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February 21, 2017 0

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

It is with thoughtful sadness and great hope that I am writing to inform you that I need to postpone the Speak Up Women Conference to the fall.

#SpeakUpWomenLIVE Announcement by Founder Jennifer S. Wilkov of Postponement of Speak Up Women Conference

Jennifer S. Wilkov #SpeakUpWomenLIVE Announcement 2.21.17

Early morning on Valentine’s Day this past Tuesday, Andy, my boyfriend, and I had a fire in our apartment. At 3am, I woke up to the black smoke that was billowing into our bedroom from the hallway. Something on Andy’s desk caught fire and his whole desk was up in flames from floor to ceiling when I walked into our office. First, and most important, we are both okay and so are our two cats. The fire department came, put out the fire, and we all got out. Everyone in our building (upstairs neighbor – a couple with a baby – and downstairs neighbor) are all okay too. The insurance lady I spoke with said I saved everyone. If I had woken up an hour later, she and I would have been having a completely different conversation.

The aftermath: We have soot, smoke and toxic fumes in everywhere and everything in our apartment. We are working with the insurance companies, our landlord, and the entire fire remediation process — which is overwhelming — to recover from this disaster. We have been displaced from our home for at least a month. Everything we have has to either be cleaned, repaired or replaced.

That said, the other piece of information I want to share with you is that I was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer at the end of November and started chemotherapy treatments in late January, after a surgical procedure to implant a mediport in my chest. While this was devastating news, I was confident that I could produce the conference effectively amidst the resulting unanticipated difficulties that have arisen from the chemo for me — including now having 4 blood clots in my lungs. I was planning to share this information from the stage at the beginning of the event.

If it was just the cancer, I would have continued to produce the conference as intended, even amidst the chemotherapy treatments I started in January. With the follow-on stress and trauma of the fire and its aftermath, I don’t have the capacity to really produce these final critical weeks of the conference at the quality they need to be done, including the proper attention to you and everyone involved.

Depending on how well you know me, mediocrity just doesn’t cut it with me. This event and its experience for everyone is too important to me to just wing it. I believe in providing high quality, meaningful experiences for everyone.

The best part of this for me is that I’m alive and here to still provide and produce this amazing meaningful event for you and everyone involved.

I do hope that you will support the Speak Up Women Conference efforts and that you can understand why I had to make this very hard decision after I learned these past two days how complicated the fire remediation process and recovery from this traumatic event will be during next several weeks for me and my family.

I appreciate you very much and I look forward to an even greater event with you in the fall!

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Thank you.

Warmly with Gratitude and Grace,

~ Jennifer

Jennifer S. Wilkov

Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

Speak Up World LLC

www.SpeakUpWomen.com

 

 


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February 14, 2017 0

 

 

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

Maybe you have heard it before but it is something that bears repeating: it takes a village to have the life you want.

Whatever you want to do, be or have is within your reach. Whatever you want to overcome, whatever you want to beat, whatever you want to reach for and accomplish, you can do it – and do it better with a team of people you enroll to support you.

Whether your dreams and ideas are large or small, you can get further faster when you open up and tell people what you want. You don’t have to know everything about how to get it. What you do have to do is speak up and ask for help.

Do your best to clearly articulate what it is you want. For example, if you want to adopt a pet, be specific about what type of pet you are looking for. If you want to find a mate, think about the qualities, characteristics and traits the person you are seeking will have. Don’t just accept whoever walks into your life or who your friends or family want to introduce you to. If you want to break into an industry and have a particular job, then zero in on the exact type of company you want to work for and the role you want to have. If you want to start a non-profit to support a cause you believe in, clearly identify what your non-profit is going to do, how it is going to do it, and what you envision. You don’t need to know every step as to how to make it happen. You do need to be able to talk with someone else about what you want to do.

Speaking up is not about being perfect every time you open your mouth. It is about speaking from the heart and authentically articulating what you want – personally, professionally or philanthropically.

