Speak-Up-Women-Live-General-Graphic-2.21.17.png

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!

###

 

Thank you.

Warmly with Gratitude and Grace,

~ Jennifer

Jennifer S. Wilkov

Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

Speak Up World LLC

www.SpeakUpWomen.com

 

 


SpeakUpWomen-2017-Quotes-from-Last-Years-Conference-01.05.17-EO-2.png

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!


Speak-Up-Women-2017-Save-the-Dates-Early-Bird-01.05.17-EO-8.png

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!

 


Speak-Up-Women-2017-Womens-March-01.20.17-jp-5.png

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!


MLK-Day-2017.01.13.17-EO.png

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!

 


SpeakUpWomen-2017-JW-Blog-1.10.17.png

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.



March 3, 2016

Guest Post from Tai Beauchamp, Panelist, How to Speak Up & What’s Holding You Back Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

TV Personality, entrepreneur, and influencer shares why she chooses to seek life harmony

I’m often asked, “How do you do it all?” My response is usually a simple “I don’t do it all.” After a quizzical stare, she might rephrase the question adding more detail in an effort to help clarify exactly what she means, “Well, how do you balance all that you have going on? I mean you work in TV and media. You have your own company. You travel the world for business and for pleasure. Right?”

“Yes, all of that is true,” I answer in a rather matter of fact tone.

 

The inquirer, let’s call her Sam, a 27-year old, will usually continue, “And I think I remember reading that you take care of your grandmother. And from your Instagram, you attend the hottest events at least three to four times a week. And you have fabulous friends and stuff. So in my book, that’s doing it all and balancing a lot!”

Tai Beauchamp Blog Pic 1

I usually smirk right about now because Sam is right, it is doing a lot! —A whole hell of a lot and if I’m honest, at times, it’s doing just a little too much. But in 2016, as progressive, driven women, we all have a lot going on in life and if necessary could probably add more. It’s just what it is. But it’s the question of “balance” or perceived balance that always captures my attention and interest.

 

And so it’s now that I drop a truth bomb that catches Sam off guard. “I don’t balance.”

 

“Huh?” she responds. “I can’t tell by the looks of it!”

 

“I don’t seek balance. Life balance is a lie as far as I’m concerned,” I say.

 

Now grimacing in disbelief at either my honesty or what she now wonders may be her own naiveté I’m not sure, Sam retorts, “Oh, really?”

 

“Yes, really.”

 

Most don’t want to hear this nevertheless believe it, but logically, even scientifically, it’s impossible to balance anything that isn’t divided into equal parts, never mind more than two, maybe four, and possibly six things.

 

I’ve been out of college for almost 16 years, and at around age 28 when my grandmother suddenly became ill, I became a caregiver, visiting her at her rehabilitation center daily. This was on top of managing two major consulting roles (one as a philanthropy consultant and the other as editor of a major women’s magazine). I had also just started my company so I was trying to drum up business, I had relationships that I cherished and wanted to maintain, and was also newly single so I was trying to date and just live. This isn’t uncommon for most 21st Century women, so in no way do I or should you see my life or myself as an anomaly. But my philosophy and approach is very different and counters what most life coach type experts and psychologists even encourage.

 

I don’t want “life balance”; I want “life harmony”. I want to be able to juggle things fairly well. I want all things to work together as best as possible but balancing say 25 things? Not so much. When I think of harmony, I think flowing, calm movement. I think fluidity. I hear beautiful sounds, some notes higher than others but all melodic. I like that. It’s not easy to do by any stretch but it takes the pressure off believing that all areas of my life (in no particular order) professional, personal, spiritual and emotional, love, and social can or should receive the same amount of attention and effort at any given time. I’ve had to train the people in my life, especially my family and team members, to understand my philosophy. I also have to remind myself at times that it’s okay not to be able to do it all, especially at once. It feels right and because it does, I sing and hum more often even with 7 or 11 balls in the air.

 

So today, on March 5, 2016 and beyond, I speak up about choosing not to balance but harmonize. And I speak up to help other women to let go of the pressure to “balance it all” especially at the same time.

