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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.



March 1, 2016

Is it time yet? This is an age-old question we have all asked at every age and stage of life. It’s like being in the backseat of a car and asking the driver, “Are we there yet?”

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Too often I am told by people, especially women, that they are not sure when the right time to speak up is.

The time to speak up, my friends, is now. NOW!

If you want to address something that is bothering you in a personal or professional relationship, it is only going to fester or possibly get worse as you wait for the “right time” to speak up about it to the right person.

 

And I mean the RIGHT person – the person you need address directly about it. It doesn’t mean talking with five other people who don’t have anything to do with the situation that is bothering you unless you are either practicing how you are going to speak up or asking for encouragement to do it. Gossiping with others about it is not going to help you. Neither is complaining about it to everyone but the person who is bothering you. Speaking directly with the person or persons involved will.

 

If you feel bad every time you are around a particular person, job site or see someone suffering, then those feelings are not going to change until you decide to speak up and tell someone how you feel.

 

Here is how you know it’s time to speak up and why that time is always now:

 

  • Nothing will change until you speak up. In fact, it may get worse.

 

  • You cannot expect the other person to read your mind or your feelings. If you do, you’ll be waiting a lifetime and then some for something to change.

 

  • Your efforts to speak up take courage. Dig down deep and stand up for yourself and your life. Speaking up is all about you taking the rare opportunity to step up to speak your mind and stand your ground about who you are, what you want, how you feel, and how you want to live your life.

 

  • Speak up for others who you see need help. There are so many people in this world who don’t know how to speak up for themselves. They need help, but they don’t know how to ask for it. Be that beacon for them. Articulate what they cannot and find ways to speak up for them so they can have better lives.

 

  • Not speaking up means you are allowing a leak in your energy to continue to drain you as you spend your time, energy and effort managing your feelings and spirit around something so negative in your world. Get rid of it! Go and address it head on so you can resolve it and solve it – for yourself and others.

 

 

Life is short. You never know what is going to happen to the ones you love, much less the ones you care about and collaborate with.

 

Now is always the right time to speak up. It is genuinely the first step to living the life you want and making sure all those in your world know what’s best for you.
Speak up for yourself and what you want, need and feel. If you don’t, who will?

 

Do it now!

 

Don’t miss the Speak Up Women Conference! Time is running out and so are our limited number of seats!

 

Haven’t purchased your ticket yet? The Speak Up Women Conference at the United Nations is on March 5th. Time is running out! Don’t miss out on this elite experience to raise your game, and your life, to the next level by learning how to really speak up and make an impact.


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March 1, 2016

Guest Post from Kelly Keenan Trumpbour, Founder of See Jane Invest and Moderator, Speak Up for Financing Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

I’m an angel investor, which means companies directly ask for my money. Because I work with angel investing groups, I choose among entrepreneurs who have made it through a tough selection process. They present their ideas to me and my colleagues at monthly pitch meetings hoping to secure sizable checks.

 

Kelly Keenan Trumpbour - Moderator, Speak Up for Financing Panel

Frequently, I am the only female investor in the room. The majority of companies pitching us have zero women founders in the mix. That’s changing, and I’m happy to report seeing more and more women at the helm of great ideas. I’ve been privileged to see suburb pitches from women founders who are on fire, and I am left with the unenviable task of choosing among them.

 

And yet, more often than I would like, when other female-founded companies are in front of me, the person telling me about it isn’t always the woman who created it. It’s often a guy.

 

Can I tell you how often I see a woman founder’s picture in a company’s slideshow, but the woman herself is not in the room with me? Do you know how many times women co-founders take a seat in the back of the room, ready and available for our follow-up questions, but they are not running the presentation?

 

It makes me want to rewrite the Tammy Wynette classic and belt from the top of my lungs, “STAND BY YOUR IDEA!! (twang twang twang) . . . . And show the world you love it!”

 

Ladies . . . LADIES!!! Just give me one other example, anywhere in your life, where you hand the microphone to a guy so he can explain your thought process about something you care so very deeply about.

