Fort Lauderdale is for Entrepreneurs
I am high off the recent experience that was the Women Empower Expo (WEX). The gathering of hopeful female entrepreneurs is a break from the normal networking events I experience. Being a copywriter that works within the more masculine construction, recruiting, and marine industries, purple is not a color I generally see at work. But this conference, the brainchild of Alexa Carlin, took me to a different place, namely the purple-tinged third floor of the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, where women gathered to learn, network, and inspire one another.
The WEX event included speeches, breakout sessions, and panels on everything from fitness and managing a healthy lifestyle while growing your business to writing your first book. The panelists and speakers were honest and engaging.
Having skipped the pitching event that kicked off WEX and the meditation session that was just too much for my cynical English mind, I started my day off at the panel that discussed “The Art of Reinvention: How To Reinvent Yourself At Any Age.” My fellow grad student was sitting on the panel and was probably the biggest motivation for me being at the event. Luckily for me, this was a great kick off. Each member of the panel had illustrious careers before deciding to change course. There were a few take away moments, but this was mostly an inspirational talk than a teaching moment. And it worked. At 1030 on a Saturday, with the beach within walking distance and no coffee in sight, I decided to stay for the next event.
Business Coach Kavita Sahai of Have Big Plans hosted a breakout session so popular that attendees were sitting cross-legged both in front and behind the stage to watch. Leaning on Jim Collins’ popular BHAG method, Sahai walked the crowd through a quick exercise where each member had to write down their own Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Sahai gave us only about one minute to write down our goal. If you’ve ever been too afraid to write down your true life’s goal, let me tell you – putting yourself at the mercy of a room full of strangers and not enough time to come up with something more acceptable will be the come to Jesus that you need! Inevitably, Sahai ended by offering every attendee an opportunity to sign up for a free consultation. If I didn’t state it clearly enough, I am cynical enough to have seen this coming and yet, I found myself setting up a consultation before the end of her speech.
The middle of the day gave me the most hassle as I had to decide between several events that were of interest to me. I decided to be weak and follow my friend to the panel on collaboration. “Collaboration over Competition: How To Cultivate Meaningful Relationships in Business Powered by Straight Fwd. Co.” Collaboration in South Florida? With other women? The cynical backbone starts to tingle. Ironically, the star of this panel was a chiropractor from Plantation, Dr. Gena Bofsheyer. While each member offered their own experience, Dr. Bofsheyer gave some very actionable advice about contacting similar businesses and leaning on each other for referrals. With an outgoing, take charge personality, having someone like Dr. Bofsheyer on your side, seems like it would be an amazing boost to a growing business. At this point in the day, I’m starting to feel more purple than cynical. So much so, that I consider catching the end of “Energy Flow Through The Pelvis For Optimal Women’s Health.” But I need coffee for my brain more than I need energy flowing through my pelvis.
Right before we break for lunch, Alexa Carlin, the host of this event, comes to the main stage for her Keynote address. She bounces onto the stage, dancing. I have to give her props for bravery and watching her audiovisual team, I can’t help thinking about the logistics of an event like this. I can’t imagine the amount of stress she must be under and how this moment, while she dances around for a few minutes, is the pinnacle of all of the work she has put into this event: the hiring, the bookings, the investment. I wonder if she knows yet how well it’s going. She speaks for 30 minutes, inspiring the audience and using her own challenges as the theme for her speech. I am further impressed. She is a purple powerhouse.
The lunch break, which many people skipped because of the long line and short break time, was nothing that would be acceptable in my normal circles. The lunch itself was small, with a few choices. It was not lunch at The Savoy, but, while basic, everything was tasty and reasonably priced. And, most important of all, there were chocolate options and coffee.
My next session was “Write Your Book, Change the World” a breakout hosted by Suzanne Adams, motivational speaker and author of the novel, “Musings of an Earth Angel.” This was such an enjoyable presentation. Adams really engaged the audience, even going as far as addressing the stragglers that walked in throughout her speech. If you’ve ever wanted or tried to write a book, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of being a complete phony. No one that writes ever admits to the little whisperings that say “You could do this. You could be a successful author.” Instead, we hear the shouting that our brain delivers, “You’re not q writer. No one will read this.” Adams addressed these feelings and helped the whisperings come to the forefront. At least for me. I found her to be so refreshing, calm and inspirational. Again, she offered a “freebie” and again I found myself texting for the download.
I had to end my WEX experience there and I noticed several others leaving with me, but not because of the rest of the day’s events. There was, even more, value piled on for the rest of the day, but Saturdays can be tough. I paid $30 for my ticket to WEX and, more importantly to me, gave up most of my Saturday. Was it worth it? Put it this way, if you asked me to buy next year’s ticket today, I would be handing you my credit card now.
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