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TeamWomenMN Monthly Sponsor Spotlight Grand Casino

As a leader with Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Grand Casinos, Andrea Bolin, Corporate Director of Strategic Initiatives, strongly believes in seeking out opportunities to help diverse working groups develop, accomplish goals, and flourish in their element.  Learn how Andrea’s values, as well as Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Grand Casinos values, align with the work that TeamWomenMN does.

 

Andrea Bolin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-bolin-b5578141/
Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures: http://mlcorporateventures.com/
Grand Casino: https://grandcasinomn.com/

What drew you to sponsoring TeamWomenMN?

Our company values at Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Grand Casinos align with the work that TeamWomenMN does. TeamWomenMN is a wonderful organization to partner with. The resources, tools, and networking opportunities they offer support women across any industry.

What experiences within Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Grand Casinos do you provide specifically for women?

Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley have a woman networking club title ‘Women Impacting Women’ with more than 100 women in the club.  We provide networking opportunities – a lot of them coming from TeamWomenMN events, as well as sharing of information for growth and learning tools.

How does Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Grand Casinos support other women around them, professionally and personally?

Professional development is strongly supported through the different leadership benefits offered within the company.  Personal development is encouraged and supported through work/life balance, various wellness initiatives, and furthering growth through

What does success mean to Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Grand Casinos?

Success is empowering, encouraging and supporting our Associates. It’s about supporting our shareholders – the members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. It’s about ensuring a fun and entertaining experience for every Guest that enters our doors.

What are three things that you tell your staff/employees/team members to do in order to become successful?

We use a S.E.R.V.E. model here – Support, Engage, Re-Invest, Value and Empower. We are committed to continuously doing supporting our Associates through our SERVE model to help them become successful.

Any advice you would like to provide to TeamWomenMN members?

Yes! Continue to seek out opportunities to grow, never stop learning, serve others within your organization and utilize the abundance of resources TeamWomenMN has to offer.

When thinking of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Grand Casinos, what do you want our members to remember and share with their friends/family/peers?

We love connecting with people and hearing their stories. We also have a wonderful networking opportunity in our National Leadership Development Conference that we hold each June. If you’re looking for a leadership development conference – this one is in your backyard! I encourage you to browse our website and join us! http://www.leadershipdevcon.com/

 

 

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Meet TeamWomenMN Member – Lindi Dillon

Lindi Dillon is the owner of Fleurish, providing customized gifts for personal and corporate needs for 15 years.

At Fleurish, they design unique baskets that add delight — and deliciousness — to any occasion, including birthdays, showers, graduations, and so much more. In 2013, they moved their retail location to Excelsior, Minnesota where they feature their full line of personalized stationery and giftware, invitations, and an extensive line of gifts, award-winning gourmet foods and tableware.

Learn what drew Lindi to TeamWomenMN, how she feels women can help other women, and what she attributes to her success!

What drew you to TeamWomenMN?

I was drawn to TeamWomenMN because I was interested in finding a group of women that support each other in the Twin Cities. I wanted to be able to meet new people and network with them by listening to their stories about their business life and how it is woven into their personal life. I feel that balance is a constant challenge for women and I find it inspiring to hear the stories of members.

What experiences have you had within the organization?

Specifically, I have been involved with networking meetings, the speaker luncheons, and the all-day conference. These events have provided me with leadership examples and the friendship of other successful women.

What can women do to support other women around them, professionally and personally?

Women can support other women by being opening to listening and sharing experiences with each other. Finding commonality goes a long way and women’s perspective on business and life is something I have always valued back to my days at St. Kate’s!

What does success mean to you?

Success to me is your reputation, who you are and what you stand for- it’s what you have if everything else should go away. You need to be able to look in the mirror and like what you see!

What are three things you attribute your success to?

The three things I attribute my success to is hard work, taking risks and solving problems. Owning a business requires these elements to grow and move forward. It means building a retail brand with loyal customers, great suppliers and stellar employees.

If you could change one thing in your professional career (past/present), what would you change?

If I could change one part of my career it would be to have a crystal ball surrounding the current challenges of retail. There are many forces coming at a small business and knowing how to adapt to the ever-changing environment would be oh so helpful.

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Lesson in Positivity

Positivity is a trait everyone strives for, right? But when it really comes down to it, is it a trait that’s actually highly regarded in the business world? Or is it the mental toughness of seeing possible downfalls that make someone a more critical thinker? Naturally, both are important. If we only saw negative possibilities, no one ever would start new companies. Then again if we only acknowledged the silver lining and didn’t take into account the real, potentially negative possibilities, we wouldn’t have wise business practices. All in all, it’s a delicate balance.