 

Because I don’t hear random guys saying things like, “Well Bob, Ella went vegan in college because she believes in a cruelty free, sustainable food model, which is why she’s hoping you will offer her tofu from now on!” Or, “You know what Ron, that’s a great question. Does Tanya want to get married someday? I think the important question here is does she want to get married to you. And while we are so delighted by your interest, I think you can see that her brand will need to hold out for more.”

 

I know what you put into these companies. Many of you have maxed out credit cards, taken out another mortgage on a house, skipped sleep, ignored friends and exasperated family members. And then your team comes to pitch me and I don’t see you at the front of the room telling me why it is all (still) worth it.

 

And I think I know why. It’s not necessarily a lack of confidence or self-esteem. I think it’s because you care so very much about your idea that you want to entrust its communication to the very best possible messenger. If you are going to walk into a room full of mostly male investors, why not offer them your male co-founder? It’s smart. Like can attract like. But it’s also safe, and it bets against you being the best possible messenger.

 

If you have made it far enough as an entrepreneur to pitch me, you have found a way to live with risk. Maybe it’s never become what you might call comfy (and it never will), but like a decent roommate, you’re familiar enough with its rhythms to sleep a few hours most nights.

 

If you have enough of the gambler in you to put tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars behind your concept, risk a steady paycheck somewhere else, and cash in every favor for one shot at the gold ring, why not bet on your voice being the best voice?

 

Your job as the startup founder will always be far more difficult than my job as an investor. I don’t envy the strain you volunteer for, even if I admire your tenacity. But when I invest, I invest only in women-owned companies. I’m quite public about that. It’s on my websites, my social media pages, and my business cards. Two minutes into a conversation with me, and you will know I invest in women-led startups. Why? Because it matters to me that other people see and hear about an angel investor who expects women to be as present as men in the startup industry.

 

In putting my money where my mouth is, I’m hoping to model the change you need to get more investment. To get my investment, I need you to speak up and stand by your idea.

 

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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March 1, 2016

Guest Post from Cherie Corso, Founder of G2 Organics and Panelist, Speak Up in Business Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

Chasing the dream of life balance is exhausting. We, as women, spend more time giving to everyone else, leaving ourselves bankrupt. As the nurturers of the world, we are born with an innate gift to give; however, when we decide to give to ourselves, it is looked at as selfish. Some of us hate telling people no in fear of disappointing them at the cost of oCherie Corso - Panelist, Speak Up in Business Panelur sanity. That mentality has stopped many successful women reach their full potential in life and in business.

I am compelled to write to you to give you the confidence boost you need to come out of the shadows and speak up, demanding the life you deserve. You have a voice and hopefully these 5 steps will help you find it and ignite the inner strength you need to finally SPEAK UP!

 

Step One – Realize everyone is NOT going to like you.

The first thing I think every woman entrepreneur should understand is that your gifts and talents are not for everyone and that’s okay. As you understand your purpose, you will attract all those kindred spirits that you were sent for. Have you noticed that many entrepreneurs will name their audience?

Names like tribes, societies, newbies, armies, etc. are given to give them a sense of inclusion and letting your audience know you were sent for them and them alone. You’re either in the tribe or you’re not. The more you focus on the people that don’t like you, the less time you will be able to focus on the audience that’s waiting for someone just like you to speak directly to them.

Step Two – Believe you have a lot to offer.

You’ve probably said one hundred times, “Why would anyone want to listen to me?” Or, “that’s been done already, so why bother?”

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When I got the idea to start G2 Organics, I didn’t look at all the other product lines out there. I knew that my beliefs and ideas were worth all the money and work to get it in the hands of customers around the world.

I believed so much in my voice that I couldn’t keep silent about it. Regardless of how many people have done it before you, no one will be able to transform that idea using your feminine energy and knowledge. Every trial, failure, and victory has led you to this moment. Seize it!

Step Three – Understand the role of competition.

We are bombarded by society to be in constant competition with each other. If you’ve seen two celebrities wear the same outfit on the red carpet, the headline the next day will read, ‘Who wore it better?’ For the single ladies at weddings, they fight to the death for the bride’s bouquet. There’s no need to be defensive and even snippy with other women. Realize that we are greater in numbers and the community that you’re able to build will elevate your thinking and status in so many ways.

