Question - How did you hear about worldwomen17? and what made you decide to attend the conference?
I heard about worldwomen17 from Theresa Gattung when she was speaking at a Co of Women (Co of Women is a Hub of Entrepreneurial Women that supports and champions success) at an inspirational event in Auckland November 2016. I think the energy around her enthusiasm and the worldwomen17 event and what it would offer inspired me. I instantly thought to myself "I have to be there" - there is no question I have to be there. Co of Women is an amazing organisation and we don't have anything quite like it in Christchurch for women entrepreneurs, so for me it was a bridge to understand what else was going on in New Zealand. There are come great groups here in Christchurch (ie, Broadly Speaking, Rise etc) that work tirelessly for the advancement of women and women in business...but it was the energy of Theresa and the worldwomen17 team that was the clincher for me and why I knew that I simply had to attend in whatever way possible and bring some of that energy back to Christchurch with me. The energy that emerged at the worldwomen17 Conference was in the creativity that comes from a group of women getting together. For me coming as an Artist who works by myself in my own business, it was just me walking into a room of energy. Here there was a gathering of women who, it felt like, "were all there to support each other." They all completely understood the challenges that you were facing, and more than that, they were there to bridge the gap and that was amazing. The number of people in the room and the collaborative way that worldwomen17 unfolded over the next 3 days blew my socks off, it really did! It opened my eyes to how things could be done, that you didn't have to do things by yourself any more.
Question - What were your stand-out moments and an ‘a ha’ moment over the 3 days?
A stand-out moment was getting a massive hug from Dr Tererai Trent and Vicki Saunders after handing out the Toki. (jewellery) I did my talk and explained the intention behind the Toki. For me, it was watching these women connect with one another, connect with complete strangers in such an authentic way. It surpassed my expectations and what I hoped for, and what those pieces (Toki) offered. That was a stand-out for me. Coming along to the event as quite an introverted person, because I guess many artists are introverted. I personally find events like that quite challenging, because I am not necessarily the best at small talk and meeting new people. Also seeing my idea in action and realising it helped so many other people to overcome that fear of talking to new people in a social setting like that one. Wow! That was more validation than I could have hoped for.
Question - How has your life changed since worldwomen17?
There are two things. The first thing is my confidence as an Artist and Business Woman and working with other women in business. One of the ‘a ha’ moments was during the workshop with Vicki Saunders from SheEO, the concept of Radical Generosity and the notion of "just ask." If you have got something that you need or there is something that you want, then ask for it! Finding out that 9.5 out of 10 people will actually say ‘yes’ or if they don't have the answer they will know someone who will have the answer. I have taken that concept and I have applied it to pretty much everything I have done. As for my business, I was selling predominantly online. I was doing some craft markets and what happened following worldwomen17 when my business suddenly went from being what could be perceived as being a hobby business, I guess, to that of my perception of it as my own business. It went from being a hobby to actually being a legitimate business and I now saw myself as being a legitimate entrepreneur. Because of being at worldwomen17, and having their support and having validation from all these other women that I look up to in so many ways, it made me look at myself completely differently.
Question - What is one thing you would like to share with others also attended worldwomen17?
Exercise your courage muscle. I think that as Entrepreneurs especially as Women Entrepreneurs, we tend to operate in quite an isolated fashion. I would encourage any women, even if she is just thinking about a business, or anyone who works in a business environment, to go to an event like worldwomen17, or specifically worldwomen, where you start to understand not just about how other women operate, but how you operate as a woman in business. I would challenge and invite other women to invest in themselves that way because actually they deserve it and they are worth it.
One of the things Tererai talked about was finding your purpose and your passion, and what is your ‘why’? Once you have found it do not doubt it. Regardless of what it is, chase it and follow it because it is so valuable. Also, Tererai's story about having your dream. Despite everything that she went through, and all of the obstacles that were in her way, she actually achieved her dream. I think regardless if you are in business or not in business, that journey of discovering what your purpose is, and what really floats your boat in this world, and why you are here, that is something to never give up on. You have to work for that.
I am in awe of the work that the team at worldwomen do, having seen them in operation at Emerging Women as well, and seeing this isn't just something that happens in Auckland - this is a global movement. This is way bigger than yourself, or New Zealand. This is something that is happening right now. I would encourage anyone to get involved as it is a magical ride - it really is! Sonia McManus.