I am a “half glass full” kind of person by default, but I also naturally analyze possible negative outcomes – so I can determine better methods to achieve goals. A beloved soul who encouraged positivity and self/external reflection was Zig Ziglar. No longer with us, Zig had many inspiring anecdotes. Take a minute to scroll through insights that can benefit you today — these might bring the breakthrough you’ve been needing in your mindset!

“If you wait until all the lights are “green” before you leave home, you’ll never get started on your trip to the top.”

https://www.positivityblog.com/zig-ziglar/

 

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Meet TeamWomenMN Member – Kim Insley

Kim InsleyKim Insley is a multi-media journalist with more than 30 years in the business, and multiple awards in producing, reporting and anchoring, most of which as co-anchor of KARE-11’s Sunrise program. In her work Kim has covered everything from natural disasters to presidential candidates to the pope. Kim is a mentor to both young professionals as well as high school students through her work with the Minnetonka School District Vantage program. Kim is excited to announce she has launched a new venture that will not only continue to support young people with their dreams, but also actively help organization share their stories and ideas for moving our community forward.

What drew you to TeamWomenMN?

What drew me to TeamWomenMN was the team behind it – including, of course, Pam Borton. I had the pleasure of interviewing her in recent months on KARE11. She is so dynamic and level-headed. Learning more about this organization supporting women in their careers made it a no-brainer to get involved.

What have been your experiences with TeamWomenMN?

I’m a newbie to TeamWomenMN, so my experiences are limited to just one luncheon, which I was honored to be a part of. Our guest speakers were generous with their time and their knowledge. Penny Wheeler of Allina and Shari Ballard of Best Buy are quite a team themselves. I already have my tickets to the Nov. 29th Power Luncheon with Marcia Ballinger and Lars Leafblad and I can’t wait! I’ve also had the pleasure of a bit of the behind the scenes operation, getting to know executive director Katy Burke – a powerhouse of energy, commitment and so much fun!

What can women do to support each other?

Mentor a younger colleague. If your company has an internship program, get involved with it. I loved working with interns – not just setting an example, but taking an interest in their career goals. Are you mid or late career? You have lots of contacts. Connect the women you know so they can expand their own network. At the office, have each other’s back, don’t talk behind backs. A successful woman is not a threat – she is at the very least someone you can learn from. At best, an ally. When you feel alone, or stalled out in your career, another woman might have the insight you need to move past that. Women can do so much more to support each other!

What does success mean to you?

Success, to me, is being happy and passionate about what you are doing. I’ve seen people at the very top of their profession who have no passion for their jobs, who have no joy in their lives. Who wants to live like that? Bear in mind success might change over time. What got your motor racing at age 25 might be different by the time you hit 45. Be open to change, and pay attention to your gut. If you don’t feel fulfilled in your job, find out why. Can you change it? Should you try something else altogether? Give yourself permission to be happy in what you do. That is true success.

What are three things you attribute your success to?

I have never let myself be defined by others. I realize many people have an opinion of me but I know myself pretty well.
I have a strong work ethic. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. Being a life long learner. I have had to change my skillset many times over my career as technology and attitudes have changed over what people want from their news. It keeps me engaged. There are many, many things that have helped me over the years. It’s hard to choose only three!

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

I have been extremely blessed in my career so far. Although, not everything has gone perfectly. If I could change one thing it would be to have paid more attention when I was younger – I think I assumed I knew far more than I did. That cockiness can be helpful, but a little humility goes a long way.

What is one piece of advice you have for our TeamWomenMN members?

Advice for all of us – get out there! Don’t be afraid to meet new people. Learn something about someone in a field that is not your own. You never know where it might take you!

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TeamWomenMN Sponsorship Monthly Sponsor Spotlight Rasmussen College

We’re privileged to highlight TeamWomenMN Annual Sponsor, Rasmussen College, in this month’s Sponsor Spotlight. Patty Sagert talks about what drew her to TeamWomenMN. She outlines the TeamWomenMN characteristics that are in direct alignment those at Rasmussen College which makes it easy to understand why Rasmussen College would sponsor and support TeamWomenMN.

What drew you to sponsoring TeamWomenMN?

