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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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March 3, 2016

Guest Post from Karen Cahn, Panelist, Speak Up In Your Community Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

       When I was going through a divorce, I turned to the Internet to find solace, shared experience and compassion from other women who were going through the same difficult experience.  I didn’t find much by way of “support”, but I did find lots of haters and trolls who made disparaging, disrespectful and hurtful comments about divorce and family issues.  The reality was, there was no safe space for people to have an open dialogue about tough personal issues without being cut down. I realized if I wanted such a space, I needed to stand up and to create it myself.  As a woman, I knew instinctively that women need talk therapy to survive, and for the most part, your friends and family are not the right people to talk with because it’s just not all that comfortable, there’s judgement, sadness on the part of whoever is listening to you, blah blah. It’s for this reason, that my team created technology to allow users to participate publicly or privately, so they could either be public about an issue or they could remain anonymous and speak more freely.  

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       We tested our technology on VProud.tv, a video-driven conversation platform, built for women by women.  VProud’s mission is to cultivate honest conversations among women in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.  We built the technology for VProud around the idea that everyone should have a voice and be able to share their opinion in a venue that is kind, respectful and free from trolls.  The Internet gives everyone a voice but it is challenging to find a place to share that voice without being cut down by others.  Unfortunately, this is particularly a problem for women. Women’s voices, opinions and bodies are constantly being berated on the Internet.  We wanted to stand up and put an end to the online bullying and shaming, so I created a place for women to talk about the issues that were important to them in a safe community platform.

        When we launched VProud.tv, we were inspired by the high levels of engagement, and the incredible amounts of time women who found the site were spending on it, watching video and reading the conversation.  We knew we were ready to start licensing our patent-pending software platform to brands and websites with the hopes of allowing any brand with a website to create safe online communities for their users, whether they were talking about sports, food, technology, or any topic.   VCommunity was built to give people a fun and immersive online video experience while also allowing users the ability to stand up and have a voice about the issues that matter to them.  Through VCommunity, we are using technology to allowing anyone to stand up and have a voice.

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       In the midst of all of this, I was talking to a colleague, Naama Bloom, founder of HelloFlo about the misinformation plaguing the Internet regarding women’s health and family wellness.  Naama and I decided to join together as partners and build a learning platform that allows women to get help about the physical or emotional issues they are experiencing from female doctors and experts. I believe that you can speak up for yourself by trying to solve your health problems.  Unfortunately, many women are unable to do this because they don’t have access to medical experts, who can be expensive, geographically prohibiting or impossible to get an appointment with.  We wanted to make these experts accessible to everyone so we created Learn From Her, a private e-learning platform for women. Our mission is to normalize the conversation about women’s and family health by bringing trustworthy, no-nonsense female experts to people globally, for the cost of a co-pay. Our classes offer a shame and judgment-free, private environment for women to learn about their own bodies and the health and well-being of their families.

        Lastly, through VProud and Learn From Her, I realized how hard it is for women to speak up about mental health issues.  Society has come a long way in the past few decades regarding mental health understanding, but there is still a long way to go.  The truth of the matter is that WE ALL suffer from mental health issues, whether it is directly or through association.  I wanted to normalize mental health issues because I’ve found that stigma comes from misunderstanding or lack of information. VProud was selected to be a part of the first-ever YouTube Global Initiative for Women.  The campaign launches in March for Women’s History Month and is intended to highlight the best up-and-coming female YouTube creators. We knew that we wanted to work on a project that focused on female mental health.  VProud’s project, You’re Not Crazy, is a mental health themed variety show, consisting of raw, dynamic conversations between diverse women, interspersed with stand-up comedy & storytelling from our favorite comedians. If we can talk openly and honestly (and laugh a little) about mental health issues, we can help to allow women to speak up and get the help that they need and deserve.

        In my life and career, I have found that by speaking up for yourself and your own needs can help other people to do the same thing.  If my voice can help people feel less alone, and direct them towards the tools they need to speak up for themselves, I believe I have had a successful career.

 

I look forward to meeting you at the Speak Up Women Conference on March 5th at the United Nations and hearing about your experience!