At AWE’s Elevate! conference on March 5 in Las Vegas, some of the top women in the meetings industry will take the stage to talk about their journey and share their lessons learned with attendees as part of a live mentoring exercise. The focus on empowerment at the follow-up to last-year’s successful event in Washington, D.C., will begin with a much-anticipated keynote from Judi Holler, author of Fear is My Homeboy: How to Slay Doubt, Boss Up and Succeed on Your Own Terms. That powerful voice for believing in yourself will be followed by an Ask Me Anything panel of industry leaders designed to give attendees the tools they need to reach the highest heights.
Smart Meetings queried these experts for some context about how they set goals and chart their path and what they hope attendees will take away from the experience.
Judi Holler: Own It
First, I own my morning! This means that before I jump into email or look at social media, I’m advancing my goals. I’m allowing myself to wake up, enjoy my coffee, write in a journal, maybe I read a few pages, or maybe I move my body and take a walk. Maybe I am advancing a creative project or writing 500 words for a deadline. The goal is to give yourself the gift of the morning. Even if it’s just the first hour of your day. Because when you own your morning, you own your day, and when you own your days, you own your life!
Second, I micro-dose everything! This means I think in smaller time chunks, not in big looming deadlines that feel overwhelming and out of reach. For example, when writing my book, I’d set a timer and just write for 10 minutes to invite in some momentum and get those creative juices flowing. I wouldn’t say to myself, “OMG, I’m on deadline and have to write an entire chapter today!” Instead I would say, “Ok, I’m going to write for 10 minutes and see how that feels,” or “this morning I’m going to write a paragraph then take a break.” Most times, once I was 10 minutes into the activity, I was in too deep with momentum and I didn’t want to stop.
The goal is forward momentum. Fear hates this space because when you move forward, you have a really big chance of actually achieving those goals. That brings about change, which makes fear very uncomfortable. Plus, research shows us that when you set small, specific and slightly difficult goals (you ‘gotta get uncomfortable!), then break them down into 30-day windows, you will double your chances of achieving results. Personally, I’ve seen an 85 percent increase in my overall productivity.
The most common thing keeping women from reaching their goals is themselves. Self-doubt, imposter syndrome, comparison and guilt hold us back from connecting in the powerful and profitable ways we desire—and deserve! Self-doubt makes us think we aren’t ready or that someone else is more qualified. Imposter syndrome keeps us stuck in the cycle of “safe” because we feel like we are not worthy of our success or accomplishments. Comparison steals all our joy and causes us to doubt ourselves. And the guilt of letting our families down by being ambitious, or for putting ourselves first, has us saying no more than “yes.” The second we realize that there is room for all of us and that we no longer need to feel guilty for putting ourselves first, we can truly step into a life and a career that gives us what we all really want—more freedom!
I hope participants feel empowered to fear their fear less and realize that inside “the discomfort zone” is where all the magic lives.
Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group: Goal Focused
I haven’t traditionally written my personal goals down, although I have a new appreciation of the value of doing this from having been involved in the Fast Forward 15 mentor program this past year. However, from a business perspective, I create the yearly and five yearly goals for the business and this very much forms the goals that I work on during the year. In addition, I am constantly seeking to improve and innovate and I read articles, listen to podcasts and get involved with organizations beyond the industry to find new ideas and ways of doing things.
Challenges for women in the industry are the result of a mixture of things, including the perceived difficultly of juggling an always-on events career with family life, as well as the lack of role models at the highest levels. I do think that our industry is very open to women leaders and therefore I believe that improved opportunity will have a great impact.
Hopefully, attendees will be inspired that they, too, can achieve whatever it is that they desire in their career and family life.
Carol McGury, EVP, event and education services, SmithBucklin: Always Growing
My goals have always been focused on growth—professional growth and client growth. So, I didn’t necessarily approach my path through titles I would hold or roles I should play, but instead I concentrated on how I could gain exposure and grow through experiences. This came about through continually stepping up (and not only when asked) and asking for more—raising my hand to take on a project, stepping up when someone left to help keep things in motion, showing my interest beyond just my “day job.” And ultimately, what I did made an impact on my team and with my clients. Growth is a mindset—for me, for my clients, and for my teammates.
I honestly don’t think there is anything keeping women from achieving their potential. As someone who went from an entry level role to an EVP role, I’ve coached and mentored team members, former colleagues, and individuals from various industries to never fear—lead with strength.
I hope attendees take away the knowledge that even though everyone’s path might be different, you need to keep true to who you are and where you want to go. Staying focused is critical. Too many people look around and want what others have—I want attendees to think about what they want and I’m hopeful sharing some of my experiences will help them on their journey.
Carrie Freeman Parsons, board chair, Freeman: Prioritize Impact
One of my mentors often says, “Activity does not equate to impact.” This has become one of my mantras, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed or I’m not making progress against my goals. Am I making an impact? Or am I just busy?
For me, it starts with clarity regarding my personal values. A couple years ago when I felt a bit out of control, I wrote my values down—and more importantly, I defined how they should be expressed. This gave me the platform to then create goals that align with those values. This clarity is the filter against which I spend my time. It has freed me up to say “no” to things that I previously said “yes” to out of self-imposed obligation. It’s a never-ending process of ruthless prioritization. But, for me, when that prioritization is screened against my goals which are aligned with my values, it’s much easier to make those decisions.
I think the professional progress of women in the meetings industry has been slow, but it has been steady. Many of the impediments in the past regarding bias, access, female role models, etc. have lessened. Significant progress will happen when more women have the courage to tap into their full potential.
I hope that the session will spark insights that will awaken possibilities.