Today I celebrate International Women's Day and I hope all three and a half billion females on the planet join me. Oh, what a party that would be.
The timing couldn't be more suitable as I just spent the last two days at the Mompreneur Conference in Toronto and got to receive and appreciate the empowering energy of a large number of women committed to sharing their wisdom and support to each other.
Mompreneuer Showcase Group is, as the name would suggest, an association to "support, educate, and empower moms in business". It was created by Maria Locker with a desire to unite the women of her local community and strengthen each other with their knowledge and support and ultimately, friendship.
Judging by my experience this weekend I have to say she has completely succeeded in that goal and then some. Each and every speaker and attendee was friendly, accessible, intelligent, ambitious, encouraging and giving in a way I don't know that I have ever experienced before, at least not on such a grand and all-ecompassing scale.
As soon as I walked in the door on a painfully cold Friday morning I was greeted with a friendly smile and warm welcome. I was lucky enough to be a finalist in the Mompreneur Award of Excellence that was to be awarded at the Saturday luncheon and felt a bit like I assume an Oscar nominee feels. I could be the big winner and that possibility alone already awarded me a certain shine that money can't buy and I pulled it close like a soft sweater.
There were many helpful and entertaining presentations all weekend long. Erin Elofson who is the Director of Financial Services for Facebook Canada gave an insightful talk about the new capabilities for Pages and ways to promote our businesses. Thinking about the potential for Facebook to direct advertisements to exactly the demographic I choose is mind-boggling. I can't wait to try it out and see what happens. It seems such a massive potential at the stroke of a few keys and I rejoice living in this age of instant connection and community. It is now up to me and you to adapt or die.
There were panel discussions and networking breaks and each one was valuable and captivating and filled me up with ideas and inspiration and we all know that those things are priceless.
The finalists in the Award of Excellence displayed their wares along the side of the conference room and as you might imagine from Mompreneuers the majority of them were products that helped make motherhood a little easier. Some of the other finalists were the Shaidee which protects babies from the blazing sun, the Red Card Blue Card game which helps curb bad behaviour, Dressed to Deliver which is a comfortable and fashionable maternity, delivery and nursing gown among others.
There was a camaraderie among the finalists that was unexpectedly positive and I am grateful for the friends I made among them. If you live in Canada and are a mother and entrepreneur I highly recommend you look into the Mompreneur organization.
The closing keynote speaker on Friday was Susan Stewart; Canada's Ellen as she jokingly referred to herself and she does resemble the talk show host a fair bit. Her twitter profile says she is "a girl on a mission to use her comedic powers for good rather than evil." The first half of her talk was amusing thoughts on being a "stepmompreneur" and her obersvations on the peculiarities of children and the challenges of being a woman. Her delivery was highly expressive which rendered the content hysterical and I enjoyed some healthy laughter courtesy of her wit. I was not alone for she had the whole room chuckling along. She joked that there is no such thing as a fairytale. "If you lose your shoe it's because you're drunk." and During the second half of her appearance she veered towards inspirational and it was equally agreeable. How can it not be positive when someone's philosophy is to "Tune into the abundance." and to then remind us that "stress cannot exist where there is gratitude." ?
The first day concluded with an evening cocktail hour and fashion show put on by Spanner and hosted by Randi Chapnik Myers and Mara Shapiro who are the founders of Brazen Woman. It was light and fun and at the end the hosts invited anyone in the audience who wished to walk the runway to get up and do so. The audience happily encouraged each other to do so but I simply watched in admiration.
The second day of the conference was equally enjoyable with a informative and enlightening panel on the media, talks from representatives of Bing and Microsoft and many more.
Erica Diamond from Womenonthefence.com was the closing keynote speaker on Saturday, the final day, and I didn't envy her that particular time. We were all pretty tired and ready to go home after a long weekend of seminars and discussions. It had been fun and fulfilling but we were losing energy and attention and she knew it so she got us all up and dancing to an uptempo Pitbull song for a minute or two to get our energy ramped up a bit before she started her talk. I liked Erica and her chutzpah. That's what I need. Chutzpah. Near the end of her talk Erica said that in her idea of a good parent is one who is the biggest champion and supporter of their children and their accomplishments. She was appalled by the parents who when a child brought home a 95 would dare ask what happened to the other 5 percent. Well Erica, I wanted to say, I had parents like that. Both my mom and dad would see the small infraction and not the larger good and I never was rarely if ever praised. So now what? How do I get that confidence if I never had it and don't know what it feels like? Sometimes, on dark days, I feel like I'm chasing a mythical dragon. I can see it, a tail or some fire, but when I get closer it moves out of reach. Consistently. The closer I get the farther it retreats each time. Do I keep chasing it? Is it a dream? Is this what chasing a dream is exactly?
As I was leaving I said good-bye to Andrea, the founder of Schoolworx and the winner of the Mompreneuer Award of Excellence. I congratulated her and told her how nice it was to meet her and she asked me for my card and said how much she loved my product and really believed in it. She could easily and understandably be revelling in her glory but the fact that she took the time to extend her goodwill to me really moved me. It was so fitting for the winner of an award of excellence as a mompreneur to be humble and generous.
If I learned (or relearned) anything this weekend it was the incredibly nurturing and uplifting power of women, especially when they join forces and work for the common good. I witnessed that the sisterhood is alive and strong and I celebrate that and I celebrate women. Happy International Women's Day!