Second Annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in Philadelphia

Wendy Diamond, founder and CEO, Women's Entrepreneurship Day

At the Second Annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Philadelphia Ambassador Elissa Bloom opened the conference by applauding more than 175 female business owners, supportive men and students for arriving at Loews Hotel on Nov. 12, 2018.

Setting the tone for high-energy presentations, Philadelphia Ambassador Elissa Bloom confidently extended her experience as the executive director of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City, an international model for business incubation. As a master coordinator recognized for her ability to “make something from nothing,” she kept introductions crisp but warm, allowing sufficient time for a full line-up of engaging speakers.

Here are highlights from the presentations, which addressed challenges that women entrepreneurs face as well as solutions.

Entrepreneurial Mindset: Emi Kirschner, Business Coaching

The founder of Emi Kirschner Business Coaching started her talk by noting that only 20% of entrepreneurs succeed. Emi shared some of her own trials as a female business owner seeking funding. After rejections from six banks, the last one called her back because of a detailed business plan.

Emi urged other women entrepreneurs to make three commitments:

  1. Take time to focus on your goal every day.
  2. Create a “life team” of supporters.
  3. Acknowledge your gifts.

“Success is not about money. It’s whether you are fully expressed and fulfilled,” she said.

Keynote: Wendy Diamond, Founder and Chairwoman, The Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization

Wendy Diamond talked animatedly about travels around the world and challenging experiences throughout her life. From her inspirational work helping the homeless to reducing the rate of euthanized animals, this entrepreneur has written 10 books and holds three Guinness World Records.

“Everything is a positive in life,” she said, even after discussing difficult periods. “You will realize why they happened later.”

Instead of remaining down-trodden or losing sight of her goals, Wendy often used rough patches as motivation for pursuing the next project. Throughout her presentation, she repeatedly thanked people who had created misery in her life because she ultimately became more resilient.

Some of her key points included:

  1. Be open everywhere you go. You never know who is sitting next to you on a plane or when you’re getting coffee.
  2. When women are empowered, they can accomplish anything and achieve change.
  3. If you are knocked down, you need “pluck” to get back up and persevere, persist and remain positive.
  4. The happiest people have a purpose and a home.
  5. To deal with rejection, figure a way out and around the problem.

At the end of her talk, Wendy pointed to actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, who was “never recognized for her brilliance.” She also reminded the audience of a quote by Kent M. Keith at the end of Bombshell … Hedy Lamarr:

The Paradoxical Commandments 

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”

― Kent M. KeithThe Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council

Global Entrepreneur: Magbè Savané, Founder Makomas Beverage Company

This native of Côte d’Ivoire, who recently received $75,000 at the 2018 MassChallenge sponsored by PepsiCo, echoed the earlier observation that “Challenges make us who we are.”

After watching her mother work hard to support five daughters and send them to college, Magbè Savané recalled working in her aunt’s salon as unpaid labor. While living in New Hampshire, she missed the food and drinks from her homeland. So she set up her beverage company, Makomas, featuring organic teas and juices with ingredients sourced from 350 women’s farms in West Africa.

After building a business that supports their self-sufficiency, she offered these tips for other entrepreneurs:

  1. Pick a passion for your business.
  2. “Don’t let challenges get in the way. Take them along for the ride.”
  3. Don’t wait for everything to line up in perfect order.
  4. Don’t let the past determine your future.

As a testament to watching her mother get through the process of supporting her children and “turning challenges into opportunities,” Magbè Savané has placed Makomas products in 19 Whole Foods stores.

Speed Networking Session: Jennifer Lynn Robinson, Founder of Purposeful Networking and President, Fem City, Philadelphia

After a stimulating panel discussion (with moderator Beth Cohen, counsel and director of Business Strategy & Innovation Counsel for Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld LLC and entrepreneurs Gabriela Guaracoa, founder of Americae; Lisa Miccolis, founder of The Monkey & The Elephant; and Reshma Moorthy, founder of Frontier Technologies), Jennifer Lynn Robinson discussed effective strategies for networking.

Here are some of her tips:

  1. Ask open-ended questions (vs. “What do you do?”).
  2. Be yourself, and show that you are receptive to others.
  3. Tell the truth if you’re having a tough day, which will help others open up.
  4. Complete research in advance about destinations, people or events.
  5. Have engaging topics at your fingertips (e.g., pop culture, local  points of interest).
  6. Ask for advice to make connections.
  7. Tell stories, not facts.
  8. Explain how you problem solve rather than talking about your formal position.
  9. Make small offers of help, which are not time consuming, to build rapport.
  10. Listen to the other person rather than focusing on you.
  11. Stay in the moment rather than thinking about work or children.

An afternoon session honored female veterans, and another featured Salima Suswell from the PA Commission for Women as well as founder and CEO of Evolve Solutions LLC. A mock pitch session included Dana Donofree, founder of AnaOno, Tam Williams, founder of She’s It, and Tammi Jantzen, founder of Astarte Medical. Investors at the pitch session were Liz Sigety, partner at Fox Rothschild, and Fielding Kidd, director of business partnership, Comcast LIFT Labs.

The Bloom Initiative Presentation by String Theory Schools preceded Elissa Bloom‘s closing remarks and recap of the day before a champagne networking reception. For details about other upcoming events for women entrepreneurs, see http://www.womenseday.org/.

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Andrea Karen Hammer, a Philadelphia-based freelance writer, is the founder, director and owner of Artsphoria Media Group. As CEO, she leads the operation and innovation at Artsphoria: Arts, Business & Technology Center, Artsphoria International Magazine (https://www.artsphoria.com) and Artsphoria: Food for the Soul (https://artsphoria.live).