Sunday, July 20, 2008

2008 eWomenNetwork Conference Overview

One of the things that hits you when you attend the conference is that eWomenNetwork is such a powerful organization operating with the heart as its center and guiding force. With 2500+ women from all over the country and Canada in attendance the strength of the organization was dynamic. eWomenNetwork is so much more than a networking organization. We are a marketing and media powerhouse with tools and opportunities to help you promote your business to a larger audience. We are the “Big Idea” in the world of networking.

I am very proud to represent it here in South Jersey and hopefully in the years to come, central and north Jersey, too!

WOW...not only was that the theme of the conference, but it was the effect on all of us that were there. With one WOW moment after another, laughter and tears, smiles and hugs, positive energy and contagious confidence exuded from every room.

For me personally, it couldn't have come at a better time. My confidence and self esteem were loosing ground (you may not think that if you know or see me, but my negative inner voices were winning the battle inside me). I am sure you all know what I mean by inner voices, ya know the one that has to put a damper on all your "I can do it" thoughts.

Pretty tough to exude confidence, positiveness and leadership with all that "other" chatter going on in your head.

Speaker after speaker addressed these issues. Here's just a sampling:

  • Monica Wofford introduced us to the concept of "Contagious Confidence".
  • Robin Spizman asked us "Where's our Wow?"
  • Sandra Yancy lead us in a panel of "Fearless Women" who shared their stories of finding strength to stand tall and succeed in the face of failure.
  • And Alecia Huck reminded us that "Cinderella Doesn't Live Here Anymore" --that we need to take charge of our lives, give up perfecttion and get back to winning.
  • Marion Luna Brem share the "7 Greatest Truths about Successful Women"
  • Marci Shimoff implored us to get to the point where we can be "Happy for No Reason"
  • Janine Turner shared amazing stories of perseverance and resilience by daring to dream, healing with humor and never giving up before the miracle.
  • Sheila Stewart reminded us that women succeed "Backwards in High Heels" referencing Ginger Roger's famous line that women have additional challenges that we can and do overcome. FYI:-Sheila will be our featured speaker on February 4th, 2009.
  • The amazing Michael Gerber closed out the conference with "Awakening the Entrepreneur Within"

And then there is the Glow Project. This is an amazing documentary sharing the stories of 14 successful women and their search for passion...the flame that ignites the inner GLOW. Click on the link to see the trailer. The full length movie will be headed our way soon!

The International Femtor Awards should be sponsored by Kleenex because there was not a dry eye in the house. This event introduces us to the non-profit grant recipients that were selected by each chapter that raised $7,000 to sponsor the grant and announces the Emerging Leader recipient from each chapter that raised an additional $2,500 to sponsor a young woman between the ages of 22-29 who are already demonstrating excellence in the areas of academics, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. I have committed our chapter to sponsoring both for the 2009 conference.

We also recognize a Humanitarian of the Year. This year’s honoree is Joyce Sterkel. Joyce facilitates adoptions of children from orphanages in Russia. She has been involved in successful experiences with US based families for many years. In some cases families who had difficulties would contact her out of frustration or desperation and she began to try to be of assistance to them. She offered respite to the family struggling with a child who had adaptive challenges and took on the kids to help them ease into their new circumstances more easily.

She opened Ranch for Kids after recognizing the needs were greater than she personally had capacity for. She, her husband and older children became the staff and caregivers for children who, due to abusive or traumatic childhood histories, often accompanied by issues related to fetal alcohol syndrome, were violent and rebellious in their adoptive families.

The Managing Directors were so moved by Joyce’s story and by the story of two young girls that accompanied her that we decided to pledge $250 per chapter to raise money to help her continue doing such great work.

If you were unaware of the dedication and commitment of Sandra and Kym Yancy, the founders of eWomenNetwork, to the Foundation, the non-profits honored in the past and present, the Emerging Leaders and Rising Stars amongst us and the women who rise above to serve others, this event left no room for doubt. They walk the talk—give first/share always.

And finally, after the tears of compassion dried, we shared tears of laughter. We learned about the need to embrace change in our lives through Judson Laipply’s Evolution of Dance (ladies you MUST check this out…we were practically on the floor laughing). And later we learned about trust and teamwork with world renowned juggling team, The Passing Zone. (Yes, you must check this out too!)

We shopped, drank, eat and boogied at the blowout party Nordstom’s hosted for us Friday night after normal closing hours. It was, as I heard some of our younger members say, “Off the hook!” And before we could recover from that party, we were back out dancing and drinking chocolate martini’s at the Evening of Chocolate Decadence.

Like I said, it was a total WOW experience. I hope you can join me next year when we do it all over again!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Does Wearing Two Hats Look Funny?

So how many of you have more than one job or own more than one business? I do and I have to admit, sometimes the sailor hat (CruiseOne) and the networking hat--whatever that looks like to you (eWomenNetwork) don't always wear well together.

But, more often than not, they really do compliment each other.

When I first decided to purchase a CruiseOne franchise in 2005 I based my decision on two things: the growing trend towards cruise vacations and the idea of helping people have fun.

When I first decided to purchase the rights to start a new eWomenNetwork chapter in Southern Jersey in 2007 I did so with two things in mind: the growing trend of small women owned businesses and the idea of helping women build and enrich their personal and professional lives.

Clearly helping people is an important focus of both.

However balancing the two isn't always easy. Because both businesses require responding to people in a timely manner, I can't split my day and say that the morning is CruiseOne and the afternoon is eWomenNetwork.

Another dilemma is what business to market or promote. For the first six months on Blogger I listed myself as a travel professional in the cruise business. I decided to change it tonight (thus the focus of this blog) to highlight eWomenNetwork.

Clearly all eWomenNetwork members or prospects are also CruiseOne prospects, but not necessarily the other way around--many of my initial cruise contacts are male.

Those that receive e-mails from me can see from my signature that I run both business ...what they may not have noticed is that I flip flop the companies depending on the topic. In other words, if you've e-mailed me about a cruise, then I put the CruiseOne signature on top...but if you later e-mail about eWomenNetwork, then I flip that signature to the top (at least I try to remember to do that!)

But I guess my question still remains....does it look funny to see both signatures? More importantly, does it confuse you or lessen the importance of one over the other?

My view is that I try to be upfront and honest with everyone that both are my businesses and both are important to me.

So, I ask you, to quote one of my favorite shows..."How do I look?"