Black Girls are the Next Generation of Women?

What happens when you bring 277 young female professionals and 6 career experts to FirstEnergy Stadium on a cold, but sunny Spring day?

Those aspiring young professional level up to meet their #careergoals.

I witnessed that happening yesterday at The Sherwin-Williams Company and Engage! Cleveland inaugural event, the Next Generation of Women. The women (and the one guy who asked a question during Q&A) were privy to some of the best tips and tools offered by an amazing group seasoned female professional I’ve heard speak at one time.

Each woman either presented solo or engaged in an interview-style conversation with another up and coming woman leader. Mixing up the forum’s format made for an active and energetic afternoon at the Browns stadium, lunch and snacks included.

Here’s a synopsis of what went down.

Lisa Zone, Managing Director of Dix & Eaton, got our attention with a talk about building a personal brand and how brands evolve over time. We engaged in reflective activities and received useful tips about the successful delivery and execution of brands. Because of Lisa’s advice, I’ll be checking out my social media to make sure that I have a consistent message, with similar bios, and the same headshot. My favorite Lisa quote: If you’re trying to be all things to all people, you’ll end up being nothing to no one.

Micki Byrnes, President and General Manager of WKYC, cracked us up with her witty advice to negotiate and broach tough topics at work. The majority of her talk focused on negotiating salaries, addressing pregnancy with an anticipated promotion, and saying something about sexual harassment. Her best piece of advice? Think long term. Whatever is happening now in your career won’t be what happens forever. You’ll have a long career so make decisions that focus on the long term. Not her exact words, but you get the idea. She said a lot more and asked us not to share the funny stuff because it might get her in trouble.

Amy Shannon, President of Pinnacle Leadership LLC gave us a valuable handout that I’ve posted on my workstation, Ten Common Things that Undermine Women’s Speech Habits. My talk partner and I discussed which of the habits challenged us the most. I’ve gotten better at not using the word “just” in my writing and I need to work on not using disclaimers when I speak. Amy’s bottom line: stop diminishing ourselves through our speech and start new habits one at a time and involve a buddy. I just…oops I mean…I emailed my talk partner this morning to remind her of the new habit.

 

Teresa Metcalf Beasley, Partner with Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLC inspired us with her words about priorities. You’d appreciate her advice on dealing with competing priorities – the importance of communicating with your boss, exposing your children to your work life, and serving on Boards (she currently serves on 4). The other memorable part of her talk was her request that the audience share apps they use to increase their productivity.

  • Task Rabbit

  • Audible

  • To Doist

  • Instacart

  • iRobot

  • Out of Milk

  • Nest

Kirsten Ellenbogen, President & CEO of Great Lakes Science Center, while sharing her thoughts about making decisions, imparted wisdom about managing up and having an organizational perspective for improved decision making. Managing up means thinking about the needs and preferences of our boss when making decisions. Having an organizational perspective means just that. By asking ourselves, how did the organization become better because of our contribution, is one way to gain organizational perspective. She also shared a book that every extrovert should read called Quiet.

 

Kim Manigault, EVP, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at KeyBank, swept in like a breath of fresh air at the tail end of the event. She laid us out with her sense of humor and insight on finding your tribe. According to Kim, an ideal tribe should lift you up, keep you going, and motivate you. Everybody needs a “hype man”.

 

There’s no way my short synopsis can tell all or affect all. The event was time well spent, even for someone like me, a seasoned professional. I can only imagine what others got out of it.

 

What I hope I’ve done is pass on to you the importance of attending events like this so you can level up and meet your #careergoals. It might be tricky, in some cases, for us to become aware, gain access and resources to participate, but don’t let that stop us. Let’s ask someone who cares about us to be our sponsor. Let’s tell our bosses we’re interested in leveling up. Let’s ask the event coordinators if any scholarships are available. Let’s join professional organizations like Engage! Cleveland to stay in the know and grow as professionals.