Each year The Lady Project hosts its annual #LadyProjectSummit. It is, without question, one of the most highly anticipated days of the year for me and Erica. Unfortunately, the daily grind that being boss ladies, side hustlers and (step)moms requires prevents us from getting too excited about it until we reunite at the train station the night before. Then reality sets in. And excitement ensues.… queue giant hugs, giddy laughter and wine.
Each year, we spend twelve hours with some of the most badass women you’ve ever laid eyes on. They’re CEOs, entrepreneurs, moms, government officials, non-profit executives, yogis, PhDs, authors, actors, and small business owners. And, generally, they’re people who like to write their own rules. The morning after the #LadyProjectSummit, Erica and I, without fail, wake up with an empowerment hangover, as Erica has aptly named it. We open our eyes and wonder “how did I get here,” feeling so fortunate to have been a part of it, and simultaneously feeling hit by a 747 of inspiration, insight, and possibility… And a stack of business cards that requires us to block out time on our calendars so the amazing conversations we started can be continued.
Though the Summit was in March, it’s hardly been forgotten. Here are six things we are still talking about:
1. Dinner with Ann Shoket – No better way to to kick off the summit than a #BadAssBabes dinner hosted by Ann Shoket. Former Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen magazine and author of The Big Life, Ann let the 50 women who joined her for dinner do the talking. She asked each of us to answer one simple question: What problem do you want me to solve? We talked about finding a partner, how to make your passion your career, how to be fearless and courageous in going after your ambitions, how to have a kick-ass career and a family simultaneously, and about doing things that make us feel empowered. It was epic. We could have sat there for 3 more hours with the amount of passion and ambition in the room, and would still have more to talk about.
2. Keynote address by Lisa Jakub – This actress turned yogi and author kicked off the summit with some major inspiration. I couldn’t tweet fast enough. Lisa’s story drove home a point not so foreign to way too many people – a story of finding your true self. A story about finding what sets your soul on fire instead of doing what has always been or what other people think you should do. Two statements remain top of mind even three months later:
“No is a complete sentence”
These two quotable insights hit me hard for two reasons. 1) Because I have been failing A LOT lately in all magnificent ways. It served as a reminder that trying something takes courage; a reminder to be kind to myself when I fail and to grow from that experience. 2) Because I need to say “no” more. In particular, saying “no” as a (step)mom has truly helped center me as an individual and find power and strength in an often powerless role.
3. Workshop hosted by Ashley Crouch – Founder of Appleseed Communications. This public relations pro hit us with a firehose of the most valuable information we never had to pay for. Ashley “specializes in female founders who want to impact the globe.” She gave us the 30 minute down and dirty of how to be a media darling – everything from writing a press pitch (literally, which words to use), to creating a target audience persona for your brand. Keep your eyes on her, ladies. She’s going places.
4. The Motherhood Panel – This year, we were particularly honored to be speakers on The Motherhood Panel. The Motherhood Panel is a staple of the Lady Project Summit, and this was the first year that there was a (step)-presence among the voices of motherhood. All moms were treated equal. All moms were asked the same questions. And most importantly – all of us faced so many of the same core challenges, regardless if we were a step or not! We are all just trying to find our way in the big sea of motherhood. And for the first time, I believe that message came through and raised a social awareness among the audience of how mom-like so many (step)moms really are.
5. Closing Keynote by Rhonesha Byng, Founder of Her Agenda. Talk about raw honesty, or #rawnesty as Erica aptly coined it. Rhonesha was just as inspired as we were by spending our day with some seriously bad ass women. In fact, she went off-script and told us a personal story she’s never relayed in public before. The fact that she felt comfortable enough in a room of female strangers to share some of her deepest, most personal thoughts truly says something about how much positivity was circulating the room. We were grateful for Rhonesha for #keepingitreal.
6. The After Party – The decor is always on fleek, the drinks are always chilled, the food is always delicious, but the conversations are always the most memorable. The after party is the chance we get to connect. We get to say thank you to the women who led workshops, shared words of wisdom, contributed to the goodie bags, and helped coordinate the event, and to celebrate coming together for this incredible weekend. Erica and I found ourselves in some seriously noteworthy conversations. But this one truly blew our minds. A recently divorced mom who had heard us on the Motherhood Panel approached us. She gave us one of the greatest compliments we have ever heard. She revealed that hearing our perspectives on motherhood had shifted her perspective of what a (step)mother could be and the potential it has to be a positive thing for her children’s lives. I really can’t make this shit up, I promise. It was beautiful. It was epic. It was heartwarming. It affirmed our belief that moving #momward isn’t just about making (step)motherhood a positive experience for (step)moms, but making it a positive experience for everyone we touch. We have the power to make it a positive experience for all.
Author’s Note: I was inspired to write this post after seeing a resurgence of #LadyProjectSummit energy on social media, snail mail, and via texts and emails received from some seriously badass women who we connected with at the Summit. The magic didn’t stop at the Summit, ladies…
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own