The act of honoring winners of the Smart Women in Meetings Award is a celebration of the resiliency of meeting professionals everywhere. That’s why when we were finally able to bring the 2020 and 2021 cohorts together last week for a grand gala at Resorts World Las Vegas, we invited all the previous year’s winners and paired the occasion with a Smart Woman Summit day of empowerment showcasing top personal and career development experts.
Just as a kaleidoscope of fluttering butterflies makes the power of transformation look effortless, this gathering of inspirational women and their allies belied the hard work they have put in over the last few years, so they can help the industry come back stronger when the time is right.
While it is impossible to bottle all the sparks from a gathering of leaders of this caliber, we did manage to capture some of the brilliant ideas floating between the stage and the soft seating a few feet away.
Lead with Purpose
Sometimes, there are no clear answers, and you just have to trust yourself—even if you aren’t feeling it. Many meeting profs discovered this for themselves last year, but Lt. Col. Patricia Murray discovered this essential truth first as a Miss California contestant and then as a pilot on multiple tours of Afghanistan and with American Airlines.
Her secret for moving forward when the flight path is fuzzy? Honesty. “Knowing yourself and being authentic is how you support those around you,” she said. “Make sure what you do has meaning in your soul.”
To keep your priorities in perspective, she suggested asking yourself four questions.
- What is your purpose?
- What are your strengths?
- What is your personal brand?
- What stops your forward progress?
We are all the CEOs of our careers right now, and entrepreneurial expert Stephanie Burns had strategic advice for those ready to “bootstrap” their life and career advancement. Ask for it!
“Too often we put ourselves inside an invisible fence,” she said, by not even giving people a chance to say no. “Statistically, you have more of an opportunity to get a ‘yes,’ even for things you think are audacious or crazy if you ask.”
To successfully get to the answer you want, she listed request steps.
- Take inventory of your assets and what you might be able to offer of value to others.
- If you get a ‘no,’ it isn’t a reflection on you. Let the emotions go and don’t take a no personally. It might just be the wrong timing.
- Get used to being uncomfortable. Practice saying the words out loud.
Master the Negotiation
Once you have made the ask, the work of negotiation begins. Women statistically spend less time in counteroffers for themselves but excel when
advocating for others. That is why Alison Fragale, Ph.D., an associate professor of organizational behavior at University of North Carolina, focuses on reframing the interaction first in your own head. Look for the win-win and how getting what you want will help others, so you can more confidently present your case.
🍊🙌 The OCCC joins @VisitOrlando in congratulating OCCC Deputy Director Yulita Osuba and Visit Orlando Vice President of Sales Operations Stephanie Naegele for their @SmartMeetings Smart Women in Meetings Award. Congratulations! #MeetSmart #BusinessBetterThanUsual pic.twitter.com/mFzwzZz7pe
— Orange County Convention Center (@OCCC) September 16, 2021
Since pre-negotiation often determines the outcome, Fragale laid out the work that needs to happen before the conversation.
- Mentally focus on your top goal rather than the minimal outcome.
- Have some alternatives ready.
- Explain the reason you need it.
Change on Your Terms
Armed with those powerful tools for getting what you want and need in life and work, Kim Becking urged going out to achieve the metamorphosis you were always meant to be. It won’t be easy, and unexpected hurdles will inevitably arise—economic, personal and health-related—but we can do difficult things when we focus on what we are, rather than what we aren’t. “Name that inner bully and shut her down,” she said.
“Don’t stop because of fear, move forward because of purpose,” the breast-cancer survivor declared.
Read More: Women Leading at Big Apple Events
Rock Every Room
The top note for the day came just before a jubilant awards ceremony in the glam Rose Ballroom. Musical force-of-nature Jade Simmons shared her bold story of striving to achieve her dream of being a master concert pianist only to find that there wasn’t a place for her. So, she created her own space as a transformation enabler powered by a mix of virtuoso performances, powerful straight talk and a little bit of rap.
“Once you discover purpose, you will become responsible for it. You will have to protect it and you will have to make room for it,” she said. “Don’t ask if you can be in the room. Know that the room needs you!”
A gala doesn’t make itself. Surprising and delighting top hospitality players requires thinking creatively about how to make them feel special—and paying attention to the details. The best way to pull off an over-the top celebration? Find the right partners.
For a long-anticipated Smart Women in Meetings Awards gala, the wow started with gifting. Thanks to Global Gifting’s Joe Malone perfume experience and Scent-ex (formerly Scentology)’s customized diffusers, guests left having enjoyed something for all their senses.
Thanks to a partnership with Access DMC, Champagne Creative Group, Rupleskilton Events and Cirque Mechanics, attendees were greeted at the event in the brand-new Resorts World Las Vegas Rose Ballroom by a flowing tent topped by a lady-in-waiting with an elaborate pouf. Inside, an artist worked her magic suspended above the appetizers, and a bubbly-pouring, oversize bike attendant and living wall kept everyone toasting. A cover photo booth by LV Photo recorded the fond memories for eternity.