Many women and men have fumbled and bumbled their way through conversations that have involved asking for help, money, guidance or direction. The best thing you can do to get better at this is to keep doing it. Keep at it. You will learn a lot and you will also learn to build your confidence.

You will learn who is on your team and who is not. You will also find out who can help you with what parts of your quest. Keep in mind everyone you ask is not going to say yes, and everyone you ask is not going to give you every piece of what you need either. They will, however, give you what they can, whether that is moral support, an introduction to someone they know, or another part of the puzzle.

But you will never who is on your team, who can help you, or how to get to the glory of the accomplishment of your quest, until you start speaking up and ask.

So Speak Up!


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January 31, 2017 0

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

I often hear from women who tell me that they need to speak up to someone about a particular situation or feelings they have but they are not sure how to do it.

Years ago, someone in their lives probably said to them, “Use your words!” It was most likely a parent or adult who was coaxing them as an infant to use words to indicate what they wanted instead of crying or pointing and making noises.

Today, there isn’t someone who is telling them to use their words. In fact, they just might be having the opposite experience where someone may be telling them not to use them.

This happens in personal, professional and philanthropic or for-a-cause situations. You may find yourself uncomfortable and in a position where you are not sure what to say or how to speak up.

Here are some suggestions for some of these types of situations to help you get started:

PERSONAL

When it comes to having a difficult conversation with a loved one or friend, it is often best to ask the person for a dedicated time to talk with them first. Then you can set some rules of engagement for the conversation you would like to have. I often use the “heart to heart conversation” model with those I love and care about. It includes an upfront verbal agreement that each person will be given the opportunity to speak uninterrupted until they are complete. Then the other person receiving the communication will simply say “thank you.” Then you switch roles until you are both done saying everything you want to say. At the end of these conversations, it is also nice to hug one another and thank each other for the productive, respectful conversation. It is much better than arguing or fighting or talking over one another so no one can hear what the other person is saying. You will also come out of it feeling good about one another and feel heard.

PROFESSIONAL

If your situation involves one individual, outline the talking points you want to make and what outcome you want from the conversation. Make an appointment with the person so you have their undivided attention. Be realistic about the time you have with this person and be effective and efficient with the communication you use. Be sure to establish upfront what you want to talk about, why you want to talk about it, and what result you hope will come out of the conversation. The clearer you are upfront, the better conversation you will have. Introduce your topic and do your very best to stick to your talking points and the reason you want to have the conversation. If the discussion diverts to another topic, do your best to bring it back to your agenda and intention.

If you are in a meeting with others, indicate that you want to say something to the person leading the meeting. Do not raise your hand. Be clear about the point you want to make and be concise in your communication about it.

One other point: Do not apologize for speaking or for what you have to say. Be confident and say what you want to with competence and respect. Be a good listener to those who respond and be open to collaborative solutions as well as if someone says no to something you are requesting. Be engaged and make your point with clarity and conviction.

PHILANTHROPIC

When you feel compelled to speak to others about a cause you care about, it is important to be clear about what the cause is. If you have a particular interest, ask others how you can get involved and what organizations or associations they know of that make efforts for it. If you want to start a new group, first define what the group is for, what it focuses on, and how you want other people to participate. This could be anything from a lemonade stand to support someone you know with cancer or another ailment or an effort to collect food for the homeless.

POLITICAL PROCESS

Regardless of what side of the aisle you are on, you can participate and speak up in the political dialogue that continues to rage in the U.S. right now. The best way to speak up is to find out who your Congress representatives are and put their numbers into your phones on speed dial. You can use the website www.CallMyCongress.com to find out who your senators and House representative(s) are along with their phone numbers, Twitter handles, party affiliation and voting record. Congressional offices record the phone calls that come in each day and the topics you call about. This is the fastest and best way to speak up to your representatives in Congress about your personal feelings and advocate for what you want them to do. They are in office to represent their constituents like you so you are supposed to call them to let them know what is important to you and what you want them to do.

