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2015 Dynamic Women in Business Conference: Going Beyond

1100 attendees. 

800+ tweets. 

22 panels. 

10 lessons that empowered.

Seven lessons that energized – and deftly merged stand-up comedy with women’s empowerment.

Three lessons that inspired.

One case launched.

Nine months of planning.

One incredible day. Last Saturday, February 21, HBS was the epicenter of women in business with the WSA’s 2015 Dynamic Women in Business Conference. The theme ‘Going Beyond’ permeated the conference as the panelists and moderators shared their visions of the future and gave advice for aspiring women. Kathy Giusti started the day off with an inspirational speech based on her incredible journey through illness to career success; ‘Personal and professional don’t run parallel, they are intertwined…don’t look for balance’. Giusti advised the audience to ‘Build the bottom of your resume.’ Much of the advice across the panels was about getting your hands dirty and failing in order to succeed. Renata Mutis Black, founder of Empowered by You (a luxury lingerie brand funding microfinance for women), put a twist on the idea of failing, channeling Thomas Edison: ‘I have not failed, I just know 10,000 ways that don’t work’ For Mutis Black, ‘success is on the other side of failure.’ Sallie Krawcheck, keynote Speaker, one of the most senior women on Wall Street and owner of the Elevate Network, attributes success to resilience; ‘Resilience is the real secret to success. And the secret to resilience is gratitude’. The second time Krawcheck was fired on the front page of the WSJ she had a choice: (1) Hide, ‘Honey, do you think anyone saw the WSJ today?’, or (2) Be proud, “Dad! Did you see the WSJ today? I’ve made it!” Krawchek chose option 2 and hasn’t looked back. Krawchek also advised the audience to ‘Say yes. Particularly if it’s uncomfortable for you, raise your hand’ ‘Say yes to the promotion. Say yes to the overseas assignment. Say yes to the board position.’’ And in a promising sign of bucking the trend given the recent press about gender issues in tech – for example, Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins, ‘that’ Newsweek cover on What Silicon Valley Thinks of Women – the tech, ecommerce, and entrepreneurship panels were standing room only. Jan Singer capped the day off in a spectacular way, bringing these themes alive in her story, from secretary to CEO, from Brockton to the world. Singer’s story focused on those moments where she had to choose – take a big risk or be safe. And the risks have paid off.

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