When I first learned about TeamWomenMN four years ago, I was drawn to the organization because it was a non-profit built by women for women. It’s focus on providing resources and mentoring to empower women of all generations resonated with me. The mission of the organization aligns well with the Rasmussen College mission to empower our students, faculty, and staff to exceed expectations and enrich the community.

What experiences within Rasmussen College do you provide specifically for women?

Rasmussen College is run under the guidance of many strong female leaders; our current president, Dr. Trenda Boyum-Breen being one of them. At Rasmussen College, women are encouraged to be leaders in their fields. Every year we host a Women’s Leadership Networking Breakfast where students, faculty and community members engage in inspiring discussions and share useful resources. Additionally, with over half of our student population being female and many of them mothers, we know they are busy balancing their homes and careers. Our learning models, including flexible online and now competency-based education courses, are conducive to people with busy schedules that need flexible options.

How do the students at Rasmussen College support other women around them, professionally and personally?

The Rasmussen College mission is dedicated to supporting lifelong learners and working to meet the evolving needs of our diverse communities. This dedication is reflected in our culture and can be seen across our interactions. Students are encouraged to support each other and help others achieve their educational and professional goals. We offer the Rasmussen College Change a Life Scholarship where students can nominate someone in their life to encourage them to pursue their dreams and achieve a college degree. We see women encouraging other important women in their lives to pursue an education and ultimately with the help of the scholarship, achieve their dreams.

What does success mean to Rasmussen College?

At Rasmussen College, success means helping our students channel their passions into a profession they will enjoy and excel at. Success means equipping our students to be contributing members to our diverse communities.

What are three things that you tell your students to do in order to become successful?

In order to be successful, I tell my students to first and foremost be committed to their studies and have grit. Secondly, always have a good plan B and C. There are going to be a lot of great big things that happen in life, but there are also going to be unexpected roadblocks. It is important to always look ahead and prepare. Finally, your experience is what you make it. Engage with instructors and interact with your peers. With a positive growth mindset, you can be successful.

Any advice you would like to provide to TeamWomenMN members?

Similar to the advice I tell my students, the experience with TeamWomenMN is what you make of it. Maximize your membership and engage with your fellow members. Always be willing to learn from those around you and utilize the resources in front of you. Finally, be present and soak up all of your experiences with TeamWomenMN.

When thinking of Rasmussen College, what do you want our members to remember and share with their friends/family/peers?

Rasmussen College is dedicated to breaking down barriers and making a college education accessible to all. We support all students, including adult learners, by providing a student centric, flexible and supportive environment. Rasmussen College believes in the importance of preparing students to navigate and thrive in our increasingly digital economy. Our female students are encouraged to pursue traditionally male dominated fields such as data analytics, criminal justice, and business management.

Learn more about Rasmussen College here: http://www.rasmussen.edu/
Learn more about Patty Sagert, Blaine Campus Director | Operations Director | Services Director | TeamWomenMN Board of Directors | TeamWomenMN Strategic Planning Chair  by viewing her LinkedIn profile here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/pattysagert/

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Authenticity Brings Out The Best You

“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Authenticity is not easy to attain and it is even more difficult to sustain. With the constant bombardment of other people’s thoughts and opinions sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to express or even recognize your own beliefs and desires. Being your authentic self-requires making intentional decisions that are true to you and the life you want to have both personally and professionally. In the workplace, valuing authenticity can make for wonderful leaders and excellent employees.

Whether you hold a leadership role in your company or not, you may find it challenging to bring aspects of yourself into the workplace for fear of not fitting with the company norm. Being authentic should not be confused with “say whatever you like and do whatever you like.” The company’s structure, mission, and values should be respected; if your individual values don’t align with those of the company you work for you may want to consider a change. That being said, all companies should encourage authenticity. Employees put forward the persona that they believe their company or employer desires, which can cause them to live an inauthentic or “divided” life. This can happen to those at the executive level as well. Top executive leadership experts, Dina Rauker and Janet Feldman discuss this in their article, How Being Authentic Accelerates Leadership in Women. “The dissonance caused by living an inauthentic or divided life can be a significant energy drain for women executives, and may be a factor in why some women opt out of the leadership track.” Life is exhausting enough. Don’t try to live life in a way someone else thinks you should. Give your company, family, and friends the best version of yourself.