Disclaimer: Speak Up Women is a non-partisan community that encourages those with opinions and feelings on all sides of all conversations to respectfully communicate with one another in a meaningful dialogue.

If you are not sure where to begin, take the first step in faith and do your best. The more you speak up, the more comfortable you will be with doing it and the more you will learn to do it in ways that feel good for you.

You never know how and when your opinion and feelings may inform others until you speak up. The impact you have may not just be for you; it may affect many others you may not even know about.

So Speak Up!

 


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January 24, 2017 0

Speak Up Women - Speak Up: The First Amendment - Let All Voices Be Heard

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference 

Following the Women’s March on Washington this past weekend, many women were asking the question, “What’s next?” Others were asking, “Why did the march happen?” and still others were wondering whether they could even speak up, much less march.

I encourage you to take a moment to understand for yourself why you marched or didn’t march or didn’t understand the march. What was it about it that stirred you, disturbed you, or even scared you?

Marches like this one, albeit this one was historic in numbers and nature, are really about the 1st Amendment and our rights under it. If you haven’t read it in a while, it clearly states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

While I understand that maybe you haven’t seen this in writing since one of yours or your children’s social studies classes in school, it is important to familiarize yourself with it again in the wake of what is happening in our nation.

Whatever your opinions, feelings and thoughts are about the variety of issues, topics and areas being raised in our national discourse, the truth is your words matter and they deserve to be heard.

The efforts to suppress someone’s voice because they don’t agree with you only stifles the very dialogue we need to have in order to better understand one another and the lives we want to live. It goes beyond bullying. It blocks the discourse that leads to peace.

Speaking up requires courage and effort. It is something that breeds fear in the hearts of women and men in many cases because these people have been shut down and shut up for years, causing them to question the very value of their own feelings and opinions.

In order to take on conversations, whether political, in the workplace, in your home and with friends, or even for a cause you believe in and want to do something about, you are going to have speak up, use your words, and express yourself. This is not something to be taken lightly by anyone, and it should be respected by everyone when someone does it.

Speaking up is a skill everyone has and has the right to. It is how we dialogue about our respective feelings. We are not all going to agree on every point. It is how our species works and communicates and conveys our varying views. It also how we learn about one another and understand that it is okay to disagree. It is how we find out what we value individually and what we feel is right for each of us.

If we cannot allow others to speak up and express themselves, then we are not going to get any further than we are now. Bickering is not a solution. It is a stalemate. It blocks the path forward in any discourse.

Speak up! Don’t be afraid to talk about what is important to you. Share it with everyone you know. Allow others around you to do the same. Give it a try and see what you hear. It is not about disagreeing and becoming disgruntled. It is about allowing the dialogue to continue and the discourse to move forward.

You never know how and when your opinion and feelings may inform others until you speak up. The impact you have may not just be for you, it may affect many others you may not even know about.

So Speak Up!


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January 16, 2017 0

 

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

When I was a kid, I was raised singing the song “This Land Is Your Land”, which was written by Woody Guthrie a couple of decades before I was born. By the time I learned it and sang along, there were multiple versions and covers made of it from popular singers like Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger (whom I loved listening to), and even Bob Dylan and later on Bruce Springsteen.

As the song lyrics say, this land is your land, this land is my land.

Well, I say to you that if this land really IS your land and if this land really IS my land, then we are all going to need to speak up about what that really means to each of us and what we want our land to be like and how we want it to be treated.

Recently, amidst the climate of conversations in the United States, there have been many a subject matter that each of us perhaps has something about it that we want to say. Whether it is about the aftermath of the U.S. Presidential election to the standoff at Standing Rock or our economy or even the football teams heading to the Super Bowl in a few weeks, it seems like the roar of voices expressing their opinions and feelings is growing louder.

To me, this is a good thing!

