Inspiration and ideas were flowing as seven powerful women took the stage during the 5th Annual “Celebrating Women in Business” Panel in Tampa, Florida.
The event, put on in honor of Women’s History Month by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, brought together seven successful and diverse women to talk about entrepreneurship, leadership, and business.
I was lucky enough to be in attendance and able to experience the energy in the room as the seven inspirational women shared their stories, insights, and experiences.
These were my biggest takeaways and strong women quotes from the event.
There Is No “One-Size-Fits-All” Mold for Success
What immediately struck me about the panel was the diversity of the women sitting on it.
The demographics, personalities, and background of the women were varied and unique. All were successful, but each had found it in their own way and by being true to who they are. This was apparent by reading their bios and listing to their stories.
Rosie Paulsen — a Hispanic leader, insurance expert, and owner of Rosie Paulsen Enterprises, LLC — admitted that at one time she didn’t like her accent and wished it would go away. But then she realized that her accent made her different and helped her stand out. People remembered her, and she could use that to her advantage. Rosie encouraged the audience to accept yourself and to, “Use your differences to your benefit.”
Sheila McDevitt — President of Sheila M McDevitt, P.L., a legal and business consulting firm — talked about how being herself made it possible to find opportunities. She said, “Never change the basic rudimentary of your personality… genuineness and authenticity are important.”
Machelle Maner — Vice President of Community Development at Wells Fargo — agreed and told us to, “Bring your authentic self to work.”
Seek Out Resources & Support
Many of the panelists talked about the importance of seeking out support to help you along your way. Trying to do everything yourself, always go at it alone, and failing to use resources available to you will hold you back.
Rosie talked about she found a new freedom in her work when she started delegating tasks. She encouraged the audience to do the same. “Polish what you’re good at and delegate what you aren’t good at.”
BT Nguyen — owner and chef at the award-winning Vietnamese restaurant, Restaurant BT — agreed that looking for help along the way was necessary. But she also said to make sure the help, advice, and resources you are using are legitimate. “When you get professional advice it’s the best,” she said. “Trust but verify.”
And, Sheila told us not to waste time in the dark. “If you don’t know something, ask.”
— Raubi Marie Perilli (@RaubiMarie) March 31, 2016
Grow & Leverage Your Network
The message of finding support carried on in conversations about the value of the people around you. Many panelists talked about the importance of growing and leveraging the network of people around you.
When asked what were her keys to success, Machelle talked about the importance of building relationships. She stressed the value of forming meaningful relationships both in and out of organizations. “Don’t work in a vacuum. Success doesn’t come in a vacuum,” she said. “Find alignment with what’s important to you with the people around you.”
Jan Chaffee — commercial real estate broker — stressed how her network helped her get ahead. “Your network is everything,” she said. “Remain visible by getting involved.”
Kimberlee DeBosier — licensed professional civil engineer and VP of JMT — talked about how she waited too long to join organizations in her field. She wished she would have built a network earlier and advised us not to make the same mistake. “Ask people questions. Join organizations. Look for mentors.”
Take Initiative & Get Over Your Fears
All of the women seemed to agree that being bold and going for what you want, even if you are afraid, is how you get more out of your career.
When BT’s business partner said she should get out of the business and do something different, BT didn’t shy away from the challenge. “I didn’t want to work for anyone,” she said. “I decided I’m going to take this chance and do it on my own.”
Jan shared a real world experience about how her fear of public speaking was holding her back from opportunities to reach more people and grow her business. She encouraged us to get over our own fears. “Do not be afraid. You are holding yourself back and missing opportunities. When I was freed [from fear], the floodgates opened up for me.”
Machele reminded us to keep going even when we are confused, scared, or unsure. Just take it one step at a time. “When you aren’t sure what to do, take the next right step. Don’t look all the way to the end of the road. Just take the next step.”
And, Sheila made it sound pretty simple. “No one is going to give you something if you don’t ask for it. “
Encourage Success in Others
The panelists reminded us that our success often has to do with the success we encourage in those around us. Many of the speakers mentioned how being a good leader and supporting those around them helped them find more success in their careers. They advised us to do the same.
Rosie talked about how great leaders are actually reliable servants. They serve those around them. She told us to empower those around us (and please our customers and clients), by “Figuring out the need and seeing how you can fill it.”
And, in a fitting position, Jennifer Dunn — the event moderator and Director of Public Relations at Conversa — stressed the importance of highlighting the success and wins of those around us. “Don’t hesitate to empower the people around you — especially women.”
Read Inspiring, Motivating Books
Near the end of the panel, the women were asked to share some of their favorite books that helped them along their way. If you are looking for some good reading, here is a recap of their responses.
- Sheila: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Good to Great by Jim Collins, John Adams by David McCullough, The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
- Jan: The Secrets Leaders Keep by Amy K Hutchens, Brokers Who Dominate 8 Traits of Top Producers by Rod Santomassimo
- Kim: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, Good to Great by Jim Collins
- Jennifer: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Rosie: Bible
- Machele: Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance by Tony Dungy, Bible
- BT: Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success by Wayne Rogers
Strong Women Quotes
Be yourself. Seek support. Use the resources around you. Grow and leverage your network. Take initiative. Get over your fears. And, encourage other to do the same.
Wise strong women quotes and advice from a group of talented and successful ladies.
How will you use this advice to take your career and work life to the next level? Let me know which piece of advice resonated with you most in the comments below.
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