With authenticity comes an opportunity for greater self-awareness. Self-awareness allows you to see your strengths and weaknesses, and with this knowledge, you can highlight the areas in which you excel and rely on others to assist you with the areas in which you struggle. People who can recognize the best parts of themselves and those around them make excellent employees, but more importantly, they make extra ordinary leaders. Authenticity also helps us self-reflect to define our sense of purpose. With purpose comes the motivation and drive to take on risks and challenges that could lead to new opportunities and if you are a leader your motivation can inspire others.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

– Albert Schweitzer

For more information on how authenticity and leadership go hand in hand, check out Dina Rauker and Janet Feldman’s article.

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Meet TeamWomenMN Member – Shari Ballard

Shari Ballard is senior executive vice president and president of multichannel retail for Best Buy Co. Inc. In her role, she is responsible for all U.S. Best Buy stores, e-commerce, Best Buy Mexico and the company’s real estate strategy.

Ms. Ballard is a seasoned executive with deep retail experience. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan – Flint, she was hired in 1993 to work in a local Best Buy store, beginning as an assistant store manager and rising to general manager. After a variety of retail leadership roles, she was promoted to executive vice president of human resources and legal.

In 2007, Ms. Ballard assumed responsibility for Best Buy stores in the United States, focusing her energies on deepening customer relationships and better utilizing the full range of talent and resources that reside within the company’s stores to drive growth. She was promoted to president of Americas, U.S. and Mexico in 2010, and two years later, she was appointed the president of international, overseeing business and the transformation efforts in Canada, China, Europe, and Mexico. In April 2014, Ms. Ballard assumed the role of president of U.S. retail and a few months later, began a dual role to include chief human resources officer, a position allowing her to leverage her broad experience, expertise and knowledge of the company and its employees.

Ms. Ballard serves on the board of directors for the University of Minnesota Foundation.

 

How did you get involved with Team Women?

I’ve known Pam Borton for a long time and she is a friend of mine. When Pam started TeamWomenMN, I got involved.  I really like how it is growing and evolving into a community of mentors and support for women, not only support of developing skills, but also the need for health and wellness. I like the holistic approach to success!

What do you like most about Team Women?

I really like the full range of people involved. It’s great to connect and learn from all members.  The members who are new in their career have such a fresh, new perspective and outlook.  And, then you have someone who is more experienced in their career and has tremendous knowledge to share from their perspective. Creating that diversity is great.

How can women support women?

It’s important to have relationships and a support group outside of your internal infrastructure. No matter where you are in your career, it is always good to have a safe place to bounce things off your peers and get a different point of view. But it is equally important that your values and beliefs align with your support group. Industries can be very different and the level of job responsibility can be different but you should always share a common belief and value system – or you might not get the best outcome.  People should work to bring out the best in each other – believing in the same core values supports this process.

What do you contribute your success to?

1) Luck. I consider myself very lucky in that I have been in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills – to fill a need.  It’s not that others wouldn’t be able to do the job; it’s just that my skills, style, approach or point of view aligned with the needs of the organization at the exact time it was needed and everything else fell into place.

2) I really enjoy people. I mean I genuinely enjoy getting to know people at any level, understanding their motivations and unique skills and then putting those in action with the job. I like when people can be themselves at work and I approach my team with that attitude so I can understand them and put together a team that creates meaningful outcomes. I believe in surrounding myself with people who compliment diversity in the truest sense. When you do, it will help you collectively see things differently.

3) Learn from your mistakes and move forward. Every day is a new day to do better. When leaders fail, find out what caused them to fail. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the world.

Any last comments?

I am a firm believer in finding your mission that you love. It doesn’t matter what it is. In the grand scheme, we should ask ourselves, “Why we are doing what we are doing?” At the very core, it’s about various groups of people coming together to create something meaningful. Try to stay clear on that point – it does not matter what your title is, how much money you make, etc. Those things do not always lead to a good outcome if they are not aligned with your mission. Stay away from things that don’t feed your soul – if you have to, take a temporary day trip, but always get back to feeding your soul.

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Learn why one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies supports TeamWomenMN’s mission.

We’re privileged to highlight TeamWomenMN Annual Sponsor, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., in this month’s Sponsor Spotlight. Laura Buck shares what type of organizational characteristics are reviewed with the alignment between the TeamWomenMN culture and what Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. refers to as The Gallagher Way.

What drew you to sponsoring TeamWomenMN?