Speaking up leads to dialogues about issues we feel are near and dear to us in our personal, professional and philanthropic lives. Some issues are directly related to us individually; others affect others and we care enough about them to stand up and speak up to express our dissatisfaction or concerns related to them.

Just like in the days of the , we are finding ourselves as a community rising up with our varying voices to express what we want and what we want for those around us, including our children, business colleagues, friends and neighbors.

Without this effort to speak up, the lives we want to live would not be possible because we would be relying on others to cast the die for us, leaving us to live in the wake of what they decided was best for us.

Only you can tell someone what is best for you and how you feel. Only you can inform people and let them know what is important to you. If you don’t, how will they know? After all, they can’t read your mind. If you don’t express yourself, your voice cannot be heard and the life you want cannot manifest the way you want it to.

When I sang “this land is your land, this land is my land” as a little girl, it was a great song. I knew all the words and smiled a big smile when I sang it. I loved its lyrics about the Redwood Forest to the Gulfstream waters and endless skyway above me and the golden valley below me. I felt like it was about my country and where I lived – and I felt good about it.

These days, the words to the song are the same, but the title of the song means something more to me. It is my land and it is your land. It is a land where we are fortunate to be allowed to speak up and tell the people in our lives what we want and what lives we want to live. We are fortunate and blessed to live in such a land.

It will take all of us speaking up to help guide us forward and create the land we want going forward.

I invite you today and everyday to speak up for the life you want and make this land YOUR LAND.

Speak Up!

 


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January 10, 2017 0

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

Speak Up About Your Dreams
Speak Up About Your Dreams

As we approach the 49th anniversary of the loss of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this year and his birthday in which we honor and remember him, we are reminded of the great dreams he had for our nation and our communities.

He stated in no uncertain terms that he had a dream and he used his words so eloquently to convey his vision of what he wanted for all peoples, for all human beings.

At this time of year, what with New Year’s resolutions and a time for renewed hopes and dreams, I ask you: what are your dreams?

In today’s world, you will need to use your words, just as Dr. King did so many years ago, and tell others what you want and what you envision.

You see, it is not enough to just have dreams. If you keep them to yourself, you will only have yourself to rely on to make them come true.

If you have the courage, boldness and grace to share your dreams with others, others will support you in the highest and best ways they can to help you realize them.

When you speak up about your dreams, you have a better chance of making them come true and manifest. It is how it works, you see. We make more things happen as a community, as a group of people who share a common vision of that dream.

If you had to complete the statement Dr. King used so many years ago, how would you say this:

I HAVE A DREAM THAT….. 

This is something we love to talk about in our society. Dreams.

At the end of the movie, Pretty Woman, a man on the street walks by and says, “This is Hollywood! Some dreams come true. Some don’t. — What’s your dream?”

So as we celebrate all that Dr. King stood for and illustrated for all of us, regardless of color, age or gender, I ask you the same question: What’s your dream?

Speak up and share it with everyone you know. You never know how and where help will come until you speak up.


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January 4, 2017 0

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By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

Your voice is one of your biggest assets. It informs others. It expresses desire, hope, fear, happiness, sadness and other emotions. More importantly, it tells people who you are and what you want.

When an individual speaks up, things change. This is universal. This is how change happens. When we open up our great big beautiful mouths and start speaking to others, change occurs for us and for all those whose lives we touch – whether it’s your daughter, neighbor, business colleague, friend, intimate partner or even a stranger you meet for a moment and then may never see again.

It’s time for women everywhere to speak up — whether it’s in the corporate world, the non-profit sector, as a small business owner or brand new entrepreneur with a great idea, or as a mom who wants to break back in to the adult world to do something great.

Teenagers are discovering the world around them and who they are. They fear speaking up in an environment where they are often not in a position of authority. What would change if they spoke up about what they saw and what they wanted? What could change if this dialogue occurred? What could they create in the world to make it a better place locally and globally?

Isn’t it your time as a teenager to speak up?!

