I didn’t expect to exit a motivational event in tears, but that was the case last night when a quartet of female execs encouraged audience members to find their passions
Admittedly, I can be an emotional person—queue up one of those ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan telling America how dogs nationwide are suffering, and I’ll burn through a box of Kleenex by the time spot ends. Last night at Kara Ross’s Philadelphia-based Diamonds Unleashed event, held at the Wharton School where four women spoke about pursuing their passions, I expected to leave with a story in hand, not with tears streaming down my face. Awkward! But, when you consider the inspiring messages delivered by a quartet of female execs who successfully pivoted to or away from multiple situations that they found untenable were what moved me, then my teary-eyed departure is a bit more understandable. It should also make you want to check out Ross’s next live event, à la ‘What the heck are Ross’s associates saying that elicits such a powerful response’?
Diamonds Unleashed is Ross’s year-old for-profit venture that aims to inspire women’s empowerment through live events like the on held last night. Funds raised come from the sale of diamond jewelry, whereby some proceeds benefit nonprofit partners. Girls Who Code and She’s the First, both groups with missions of educating young women, are among the current recipients of funds. Even Ross’s DU logo—a silhouette of a diamond—aims to inspire because it is a symbol of the “brilliant, multifaceted, and unbreakable spirit of women,” she explained to the audience. And just as women now needn’t wait to be gifted a diamond by a partner, women can also do much to improve their futures by supporting other women and focusing on education and employment, particularly as mentors.
“We want to create the next generation of strong women,” said Ross. “DU is a paradigm shift in the way we think about a diamond and empowering ourselves.”
To drive home that point, Ross invited four successful women–Eleni Gianopulos of Eleni’s, Emmy award-winning producer and documentary filmmaker Regina K. Scully, stylist and Vogue Mexico staffer Sarah Gore Reeves, and former Wall Street exec Maria Baum—to the stage to address the theme for the evening: Pivoting Your Career to Pursue Your Passion. The anecdotes shared showed that if the four women onstage had the strength to pivot in careers and create new meaning for themselves professionally and personally, so could anyone in the audience.
If you’re in need of a strong kick-in-the-pants motivational force to change something up in your business, these tips and insights may do the trick. Here are the takeaways that I found to be weep-worthy.
“When I was at Time magazine, it hit me that I didn’t want any of my boss’s jobs. So I quit, with no plan, to find something that I loved to do. When I quit my job, I had nothing to do, so I entertained every night. A friend said, ‘Oh you should be a caterer,’ but then I realized that I only loved to bake cookies. So that’s what I did, and 20 years later I still love what I’m doing. So, I encourage you to listen and not listen to friends and family for advice. My family thought I was crazy to start a cookie company, but had I listened to them I wouldn’t be where I am today.” —Eleni Gianopulos
“Just when you typecast yourself, go and do something else. Because it’s in those little curves where you didn’t quite think that you’d go that you find something miraculous, and you see where it can take you. These experiences are all very important to get to where you need to go, and along the way you also learn what you don’t like. Discovering what you really enjoy is in the pauses. And when you stop caring about what you are doing, then you know something has run its course and it’s time to pivot.” —Regina K. Scully
“Expose yourself to people and opportunities. Find what makes you breathe, laugh, and want to go to work. You stand out when you keep your sense of grace. There are lot of ‘you’—people in your job title—but it’s how you are and how you express yourself that matters. It’s how you preserve a quality in what you do that makes you valuable. Be the best at whatever you do, and follow your instincts about people.” —Sarah Gore Reeves
“When you don’t have the butterflies in your stomach anymore, change things up. Everyday is a new day, and everyday is a trade I negotiate—but the environment changes, and it will again tomorrow, so you need to reassess and find the present value in the path you take. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can change it tomorrow. In fact, it’s imperative that you constantly edit your career. Life is too short to not live well.” —Maria Baum
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