all. Even when it feels like I am drowning.


“So when the butterfly looks at its most terrible, it's really when it's getting all of its power pulled together. And I think that is literally what I was trying to get across, was how amazing it is to be in transition, to not be afraid of the messiness, because that is what the purpose is. That is what life is.

-Iris Zimmerman

Iris's story is truly inspiring, and I if you haven’t listened to it yet, I urge you to click the link below. Let us know what you think at, or through social media at @bossyroc.


Entreprenuerial Success Podcast
Iris on Getting Real with BOSSY

Iris’s story is far from over, and her path continues to grow in new ways. Regardless of being called Iris the Olympian, she embraces the original definition in all that she aims for: superior achievement.

Find her on IG @coachiris

“I think if you can take a step back and think about all the measure of things that you've done and the summation of all those things and really grab on some perspective, then you realize how powerful you are and how amazing you are.”

-Iris Zimmerman


22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page