In just five weeks, approximately 1,300 Network of Executive Women members will make their way to Atlanta for NEW Leadership Summit, our biggest conference of the year and one of the largest professional women’s empowerment events in the U. S. This year, the theme is “By Design: Seeing, Making & Building a NEW Future.”
Attendees will get access to some crazy amazing content and come away inspired to harness our collective power to make incremental change in our industries for diversity, equity, inclusion and gender equality. Here’s what I’m super looking forward to…
This woman positions herself as a “Professional Troublemaker” and the “Supreme Side Eye Artist.” The “I’m Judging You: the Do-Better Manual” author is my kind of woman—she’s a disruptor and hilarious.
Ajayi proclaims in her TED Talk, “People in systems count on our silence to keep us where we are,” and proudly challenged her audience, “telling a thoughtful truth should not be a revolutionary act and speaking truths to power should not be sacrificial but they are, but if more of us chose to do it for the greater good, we’d be in better places than we are.”
At NEW, we talk a lot about engaging men in the movement. In May of this year, Leanin.org released a study with one rattling takeaway, that in the #MeToo era, 60% of male managers say they avoid being alone with women at work and that as a result, women get less of the mentorship that opens doors to promotions and leadership opportunities.
In my own career, I’ve thrived when I’ve had my career championed, but my mentors and sponsors have always been women. I’ve acutely felt my career stall when I wasn’t getting the support I needed from male-dominated leadership teams. The study says that men are uncomfortable being in one-on-one situations with women for fear of the optics.
At NEW Executive Forum, Andy Dunn made a comment that really resonated, “as women, you have one more thing to do, you have to invite men into the movement. You have to invite us because we’re scared.” Andy is on the NEW board, and I really appreciate his advocacy for gender equality. I’m looking forward to the insights from the Summit “Ally-ship – Worth the Risk?” panel and anticipating there will be action items men and women can commit to for creating supportive sponsorship.
While pursuing my EMBA, I read a book that changed my life: Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, written by the founders of IDEO.
For years I had operated with the premise that there was a “Business Holly” and a “Creative Holly.” I kept these two personas as separate as possible. While reading Creative Confidence, I realized that I’d been doing myself a tremendous disservice living this dichotomy. By giving myself permission to be my full, creative self 100% of the time, I also realized that I was that much happier and more personally fulfilled.
When we express our creativity, we also open our minds to diversity and become better problem solvers and innovators. Paul Bennett the Chief Creative Officer of IDEO is speaking for 45 minutes in a talk called “We are All Creative,” and I’ll hang on his every word!
The Networking Scene
Typically, about 10% of NEW members attend our pinnacle event. This being my first Summit, I’ve asked past attendees what to expect, and they say things like, “it’s a party, everyone gets super energized by each other.” Over 50% of the attendees are mid-level leaders and I can’t wait to roll with this energetic crew!
Also, the opening reception will feature wearable networking technology by Proxfinity, which I’ve road-tested at a smaller event where I made 26 awesome connections during a networking reception. You take a brief survey in advance, then the tech matches you to people with whom you have traits in common, so you have an immediate ice breaker to jump into a quick convo. I’m incredibly social and can’t wait to experience this in a much larger group.
It’s inevitable there will be a bevy of awe-filled moments that will recalibrate my point of view, and I can’t wait to take it all in. Hope to see you all at NEW Leadership Summit, aka #NEWSummit!