The same week Karlie Kloss started her freshman year of high school, she landed a job walking in her first New York City Fashion show for Calvin Klein. At 18, Kloss debuted as a Victoria's Secret Angel in the brand's 2011 fashion show.
But in 2015, Kloss put away her wings to attend New York University and launch Kode with Klossy, a non-profit that teaches girls to code.
"I always knew that I wanted to do something that was so much bigger than just myself," Kloss, 27, told CNBC Make It at American Express' 10th Annual Small Business Saturday event on Thursday.
"If you feel in your heart that there's something that you want to do, be fearless and take that leap of faith."
Several years in as an entrepreneur, Kloss, who continues to model, admits she still has a lot to learn about running a business. So she turns to business books for help.
"I personally love reading those kinds of books, [with] firsthand experience of inspiring [and] accomplished leaders," she says.
Most recently Kloss read The Disney Company CEO Bob Iger's memoir, "The Ride of a Lifetime."
"I really admire Bob [Iger] and his opinions," she says.
Kloss says Iger's book — which details his climb to the top and the lessons he learned in his 15 years as the CEO of one of the largest entertainment companies in the world — really inspired her to become a better boss.
In his book, Iger outlines a set of 10 principles, which he says helped him succeed and are essential for every good leader.
Some of those key principles include being optimistic, courageous and authentic. For instance, Iger says you should never "fake anything," and it is essential to be genuine and honest at all times.
He also encourages leaders to take responsibility when they screw up and learn from their mistakes.
"I feel like I'm a student of life. I feel like through both my experience of day-to-day starting a small business as well as learning from those through reading from their experience or having mentors in my life that I can lean on. That's how I learn," Kloss says.
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