I challenge you to find at least two like-minded women that can give you the much needed motivation to keep going. They will feed the woman that you are and the entrepreneur that you’re striving to be. These women will hold you accountable to your goals and a little friendly competition never hurt.

 

Step Four – Prepare for success.

I love to hear people say, “She came out of nowhere!” In reality, no she didn’t. There were years of planning and preparation before anyone knew her name. It takes a lot of work to be spontaneous. If you have an important meeting scheduled, show up early and have a pre-meeting, breaking the ice with conversation. When you’re in a relaxed state, your feminine energy shines and your mind is clear to communicate your ideas effectively.

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The more you prepare that speech, presentation, or meeting, you are giving yourself room to adjust to last minute changes. You are able to simply acknowledge life’s hiccups and make the immediate adjustments. Luck is your preparation that meets the opportunities.

Step Five – Take the physical and emotional risks as an entrepreneur.

As an entrepreneur your greatest successes will come out of your greatest failures. You’re going to have to take the leap out of your comfort zone to take the risks necessary to get results. Some of our favorite inventions like the microwave, chocolate chip cookies, and even the potato chip were all products of the inventor’s mistake. Having your own business is exciting and exhilarating, but never lose  your ability to throw your ideas to the walls and see what sticks.

As a wife, mother, and businesswoman, I wear many hats and sometimes I amaze myself when I get it all done. It takes work, but it’s not as hard as you think. Every no is one step closer to a yes! Will you be ready?

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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February 22, 2016

Guest Post from Stephanie Parker, Panelist, Speak Up in Your Community Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

I am honored to have the opportunity to be part of the Speak Up Women Conference at the UN. I never imagined that my little Zipadee-Zip invention I created to help our daughter sleep would set the stage and build a platform for speaking up and affecting change and community like it has. ‘Speaking up’ for me has been two-fold. Both my faith and desire to give back are the driving factors that have given our business a much bigger purpose and mission. I’d like to share how I’ve been able to grow support and community around these causes in hopes that you can apply some of these principles to speak up in your own communities and affect change.

Stephanie Parker

How to build a community with your voice:

Identify your passions: Before you can embark on a mission, you have to identify what you are willing to fight for… what defines you. The road will not always be easy when you make a commitment to speaking up so it’s important that you are personally invested in what you are fighting for or speaking up about.

Our Sleepingbaby.com Company started from one of the things I’m most passionate about and that is my faith in God. I remember sitting on my bed in tears as I faced the reality that I’d have to go back to work, only to have most of my salary go towards someone else raising our daughter while I was at work. My heart’s prayer was to stay at home with her. In a moment of desperation, I remember opening my Bible to a verse that says, “To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ever ask or imagine, by the power that is at work within us through Christ Jesus… To Him be the glory throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21. As tears streamed down my face, I prayed that if God chose to bless this little Zipadee-Zip invention, I’d give Him the glory for it.

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http://www.sleepingbaby.com

We grew to a $5 million dollar a year, debt-free business in less than 4 years by word of mouth marketing and a $700 investment…which was truly nothing short of miraculous. I feel an incredible responsibility to tell that story as my faith in God is what started it all. It may not be a belief everyone shares, but it’s a story I’m not ashamed of and am willing to speak up about regardless of the backlash. It’s also that faith that led me through one of my biggest trials of my life and ultimately created the community of women that would provide the second purpose that I have spoken up about….

Tell your story: Stories are the most powerful tool you have to affect change and touch hearts in a real and lasting kind of way. Stories are essential when hoping to build a community. There may be a lot of facts or logical reasoning that can support your cause, but nothing will be more powerful than what really connects you to your audience. The most vital ingredients that come into play when telling your story is that it is genuine and true and from the heart.

