Attendees Share Their Greatest Conference Moments
“I am so excited that the conference is here in Spokane and so many of our ladies were able to attend and really get a feel for what NAWBO is about, because I had a hard time in the past articulating that to our members. So now, we all get it and can share that with others.
I was most looking forward to the relationship building and also learning about where NAWBO came from and where we want to go. I get something out of every breakout session and workshop, but really just everything together has been very impactful.
I have five boys and I am a CPA. I am also a woman business owner running a new business that opened in June. So I don’t know if work-life balance really exists but I think everyone needs to figure out what works for them to keep themselves healthy in all aspects of life, and I am still trying to figure that out.”
—Daria Brown, Once Upon a Shoe, NAWBO-Inland Northwest
“I went to Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. earlier this year and then decided to come to my first National conference. I saw it was a grander scale and thought it would be a great way as president elect of my chapter to reconnect with some of the women who I met at Advocacy Day, but also I am traveling with our chapter president so I wanted to help make those connections for her. I knew a lot of the learning and connections would be tremendously helpful. Also, WBC is right in our backyard—in Jacksonville—next year so I was hoping to get a bit of inside track information.
Personally, Elizabeth Gilbert was absolutely stellar and amazing. A lot of the organizational information, including celebrating chapters that have reached 4 Stars and membership and retention best practices, has been great. There’s so much feel-good energy to really fill your NAWBO cup. Also, just meeting with other chapter leaders and learning about their events and ideas for retention or the membership drive that we have never thought of before has been amazing. Meeting with the other chapter leaders and seeing what works and what doesn’t has been a huge benefit. It’s been great to hear from others how they grow and succeed.
When I saw the theme, that was a big draw, too, because I am a quality over quantity person, so I always earmark time for myself because your self-care is primary. If you’re not well, you’re not able to do everything else well. I am a big fan of all the morning activities. I was able to participate in the yoga and the walks to get out and see the community. The wine walk was amazing as well—a lot of the extra events have been a wonderful way to network and chat. In my personal life, I literally schedule downtime. When I tell people this outside of the entrepreneur world, they literally say, ‘What do you mean?’ But if it’s not on my calendar, I’m just going to keep twirling, twirling and twirling. It’s so great to be able to hear that message of prioritizing, making space and saying yes to yourself.”
—Cassandra Willard, Franklin & Willard, NAWBO-Orlando
“I came for several reasons. Our chapter is bidding on having the conference in 2020, but more importantly, this is where we get the message to give to our chapter sponsors. We time it after our conference to come back with excitement and energy and share some of the things we learned here. It’s important for them to see on a national level what programs and sponsorships there are and how they correlate to our chapter. It’s also the synergy in relating to all our NAWBO sisters, getting new insights, re-energizing and going back to our members and board and saying, ‘Look at all the exciting things happening.’ I have been on the board since I joined and am my chapter’s immediate past president, so for me, it’s about the energy and relationships you build here and what you can share with others.
I think we all need work-life integration. You go through the cycle where you get married and have kids and if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’re still very, very busy. I started out about 10 years after having kids. In getting involved in businesses, you quickly learn that as women, we multi-task too much and need some balance. There has to be quiet time even if it’s just when you get your hair done. As you move through the business world, you need that balance because to me, that transmits and translates to the people you are working with. The older I get, the more I realize how important it really is.”
—Donna Joseph, DMJ Group, LLC, NAWBO-Detroit
“I loved the ‘Work Well, Live Well’ theme and love Elizabeth Gilbert so those were the two main reasons I wanted to come. Also, I love this area; it’s a beautiful place to get outdoors and I thought it really reflected the theme.
I think the topics were very good and the leadership qualities spoken about in the breakout sessions were excellent. Elizabeth Gilbert was a rock star and I think many people felt that way. Also, I’m always about finding out what’s bigger that is available to me. Attending a national event like this, you take back people, events—all kinds of things—that are at your fingertips that maybe you haven’t looked at.
Meditating every day is a huge part of work-life integration for me, as well as at least 30 to 60 minutes of some form of exercise or movement every day. Engaging with like-minded people is also extremely important for growth not only as a being, but also as a business owner.”
—Christine Roper, Roper Physical Therapy, NAWBO-Charlotte
“My daughter and I have had a law firm together for five years and this is our first conference together. We had planned to go to one when my daughter was chapter president but she got pregnant with twins so that put us out of coming for a couple of years.
