What is your dream for all women? For women’s leadership and lifestyle expert, Claudia Chan, the answer is clear. She wants women to wake up and realize how perfect we all are – warts and all – and that our “possibilities are endless.”
Watch Claudia give her tip about being open to possibilities.
As a woman who spent the last 12 years as an entrepreneur, Chan says she has seen time and again how women’s lack of confidence and battle with perfection has stalled their professional lives.
Chan herself is an example of a woman who was on a quest to live a meaningful life after going her separate way with her business partner at Shecky’s, a women’s networking and entertainment company she co-ran for 9 years. Many yoga sessions and women’s conferences later, she found her calling in helping other women as an entrepreneur. “We all go through our ups and downs and I think other women need to see that,” Chan told The Story Exchange.
Envious of those successful women who “have it all”? Even they have their ups and downs.
What’s key for fulfilling Chan’s dream is for women to help other women (the S.H.E. stands for “She Helps Empower,” after all.) She’s orchestrated this one-week event for women to take time out for themselves—to reflect, recharge and be connected to women from different corners of the world.
Last month Chan once again walked the walk as hundreds of women showed up to the S.H.E. Summit, ready for the inspiration jammed-pack sessions and the community of like-minded women. They heard experts dish on a whole gamut of topics ranging from new business models of social good and entrepreneurship, to finding a worthy career mentor.
Speakers included Caroline Ghosn, founder of the women’s career site Levo League and Julie Smolyansky, who became the youngest female CEO of a publicly held firm when she took over her father’s kefir food business, in 2002 at the age of 27. She is also a member of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.
Read on for some key takeaways and insightful advice from the event:
Open Your Mind
“You might have preconceived notions as to what you want to do with your career, you might think that you want to go into finance or fashion, or be an entrepreneur. I think the main thing is to be open and that inherently you were born with gifts… You never know what seed might get planted, and what might happen. So just be open and more possibilities will come.” – Claudia Chan, Founder of ClaudiaChan.com
Lean In and Learn
“I organized one of the first Lean In circles for Sheryl [Sandberg] and brought together female entrepreneurs to talk about their shared experiences. Whether you’re starting a social media company, creating a literary journal, or a technology solution like Levo, the challenges are actually very similar. The challenges are around how do you manage and inspire a team? How do you get fundraising? How do you build a brand, not just an interchangeable product? And that’s where I really draw a lot of insights from people who’ve been there. There’s no point in learning the learning curve separately. When you sit in a room together and share insights you all go up one learning curve and that way it’s a lot faster.” – Caroline Ghosn, Founder of Levo League
What is the value of a mentor? Caroline shares her thoughts.
Invest in Women Around The World
“We see from a more grassroots entrepreneurial level in development countries that women actually put 90% of their income back into their communities. Which for men, it’s about 35%. So you know, it’s a smart investment, it’s the right thing to do, and if women are controlling about $30 trillion of consumer purchases, we better be thinking about them.” – Elizabeth Gore, Resident Entrepreneur of the United Nations Foundation
Elizabeth shares the reality of the investment money supporting women and girls.
Find the Fighter in You
“My father passed away suddenly at the age of 55. I was a 27-year old, young woman, and I thought that I would be taking over. I didn’t think there would be any issue about it… I just really built up a sense of “failure isn’t an option” and it was really like a maternal instinct for the company that came out; that was like a war in my body. I really didn’t care that there were however many men around the table and I was the only woman, and the youngest one at that. I just knew that I had something to offer and that my father told me that I could do anything and I was gonna do it. So you just push, push and persevere. Find that fighter instinct in you. I think it’s all within us.” – Julie Smolyansky, CEO, Lifeway Foods and Member of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.
Watch Julie’s story behind what happened when she took over her family’s multi-million dollar company.