 

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

 

Tai Beauchamp is a TV Host and Personality, Entrepreneur and founder of TheTaiLife.com. She empowers women through style. You can read more inspiring content at TheTaiLife.com. Follow her on @theTaiLife and @taiBeau on all social media platforms.



March 3, 2016

Guest Post from Jessica Minhas, Panelist, Speak Up In Your Community Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

“That which angers you, you’re meant to solve. That which grieves you, you’re meant to heal.”- Jessica Minhas

 

When I was growing up I thought I wanted to be a TV host. In fact, I was pretty sure of it. Many a conversation have Oprah and I had in my bathroom mirror. I just loved asking questions, and getting to the ‘heart of the matter.’ It made me feel like I was doing something good, and it made me feel like I was being heard.

 

Later when I grew up a little, well… a lot a bit, and started confronting my own childhood history of neglect, abuse and trauma (reluctantly at first, but more on that in a second), it made me realize something about those epic bathroom interviews — I still wanted to get to know people’s stories, for sure, but more than that, I wanted to help people feel seen.

 

In my twenties, I eventually found myself working as an actress/model and TV host/journalist in New York City, while on my way to find my biological family. You see, being on TV equaled being seen, and, boy, did I want my family to see me! I was raised by just my maternal grandfather. After he suddenly passed away while I was still a teenager, I set out to find my biological mother and father once and for all. I figured if I was on TV, it would up my odds of them finding me, or vice versa (classic teenage logic).

 

When a chance trip to India fell in my lap, I decided I should take it and “meet my people.” While I was there, I was exposed to the realities of the child sex trade. For the first time in my life, I not only met people who kind of looked like me (I’m half German and half Indian), but who also shared really similar stories of abuse and neglect, and who didn’t have access to education like I did.
I came back to the United States charged to change the world! (Think: Avenger-like enthusiasm.) And what I got in return were blank faces and stares. I didn’t realize it then, but I was overwhelming people with my zealous enthusiasm.

 

Simultaneously, also unbeknownst to me, all this talk about sexual violence was triggering me, and I was leaking out my trauma story like a helium balloon. I can only imagine my listener’s inner confusion at my impassioned advocating about sex trafficking victims buffered in between my own dissociative ramblings about that time I was raped, or the times I barricaded myself in my room to save myself from my grandfather’s nightly drunken rageful fits.

 

Some brave souls did try and gently nudge me into self-awareness by suggesting counseling, but, honestly, by that time, as a know-it-all 23-year-old, I had already survived all of this ‘stuff’, so the last thing I wanted to do was go backwards. Besides, I thought to myself, I was going to change the world.

IMG_4570-Smaller Version

Now I understand that the first step in changing the world, is changing our own worlds. Our past, the scary, and even the dreadfully sad bits of our stories, our purpose, how we show up for our lives, and how we become ‘the change we want to see in the world’ are all inextricably linked. Sometimes the only way to truly move forward is to go back to the beginning. So, in the spirit of speaking up, being seen and being heard, here are three key takeaways I’ve learned in the process of becoming a healthier person, with a voice, who knows how to use it:

 

  • Be Curious: “That which cannot be named, cannot be healed.”- Dr. Dan Allender

 

Part of getting better is knowing what we need to get better from. Science tells us that what we suppress will be expressed… whether we like it or not, if not verbally, instead in the form of chronic health issues or mental illnesses. Case in point, I struggled with unexplainable anxiety for years. Only when I started diving deep into my history and getting really curious about who I was, where I came from and what I experienced, did I realize just how impactful my childhood trauma had been on my adult life.

 

  • Lean in: “You can only free someone else, insomuch as you have freed yourself.” -Dr. Dan Allender

 

Throughout my humanitarian work, my supervisors would always encourage us to be examining our own stories as we engage with our survivors. If we were feeling some internal resistance, that was an indicator of an opportunity to lean into our stories a bit more. That indicator may be pointing to some of our history that’s inhibiting us from ‘feeling’ pain.