20-year-olds are finding themselves and understanding who they are in the larger global world outside their homes and college experiences. They are establishing themselves in the corporate and non-profit worlds or opening up businesses where they see others not being served in the way they think they should. They seek out opportunities where they can feel fulfilled and create an identity they can be proud of.

Isn’t it your time as a 20-something to speak up?! What would change for you and all those you see around you if you did?

What’s holding you back?

30-year-olds are often finding themselves in relationships of all kinds – personal, romantic, parental, professional – where they may or may not speak up about what’s important to them, what fulfills them and how they want to live their lives. Imagine if they spoke up about what’s important to them and sought out and ask for help in the areas where they felt they could contribute and make life better for themselves and everyone on the planet.

When will it be your time to speak up in your 30s?!

40-year-olds experience change physically and perhaps in other areas of their lives. What was important to them in their 30s may change and their focus in life may change too. Who’s going to know what’s changed for you if you don’t tell anyone? When will you use that great big beautiful voice of yours and inform others of who you are today, what you want to do, what career you really want, and what life you really want to live?

When will it be just the right time to speak up in your 40s?!

50-year-olds have seen a lot and still have a ton of spark and spirit in them to run after what they want and create the life they said they’ve wanted for years. They’ve seen more than a half century of society, professional industries, politics and personal experiences.

Now is it time to speak up – in your 50s?!

60-year-olds are certainly not “retiring” but instead reinvigorating their lives and dreams. They are far from stopping but often don’t want to feel like they’re imposing on others for their place in the world as a new senior citizen. They are vibrant and often wondering if they could still create that cool entrepreneurial idea they once had when they were younger.

When will it be time to speak up – in your 60s?!

70-year-olds continue to be actively engaged in the lives they have and often wonder what’s next for them. Can you actually start something new in your 70s and beyond?

YES! If you are willing to speak up, any age is a great time to start something new, create new relationships, find new opportunities that serve your soul and others, locally and globally, and make change happen.

Big or small, speaking up makes a difference for everyone – especially you!

No matter how old or young you are, it’s always the right time to speak up.
If you don’t, how will things change? How will you contribute to the change that inevitably happens around you? How many lives can you make just a little bit better by speaking up?

ISN’T IT YOUR TIME TO SPEAK UP?!

 

Join us for the next Speak Up Women Conference which will be held at the United Nations on Friday, March 3rd, 2017. Save the Date! Don’t miss out on this elite experience to learn how to create change where change is necessary in your life and why using your words and speaking up is the key to everything you want.


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February 8, 2016

Do you remember when you were an infant and someone said to you, “Use your words. Come on, use your words!” Well, you probably don’t remember someone saying this to you, but if you are a parent or an aunt or uncle, you may be familiar with this simple phrase.

It’s what we say to infants to get them to talk and use their voices to tell us what they want and need.

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As we grow older, somehow the adults around us stop saying, “Use your words,” and start saying “Shush!” or “Be quiet!” or “Keep it down; you’re too loud.” We get asked to stop using our words – and our voices.

For too many, this simple experience shuts off your ability and instincts to speak up about what you want and need, what you’re interested in, what you like and don’t like, and how you feel about things. You end up living a life in silence about the things you don’t enjoy, don’t want to experience, and don’t feel you can talk about with someone in business, in your family, with your life partner or in your community.

You feel stifled by society – and sometimes in your life.

When I grew up, the band Supertramp sang a popular song called “The Logical Song,” in which their lyrics started with:

 

 “When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,

A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.

And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,

Joyfully, playfully watching me.

But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible,

Logical, responsible, practical.

And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,

Clinical, intellectual, cynical.”

When you were young, it was okay to giggle, laugh, coo and use your words. Maybe when you were growing up, someone shushed you and asked you not to use them anymore.

If you want the people around you in your life – in business, at home, your friends, and in your community – to understand who you are, what you want, what you care about, and what you like and don’t like, then you are going to need to find the courage to speak up and let them know.

The more you use your words, the more effective you will be at living the life you want.

