What’s it all about?
I heard about this event one morning on the radio and decided to look into attending. I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss it all these years, but this year the summit celebrated its 10th anniversary in a three-day long celebration that can only be described as awe inspiring.
The title of the event alone should be enough to give you an indication of what transpires here but in case it doesn’t, the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit is an annual executive leadership conference held by Black Enterprise and hosted by title sponsor State Farm. Each year powerful women in Corporate America convene in droves to meet, connect, and learn from one another. Sessions and keynote speakers cover issues like career advancement strategies, work/life balance and money management. What I discovered was how truly indicative of its name the summit is, providing a preeminent forum for women of color to come together to network and build lasting relationships.
Let’s talk about Day 1
Monday was the unofficial start to the summit. While activities like the Wine & Design painting class and shopping excursion to Macy's took place during the day, conference attendees began to arrive at the Marriott Fort Lauderdale Harbor Beach to pick up their registration packets before the first leadership event of the night, the Purpose & Pearls Beach Party. The all white affair, which touted a keynote address from Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senor Client Advisor, Morgan Stanley gave clear indication to how wonderful the rest of the summit’s events would be.
Held on the Ocean Patio of the hotel overlooking beautiful Fort Lauderdale beach, the atmosphere of the evening was something of sheer elegance. Guests stunned in chic, all-white ensembles and were seated at tables set with all-white linens and florals as ambient lighting from all-white candles romanticized the space.
The first keynote of the summit, which was from the wildly charismatic and captivating Carla Harris, provided personal details on her career journey, letting us in on the secrets of some of what she's gone through to accomplish what she has in her career to date. She spoke at length on the powers of staying true to yourself and not losing sight of who you are as person. As an accomplished singer and businesswoman one of the “pearls of wisdom” she shared with attendees was letting go of the notion that she should never mix those two parts of her life. Harris realized after making a connection based on a shared interest of music that she should embrace her true self. On a second occasion when her company was among several bidding for an account with McDonald's, it was her ability to remember a specific version of the McDonald's jingle and sing it to the CEO (who could not recall that there had ever been an alternate version to begin with) that would help form a relationship that would be the catalyst for landing her firm the deal.
She said some other things that really resonated with me. First, “Your voice is at the heart of your power”. The second was a ditty she recited that went like this: “A bell is not a bell until you ring it. A song is not a song until you sing it. Power was not put in your hands to stay. Power isn’t’ power until you give it away.” And the third builds on the ditty. “Don’t sleep on your power to influence change in your work, life, or the world. It is in us to be used.” Preach Ms. Carla, preach.
I seized the opportunity to chat with Carla after her address and ask her for advice on how to handle some recent events in my own personal career journey. While I won’t divulge her specific advice to me, I can say that she spoke to my soul and it was an honor and a pleasure to get her input. Wow if this was night one, I could only imagine what day two had in store. Check out the slide show for more photos from the evening.
I’ll cover day two in tomorrow’s post. You won’t want to miss it.
Thank you for reading. Now… Let the power moves continue.