This past weekend, women and a few noteworthy men from all over the world, gathered together to discuss a wide range of women’s issues at the 92nd St Y. I only found out about the event a few days before; however, this 3rd Annual leadership and lifestyle summit hosted women who have been waiting for months to be in attendance and I now understand why. The energy emitted from a collection of women (and a few men) that have the desire to make change, is rich and dynamic! It is a feeling that I rarely experience and now that I’ve discovered it, I know why these types of events are so popular! I’ve always appreciated the power of a collective of women, but this was my first experience on this scale. I feel as if I discovered a secret treasure. This event opened my eyes to new long term goals for my efforts with the Sista Circle Support Network, and if I gained nothing else, the act of attending gave me just enough.
I flew solo mainly because of the last-minute decision; but also because I knew that if I had company, it may make me too comfortable and I wouldn’t make myself available to seek out new connections. If I’m going to claim an entrepreneurial career, I’d might as well get used to the party of 1, right? This was a great decision because, going by myself made me more present and available to experience the conference, and I made new acquaintances and potential partners/clients! This would have been less likely if I would have had a familiar face to rely on. The S.H.E Summit covered a wide range of issues important to the women’s movement. Of the many topics and speeches, and of the unofficial break-out conversations that the guests initiated, my spirit was drawn to three common themes. Throughout the decision making process for my new career choice, I have had concerns and questions about my ability to maintain a successful and profitable business (nope those two are not one in the same for me). This past weekend, those doubts and concerns were dissolved, as the following 3 themes spoke to my heart: 1.Speak up
If more of us collectively spoke up, we’d be heard” ~Geraldine Moriba
My encounter at the federal building a couple weeks ago is a common dilemma for many women. The “Lean in” phenomena initiated by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, is still important to the forward march of the women’s movement; however, it is an individual empowerment that has given us permission to choose ourselves and choose our own success. Despite collective beliefs about gender roles. However, if we want to change the collective beliefs, we must speak up. When we witness an injustice against a Sista, call it that-out loud!! Not a whisper to a friend or a disapproving smh at the TV screen. Offer a different perspective, or tweet out! Your voice is powerful. And. When one person speaks up, it makes it that much easier for others to do so. Let’s create a resounding voice of women leaning into their own success. That’s a movement I desire to be a part of. 2. Just Do it
“Discouragement, doubt and fear is the #1 killer of the human spirit.” ~Agapi Stassinopous
On May 27, 2014 (my birthday) I decided to dedicate my career to building my own brand and offer my value to women through the Sista Circle Support Network. Being amongst so many phenomenal spirits, who have decided to do the same was not only refreshing, but served as conformation. The common thread among all of the women who chose to share their story: they took the first step, then took another! Taking a stride and learning from it, whether it is a hit or miss, brings you further than any plan or brainstorm or class or webinar ever could. I will not be master of my craft without working in it! Seeking out clients and making moves and mistakes feed your mind in a way that content consumption can’t. I appreciate the importance of my degrees and training. I also understand that hitting the pavement, creating, working, acting, is the ultimate certifier in every craft. 3.Work to Win
“Men work to win,Women work to protect the relationship, ” ~Erin Vilardi
Erin Vilardi of VoteRunLead made this statement during the panel discussion on Mobilizing the Next Women’s movement: inside global corporations. She also pointed out how men speak up in discussions and raise their hands and get their points across in meetings and with less regard to preserving relationships with those around them if it will get them closer to the goal they are aiming to achieve. As the panel continued on, I thought about how true that statement was in relation to my personal insecurities… I have spent a huge amount of time and energy focused on how I am perceived during conversations with other women. The most problematic result of my ADHD is the amount of effort it takes for me not to come off as rude or inconsiderate during a conversation among women. My impulsivity is activated by the excitement of the room or the atmosphere, or a dress someone’s wearing. My short attention span only focuses on what drives me. As a young girl, I considered myself exciting. If by chance there were some who didn’t approve of my high-spirited antics, their opinions didn’t matter anyway. I commanded the room I was in, I didn’t think twice about shouting out my answers in class or sitting in the front row so that I wasn’t missed among the other 20+ children in the class. I wanted people to know I knew. I was top of the class and I wanted to be there. As an adolescent girl with Undiagnosed ADHD, I remember wanting to win more than I wanted to be liked. My friends were a bonus. Now that I’m a grown woman, I have admittedly allowed my self-consciousness about my ADHD get in the way of the winning mindset that I fostered all those years ago. I can recall keeping my myriad of thoughts on a leash because I want to be perceived as polite, and accommodating. I’ve let others dominate a great conversation at the expense of my gaining all that I could from it, just to make sure I’d be perceived as a great listener; because these are characteristics of a lady. I have witnessed this truth at home and in business.The men that I’ve encountered, diagnosed with ADHD or not, Make sure they get their point across, have dominated conversations to make sure that they were heard. Those men wanted to win; they seemed to understand that if the relationship survives the gain of whatever it is they are going for, it’s a bonus; not the highest priority. The ability to maintain close personal and professional relationships is essential. It is a gift that can be used to create more fulfilling and enriching interactions with customers, clients, family and friends. However, when preserving a relationship means keeping your thoughts and great ideas to yourself because you don’t want to seem like a know-it-all, or not mentioning your newest business venture because you don’t want to seem pushy, we are doing a disservice; to ourselves and all of the people who will benefit from what we have to offer! It’s all about balance. You deserve to win, and the world needs what you have to offer.
There’s so much more that I could cover, but these three messages: Speak Up, Just Do it and Work to Win, are the mantras from this Event that I’ll be using to motivate my move forward. I had such an amazing time tweeting and networking with a powerful collective of women. Thanks Claudia Chan for inspiring women to inspire others.