On Friday, 4/18, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend “5” – a 1 hour lunch event hosted by the Lioness Magazine in partnership with the Women’s Fund of Western MA. During the hour, we heard from 5 diverse speakers from a range of industries and organizations who shared their insights and lessons learned in leadership, and how they found the path that led them to their purpose. I found each of the speakers engaging and insightful, and would like to share a few of the take-aways that resonated with me.
First we heard from Julie Kumble, Interim CEO at the Women’s Fund of Western MA. She provided an overview of the work currently being done at the organization, and more specifically the successes in women’s leadership initiatives gained through the LIPPI or Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact which studies and encourages the involvement of women in political leadership roles.
Next Mychal Connolly of Stinky Cakes shared his journey into entrepreneurship and the true meaning of brand definition. He explained that entrepreneurship requires “creating an experience” for your customers, and gave a vivid example by describing his creation of the “Mr. Stinky Cakes” persona. He reminded us that “branding is what people say your product or service is”, and cautioned awareness and careful management of the associations that a potential customer may make with your brand (like the lady with the funny smelling office, or the tax preparer who is always unorganized).
Alyssa Breguet shared her very moving and inspiring journey from a hard earned performing arts education to her current role as Director of Public Relations & Programming at Raising Change. She encouraged attendees to “Take the time to slow down and listen”, as her ability to do so has been integral to her ability to build relationships with her customers or clients – whether as a barista at Starbucks, or as a consultant working with an organization. Alyssa inspired listeners to “invest in all of the different titles you can have, as an artist or entrepreneur”, even as she continues to exercise her performing arts ‘muscles’ to this today.
Let me tell you a story… Juli Thibault of Bay State Health, and member of the Board of Directors for the YPS of Greater Springfield drew the audience in by sharing her own story of growing up as an example of why it is important to look beyond appearances. Juli brought awareness to our subconscious biases that contribute to categorizing, often causing us to quickly make judgements about a person’s behavior, lifestyle, or our ability to relate and connect with them, all from a single glance. Her advice to us – “Give others the opportunity to share their story” – and we might be surprised to find out that we have more in common, than the characteristics that make us different.
To conclude this wonderful event, we heard from Natasha Clark, Founder of Lioness Magazine who provided insight on the integral role Lioness Magazine plays in bringing awareness and exposure to female entrepreneurs, current events in female entrepreneurship, and the issues women business owners continue to face. She described her search for other leading publications geared specifically towards women entrepreneurs, and when she found none, ran with this idea on a shoestring budget, finding success, and a community of women waiting to be heard. Natasha reminded us of the importance of remaining true to one’s self, and using “who we are” to our advantage, rather than attempting to fit into someone else’s pre-determined box or way of life.
I left this event inspired, encouraged, and grateful for the opportunity to hear from individuals who didn’t give up on their dreams! I hope that you are also encouraged to stick with it – whatever your “it” may be – even when times get tough. If you are looking for more inspiration, and would like to attend, the next Lioness Magazine 5 Series event is scheduled for June 13th in Holyoke.
Peace & Love,