Yesterday, I spent my afternoon learning, laughing, and being inspired by some amazing Cleveland women at the Engage Cleveland Next Generation of Women event. It was the inaugural year for this event, held at FirstEnergy Stadium, which brought together young female professionals to listen to women who have risen to great heights in their careers and had plenty of wisdom to share.
The format for the speakers varied between presentations and interview-style conversations, which allowed the speakers to really play to their speaking strengths and share their messages effectively.
We heard from Lisa Zone, Managing Director at Dix & Eaton on “What do you want to be known for? How to create your personal brand and sell yourself.” Lisa shared a great mix of personal experience, as well as practical advice on how to create that elusive personal brand.
My favorite line from Lisa’s presentation was when she said, “If you’re trying to be all things to all people, you’ll end up being nothing to everyone.” It’s so true and definitely something I find myself struggling with balancing in my own life. But a powerful and succinct personal brand can help you make choices that keep you from trying to be all things to all people.
Next we heard from Micki Byrnes, President & General Manager of WKYC Channel 3 Cleveland, who spoke on “Critical and uncomfortable conversations: how to negotiate and broach tough topics.” Micki’s blend of humor, honesty, and awareness of how the workplace has evolved for women was really refreshing! Her empowering message of, “You go in and get what you want. Own it. You’re good at what you do.” definitely got the audience fired up!
Amy Shannon, President of Pinnacle Leadership Solutions, gave a hands-on, interactive talk on “Voicing your wants and needs: Learn how to sell yourself, speak up and ask for what you need.”
An important part of voicing your wants and needs is using more assertive and direct vocabulary and removing hedges, apologies, and disclaimers. We all got to practice this skill with our tablemates and it’s harder than you would think, but Amy gave us good tips to make these language changes a lasting habit.
Teresa Metcalf Beasley, a Partner at Calfee, Halter & Griswold talked about what was my most anticipated topic: “There’s only 24 hours in a day: How to prioritize your personal, civic, and professional responsibilities.” Teresa spoke about her many responsibilities at work, at home, and in the community and gave helpful tips on how to balance them, including the permission to walk away (gracefully) from opportunities that are no longer serving you.
Kirsten Ellenbogen, President & CEO of the Great Lakes Science Center, spoke about “Decide like no one is watching: How to effectively make decisions to navigate your career and personal life.” Kirsten, like many of the speakers, addressed the importance of understanding not only your own decision-making style, but the styles of those around you, in order to communicate effectively and reach meaningful consensus.
Finally, Kim Manigault, EVP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at KeyBank talked on another topic I was very excited to hear: “Finding your tribe: How to find your people to help you thrive and grow.” Similar to Lisa’s message, Kim discussed trying to be everything to everyone, saying, “We put so much pressure on ourselves to be everything to everyone and then don’t hold anyone accountable to be anything for us.”
Kim stressed the importance of being open to everyone, but also willing to prioritize those relationships with people who not only you respect, but respect you in return. And as you can probably tell from the picture, Kim was quite engaging in her presentation!
It was truly a great afternoon of learning from women who have come so far in their careers and are engaged and invested in the Cleveland community. It was also a great chance to meet other young professionals looking to be the “next generation of women” influencing Cleveland.
Engage Cleveland puts on events throughout the year and their signature Cleveland Young Professionals Week, with over 30 events in one week, is happening June 23-30, with everything from fitness to learning to networking to community service. If you want to get engaged in Cleveland, check it out!
***Disclosure: I was asked to be a media partner for the Next Generation of Women Event. In exchange, I received a complimentary ticket to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***