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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 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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March 3, 2016

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



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.


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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 Jeanne Sullivan, Co-Founder of StarVest Partners and Panelist, Speak Up for Financing Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

Three important places where your VOICE really counts:

 

  • In the Workplace:

This past year I was invited to deliver a TEDx for Barnard College. I am a Barnard Entrepreneur Fellow and this platform was one of the privileges. My theme was exactly the title of this post today. Here is why this title is so important to me – Women need to learn to find their voice and use it. How appropriate that this gathering is the Speak Up Women Conference.

In my TEDx talk, I used this theme related to dealing with Bullies, Bozos and Buffoons in the workplace. As anyone knows or has worked for more than month for a company an organization or firm, these people are everywhere (unfortunately). The approach that works best is to find one’s voice with these hard-to-deal-with people. Bosses, colleagues, customers, vendors and more. I believe the more effective approach is to use humor which often works to disarm the offender. I know one thing that does NOT work – and that is remaining silent and boiling over with anger and resentment.

 

  • When selling your idea, product or service:

 

Hone your ability to “sell” your idea, product or service.

I am a long-time venture capital investor and now Angel investor and advisor.  I am amazed that CEOs often cannot package their “story”.

Sullivan, Jeanne HeadshotYes…” story” is the operative word – I want you to tell me the genesis of your company – how you will execute and your plans and vision to build it big. How will you scale your business? Tell me about the “Business of the Business”. Don’t just fall in love with your product or tell me about the features and functions. Tell me about the channels where you plan sell this product or service. Lay out your marketing plan. Describe yourself as CEO and your team and track record. Lay out the financials around the business – how much capital you will require over time and your milestones.

Of course, investors want to hear about your product or service. But entrepreneurs need to remember that the primary goal of an investor is to make money – and they want to hear how you plan to make that money from their investment. And speaking of financials – Know your financials an I mean cold!”

 

Ladies – most of us are BAD at this but “You can learn this stuff”.

 

Get a finance professional at your side who can teach you. Let others show you how to understand the numbers and bring them to the meeting. When the snarky angel or VC says ‘What are the gross margins?’ And you have a blank look on your face, guess what? You got the first meeting, but you won’t get the second.”

 

“Investors want you to be stewards of their money.”

 

In an organization, these lessons are equally important. Imagine that you have a new idea or product for your line of business or company. Again, when packaging your idea – think about how to be most effective in presenting this innovation, new process or product. These are the stepping stones toward success for yourself and for the business.

 

  • Your Patter:

 

A talented PR person helped me along the way with this one.   Someone asks you to introduce yourself at a meeting, a party, a job interview. Package yourself with a few short phrases that …tells your story. Just start listening to others and you will quickly see the difference between doing this well or not.

 

Finding One’s Voice –

And…this discussion is part of the journey of life! It takes time and continuous practice in many settings to learn to be articulate – find one’s voice – to be packaged! I am always amazed and in awe of the young, articulate people who do this well. We can learn from each other – I am still learning every day.

 

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

 

Link with me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeannemsullivan

Connect with me: @Gianna212

 


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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?”

Speak Up #2

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!