A few months ago I discovered a blog that resonated with all of my passions – women in business, entrepreneurship, motherhood, marriage, friendship, cooking, dining, travel. Joanne Wilson, the author of the blog, Gotham Gal, is known as a vibrant champion for women entrepreneurs, both with her words and her own personal funds. What I loved most about her blog is that one day she would share her latest recipe for Apple Pie, and the next she would profile a woman carving out a niche in a particular industry. She spoke my language.
When Joanne shared an application to attend an upcoming Women Entrepreneurs Festival to be held at New York University which she co-chaired with Nancy Hechinger, I immediately asked if it was open to women outside of New York. Joanne encouraged me to apply. It was all the encouragement I needed. This was a different kind of conference. This one celebrated accomplishments of women, but it also promised to build a network of support for those lucky few who were selected to attend.
Even the application questions were different. Instead of asking about the highest education level achieved, the organizers wanted to know why I thought I should attend. What did I want to take away from the opportunity? And, even more importantly, they asked what I thought I could contribute.
That question made me think. What could I contribute? I certainly knew what I hoped to take away from the conference. I hoped to establish a commonality, a bonding with other women who’d faced the same challenges I had while establishing my own business. I wanted to ask a plethora of questions about the challenges I was facing. And I wanted to possibly meet Joanne and tell her how much she’d inspired me. But what could I offer these women from New York who lived in the midst of world commerce and major investors? I finally decided that the only thing I could offer was my own experience.
This past week, I was honored to attend the Third Annual Women Entrepreneurs Festival, and it was all I’d hoped for – and more. Over the next few days, I’ll share some of the lessons I learned. I brought away everything I’d hoped to, and I left with one new goal: to bring that same supportive, energetic dynamic to my own community. I am not sure what form that will take, yet, and I know I’ll need a lot of help to get it off the ground.
Here is a video summarizing the conference: