Awesomeness Unlocked at the IWL Conference

A few months ago, I attended the Integrating Woman Leaders Conference as a scholarship recipient. The resounding theme of the conference was Readiness, Resilience, and Results. Usually, these recaps tell you the conference was amazing and if you missed it, you missed out. The same is true here, but it is important to highlight how I have taken the main points, thoughts, and ideas and implemented it in my own life to get the results I want. The issue with most conferences, workshops, or luncheons, is that we feel so inspired and ready to take action in the moment, but as soon as we leave the adrenaline wears off and we are nestled back in our routines. In order to combat this, I knew I needed to consciously take the direction from the speakers and apply it daily.

My main takeaways from the day:

Starting with a Plan

Bob Smith (Papa Johns) suggested creating a plan for our career so we can achieve the career success we desire. After the conference, I thought about my career and where I want to be in ten years. Just as importantly, I thought about how I was going to get there. Then, a plan was born!

Creating a Vision

Theresa Reno-Weber (Louisville Metro Government), in her speech titled “Unlock Your Awesome,” showed us her vision board. She explained how her vision has been the precursor to her success and gave us tips to create our own. A vision board is a visual reminder of our goals and the plan is the blueprint for getting there. So I created a vision!

Making the Plan Known

As many of the speakers suggested, I’ve started to surround myself with people who do or have done what I want to do. Zig Ziglar once said, “people often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing-that’s why we recommend it daily.” The level of motivation that flows back and forth among people who have similar goals is incredible. To achieve this, I attended a NAWBO meeting, my first in over 2 years! And to top it off, I told people my plan. It wasn’t the best “elevator pitch,” but I remembered what Karen Hough (ImprovEdge) told us to do – nail the opening and closing because that’s what people remember most. Also, by understanding my mistakes, I am ready to communicate my mission and purpose even better next time.

Splashing in Some Risk

Jaleigh White (Hilliard Lyons) said to take risks to build your level of resilience. In order to manifest this in my life, I volunteered to speak to the Professional Women’s Group at Dress for Success. I’ve spent the last few weeks mulling over what I wanted to say, when I remembered another bit of wisdom from Karen Hough. She said, “What do you want the audience to do after the presentation?” Once I answered that question, my speech topic, message, and call to action became clear.

Maintaining Me

Pattie Dale Tye (Humana), the lunch keynote, spoke about the importance of our health. I’ve always known that health was important, but I didn’t realize how important our health can be to our career success. How often do you go to a conference that focuses on improving your professional and personal life? Now, my professional plan incorporates small improvements to my health, such as getting plenty of sleep each night.

Aha! I’m on the Right Track

The afternoon panel consisted of prominent diversity and inclusion professionals who highlighted different ways we can be champions of diversity and inclusion. This conversation was the highlight of my day because this is the space I’ve dedicated my life to. Through my experiences in corporate America and education, I’ve made it my mission to energize and educate people about the injustices occurring against women and people of color in the workplace; and to create a plan to make a lasting change.

This conversation solidified my mission and made me more intense about my next actions.

Ruling the World

The day wrapped up with Barbara Sexton Smith (Compassionate Schools Project) and she brought the fire! There were 5 call to action items Barbara suggested for everyone:

  1. Hope

  2. Self-confidence

  3. PMS (personal mission statement)

  4. Attitude that matters

  5. ROCK (rhythm others can’t knock).

BOOM! Talk about the ultimate motivator! Barbara had us up on our feet, verbally proclaiming our awesomeness, and feeling like we ruled the world. For me, that was I good thing!

I Will

For me, this conference was more than an opportunity to hear from great leaders and mingle with like-minded women. Just before the conference, I expressed interest in starting my own business. I approached my managers about moving into a contract position to pursue my dream of getting more women and minorities into leadership positions through coaching, consulting, and training. Soon after making my request, I began having second thoughts and fear crept in. Well, it actually sprinted in! At the conference, I connected with a few women business owners who confirmed what I already knew, but was quickly losing faith in: I can do this! The conference gave me the skills and the confidence to go from “I can do this” to “I will do this.

If it isn’t clear already, I’m a believer that this conference can be life changing. Make this investment for yourself and you will walk away with information than can be applied to your life right away.

At the very end of the conference day, I had the pleasure of standing on stage to tell everyone about my experience at the conference. It was at this moment that I realized I could be who I wanted to be. These speakers weren’t just telling us something that sounded good. They were giving us the blueprint for success, and it’s just up to us to build the lives we want.

When I stood on stage at the end of the day, I made a decision to put myself out there and I declared “next year, I will be a speaker at this conference!” It’s amazing what can happen when you simply make your intentions known. I’m excited to say that I will be participating in the Indianapolis 2016 conference as a speaker! Let’s improve together! I’ll see you in Indianapolis August 23rd!

To register for the 7th Annual IWL Women’s Leadership Conference visit

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