I’m excited to support TeamWomenMN and the community of like-minded professional women that it brings together. I see a strong alignment between the TeamWomenMN culture and what Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. refers to as The Gallagher Way – 25 tenants that describe our cultural framework. These heartfelt shared values that were penned in 1984 by our former Chairman and CEO Robert E. Gallagher still hold true today. The following are my personal favorites:

  • No. 2: “We support one another. We believe in one another. We acknowledge and respect the ability of one another.”
  • No. 6: “We’re an open society.”
  • No. 21: “We adhere to the highest standards of moral and ethical behavior.”
  • No. 23: “We are a warm, close Company. This is a strength ‒ not a weakness.”

What experiences within Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. do you provide specifically for women?

Gallagher provides development programs for our female and male colleagues alike throughout their careers. Guided by seasoned mentors, our intern and extern program allows young professionals to learn about our business. Over the last five years, the Minneapolis team of Gallagher’s Benefits and HR Consulting division has averaged 45% percent female participation in our Gallagher Sales Internship Program (GSIP).

In 2016, we were also awarded a “W” from 2020 Women on Boards in recognition of Gallagher having two women board members (22%). We have received this recognition for five consecutive years which puts us on their honor roll.

Gallagher is committed to driving an inclusive workplace for the benefit of our clients, employees and the communities in which we live and work. We strive to create a culture of respect and trust that is part of The Gallagher Way heritage and is a source of strength in the marketplace.

What does success mean to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co?

From my perspective as a consultant for the benefits side of our business, I’d say that our holistic, consultative approach helps us optimize clients’ total return on their human capital investment. We start by doing a deep-dive discovery, evaluating the client’s workforce dynamics, culture and unique circumstances and then bring together a select team of specialists in areas such as health and welfare, wellbeing, retirement, human resources and compensation, and training and development, to collectively make a recommendation that supports long-term organizational success and sustainability. Ultimately, we aim to positively impact employee engagement as well as attraction and retention results, while also helping clients to best manage their healthcare costs.

Also, I’m excited to share that our business approach and operating standards have led to our recognition as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute for six years in a row, from 2012 through 2017.

Any advice you would like to provide to TeamWomenMN members?

In addition to participating in the events, make the most of your TeamWomenMN membership by networking with other TeamWomenMN members. We need to band together to help each of us succeed!

When thinking of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., what do you want our members to remember and share with their friends/family/peers?

When it comes to helping employers best address key challenges such as attracting, engaging and retaining top talent, and at the same time, controlling increasing healthcare costs, both of which are central to organizational health and growth, Gallagher offers a local presence and a truly collaborative approach supported by a host of global resources.

Personally, I am passionate about making healthcare more accessible and strongly feel I am making a positive impact in the lives of my clients’ employees.

Learn more about Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. here: http://www.ajg.com
Learn more about Laura Buck, Marketplace Consultant by viewing her LinkedIn profile here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauracbuck/

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Meet TeamWomenMN Member – Tami Hedrick

Tami Hedrick is the Director of Vikings Women and Strategic Development for the Minnesota Vikings, as well as the Head Coach and Director of the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders. Tami has coached professionally for over 20 years, in the NFL and for the NLL.  Before Tami took the leadership position as Head Coach, she proudly cheered as a Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader for the 1997-1998 season. Tami’s career path led her to roles as Vice President of Marketing, to a Director level role in Sales, and as the founder of several startup companies/groups in the Midwest. Tami has also appeared in multiple national pageants, was a television host for ShopNBC/EVINE, and has been a judge and choreographer for International, college and high school teams. Tami is proudest of her roles as a wife and mother to four children and three step children.

What drew you to TeamWomenMN?

Many elements drew me to join Team WomenMN, some of them being:

  • The Co-Founder, Pam Borton – anything she is involved in, I know is impactful.
  • The women – the line up of members, speakers, attendees, etc. is diverse and inspiring on many levels.
  • The power – the topics, talent and time given to this group is evident and I believe in the power of women working as a team.

What experiences have you had within the organization?

The company I work for, the Minnesota Vikings, has sponsored past TeamWomenMN events. I have personally attended luncheons, read articles created by TeamWomenMN and connected with amazing women as a member.

What can women do to support other women around them, professionally and personally?

  • Publicly praise and send kindness with thoughts and actions.
  • Promote and support women by recommending women-focused businesses or causes whenever possible.
  • Mentor others and empower them to be proud to be a woman.
  • Be an includer by inviting other women to events, giving them the opportunity to become employed and by empowering them to feel that they are worthy.

What does success mean to you?

Success means different things to different people – at different times. To me, today, success is always doing things bigger and better!

