Poker, music, and entrepreneurship? Sure! Fresh off a conference with some time to digest, I’m sharing my recent experience from the Entrepreneurial Excellence Forum organized by the Women’s President Organization in Las Vegas. The Women’s President’s Organization is a diverse collective of women business leaders who lead multi-million dollar businesses around the world, representing almost 23 Billion in aggregate and collectively employing 121.5K people globally.
While I’ve only been a member of WPO for the greater part of the last year, the experiences I’ve had to date with the local chapter coupled with the many positive comments I’ve heard about the event were enough for me to decide to attend.
From the moment I checked in, I should’ve known that it was an indication of the delightful three days that were ahead of me. (I was surprised to receive a large box full of little gifts for attendees along with my bad that were so thoughtfully put together.)
Whether you have your own business or just embrace the entrepreneurial spirit, let’s dive in and explore my top six key takeaways on how to achieve excellence as an entrepreneur.
If you take VC money- pay attention to where you are in the timeline of the fund. And remember, always plan an exit.
There was a great panel on Fearless Female Funding, which really broke down the various funding mechanisms entrepreneurs can access. The information on VC funding (which 3FO has not accessed) was enlightening. They discussed when in the fund life cycle to apply and when not to accept funding. And highlighted the obvious, all VC funds expect an exit so if you’re planning on keeping your company around as-is, this may not be the way to go.
Poker is not a game of cards. It is a game of people and if you can play it, it opens doors to networking and understanding negotiation.
The keynote and welcome were a highlight where we learned from Ellen Leikind of Poker Divas. While I don’t gamble, her presentation reframed how playing poker is not a game but a people negotiation. To achieve excellence, dedicate time to learning how to read others and how to adjust your own body language.
No matter how ‘open’ you are as a leader, you’re not hearing the whole story from your team.
I attended What Your Team isn’t Telling You, a three-person panel that included my friend Molly Rosen. The consensus is that teams and leadership are often disconnected and to start thinking about how to make a safe place where people are encouraged to share more. As a team that mostly works virtually, we focus on opportunities to keep our team connected–like a weekly “happy half hour” where the team gathers virtually for team bonding.
If you don’t ask for opportunities then you don’t know which opportunities are passing you by. So ASK as often as you can.
Day 2 started with Jazzercise at 6 am and it was led by the original founder, Judi who started the company in 1968 and who is in better shape than I am! The keynote for the 2nd day was Yale Professor Dr. Zoe Chance and she captivated us. I bought the book, “Influence is Your Superpower,” in the middle of the keynote and have since started listening to the audio as well. The lessons of the day were hard to hear but important.
Sales and Marketing is hard for people, even when they are successful business owners.
I attended two workshops that afternoon- “Get Results! Eliminate random acts of Marketing” by Eric Kales and “Play to Win or Play Not to Lose” by Professor Jill W. Paine, Ph.D. I took 5 pages of notes with Dr Paine and we did exercises in the workshop. I’d see her again in a heartbeat as her discussions were about motivation and reframing.
The Get Results workshop was about creating processes around marketing, something we already do as a brand agency. It was insightful to see the amount of “proprietary” process tools used by the speaker, giving me insights into additional sales strategies for our company.
Eric was also a great speaker, sometimes putting audience members on the spot and adjusting their viewpoints to his line of thinking. It was amazing to learn that some of our successful members didn’t know who their customers actually were.
The bottom line? Review your marketing with a red and blue pen. Red are “I statements” about how great our company is like “We are so great at what we do ” and Blue are “you statements” about what our company can do for you like “increase your conversions by 50%”. Have more blue.
Bring your passion to your job to do it better. When you do that, you make people happier and the world a better place.
Day 3 had two keynotes. The first featured two famous football team female CEOs with a moderator. It was fascinating to hear their different perspectives about their jobs and how they both got there.
Two women, equal in status but totally different stories about the right time, right place, and right person successes happen. The last keynote was a dynamic speaker who used her piano to talk about how following your passion is key to making a difference in the world. It was a pretty amazing ending and Jade Simmons rocked it.
All in all, the best part about the event was getting to network and form closer relationships with the other business leaders in my chapter. We support each other in multiple ways and it truly gives me a deeper understanding of the word “sisterhood.”