I spent last Friday with 1,000 women at the Florida’s Women’s Conference in Tampa. My friend Shari and I powered down 2 cups of coffee on our drive from Sarasota at 7 a.m. During the 60 minute drive, our conversation covered work, children, sports, entrepreneurship, family and fashion, you know, the basics.
First up at the conference was Mira Sorvino on the main stage. Her keynote, “Me Too, From Weinstein to Worldwide Advocacy” highlighted Mira’s bold choice to reveal her own experience of sexual harassment in Hollywood, which empowered a cascade of over 90 followers to come forward. Her work has contributed to awareness, advocacy and legislation that ensures women are safe, and the female survivor community is heard. The day ended with Nely Galan. (Actually Erin Brockovich closed the conference but I had to early exit for my son’s soccer tournament, it was one of those Friday’s!) Nely is the former President of Entertainment of the powerhouse TV network Telemundo, making her the first Latina President at a major network. She is a serial entrepreneur, real estate investor, author of SELF MADE and founder of Adelante Movement. Nely is a “big deal” woman with bold personal stories and advice that can inspire all of us. Nely seeks to empower all women, but particularly multicultural women, to become entrepreneurs. She is leading a new economic women’s movement, and I am sold!
In between Mira and Nely, there were several other visibly incredible presenters.
Here are my top 5 highlights from the Florida Women’s Conference 2018:
- Carla Harris is a ROCK STAR and left us all wanting more of her. Carla is the author of two books, “The Success Equation” and “Expect to Win”, has two Harvard degrees, is the Vice Chairman of Wealth Management and a Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, a renowned gospel recording artist and revealed she also manages to work out four times a week. Carla’s ‘Pearls of Wisdom’ focused on teaching us how to position ourselves to maximize success as leaders. She spoke about concepts of performance currency (gets you noticed) and relationship currency (gets you paid). She highlighted three key truths: fear of mistakes kills innovation, bring all of yourself to work, the business case for diversity has been made.
- Nora McInerny is tall, hysterical, and an energetic delight. My friend Shari and I agreed we want to take her out for cocktails and be her friend, except she lives in Minneapolis. Nora is approachable, honest, and her story of transformation after she miscarried her second baby, lost her father to cancer and then lost her husband to a brain tumor all in six weeks inspired her memoir, “It’s OK to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too). She hosts a podcast, “Terrible, Thanks For Asking” and founded the nonprofit Still Kickin. She makes us all believe we can laugh, cry and evolve even while life kicks us in the throat. Nora is a woman to watch and follow.
- The “Women in the Workplace, Shining a Light on the Elusivenes of Diversity” panel was phenomenal. Fabiola Brumley, Judge Marcia Cooke and Lila A. Jaber discussed the intersection of race, ethnicity and gender in the workplace and how to overcome obstacles. They nailed it. Here is a bit of their collective wisdom: Ladies, sometimes you need to storm the castle, leaders must prioritize diversity, maternity leave cannot equal pay scale drops for women, unconscious bias is real, and always have a contract. I want to go back to the maternity leave shouldn’t equal pay scale drops topic. This is critical for all of us to understand. I propose we start thinking the opposite is required. Paying women MORE after we return from childbearing and child caring leave should be the new mandate. Everybody knows that women who mother and run a home develop the following skills: operations, communications, strategic planning, psychology, diplomacy, finance, crisis management, logistical expertise…sounds like CEO material to me.
- Nely Galan lit up the stage at the end of the day. She shared her childhood stories of being a Cuban immigrant in a Catholic school in Miami, getting her first job at Seventeen magazine, building her career, meeting Norman Lear, and becoming a force in business, television and pretty much everything she pursues. Here are my favorite NELY-isms: financial security is true empowerment for women, buy buildings not shoes, there is no prince charming, your pain is your gateway to your most authentic brand, find your voice, in order to grow a business, you have to grow yourself first.
- The Invest in ME theme was pervasive across all speakers and narratives. I’ve studied and worked with successful women and leaders for years as a social entrepreneur. I’ve noticed they have one major thing in common, the audacity of investing in themselves. Yes, successful women often have resources, access, but stay with me…It’s the bold, unapologetic priority they place in taking care of themselves that contributes to their success. This self-investment comes in the form of exercise, healthy eating, delegating tasks and saying NO. Successful women also commit to spending time with girlfriends, partners, children, hobbies, fashion, and investing in themselves. They plan, execute and protect ME TIME consistently and it pays off. Try it!
Here are a few miscellaneous notes and quotes from the conference:
- Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, Owner and President of the The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation & Glazer Family Foundation shared the Buccaneers employ over 50% women, and their audience is almost 50% women. The Women of Red Program promotes camaraderie and community with women who love football. Who knew?
- Small business owners like Christina Arenas, the creator of Blue Sage Eco Boutique sometimes make big leaps. Christina recently left her full-time job and invested her time and resources to grow her business and become her own boss. FYI her self love soy candle is divine-buy one for yourself and then your bestie for the holidays!
- College scholarships for promising young women are game changers. Education really does equal the playing fields. The pride of the young women who took the stage as State Farm awarded them generous academic scholarships gives me great hope that our future is in good hands.
The conference was aligned with my current focus as I launch my Voice & Visibility Salon Series, Investing in Women initiative in Sarasota this month Get Tickets Here. I’m excited to convene philanthropists, change makers, media professionals and the business community to listen to diverse female narratives, and discuss the importance of investing in women locally, regionally and nationally. The Voice & Visibility Salon Series will also showcase unique, inspired art installations.
Thank you Florida Women’s conference team for creating the space for us to connect, create and celebrate!
Here’s to Progress!