What are three things you attribute your success to?

  • Always taking on new responsibilities.
  • Hard work! Continued growth by challenging myself and others.
  • Amazing parents. My mom and dad were strong, firm, loving parents and were always there for me.

If you could change one thing in your professional career (past/present), what would you change?

A few times in my career I didn’t push hard enough for what I wanted. I’ve learned that lesson and now appreciate the journey regardless!

Any advice you would like to provide to the TeamWomenMN members?

My advice to TeamWomenMN members is to trust that everything happens for a reason and always do good. Be excellent every chance you get, and engage with other successful, strong and smart women as much as you can – they will rub off on you!

Learning the Value of Leadership with TeamWomenMN

I was recently given the opportunity to attend the 2017 Annual TeamWomenMN (TWMN) Leadership Conference to fulfill one of my 2017 performance objectives at IWCO Direct, which was to expand my professional skills and business knowledge. TWMN 2017 had plenty to say on professional development, along with personal development, health, and a variety of other topics.

This conference was an all-day event filled with sessions hosted by entrepreneurs, high-profile professionals, lifestyle experts, and more across a range of careers in merchandising, corporate America, sports, government, and reality TV. TWMN had an impressive showing of more than 400 attendees (a majority of whom weren’t members of the organization) for its 6th annual conference themed “Fearless Women, Fascinating Minds.”

TWMN is an organization of about 300 members whose purpose is to inspire, encourage, and support women in reaching their full potential. I’ve participated in several TWMN events in the past, including a mentorship program in which I was matched with an established professional who met with me monthly and provided advice on how to further my career and build business connections. This conference was promised to be a “can’t miss” event by my mentor as well as a few TWMN members I’ve come to know over the years.

TeamWomenMN Encourages Women to Speak Up and Take the LeadTo kick off the conference, Katy Burke, Executive Director of TWMN, described the event as “a place to ask for what you need.” Giving attendees “permission to put yourself out there, because this is the place where you’re going to get what you need.”

While there were plenty of impressive speakers throughout the day, the keynote speaker caught my attention: India Hicks, founder of the eponymous lifestyle brand. For those unfamiliar with India, she is an author, model, entrepreneur, TV personality, daughter of a famous designer, and descendant of British royalty. This is in addition to being a wife and mother of five.

While India has certainly had the means to be successful by name alone, her inspirational story came from the work she put in that she knew others might dismiss. She confessed to the assembly that one of her fears starting out was whether or not people would take her seriously. India said that her goal when forming her brand was “to work bloody hard and build a business on my own.”

This is not to say she does it alone; she added that one of the keys to her success was finding people who were better at doing things than she was—and then getting them on her team. She concluded her session by saying that no matter who you are or how glamorous your connections, achieving success is “really bloody hard; it’s grueling, but that’s what it takes. You get up, you keep going.”

Encouraging Leadership Through Team Development

Another great session was professional trainer Linda Schwefel’s “Communicate In Full Color.” This was an interactive course on communication styles (I’m a cool blue and earthy green, in case you were wondering). While it was positioned as a broad overview of a more complex system, it was very insightful all the same. It taught attendees how to identify the “energy” of those around you, how best to utilize your skills as a leader, and how to present information to your team in order to get the most out of their performance.

One session I was dying to catch was co-presented by Deborah Pierce, retired FBI Special Agent Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Division, and Patti Weber, retired CIA Officer and Chief of Policy for the National Clandestine Service. They talked about their careers in law enforcement, climbing the ladder in a male-dominated field, and balancing a stressful career with family. Their stories were fascinating, and their banter was a great juxtaposition to the serious nature of their former positions.

The closing speaker, Holly Hoffman, was the one that surprised me the most. As a finalist on CBS’s Survivor Nicaragua, I had very few hopes about her talk resonating with me at all: I’ve never even seen Survivor, and I don’t like camping. Apparently, neither does Holly. Her whole presentation was about pushing yourself to do things that are outside your comfort zone and seizing opportunities, no matter how bleak the outcome. For Holly, that meant applying to be on a reality TV show as a midwestern mother of two when more than 14,000 other people around the United States with more interesting backstories were also applying.

If I had to sum up the day, I would say it was a progression of encouraging mantras that continued to build on each other. These included “find your passion,” “take risks,” “surround yourself with the people who will help you grow,” and “never give up.” I congratulate TWMN on a successful conference and look forward to next year’s event.