This month, I had the privilege of attending the first-ever WILD Summit hosted by the Women’s Council of CU Boulder’s Deming Center, and what a privilege it was. This one-day leadership development conference was sold out, and attendees included more than 300 women (and some men, too) in both distinguished and up-and-coming business leadership roles. As I hustled to claim a seat in the crowded ballroom, it was evident that this event was just the beginning of a long road toward empowering and connecting women as leaders in today’s fast-paced society.
“Fear is a good thing, it compels you.” – Shelly Lazarus
The highlight of the event was the keynote speech by Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus of Ogilvy & Mather. Shelly is truly an inspiration. She climbed the ranks of one of the largest advertising and PR agencies in the world during a time when female leaders were almost unheard of. She did this, most importantly, without giving up the things that matter most in life.
I found her quote about fear very compelling because we all have moments of fear and apprehension in our lives, but ultimately it’s up to us to decide how to handle them. Fear should be used as motivation, she advises, and in the end can be much turned into something rewarding. Shelly’s speech was not only HILARIOUS and lighthearted, but it was also so inspiring that I had to hold back a couple of lightly salted tears.
The biggest piece of advice during the speech was that you have to speak up and live your values. At the end of the day those are the only things you can control. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell people what your priorities are and what you believe is important. Once you can figure out your own solution to a problem, pursue that and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
Panel: Social Ventures and Sustainability
I also attended one of the panels, ”Social Ventures and Sustainability,” that included various social entrepreneurs, founders and instructors from social, mission-driven enterprises. What I loved most about this panel was how relatable the concepts were to not only the public relations field, but also most other industries out there. Fundamentally, social entrepreneurs are no different than other entrepreneurs, except they are “not-only-for-profit,” and use their creative and business genius solely to help fix social problems.
How is this applicable to PR? During the panel, we talked about knowing the difference between your “story” and your “truth” when deciding what problem to solve and how you go about doing it. In PR, we spend a good chunk of time figuring out each client’s story and how to portray it to their audience, while also making it valuable and marketable. The same goes with starting a sustainable business as a social entrepreneur. Without clear objectives for what you stand for, your message is going to get lost.
“Use your voice!”
Overall the event was refreshing and definitely something to look forward to next year. Throughout the day I felt the overarching theme of “use your voice” from each of the speakers, and I loved how the panelists reiterated that sentiment. In closing, what a defining theme that was for the whole event: “Use your voice!” – it’s your powerhouse.