Last week, my firm, Aspire Ascend, held its first in a series of Remarkable Woman Luncheons. Our first speaker was Susan Ann Davis, a “remarkable woman” with an inspirational story and a speaking style that draws you in….and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better to initiate this series.
Susan is a pioneer who opened her own public relations agency when few women were experiencing success in the business world, and fewer still owned their own businesses. It has grown into a global organization with major international clients, and Susan has ¬¬emerged as one of the most influential people (man or woman) in her field.
Among the sold-out audience were senior-level executives, an ambassador, a congresswoman, and entrepreneurs -- all remarkable women themselves. They came to hear Susan share her story, and she came because she lives the philosophy that women help women.
Every attendee agreed that Susan was engaging, funny, and down-to-earth as well as remaining an entrepreneur of global business. But her message was serious: believe in yourself, build a support network, and don’t be afraid to take a chance. I like those words!
These are great guidelines for all women, but they are particularly important for those of us who are already in leadership.
At a time when we may very well see the first woman President of the United States, we still hear stories of accomplished, well-qualified women being passed over for positions or promotions even when they have the same experience and qualifications as men. And, when women make it to the c-suite, build a successful enterprise, or are elected to office, they are held to a different -- and often ridiculously higher -- standard than men.
Susan has lived through all of it in her rise to the top, and she shared her story -- no, make that stories -- with the group. Her anecdotes were both cheerful and tearful, and I saw many in the room taking notes from this true role model.
The diversity of women in the room confirmed my long-held belief that one of the most important elements of any network (but especially women’s networks) is diversity. We put limits on both our network and what we can learn from them if we don’t make our “circle of influence” as wide as possible.
One of the themes I heard, both in Susan’s comments and in the numerous conversations among attendees, was the importance (and I’m paraphrasing here) of “doing less and networking more.” To me, it’s the difference between meeting short-term goals or building a career…and taking the reins of leadership in whatever endeavor you pursue.
This message resonated with me since I frequently find myself advising clients to “keep their heads up” and build relationships instead of “keeping their heads down” and passing up on the events and programs where you can meet more “influencers.” That will help you find new avenues for business success, career advancement, and greater self-fulfillment.
I was pleased to see that women who had just met were making plans to follow up and meet again, and exchanging business cards, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses as they left the luncheon together.
One attendee told me as she was leaving, “It was great to meet other successful and enthusiastic women. We spend so much time working on business objectives, we don’t often get the chance to work on our own objectives.”
It’s good for women -- at whatever stage of their careers -- to hear from other women who are willing to share their stories. We learn that no dream is too big and that support is there when you ask for it. That’s the ultimate message…. And that’s why I’m proud that Aspire Ascend will continue to provide membership and a forum for discussion and support -- where women support other women!
Take a look at the photos from the Remarkable Woman lunch here
Aspire Ascend is a global service provider and a member-based organization providing a comprehensive portfolio of career-building services to enhance the success of women in leadership positions. It helps executive women meet the challenges of career advancement and make an impact in the C-suite.