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Wrap Up: Women Driving Excellence Chicago – February 16th, 2016 #WDE16
One of my favorite things about living in the Chicago area (and being a woman blogger/business owner) is that despite how large of an area Chicagoland can be, we seem to know each other and pretty much have each other’s backs. I got the chance to spend and entire day in the presence of some pretty amazing women. MJ Tam and Beth Rosen of Chicagonista rocked it again this year with fantastic speakers, inspiring stories and loads of ideas.
The day started out with meeting Molly M. Cantrell-Kraig founder of Women With Drive Foundation, Julie Carson from EPWNG and Georgy Ann from Impact 100. They kick off the Jumpstart Your Reach session. In this session you were given a mission.
Spend 5 minutes each (5 times) doing these tasks:
Approach someone you have never met before and ask:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Who are you on the lookout for?
- Recommend some one you just met.
I took away from this session a few important points:
- When networking, ask yourself ‘how can you help them?’
- Be authentic to your brand and voice
- Let the conversation be needs based but listen to what they require
- Offer a solution and use your expertise
- Express why it was good to connect with them
- Find ways to help EACH OTHER.
I want to take a minute to acknowledge the event’s sponsor, Nissan.
I spent quite a few days at the auto show covering the media event and my attention kept getting drawn to some of the Nissan cars. My husband owns one so we are partial to the brand, but the cars are so sleek this year!! I think my favorite was the Armada. I loved the orange color and the interior was awesome. It has seating for 8 which is important since there would be enough room for my family plus a few guests. It also has a V8 engine which is perfect for hauling. We haul a lot of wood etc for our garden and house renovations.
A photo posted by Jen R (@thecraftymomof3) on
A photo posted by Jen R (@thecraftymomof3) on
At 11 am MJ and Beth welcome to the stage a well known Chicago newswoman and business owner, Janet Davies. She was a fantastic emcee and did a wonderful job introducing this years Trailblazing Women honorees.
This year’s honorees are Lisa Madigan-Illinois Attorney General, Marilynn Gardner-Navy Pier President & CEO,Dominique Jordan Turner– Chicago Scholars President & CEO, Kathleen Henson-Henson Consulting Founder & CEO, Dee Alexander– Song Stylist. (To find out more about each honorees please visit WDE’s blog)
While all the honorees are strong, inspiring women in their own right, the one I most related to was Kathleen Henson. She spoke about being a mom and trying to juggle what being a working mom meant, especially while trying to start up a business and keep it thriving. Kathleen mentioned toiling away in the early days in the basement next to her sump pump and it made me chuckle because I have been in the same boat, just trying to find a quiet corner in the house to work. She worked with a lot of brands pre-kids but then she had a baby and her values changed. There’s no playbook for working motherhood. It’s hard to balance. She began Henson Consulting so that she can offer a job for people who need it. It’s important that people can find their authentic joy inside and outside the office. She cares about giving back to Chicago. She teaches her team to be happy and impact the live of others.
Another thing Kathleen said that resonated with me is that from the age of 7 she would introduce herself with strong eye contact. She was always a connector. This she says, makes a strong point of being aware of and never losing sight of the opportunities you give your children when they are little.
Kathleen also just exudes confidence which is something that I need to work on. She is definitely a woman who was determined to make a difference and has made huge strides in her career. She is a woman to emulate and who makes a huge difference in the daily lives of women.
Tips from Kathleen:
- Surround yourself with people with values you hold dear
- Find a team that supports you everyday
- There is no such thing as balance – each area in your life is not equal
- Harmony and peace it takes a village
Be a good mom and pr person
Leading Women In Tech #NissanCAS #WDE16 #ad #ChicagonistaLIVE #JewelOsco
In the Leading Women in Tech session we met Katy Lynch, CEO at Techweek, with Elisa All Founder & CEO of 30Second Mobile, and Yana Nirshberg of ParadigmNEXT. The women were full of techie ideas and apps that will make any woman’s life easier. It was fun listening to them talk (especially Katy Lynch’s fantastic Irish accent).
In the session it was discussed how there are now Women organizations with resources for women that even 3-5 years ago didn’t exist. They touched upon the Midwestern mentality – the drive to mentor and connect with our community. New media entrepreneurship makes it even easier to start up and students are learning how to do everything, not just one specific area in tech. Another point that was made is how women NEED to be in the industry. Tech is exciting and sexy. Tips on how to be successful in the world of tech: be motivated, network, ask questions, leverage your resources, do what you love, make a difference. Put good into the world and get good back – first law of karma. Never turn off being an entrepreneur. Don’t ever doubt. Cut your losses don’t let your vision be destroyed. If the people you are working with don’t seem to be the right fit, they need to go.
A lot of stuff I did already know from being in the business for so many years, but it was great that things that I have learned the hard way are being passed on to new women in the business. It will help them be more successful and have less wasted time than I did.
As usual, when Chicagonista took the stage it was never boring. We were treated to tips on how to survive the winter with your car (MJ had one that I use as well, make sure you have a multi usb connection in your car so the teens can charge up too), a visit from Jewel representative Tina (who was a doll). She told us about the new revamping of Jewel-Osco; how they are bringing more and more organic to the stores. And as always, there were tons of laughs. I love these ladies.
Last but not least was the GPS Pitch session. There were entrepreneurs pitching lotions, shoes and more. It was very interesting listening to the questions of the judges, the critiques and how the entrepreneurs answered the questions.
All in all it was a fantastic day. I learned a lot, met quite a few interesting new people and soaked in the awesome of all these inspiring women. WDE2017 is looking to be even MORE awesome. I can’t wait to attend.