So Speak Up!

 

For more about speaking up, watch
this video of our founder, Jennifer S. Wilkov, talk about
why it is so important to speak up and
the impact you can make when you do.

Go to www.SpeakUpWomen.com to learn more and
to register to attend the Speak Up Women Conference
at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016


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February 2, 2016

Speaking up takes courage. When you look at your life, you may find yourself tongue-tied and apprehensive when you need to speak up about what you want, what you need, and what doesn’t feel good or right for you.

Too often you may find yourself feeling like the other person should know what you want or need, which is unrealistic when you think about it. How could they? Is he or she a mind reader?

Other times you may feel intimidated or scared to speak up for fear of what the other person may do, such as judge you, stop speaking to you, make fun of you, or ignore you.

Here are five areas to consider where you could make a huge difference in your life today if you were only willing to speak up:

 

  • Relationship Partners – I have known many women who don’t speak up in their intimate partner relationships to their partners, but will speak up to anyone else who will listen. If you don’t talk to the person you are in the relationship with, how can you expect him or her to understand what you need, what you want, or what you feel? Relationships are built on the successful or unsuccessful communications between two people. When you have the courage to speak up in these intimate relationships, you will find ways to make the relationship stronger, better and happier for each of you.

 

  • Family & Friends – Many people feel nervous and scared when they need to speak up with family members or friends, especially friends they have known for a long time who feel like family. Speaking up to these people in your life can make a world of difference for you – and them. Each of them has no idea what your experience is like with them. They don’t know how they make you feel. They have no way of knowing what you want or need. Some of them may ask; others may not know how.

 

When you garner the courage to speak up and tell them what you want, need, like and don’t like about your relationship with them, you are giving them and the relationship you have with them the opportunity to change, to serve you better, and ultimately to serve the other person better too.

 

Life is too short. Growing and deepening these relationships of a lifetime takes time, energy, effort and courage. Don’t wait to have what may feel like tough conversations. If you wait too long, you may not be able to have them and find yourself wishing you could have.

 

When you do have them, you may just find that you wish you had done this sooner so you could enjoy them more.

 

  • Medical – So many people I know go to the doctor and don’t ask questions about the things they don’t understand. They simply take whatever the doctor says as the way to address their ailments, not really understanding why or what potential side effects may occur.

 

I always ask questions at the doctor’s office. I also speak up about my concerns when a physician wants me to take a prescription for an ailment. I’m concerned about what anyone is asking me to put in my body, how it may make me feel, and what conditions I may experience as a result of doing so. If I’m not willing to take the risk, I’ll ask about what other treatment options there are and express my concerns to the doctor.

 

Our bodies are our temples. They are the foundation for our living experiences. When we feel good, we tend to do more. When we don’t feel good, we get to do and experience less of life.

 

Take an interest in your health and make sure you understand what your physician is doing, why they are doing it, what test they are doing, how it works, what the results mean, and anything else you don’t understand. Your body is your responsibility. Speak up for it! After all, who else will?!

 

  • In Business and At Work – Speaking up in business and for your career is entirely up to you. No one can give you permission to do it. That permission ultimately is something you give yourself.

 

If you find a way to do something better or more effectively, tell someone. If you want to know how to serve your customers better, ask them. Don’t try to figure it out within the four walls of your company. Trust me – they’ll tell you, if you only give them a chance to speak up.

 

Interviewing for a job? Ask questions about the company. See what you can find out about what others are saying about it – in the press, on their blogs and articles on the Internet, and what they are saying about themselves in their company reports. Interviewing for a job is bi-lateral. It is the company speaking up and inquiring about whether you are the right person for the job, AND it is also you inquiring about whether the company is the right place for you to add value, learn and grow. Have the courage to speak up so you can find out what you need to know so you can determine if the company is the right fit for you.