One of the things we were most impacted by is the opportunity to meet people from all over the country, which normally, we would not have the chance to do. What we also like is the conference app where you can get business cards of everyone here who is participating. It’s just fantastic! Also, I liked keynote speaker Elizabeth Gilbert, and I attended a breakout where Margaret Brown, who handles NAWBO National’s social media, was teaching how to do social media, how often to blog, how much time to put into it, etc. That was very helpful.
I think because we have our own law firm, we can plan our time better and that makes work-life integration easier. We try not to stress about whether we’re at the office exactly at 9 a.m. We have freedom in timing and that makes a huge difference. If we want to come in at noon and work until 9 p.m., we can do that.”
—Carol Keough, Barita & Keough Law Firm, NAWBO-Houston
“This is my first year here with NAWBO and I feel energized to take on the world after I leave. I work with Karen Harrison on the national committee that put this together for Bank of America. I got to help integrate the ‘Work Well, Live Well’ and purple color theme into our events and exhibit space. We have been working on this since January so it’s so exciting to be here to see it.
I have been a Bank of America employee for 15 years and I didn’t know we sponsored this type of event, so I am just super proud of our company for being so involved with women entrepreneurs and to see that it’s a key priority. We have a diversity inclusion plan at Bank of America around women’s development. I am part of an employee network group called Lead For Women that’s leadership, education, advocacy and development for women. It’s an internal network, but we also work on external partnerships that impact women and girls like Dress For Success and Girl Scouts.
The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, was incredible. I have heard of the book and movie Eat, Pray, Love but haven’t read or seen them. I am going to go buy the book when I leave here. Just talking about priorities and all these things in your every day life that are considered normal like an inbox with thousands of emails made me think I am going to change the way I am thinking.”
—Ashley Nessler, Bank of America Small Business Performance Manager
“This is my first National conference. I went to the NAWBO-California Propel event in Sacramento and was so touched by how women support each other. As a solopreneur, it can be very lonely, so it was nice to see other women who shared the same success stories and sometimes challenges. It was an excellent bonding opportunity that made me feel supported. I mentioned that to someone and she said, ‘You have to go to the National conference; it’s even nicer.’ And I agree; I’m going to attend each one from now on.”
The highlight for me was keynote speaker Elizabeth Gilbert. I am going home and creating a thick line around me to create boundaries. My other highlight is I realized there is a lot of support and resources for me. I haven’t even begun to tap into the great resources offered here, and they are free. Even some of the members have said, ‘Just give me a call if I can help you.’ It’s lovely to feel like there are people out there who can help and direct me.
I am big on work-life integration because of my type of work—this is what I preach—but even I can take it a step further. I see that I’m not really taking my own advice so I am going to put more into it. I think social media is the current addiction with people so I am going to put boundaries around that. I also am going to redesign my week to take two days off because I work on weekends teaching and giving webinars. Also, walking every morning in Spokane was really nice. I do yoga but finding a neighbor on my street to walk with me would be great.”
—Doris Muna, Dorothea Healing and Dorothea Essences, NAWBO-Ventura
“I wanted to come because the more things I attend—for instance, I was in Washington, D.C. for leadership training—the more connected I am. I wanted to see people and connect with other NAWBO leaders so I can know what’s happening and be better equipped as a chapter president. That’s honestly 90 percent of it. There’s also the learning and seeing vendors in the exhibit hall. Last year, at the conference, we met Kabbage and they became a local sponsor because they are based in Atlanta.
Seeing Phyllis Hill Slater here was great. She came to NAWBO-Atlanta last month to speak at our luncheon about certification. Also, it was important for me to bring my president-elect to make sure she ‘drinks the Kool-Aid,’ so that was impactful for me. I loved seeing my NAWBO sisters from all over the country who I only see once or twice a year and getting that support because leadership is hard and it’s important to know that other leaders are struggling and winning in the same ways. I also loved the keynote from Elizabeth Gilbert and thought her three pieces of advice—like it’s okay to have boundaries—were very helpful.
I’m not really good at work-life integration, but I’m trying to be better, so I thought this year’s theme was especially meaningful. I came here sick with a cold but still got up and did the power walk in the morning to keep my energy up.”
—Marcy Fortnow, Engaging Play, NAWBO-Atlanta
“All the conferences have been good; I have been to four. I come to be in a space with other women business owners and just to learn more. There’s an element of sisterhood here that I appreciate. I am hoping that next year in Jacksonville, I will be able to be an exhibitor and bring my products.
Listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talk about relaxation made me realize that I am not relaxed nearly enough so that’s definitely something I will take away and focus on trying to achieve.
I am really fortunate that my work is something that I love to do so it doesn’t even feel like work most of the time.”
—Kim Osterhoudt, Jams By Kim, NAWBO-Central and Northern New Jersey
“I’ve been a NAWBO member on and off for over 20 years now and this is my second conference. Last year, I came as president elect and this year I am here as president and I will always come back from now on.
After last year, I realized what I had been missing for so long with the great connections. I made some very important decisions about my business after last year’s conference as a result of some of the breakout sessions and information shared with other members, and that has happened this year as well.
I loved hearing Elizabeth Gilbert. She was really interesting and just looks at the world differently. I always listen to people like her and am just amazed by how I just haven’t lived life like she has. I’m sure we all have our experiences but her experiences are amazing. Also, I am not an author but I am a writer so I loved hearing how committed she is to her journals and her writing.
I am working on ‘Work Well, Live Well.’ I have a 10-year-old daughter and am an older mom, so that has really forced me to re-evaluate my time. I try to always make a lot more time for her than I probably would have as a younger mom. I don’t exercise well and I eat those carbs, but spending time with my family is what I do best.”
—Wendy Coulter, Hummingbird Creative Group, NAWBO-Greater Raleigh
“I have been a NAWBO member for four years and this is my fourth conference. The number one reason I came this year is I’m Cleveland’s president. I want to connect with other presidents and talk best practices to help grow and strengthen our chapter.
On a personal level, I set my definition of success before I left so I could hone in and focus on what I wanted when I got here. I had three business goals. One, to figure out where I am going with residual income so it’s not just one on one [she’s a time management expert]. Secondly, to find people who work with the same people I work with. I’m limited by what I can do, so it’s a good network to refer people to others. Lastly, to have conversations with people who need what I have. Whether they become clients or not, it’s interesting to hear their struggles and it helps me with my marketing language.
Most impactful to me was Elizabeth Gilbert’s quote: ‘What are you willing to give up to have the life that you are pretending you want?’ I posted it on our closed Facebook page for the Cleveland chapter.
As far as living the conference theme, I go to yoga twice a week. It’s close to my home and is a priority. The person is a good friend of mine so there’s accountability; it’s just her and I. If I want to cancel, I feel like I need a great excuse. I originally went there for help with lower back pain and now it quiets my mind and helps me focus.”
—Lisa Crilley-Mallis, Impactive Strategies, NAWBO-Cleveland
“First and foremost, I come for the networking with women from all over the country—I’m inspired by women from inside or outside the work I do—and the education provided is always great.
I loved the keynote with Elizabeth Gilbert; for me, it was a moment. I also loved the H.R. 5050 video. You see it in history books and it’s part of our generation, but who knew we were oppressed such a short time ago? These great women, who I had a glass of wine with, are difference makers. They had no sense of fear; it was just the right thing to do. I’m raising daughters so I think about what does that look like for them in 20 to 30 years to come?
There’s no such thing as work-life balance; you focus here, you focus there and you make decisions along the way. Elizabeth described it well: ‘It’s just going to be alright.’ For me, the one thing I do that stays sacred more than anything else is we eat as a family. We might eat at 8 or 9 p.m. because my daughter is getting off work and my son out of baseball practice, but we eat together.”
—Lori Day, New Day Solutions, NAWBO-Virtual (based in Jacksonville)
“This is my first year as a member and my first conference. I Googled NAWBO, joined and then joined the board. I thought I would come to the conference to learn as much as I can about NAWBO and encourage people to get the most out of it.
For me, it’s been most impactful to hear from the women who led the H.R. 5050 movement. On February 2, 1988 I brought my daughter into the world. I looked at her and I thought, ‘You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do.’ I did not know there were women that year and at that time making it possible for her. I just want to take that story back because I feel I have missed that history; and there’s a baton here that we have to catch and pass on to the women behind us. We have to ensure we continue making this progress for women. Women can be very successful, and when they are, they make sure it flows back to their families and communities and to the world, so we need to make sure that more women are successful.
As far as how I ‘Work Well, Live Well,’ I decided to start running years ago. I was out of shape and overweight, so I started running with a friend. I’ve done 48 marathons so far! My friend was leading an online running group and she couldn’t do it anymore. It had 200 people, so I gave it a try. I put things on the schedule so I needed to show up. The group has grown to 600.”