WIN Reflections

After taking time to reflect on three days in beautiful Rome surrounded by 950 thinkers, dreamers, doers and in-general amazing professional women from around the world. I will share my reflections.  In the last years I have somewhat limited my participation in gender-based forums and yet, I see and feel the value of them when there.  I simply wish more men could experience the same profound impact of connection and inspiration, while talking solutions for sustainability, profitability and growth.  In effort to focus, keep in mind this is not a summary of the WIN Conference as a whole, but my reflections as a global social strategist. Some pieces are simply memorable statements on leadership and vision.

 

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FCEM Congress in Cairo part One


I have just returned from Cairo at the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM) annual Congress. As I sit to begin my follow up with all the wonderful and inspiring women entrepreneurs I feel I must take brief moment to reflect (more specifics to come). There was such an air of optimism, of generosity and kindness, of curiosity and cooperation and of interest in collaboration for mutual benefit. No matter their origin or circumstance, from established multinational business owners to local craftswomen, from the developed and the developing, peaceful and war-torn. They each had a story and a passion for their business and their people that I have never before experienced. The true spirit of women’s networking took place in “what can we do together” or “what can I do to help you”, rather than (the all too often) “what do you want from me.”

The work has only just begun. Now we have much greater penetration into new markets around the world after this conference. With advocates in Libya, Bahrain, Cameroon, South Africa, Egypt, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Ghana, India, Romania, Iceland, Cyprus, Korea, Afghanistan and more. Each of them wanted to know what they could do to help. I challenged them to take action, spread the word and encourage others and other networks to participate. It has been incredibly inspiring and exhausting. I am still reeling from it all. I am thoroughly encouraged and re-energized by the validation of the need for and potential impact of 2BalanceU. Connecting supplier to distributors, consumers to products and services, connections to other women. Now we just have to keep the momentum on the build and get cranking on the fund raising for growth and support of regional networks and sponsors.

Lessons from Cairo. It is a city that you must visit. Belly dancing is truly a sport and an art form. Egyptians like to stay up all night and party (starting dinner around 10pm). The pyramids are incredible, despite the hawkers and the camel pushers. You just need to learn to say “No” and mean it. “Around 7” is more like “some time after 8.” “Right away” means, “sometime in the next bit of time, not sure how long, as I might get distracted on the way.” “No” means “maybe if you give me a better price”, which means that if you say no, they think you want to bargain with them. It is cold in November, which is nice, if you plan for the weather, instead of reading about it in the guidebook on the plane coming there. The people are wonderful and friendly and full of smiles. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute and cannot wait to return to bring my family to explore more.

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Reflections from WIN

Taking a moment to reflect while in transit from the Women’s International Networking (WIN) Conference 10th anniversary in Oslo back home where my family and office await. It is a powerful experience to be with 700 professional women from around the world networking, learning, sharing for 5 days. Each one had different goals in mind for why they were there and what they will achieve during the conference. All expressed a desire for change, with an interest in being part of that change. Most presented a positive hope for the future. Those who brought in unconstructive negative energy became a dance of sorts for the rest of us to turn redirect to the positive (or at least seeking solutions instead of complaining).

Last year, I came to WIN with a curiosity and desire to learn more about what women were doing to connect and share. This year, with my ear to the ground, I wanted to learn more about what I could do to not only advocate sharing but enable it. I was encouraged to see that validity in my work. A tool is needed to bridge the gap between networks, to help them grow, to help women extend their reach for inquiry and sharing.

Like many events such as these, we return home to our lives with a renewed energy and inspiration from all the new connections we have made and things we have learned. Knowing that this energy fades, I only hope that these women will seek each other out to maintain this energy. Build momentum for change in themselves and their environments not only through their networks, but also as individuals. The laughter and smiles shared is a powerful connection. Remember that there is a human behind each card that sits in the stack. As I take each in my hand, I consider the conversations, the shared expressions, the smiles and occasional miscommunications that became opportunity for discussion.

Thank you Kristin for doing your magic and pulling of another great conference.

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