Wise Words at Manhattanville College | Women’s Leadership Institute’s 4th Annual Women’s Leadership Summit
‘Dare to be Bold’…was ‘Dare to Evolve’
So, the 800-pound elephant in the room is how we go forward after #Metoo, the Women’s March, and all the other movements that are happening. This was addressed head-on with the opening statements from Kathy Meany, the WLI Director, Laura Persky, the Director and The Honorable George Latimer.
As professionals, we had to admit there are tensions in our offices. When I mentioned that I was going to The Summit to my male colleagues, we could have heard a pin drop with the silence that followed. I found myself backpedaling for words to make the men understand that that didn’t mean they should be worried.
The Summit’s address for this was synonymous with mine. They gave me words like “as women, we aren’t here to analyze every action and word that comes out of a man’s mouth. There will still be pockets of outrage when the situations are just unduly repressive and harassing. But, we are past most of the ugly part. Now, it is time for the moving forward. And this moving forward with us—at your side as equals—will be AMAZING—because we can finally give all of ourselves.”
The goal of the summit to me were the answers to two vital questions:
• How do we move forward and do great work with men, now?
• How do we use this opportunity to be the BEST LEADERS for the advancement we envision and beyond?
She called herself the Warm-up Band, 30- year Army Colonel, Col. (Ret.) Donna Brazil, was funny, knowledgeable and seasoned in successful leadership strategies. She made us define ourselves, by defining the characteristics we gravitate to in our mentors and influencers. She showed us that we too, have those qualities, that we probably weren’t using.
My take-away quote from her: If you’re leading no one but yourself, you’re still LEADING. (this gives me chills)
Kathy Meany, in her quirky and funny way, she makes networking tactics reminders fun. Always important to review.
Vanessa Wakemen, Business Owner and Seasoned Speaker told us a story of DIVERSITY. Basically, she was in a situation of being a diversity hire in the 1990’s, as a 29 -year-old woman, and a woman of color. Her story of what she did with it was amazing. If you every get to speak with her, ask her about what her mother told her to do.
Lunch consisted of our Honorable Catherine Borgia, Westchester County Legislator, 9th District. In the fashion of the day, Ms. Borgia was a perfect addition, with her down-to-Earth manner and ability to relate to most in the room, as a mother and career woman. I was proud to have someone from my home town, and also with whom I have had the pleasure of working.
We also heard from Manhattanville’s President, Mr. Michael Geisler, Keia Clark and Adriana Kierszenbaum, Esq as Food for thought to help us in our business with legal information and inspirational examples of success.
After lunch was really fun. We played GAMES—With Gilda Bonanno—which got us ALL communicating on a higher level.
I know that sounds all hokey, but it was true, we had full bellies and brains, and were ready to LAUGH and exercise are qualities on each other. The games consisted mainly of how to improvise. Which improvising is what good leaders do with suggestions from talent in meetings to nurture, along with when confronted with situations.
The games were also great to take back to our teams. Gilda was funny and really lightened the intensity of our learning.
Who doesn’t like to play Yes, And.
MICRO-RESILIENCE – OLYMPIC Medalist and Bestselling Author, BONNIE ST. JOHN graced us with multiple stories of triumph through adversity…and simple tactics to build RESILIENCE.
We heard of through odds of not just losing a leg as a child and growing up in a less-than wealthy family but suffering sexual abuse and the obvious obstacle of being a woman and a woman of color, she triumphed… all the way to a silver and two bronze medals in downhill events at the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria.
From her, we got inspired and listened to the concept of resilience. She put it best when she said change isn’t slowing down, if anything it’s getting faster. So, there won’t be that break time in the future, so learning resilience is how you strive and play to win.
A few take-away I got from Bonnie St. John to keep us in a direction of success:
1. The Paralympics is the epitome of “not quite perfect” of Olympians. Use this as an example of just because something isn’t perfect looking, doesn’t mean that it won’t work. So, don’t wait to reach out to people, just because your elements aren’t ‘perfect’. Take a risk and do it.
2. Designate a Zone for you to focus when you need to
3. Working in teams works. When multiple people share a responsibility, your alliance to the team is better motivating than doing it alone.
4. Define the REAL BOSS of your jobs. Put a picture of your end customer on your wall as the boss of your job(s), and every time you are deciding on a project, moving the company in a direction, ask yourself if this is the right move for the Boss.
In was an inspiring day that I know the women I met with make every effort to keep the afterglow alive until we meet again… or implement one to the techniques and reap the benefits.
The Women in the room gave me chills in terms of how open they were to learn for the betterment of, not only themselves, but of the environments and work cultures they want to cultivate.
I’m looking forward to next years Summit. Thank you to The School of Business at Manhattanville College, and the Women’s Leadership Institute for the lessons and insights…and the cupcakes.
So, guys. We’re in this together.
Michel Gunn is CEO of Gunn Multimedia Partners, Inc.. Gunn describes herself as the ‘easy to talk to’ woman owner of a 15-year-old marketing agency specializing in ‘Small Business Lead Generation Tools’ such as Interactive Websites, Social Media Blogging and Advertising, and Copy/Content Creation which historically has enabled growth for $5Mm – $10M volume Businesses in the amount of 20%+ annually. She is also an animal lover.