 

There was something else about trauma survivors that I once heard. “Abuse survivors will scare you with how much they know about you. They can take one look at you and know you inside out.” They’ve been trained to be hyper vigilant in order to survive their situation, so in our work on their trauma, they can sense when we’re resisting something, or when parts of their stories are making us uncomfortable. Part of getting better is visiting your past and leaning into the parts that still burden us so we can free ourselves, and free others too.

 

  • Embrace: “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” -Dr. Susan Jeffers

 

Trauma can sometimes make us scared to take risks, or believe in ourselves, or feel valuable and loveable, all making intimacy and important relationships terrifying. Equally, though, building solid social support helps us ‘relearn’ or even ‘learn’ for the first time, (like in my case,) what healthy people are like; the irony being that the intimacy and vulnerability effort is sometimes the scariest part of everything.

 

Still, having been through everything I’ve been through, having heard the survivors’ stories of some of the worst atrocities history has even seen, I can tell you with 100% certainty, healing is possible. It may be really frightening to articulate what’s happened in your life, but there’s freedom down the road. Yes, the struggle is real, but so is redemption and so is hope.

 

I look forward to meeting you at the Speak Up Women Conference on March 5th at the United Nations! 

 

About the Author: Jessica Minhas is a human rights advocate, author, social entrepreneur, and media commentator who makes complex human rights issues relevant, understandable and actionable for audiences of all ages. Learn more about her work at www.jessicaminhas.com and www.illgofirst.com.



March 1, 2016

Guest Post from Kathy Zucker, Panelist, Speak Up In Your Community Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

Taking risks. Speaking up. Sharing information. What do all of these things have in common? Conversation.

Every single person wants to be seen. To be heard. To have their words validated. Every one. And often? Nobody is listening.

When you are a person who listens to others, you are instantly a person of interest. That is it. You do not have to be superbly talented. The best writer. Photographer. Actor. All you have to do? Is talk to people. Well, and be genuinely interested in them.

Kathy Zucker - Panelist, Speak Up in Your Community Panel
Kathy Zucker – Panelist, Speak Up in Your Community Panel

Every time I talk to someone – and I talk to everyone – I learn something new. It is never something I expect. But just like bargain hunting in a department store, sooner or later you find a dark corner of a display that everyone has overlooked and uncover a hidden treasure.

Listening takes practice. I have made mistakes over and over again as I have learned how to take part in discussions. Own your mistakes. Apologize for errors. Learn how to avoid repeating them. And then move on. Every time I get involved in conversations on national and local levels, I learn more about myself. Another bonus? I get to see how amazing people handle themselves under pressure. These are people I admire. Respect. And that is how I identify people I want to be friends with.

Is it scary to start a conversation? Absolutely yes. I never know how someone will receive my thoughts, particularly the risky ones. Sometimes I go too far, and people let me know right away. But I would a million times rather risk going too far than playing things safe, especially if my heart is screaming at me to take a chance. Because the safe route? Is actually unsafe.

How can something safe be unsafe? Schools and authority figures teach us from a young age to follow a well-trodden path toward success. Study hard. Get good grades and test scores. Go to college. Get a job. But here is the hidden danger of the safe route. Everybody is pursuing the same thing. The safe route is obvious. It practically has neon lights flashing above it. And when something is obvious, that means a crowd is headed toward an entry door that can admit only a few.

So how can you be successful? By doing something different, or being the first. I am not the best mom. The best writer. The best anything, really. What am I? Someone who sees strategy five, ten and twenty years into the future. Everything I do showcases the choices I make that reflect my ability in strategic planning. From the place where I choose to raise my family to the companies I partner with, every choice reflects what I want to stand for long-term. Even – and especially – this book is part of my plan. What is my goal? I am not looking to get rich. The book is being published under an imprint belonging to one of my companies. My goal? Is to have something I can point to when people ask what I have been doing during the time since I left my full-time corporate job. Now every time someone asks that question? My response will be, read the book.

