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:


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.


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.


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.


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!


February 8, 2016

Meet Kathy Zucker, a Panelist on the Speak Up in Your Community Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference happening at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016!

Kathy Zucker is an author, startup founder, international social media Shorty Awards winner, and Real Time Academy judge. A Columbia graduate and two-time national champion, she is a member of Cobra Fencing Club and the Columbia University fencing advisory board. She lives with her husband and three children in Hoboken, NJ. You can find her on social media at @KathyZucker and at KathyZucker.com.

“Kathy embodies the spirit of New York Life’s #KeepGoodGoing Shorty Award. Even during difficult times, including during Superstorm Sandy, she was an inspiration and educational resource to families in her local community. We applaud Kathy for being the first to win this category and we thank New York Life for sponsoring #KeepGoodGoing and for its support spreading the word,” said Greg Galant, the co-founder and executive producer of the Shorty Awards.

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

“Kathy is a great example of someone who uses social media to share her own life lessons, which in turn help others. Her tweets in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy provided critical news and updates to her community. We congratulate her on winning a Shorty Award and thank her for using social media to keep good going,” said Liz McCarthy, senior vice president and head of Corporate Communications, New York Life.

Join Kathy as she shares her insights
during this important panel about
Speak Up in Your Community
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



February 2, 2016

Meet Jessica Abo, the Moderator of the Speak Up in Your Community Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference happening at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016!

Bret Purple
Jessica Abo – Moderator, Speak Up in Your Community Panel


Jessica Abo is a journalist by day and social entrepreneur by choice.  You may have seen her on NY1 covering everything from breaking news to Fashion Week or spotted her playing herself in The Amazing Spider-Man 2Delivery ManGirl Most LikelyGossip Girl and Nurse Jackie.

Jessica recently launched her own media startup to empower kids, teenagers and college students. Her YouTube channel “JaboTV” was featured in Forbes as a place millennials are going to be inspired; and, she was invited to speak at the United Nations about how her channel is giving today’s youth the tools they need to power through their personal challenges. Jessica’s videos appear on several media platforms including Entrepreneur.com. She recently appeared on “The Meredith Vieira Show” sharing tips for parents and kids on How to Confront Bullying.

Jessica has won several awards for her journalism and philanthropy work. She has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for a variety of causes by running marathons and organizing her own charity events.  Her last black-tie affair supported the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. To date, Jessica’s “Marrow Match Gala” has made 20 matches and facilitated three transplants.

Jessica received her bachelor and master degrees from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She is currently working on her first book and will be launching a fashion line in 2016.


Join Jessica as she moderates this important panel about
Speak Up In Your Community
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


February 2, 2016

Speaking up takes courage. When you look at your life, you may find yourself tongue-tied and apprehensive when you need to speak up about what you want, what you need, and what doesn’t feel good or right for you.

Too often you may find yourself feeling like the other person should know what you want or need, which is unrealistic when you think about it. How could they? Is he or she a mind reader?

Other times you may feel intimidated or scared to speak up for fear of what the other person may do, such as judge you, stop speaking to you, make fun of you, or ignore you.

Here are five areas to consider where you could make a huge difference in your life today if you were only willing to speak up:


  • Relationship Partners – I have known many women who don’t speak up in their intimate partner relationships to their partners, but will speak up to anyone else who will listen. If you don’t talk to the person you are in the relationship with, how can you expect him or her to understand what you need, what you want, or what you feel? Relationships are built on the successful or unsuccessful communications between two people. When you have the courage to speak up in these intimate relationships, you will find ways to make the relationship stronger, better and happier for each of you.


  • Family & Friends – Many people feel nervous and scared when they need to speak up with family members or friends, especially friends they have known for a long time who feel like family. Speaking up to these people in your life can make a world of difference for you – and them. Each of them has no idea what your experience is like with them. They don’t know how they make you feel. They have no way of knowing what you want or need. Some of them may ask; others may not know how.


When you garner the courage to speak up and tell them what you want, need, like and don’t like about your relationship with them, you are giving them and the relationship you have with them the opportunity to change, to serve you better, and ultimately to serve the other person better too.


Life is too short. Growing and deepening these relationships of a lifetime takes time, energy, effort and courage. Don’t wait to have what may feel like tough conversations. If you wait too long, you may not be able to have them and find yourself wishing you could have.


When you do have them, you may just find that you wish you had done this sooner so you could enjoy them more.


  • Medical – So many people I know go to the doctor and don’t ask questions about the things they don’t understand. They simply take whatever the doctor says as the way to address their ailments, not really understanding why or what potential side effects may occur.


