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.


Emma Bonino, VP Senate Italian Republic:
“If you want to create history, join forces; diversity and joining forces can change the lives of millions of people”


Umran Beba, President PepsiCo Asia Pacific:
“Recognizing your support systems (family, home and work).”
“To make history: Believe in it, take others with you and make tough choices”


Dr. KumKum Malik: “being is great, action is transformative.”


Marguerite Barankitse, Burundi, Maison Shalom:
“Africa is not lost, because there are women, and they can make the difference.”
When asked by the Church- What is your spirituality? Her answer- “love.” When asked by the UN- What is your action plan? Her response- “love.” When asked by the journalists- What is your vision? Her reply- “love.”  If only we all could be so clear.


The WIN community at the gala dinner raised money to buy 18 cows and one bull for Maison Shalom to continue her amazing efforts in Burundi. Her capacity to “love” coming from such sorrow and lead to make a difference in so many lives was a story that resonated for the entire audience. Let’s hope this woman is recognized for the Nobel Peace Prize 2012.  She closed with “I hope you will be inspired to be crazy too.” Yes, Marguerite, I hope so too.


Switching modes to the futurist Graeme Codrington of Tomorrow Today .  I loved his summation the primary social media tools: “Facebook-social-Who you know, LinkedIn- professional-Who knows you, Twitter- What you know”


In explaining why he believed the MFA (Master in Fine Arts) will be the new MBA, he asked: “Do we have the right skills? The ones computers don’t have. Computers cannot be creative, or have relationships.”  Thinking to my own children and their passion for design, game development and story telling, I was comforted by this thought and couldn’t help but to agree both professionally and personally on that point.  He emphasized the importance of visual data and communications using examples of Hans Rosling’s Gapminder and David McCandless Beautiful Data.  This played in well with my current focus on learning more about visual representation for graphic communication. His futurist prediction based on China’s interest in being the best and the happiest country in the world is that China will be greenest country by 2020. I would like to see that happen, what a great example for the rest of the world.  Thanks Graeme for an engaging and enlightening presentation, beautifully done.


Karen Tse, International Bridges to Justice
“Lack of resources is never an excuse for injustice.”
“Call to action from network and community can create history and make change”


Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Humanitarian Futures Programme at Kings College London
“Network is the most important source of support, collaboration and knowledge sharing that one can have”


Lorella Zanardo, Il Corpe delle Donne, combatting objectification of women in media in Italy through education, documentary and stimulating discussion in face to face and online formats, virally spread. She shared these words of wisdom from her journey, “create you own definition of success in order to find happiness”


Poonam Ahluwalia, Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainability
“I honor you by asking you to dream big and follow it.”
“Create something from nothing. Something from something just more of the same.”


Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, of 20-First
“Better analysis of talent based on output and results will be more balanced advancement”


Workshop on Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) by Yvonne O’Reilly was fascinating. She began by working a physical web of the participants with bungies that enabled us to kinesthetically and visually experience the network in action.  Learning more about the field of RSI was quite exciting and I found profoundly relative to social strategy in organizations.  For those unfamiliar with the difference approaches: Emotional (self-awareness and self- management), Social (emotional awareness of others and management of relationships w/others) and Systems (awareness of the systems were part of and interpretation of Self as part of these systems) intelligence.  Yvonne summed it beautifully with “We are not alone in our leadership, support systems amplify our potential.”


Fabrizio Castelucci, prof. Leadership, sda Buocconi, echoed this by reminding of the critical changes we need to make to survive the new social paradigm shift in leadership:
“What can we do?- reallocation of time, get out of comfort zone, think long term, be generous!! Reciprocity”


The colorful character of professional photographer Nancy Fina and her words of wisdom resonated for me: “Choose your team not of “yes people”, but of passionate ones.” And even more importantly, “Listen to your soul, it is pretty wise”


Nancy Adler, McGill University, “Great artists and great leader see reality the way it is (not the way they would like It to be), but also able to have vision of a beautiful possibility, and to engage people to share their vision.”  She referred to a study done at Yale Medical School in which they integrated art history into the curriculum. After one semester, students were significantly better diagnosticians (began to see more clearly what was in front of them). Perhaps we all could use a new lens and the opportunity to look at our practices from different methodologies.  Finding psychology in business, when we’re trying to understand human behavior and why failure and success happens.


Binnacle Kandola went deeper into this in his presentation on Unconscious Bias.  Some differences we notice more than others, color and gender age and visible disability. He advised us to hold mirror up to ourselves so we can accept our own biases,
Measure your unconscious bias, instruct yourselves to be fair, and lead by example.  We perhaps should all read his book The Value of Difference to get a better idea of how to make that happen.


My workshop on the Art of Social Strategy, mischievously titled Don’t Waste Your Time on Social Media, was full to the brim with both attendees and great interaction and questions. I abandoned my slides half way through as the questions and stories that came forth seemed where I should focus.  From the feedback, I believe that choice was right.  I will be putting the full slides up on SlideShare shortly after a little editing to condense them.


LyLy Rojas, humanitarian teaching culture of peace to business students.  It is an honor to be in the world. Recognize that it is such a privilege. You are ALIVE!- This said from someone who spent her first years I war town Nicargua. Ok, I get it.  The real challenge is in the midst of pain, to keep the heart open. She reminded us that there is no such think as “soft” skills. Soft skills are HARD to put into practice.


After three days of hearing incredible stories fueling both the heart and the head, I am reminded of my desire to make a difference and the possibilities to do just that.  In my role, I teach others to find humanity, in the people behind the technology.  Working with partners from events such as WIN has given me true perspective on the possibilities.  I look forward to returning to Africa for more leadership training for I believe Marguerite is right, “Africa is not lost.”  In this paradigm shift a new form of leadership is coming forth in which beauty, humanity, motherhood, diversity, and creativity are valued greatly.  No it’s not soft, it is very powerful.


From the drumming by Sewa Beats that closed the conference with a united beating (pun intended) of hearts to the thoughtful gift of Seeds of Freedom from author Heather Wilson, I move forward feeling enlightened and inspired.  Another great face-to-face networking event that once I “push send” shall be followed up with extending thanks to all the amazing people and possibilities I encountered.

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WIN Conference, Women Sharing Wisdom, women's conference
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