There are five members of my family. Each one has different skills. Goals. My children are still very young. They are unformed. Zucker_SpeakUp_Conversation-2I am beginning to see the outlines of what my older children will be as adults. I am learning who they are as people at the same time as the entire world is learning. How is this happening? Through the real time social media posts that I create every day showcasing my five family members.

Every time I post a picture and story about a member of my family, I am opening the door to opportunities. How am I doing that? By telling people what my kid is interested in, I am giving them a blueprint for what will work for that individual. When I posted a picture drawn by my oldest child, book editors reached out asking if she is interested in collaborating to illustrate future projects.

Each time I share a story that tears my heart apart, people feel connected to my family. To an individual child. To the family as a whole. And when people feel a deep connection? They search for ways to help us in small and large ways.

These connections are a two way street. When people are kind to my family, they own a tiny piece of my heart. So when they send congratulations on a milestone? I thank them for their friendship. I am extremely busy. Everyone knows this. But in the midst of scrolling down the ever-increasing volume of my timelines, posts jump out at me. Birthdays. Car accidents. Travel pictures. Whenever I see something that tugs at my heart, I like or comment on it. And each like? Is an invitation to start a conversation. Often, I see the same names pop up on instant messenger. And then? We open our hearts to each other.

I am grateful every day that I took an unconventional path. Has it been difficult? Poorly paid? Yes and yes. But while I may not have the bank balance I might have had if I had stayed in a corporate job, I have something far more valuable – a wide network of friends who have answers for all of my questions. And if you share information and start conversations? You can have the same.

 

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

 

The above excerpt is a chapter of the forthcoming book, Five: How a Family Can Create a Career, scheduled to be published in April 2016 by the Metro Media Network, a division of the Metro Moms Network, LLC ®. You can learn more at kathyzucker.com/five.


Bonnie-Bruderer-Headshot-2.jpg

February 25, 2016

Guest Post from Bonnie Bruderer, Emcee and Mistress of Ceremonies at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

It’s funny, I never used to get what I want. I was always the person that would “go the extra mile”, help others, do more than expected. You would think this is a great way to get ahead in life, but the truth is, it is not. I never seemed to win or create the type of success I was looking for.

You see, not everyone is a good person. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of good people and unfortunately tons of bad, too. I often found that I was giving more that was right to some of the bad sometimes, and this cost me from being able to create what I want in my life. In fact, through much of my career, I had to work in situations where I had to work with some people that fell in the “bad” bucket.

I will admit it, full transparency, that I have gone down wrong rabbit holes with wrong people. You know, those kinds of decisions you make in life where you have that nagging feeling, from the second you made the decision, that is was not right. Then, you allow it to keep gnawing at you, as your head for some reason nods “yes”, and you keep getting deeper and deeper. That feeling when you are asked to do yet another thing and your eyes fill up with tears and you can just taste it in your mouth. I know this is not just me, right? It is amazing how many times, from the age of babysitting days, where the parents would call and say they were going to be a few hours late, when you had a swim meet at 6 the next morning, to CEOs who expect you to drop everything and work through the night and weekends on their dreams.

Well, then I learned something. I think it was more of an “I’m gonna snap” than a learning, but I got myself into a situation where there was nothing else to do but SPEAK UP! Then, a funny thing happened. It worked! I got results. People started respecting the boundaries I would set and not taking advantage.

Bonnie Brudered Headshot Cut

Bonnie Bruderer, Executive Producer, theASKBONBON Show

 

Then it was like fuel. I started to speak up in all areas of my life, and you know what? Everyone started reacting differently. I had boyfriends apologizing, people changing patterns of always being late, not working with certain clients, because they did not align with my vision.

Speaking up became a verb and now it is used daily, for everything. Business meetings, scheduling, even my dog, when she wants to go play and I am working. I say what I mean and always back it up by meaning what I say.

I was not able to create a successful company and brand until this happened, and now I have built a team and a network where this is the “norm”. It is not unusual for meetings to be filled with people voicing their “speaking up” and we get more done and everyone is happy.

askbonbon

 

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