I recently attended my first Conference for Women. I’d heard from others that previous events were fantastic, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t really consider myself a women’s libber and I’m enough of a workaholic that I need really good material to justify me being out all day. What I attended, along with 9,999 other women, was the largest women’s conference of its kind in the country and I’m glad I did. I found the content to be useful and inspiring, for any audience, and I thought I would share some of the moments that really made me think.
We each hold the power to influence the future of this country, one child at a time.
Linda Cliatt-Wayman is the principal of Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia. Deemed one of the most dangerous schools in the country, Strawberry Mansion is blessed to have Linda, who left her role as the Assistant Superintendent of the district to fill the revolving-door principal role. She is single-handedly driving, leading, dragging and loving this school to a better place.
Her story (watch video here) of courage and grit has been chronicled by ABC‘s Nightline and should give any person hope that they, too, can make a difference. In her speech, marked with multiple standing ovations, Linda said, “one person can make a difference on the life of a child. If you meet one, help one.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, especially during the clip that showed her ending her morning announcements with the statement, “If nobody has told you they love you today; know that I love you.” Hers is a story that proves that some of the most rewarding events of our lives result from the hardest fought battles.
Telling your story makes great marketing.
Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, told the story of how he came up with the idea for his shoe company, founded out of his apartment in 2006, that was built on the principle that for each pair of shoes it sold; it would give a pair of shoes to a child in need.
After gathering feedback on styles, price and retail locations from a group of friends, he landed the first retail store to carry his shoes because the buyer fell in love with the company’s story. Attention soon followed in the form of a Los Angeles Times story that led to 2200 pairs ordered (against 160 in stock), launching the company towards success.
Blake’s story shows the fine balance between knowing your customer and telling your story in a compelling way. Read more here.
Find the diamond in the rough.
Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America, joined for a luncheon keynote. A master at conversation, she was likable, smart and downright funny even though she attended via satellite due to a cancelled flight. She told her story of being diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a life-threatening disease of the blood.
To pull her out of the shock that she was again faced with a life-threatening illness, her mother wisely told her that she could help others by making her mess into her message. Since then, she’s been a force to reckon with, driving awareness of the need for bone marrow donors. She joined forces with Be the Match and since her diagnosis, the registry has added over 56,000 donors. She’s currently writing a book, scheduled to be published in April 2014, that will tell her story and the lessons she learned.
There were many, many more great moments. Each session I attended reinforced a central message about the power that each of us holds to act and make change happen. Search on the hash tag #masswomen to see tweets from the event. And, if you’re interested in attending next year, visit maconferenceforwomen.org