I always ask questions at the doctor’s office. I also speak up about my concerns when a physician wants me to take a prescription for an ailment. I’m concerned about what anyone is asking me to put in my body, how it may make me feel, and what conditions I may experience as a result of doing so. If I’m not willing to take the risk, I’ll ask about what other treatment options there are and express my concerns to the doctor.


Our bodies are our temples. They are the foundation for our living experiences. When we feel good, we tend to do more. When we don’t feel good, we get to do and experience less of life.


Take an interest in your health and make sure you understand what your physician is doing, why they are doing it, what test they are doing, how it works, what the results mean, and anything else you don’t understand. Your body is your responsibility. Speak up for it! After all, who else will?!


  • In Business and At Work – Speaking up in business and for your career is entirely up to you. No one can give you permission to do it. That permission ultimately is something you give yourself.


If you find a way to do something better or more effectively, tell someone. If you want to know how to serve your customers better, ask them. Don’t try to figure it out within the four walls of your company. Trust me – they’ll tell you, if you only give them a chance to speak up.


Interviewing for a job? Ask questions about the company. See what you can find out about what others are saying about it – in the press, on their blogs and articles on the Internet, and what they are saying about themselves in their company reports. Interviewing for a job is bi-lateral. It is the company speaking up and inquiring about whether you are the right person for the job, AND it is also you inquiring about whether the company is the right place for you to add value, learn and grow. Have the courage to speak up so you can find out what you need to know so you can determine if the company is the right fit for you.


  • For a Cause You Care About – If you see something, read something, or hear something about an issue that bothers you or disturbs you, don’t just sit and stew. Do something. Find either an organization that you can join and work with to make a difference for it or start your own. This could be as easy as putting on a fundraiser for a child diagnosed with cancer in your neighborhood to working on the board for a large organization and donating your time.


If you want to feed the hungry, you can go to your local soup kitchen and prepare and serve them dinner. If you want to help children get a better education, donate your time as a mentor or offer to lead a local program for kids. If you want to address the way the elderly are treated and left alone, offer to be a visitor and go to a hospice or senior living community and volunteer to talk with those who have no family to care about them.



Speaking up takes courage. It is where most of the best things in your life begin. I encourage you to speak up and ask for the life you want. Let others know what you need and want so they can help you get it.


Speaking up can be one of the most powerful tools in your kit to living the life you want.

So 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.


February 1, 2016

Meet Bonnie Bruderer, the Emcee and Mistress of Ceremonies of the Speak Up Women Conference happening at the United Nations on March 5th, 2016!

Emcee for Speak Up Women Conference
Bonnie Bruderer                                                 Emcee for Speak Up Women Conference


Bonnie has an extensive background in the personal development field including training in NLP, Hypnotherapy, Holistic Health, Results Coaching and holds 10 certifications in human behavior and personal development. She also attended Columbia University’s Internal Coaching Certification Program.

She is best known as the “girl who traveled with the gurus,” spending over 18 years on tour with some of the top personal development minds on the planet.

She has authored four books, has multiple audio programs, hosted her own radio show (Live Your Life On Fire) and now has her own TV Show, on the Lifestyle Channel on MNN, in New York called “AskBonBon” and has appeared on multiple news shows and reality shows as an expert coach. The show is now being nationally syndicated to multiple platforms and reaches over 5 mil+ homes per week.
She has created a trans-media platform to help people that have a powerful message to spread to the world, reach the masses through TV, radio and online distribution.

She has appeared on FOX and NBC TV on numerous occasions and has helped leading organizations such as Anthony Robbins, Ticketmaster, City Search, and Active Networks achieve significantly higher levels of revenues and success.

Uniquely qualified having spent 18 years working for Tony Robbins, Harvey Mackay and some of the other worlds top trainers.

  • Certified in life coaching, NLP, Neuro-associative re-patterning, hypnotherapy, holistic health, yoga instruction.
  • Appeared on the Reality Show ‘A Band Of Wives” as the expert coach and trainer.
  • Have coached over 7,000 people all over the world to get results.
  • Hosted the “Live Your Life On Fire” Radio Show.
  • Winner of ‘Women Owned Business Of The Year 2009” in San Francisco for coaching practice.
  • Co-founder of V.I.S.S. (vision, inspiration, strategy & support) with John Assaraf from the smash hit movie “The Secret”.
  • Author of four personal development books and multiple video and audio programs.

Join Bonnie as she emcees 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 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.