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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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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 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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February 22, 2016

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

 

The very thing we are forced to hide, is the very thing that makes us powerful. Words. Voice. Speaking. Confidence. Shine. Have you ever thought about the power you yield when you speak up? Speaking up is very scary, but super liberating when you discover your voice.

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I was born in Jamaica, the beautiful island. At a tender age, I remember my mother telling me that children should be seen and not heard. That phrase stayed with me, lingered and festered into a sore. All I can remember is that every time we had company, I wanted to perform for them like all kids. You know – talk, engage, sing, dance, act a fool – simply be heard and seen. But, I couldn’t.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I developed into a meek, insecure, quiet and shy little girl through young adulthood. I grew up uncertain of my voice, gift and power. That was not my mother’s intention, but her mom had probably done the same to her. This was simply generational loving. Oh boy, lucky me.

When I arrived at high school, there was something of an intervention from God via my English teacher. Ms. Borusso challenged me in AP (Advance Placement) English to tap into my power, my voice and speak up. My teacher said, “I want you to learn and embrace your power. I want you to join the drama club, observe and watch other people tap into their power. Then I want you to unleash your emotions on paper by journaling, and lastly, start looking into the mirror speak kindly to yourself.” Needless to say, I didn’t take all of Ms. Borusso’s advice, but I did start journaling. Baby steps.

When I arrived on my college campus, I was still shy, but making a bold move to cut my long hair into a bob gave me an injection of confidence. My haircut was the first decision I made sans my mother’s approval. It’s funny how a small tweak within can become a personal statement. I started to realize that speaking up and advocating for self did not just mean words. Speaking up is looking within and having the guts to take action, pivot and create a movement. I joined the newspaper and TV club, radio station, and the black student organization. Oh yeah, I co-starred in a school production.

It was the culmination of several moments and years at college that I decided that being heard and speaking up was a life and death matter. I truly wanted to be heard (globally) and impact others to get their message out. Becoming a media publicist, author and speaker has allowed me to create, write, communicate and leverage the careers of many A-listers, executives, entrepreneurs and small business owners. The biggest lesson I’ve learned to date is life always gives you clues. Take the time to listen, sit still, journal, reflect and discover what’s holding you back from speaking up.

  

Tips to Speaking up and finding your authentic voice:

  • Time matters. Take daily moments to identify your magic and voice.
  • Keep your ears to the ground. It’s always better to listen and learn from others. People will always show and tell you who they are.
  • Everyone has an opinion. Listen to what others have to say about you, but never allow others to define you.
  • Do something radical. Shake up your image to build inner confidence.
  • Open your mouth. You are an expert, start talking up self and build confidence.
  • Baby steps. Set realistic goals and commit to them for 30 days, 45, 60, 90 and so forth.

 

Karen Taylor Bass is a highly sought after PR Expert, speaker, media coach, and best-selling author. Follow her on Twitter @thebrandnewmom and www.karentaylorbass.com.

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


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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.