Our business built on faith led to the story that founded our community. In December of 2013, I lost a baby during pregnancy. It was the most gut-wrenching, excruciating thing I’ve ever endured and I never understood until that moment how much you can love a person you’ve never met before. To top it off, I was running a baby business where I saw photos of cute, healthy babies every day. I didn’t know how to face that, and I quickly got horribly behind on orders. I finally had to tell my customers publically that I had lost a child and to please be patient as I catch up. What resulted impacted me in a way I cannot entirely explain. I was flooded with women who reached out to me to share their losses and words of encouragement with me. They expressed being grateful that someone finally spoke up about an often unspoken struggle. Their stories not only built our community of women in a lasting and beautiful way, but they also helped me heal and move forward. My decision to speak up opened up a new passion in my heart… to help other women to speak up about their struggles and encourage true healing in a place that often goes unaddressed.

Be transparent about your weaknesses:

There is nothing more powerful than genuine transparency. Not only can people relate to it, but everyone secretly craves the ability to just be real without having to go through the walls and masks people often put up to hide their true selves. Deep down everyone wants to be known and when we are willing to open ourselves up to that, great things can happen.

When my husband and I made it on Shark Tank, I was faced with the decision of whether or not to share the loss of our baby and how our community of women helped me heal. I made the decision that if I didn’t speak up, I could miss out on touching someone’s life the way our customers had touched mine. That single decision resulted in an amazing chain of events. After airing on the show, I was contacted by a women named Kelly who was pregnant with a baby that doctors said may not survive to birth due to severe heart conditions. Doctors recommended that she terminate the pregnancy but she shared that after seeing my story on TV, she was renewed with strength and determination to fight for her son. Our community of women surrounded that little boy in prayer and support. Little ‘Finn’ was born on January 2nd of 2015 and is alive and well today. Finn has been in the hospital and his hospital stay prompted our business to raise money for his family and the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House supports families who’s little ones are in the hospital for severe medical conditions. Our company was able to raise tens of thousands of dollars through the community of women that rallied around in support. This was a testament to what big and beautiful things can come from transparency and not being afraid to speak up!

Expect negativity and consider it a compliment: Whenever you unashamedly stand up for what you believe whether it be in business, religiously, philanthropically or otherwise, you are bound to have some naysayers. With the anonymity of the Internet, people feel much freer to share their thoughts. After I shared my story on Shark Tank, I actually had someone accuse me of making up the loss of my baby for publicity reasons! Other people criticized Kelly’s decision to keep a baby that might have medical issues! People can be hurtful, but it’s important to focus on the change and beauty you can bring into this world when you aren’t afraid to speak up! Imagine what could have happened had Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mother Theresa chose not to speak out in words and action… or what could happen if YOU don’t speak up. You biggest fear should not be found in speaking up, but instead missing out on a bigger purpose for your life!

Exceed your potential and SPEAK UP!

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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February 8, 2016

Meet Cherie Corso, a Panelist on the Speak Up in Business Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference happening at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016!

Cherie Corso is not only a proud wife, mother, author, Reiki master, and environmentalist, and lifestyle blogger, but she is a well-known parenting expert and TV personality you may have seen on Fox and FriendsDoctor Oz, or Good Morning America. 

As a co-author of the children’s book, Crazy Ponytails, with her daughter Julia, she encourages children to persevere through challenges to see their special talents and as a mentor lecturer at Fordham University she calls upon years of industry knowledge to invest in the next generation of women leaders and entrepreneurs.

Cherie recently fused all of her knowledge from top designers and creators in the fashion world and chemical knowledge to successfully relaunch her organic skincare line, G2 Organics, where all of the products are not only 100% organic, but are made with only the highest grade ingredients and raw botanicals. This line is the answer for anyone looking for the best non-toxic products for the whole family.

Cherie Corso - Panelist, Speak Up in Business Panel
Cherie Corso – Panelist, Speak Up in Business Panel

G2 Organics has been named “Best Organic Nail Polish Remover” by Marie Claire Magazine, received the “That’s so Green Divas” award by The Green Divas, and been recognized as top editor picks by Glamour Magazine, Ebony, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

In everything she does, she relies on her creative real-time experience to make sure that her deep-rooted beliefs on balance, family, health, and beauty at the forefront. You can learn more about Cherie and G2 Organics by visiting g2organics.com or “Word on the Street” at cheriecorso.com.

 

Join Cherie as she shares her insights
during this important panel about
Speak Up in Business
at this amazing inaugural event!

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

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