Billed as a Women’s Empowerment Summit, it was hard to determine how much of the agenda would focus on women’s issues versus empowerment issues. Having participated in numerous leadership conferences and events, we were pleasantly surprised to see the emphasis heavily on the empowerment side. Certainly the discussion was presented from a woman’s perspective and the day was filled with many issues women face that do not typically apply to men (harassment, discrimination, pregnancy, etc.).
The day started with a wellness session run by Melanie Storrusten and she focused on getting your mind in a strong place and preparing oneself for the rigors of sports business.
The next session jumped into branding and social media. Led by Brandi Mitchell, this presentation really energized the crowd and captured the attention of over 200 women who were eager to learn how to make themselves stand out from the masses.
GladiatHers founder, Cecilia Townes, took the stage for the Leadership presentation and provided great insight prior to lunch. Though we attend many leadership events and summits, her presentation hit a lot of critical points that are often ignored, even at high level meetings. Perhaps what most impressed us was how articulate, organized and focused her presentation was. Many speakers have great ideas, but few have the ability to capture the audiences attention while simultaneously providing value. She spoke about how to develop your own vision, know your strengths and most importantly, not to be afraid of shooting your shots. The last one being an area she feels women are often reluctant to do, especially in comparison to their male counterparts. Cecilia stressed the importance of recognizing your own strengths, passions and motivations and making sure that you volunteer and network in the industry to open the door to new opportunities.
After lunch, the crowd was truly captivated by NFL official Sarah Thomas. Sarah commands an imposing presence and she gave a frank and forceful presentation about the challenges faced by both women and officials. To the disappointment of many, however, she refused to answer any questions about the officiating debacle in the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game. As the first woman to officiate an NFL Playoff game, Sarah explained how she handled pressure, and she shared some of her favorite mantras:
- Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.
- Don’t do it to prove anyone wrong. That list will never end.
- Don’t do it for the recognition. The toes you step on today to get up the ladder will be there on the way down to kick you in the ass.
- Do it because you love it.
- Don’t let people drive you crazy.
- Success only comes before work in the dictionary.
- A successful person is the one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that someone else throws at them (the boos for officials).
- Comparison is the thief of joy.
Overall, this was one of the best events that we attended this week. It was highly organized, stayed on schedule, was decorated beautifully and the entire GladiatHers staff were attentive to the guests and sponsors (and even the media).
If you have a chance to attend one of GladiatHers events in the future, we are sure you will not be disappointed.