One of the best parts of attending a women-centered event such as the Third Annual ITP Women Entrepreneurs Festival is the understanding that we’re all in this together, ready and willing to support each other. As women entrepreneurs, we have in common the same shared struggles, whether we’re running a large company or just beginning to formulate a plan. As I visited with some of the guests who were early to arrive for the Keynote Speech, I was reminded of that sense of togetherness one feels when your team’s school bus first arrives in your opponent’s parking lot. All differences are set aside to work together for a common goal.
Here are a few nuggets I gleaned from the conference which left me inspired:
Liz Neumark – By sharing her story with raw honesty, Liz touched our hearts and inspired us in ways that no canned inspirational message ever could. She left hardly a dry eye in the room as she recounted some of her deepest of personal tragedies and how they shaped the future of her family and her business. Liz helped us believe that we could still find purpose, strength and vision despite what life throws at us. Often, we spend our time waiting out the hard times, telling ourselves that when things are better we’ll take risks.
Liz Neumark Keynote Speech
Joanne Wilson – When Joanne steps up to the microphone, she just talks to the crowd in such personable terms, it is as if you’re the only person in the room – no pretense, no airs – just Joanne. And when she shared the common thoughts women have upon entering a room, she made us all laugh at the doubts that plague us and gave us permission to be a little easier on ourselves. Those thoughts – the ones that every other woman in the room is more together than me – they’ve made it tough at times just to walk through the door into a group and believe I belonged there. No more. Now I’ll embrace the self-talk and realize it’s the part that pushes me to be more, do more, be better at what I do. It’s a strength if I use it right.
Joanne Wilson Opening Remarks
Limor Fried – Ok. Limor is just cool. Seriously cool. And half of what makes her cool is that she is just so downright frank and honest about things. No dissembling, no pretending, just straightforward truths about what did and didn’t work for her. She exudes confidence while making no bones about what didn’t work well for her as she started her journey. And when she explained that sometimes working with engineers meant mentally “just wrestling with them”, she helped me understand that sometimes the exhaustion and frustration I feel after a long technical session are completely normal. If a seasoned, brilliant engineer has that challenge, why in the world would I think I wouldn’t?
Umber Ahmad – This woman makes running a bakery sound every bit as glamorous as walking the red carpet and just as vital to survival as fresh running water. Listening to her talk about her business helped me see the sexy in what each of us do. It’s all in how we talk about it, how we present ourselves to the world. She gave me permission to totally fall in love with what I do and make sure the way I talk about it helps everyone else fall in love with it, too.
Amanda Eilian – What is the one thing that everyone tells you that you should never do during a presentation? A live demo. Why? Because even when you’re Steve Jobs, it can go very, very wrong. But Amanda totally rocked the live demo, and it paid off. As the “oohs” and “ahs” erupted at the end of her successful demo, I sat in awe. She taught me that taking calculated risks can pay off.
Marci Harris – sometimes really, really big ideas need to be explained in very simple terms, and Marci helped all of us understand what she did without overwhelming us in the weeds of details. Here she is changing the way an entire nation interacts with their government, and instead of overwhelming the audience with too much information, she kept is simple and clear. It’s a good lesson to learn, especially when we believe what we’re doing can matter on such a grand scale – if we can keep the message simple and clear, we’ll have a much better chance of spreading our big idea.
There were so many other moments, other women who left me inspired to do more and do it better. If you’ve ever been inspired by a woman entrepreneur, please share what inspired you. Because, really, we are all in this together, and through our shared experiences, we’re changing the way we interact with the world one business at a time.