 

  • For a Cause You Care About – If you see something, read something, or hear something about an issue that bothers you or disturbs you, don’t just sit and stew. Do something. Find either an organization that you can join and work with to make a difference for it or start your own. This could be as easy as putting on a fundraiser for a child diagnosed with cancer in your neighborhood to working on the board for a large organization and donating your time.

 

If you want to feed the hungry, you can go to your local soup kitchen and prepare and serve them dinner. If you want to help children get a better education, donate your time as a mentor or offer to lead a local program for kids. If you want to address the way the elderly are treated and left alone, offer to be a visitor and go to a hospice or senior living community and volunteer to talk with those who have no family to care about them.

 

 

Speaking up takes courage. It is where most of the best things in your life begin. I encourage you to speak up and ask for the life you want. Let others know what you need and want so they can help you get it.

 

Speaking up can be one of the most powerful tools in your kit to living the life you want.

So Speak Up!

 

For more about speaking up, watch this video of our founder, Jennifer S. Wilkov, talk about why it is so important to speak up and the impact you can make when you do.

Go to http://www.SpeakUpWomen.com to learn more and to register to attend the Speak Up Women Conference at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016.


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January 16, 2016

On what would be the 87th birthday of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., today, I declare that like his dream so many years ago, I have a dream too: that all men and women find their voices and speak up – in their personal, professional, and philanthropic lives.

We need to tell people who we are, how we feel, what we want, and what we care about. We as human beings are not mind readers. We don’t know what one another is really thinking, and we need to stop expecting others to guess.

Expressing yourself is a skill we are encouraged to develop as infants when parents and other adults encourage us to speak up when they ask us to “use your words.” Then sometime later on in our lives, many of us are asked to stop speaking up, are told we are speaking too loudly or at an inappropriate time, or are told not to ask and not to tell.

In this day and age when speaking up can be done in so many forms – in person (the best kind!), in written forms, digitally on the web and others , I see too many people in our society holding back, afraid to speak up about what they want and what matters to them.

Somewhere along their journeys, they forgot that the person who needs to give them permission to speak up is themselves. No one else.

There are some corporate companies today who I tip my hat to that encourage employees, customers, vendors and shareholders to speak up, just like when we were kids. They ask us to tell them what they are doing well and what they could do better. Companies such as Whole Food Markets, PepsiCo, Glaxo SmithKline, GM, Deloitte and others.

In our homes, in our schools, in our professional workplaces, we need to speak up and voice our wants and needs. We can make the world a better place, starting in our own individual worlds. It all starts when we garner the courage to open our mouths and speak up to the people who we want to tell most what our innermost desires are, what our ideas for improvement or something different are, and what we care about.

In our communities, we can make a great difference by speaking up about the things we see that we feel passionate, compassionate and curious about. We can put up and build homes for those who lost theirs as a result of natural disasters, fires or other causes. We can support families struck with illnesses that compromise their ability to survive. We can support local initiatives, build buildings and parks, voice our opposition to things we don’t like or approve of, and lots of other things.

But this single skill set of speaking up eludes so many of us, and it occurred to me that we needed to bring this capability back to the forefront of our society.

It is essential as we continue to grow and expand as a global community that each one of us understand that we have been given the ability to speak our minds, ask for what we want, and express ourselves freely as human beings.

It is our time.

And I have a dream that each of us as individuals can do it. We can speak up. The time is now.

Thank you, Dr. King. I agree with what James Taylor sings about in his song about Dr. King:

“We are bound together by the task that lies before us,
and the road that lies ahead of us.”

Let’s join hands and take the steps needed to really see the world become a global community where each of us can speak up without the fear of retaliation – in our backyards and homes, in our places of business, and everywhere else. Every little step will get us that much closer.

I hope you’ll join me – and speak up!

 

For more about speaking up, watch this video of our founder, Jennifer S. Wilkov, talk about why it is so important to speak up and the impact you can make when you do.

 

Go to http://www.SpeakUpWomen.com to learn more and to register to attend the Speak Up Women Conference at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016.