Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Earlier this month, Gathering Change, Inc., a charity formed four years ago by friends of mine (I serve on the board as Creative Director), was invited to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women as one of the benefitting charities in their Community Corner.

This was the first year that the Community Corner was present at this all day conference in Boston that attracts some pretty amazing movers and shakers (around 8,000 women – plus some very brave men – attended on December 6th, the 8th year since its inception in 2005).

The theme of the day was “Imagine: Find Your Purpose and Make a Difference.” 

Along with a couple of other charitable organizations presenting volunteer opportunities, we were able to share information with conference attendees who stopped by to visit our table in between scheduled lectures presented throughout the day by an inspiring roster of formidable guest speakers.

Arianna Huffington, Dr. Brene Brown, Deepak Chopra and other thought leaders and social influencers were there to encourage and challenge women to step forward and make their mark on the world. They even had a Bloggers’ Lounge and a number of social media roundtables with notable bloggers like Morra Aarons-Mele, author of “Women and Leadership in the Digital Age” and one of my local design favorites, Erin Gates of Elements of Style whose “I’ve got to be honest” conversational tone on her daily blog completely translated in real life. 

I attended as many of the presentations as I could, while still spending some time in the Community Corner with the founder and President of Gathering Change, Dorothy Goodwin. While listening to the positive messages, moving stories, and words of wisdom from keynote speakers and others, I scribbled notes that I planned to pull together later for a motivational post or article. I did not realize at the time that many of the words I jotted down would speak so clearly to me after the emotional roller coaster that I, like so many of us, have been on since Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

Below are just my scribbled notes – tidbits really (hopefully I am attributing the right comments to the right speakers). Perhaps some of the messages will speak to you as well. They are in the order that I heard them.  

Charlotte Beers, hailed as the most powerful woman in advertising and current board member at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia: Be leaderly. Step outside your comfort zone. Influence others. Be in charge. Be memorable. Be persuasive. Know yourself and deliver your message with personal clarity.

Marla Capozzi, knowledge management specialist and member of the Massachusetts Counsel for Innovation: We are all connected to each other. Reach out and make changes.

Dr. Brene Brown, research professional and author focusing on shame, vulnerability, worthiness, and courage: Ask for what you need. Most of us are afraid and brave at the same time. Show up and be seen. Dare greatly. A leader will find potential in others. 

Deepak Chopra, M.D., renowned physician and author on topics of mind-body health, spirituality and peace: Our global identity is influenced by technology and connection. Our survival depends on a new identity. We need a wisdom based society that is peaceful, just, and sustainable. A great leader is symbolic of the collective consciousness, an agent for change and transformation. Ask, what kind of world do I want to live in? Be aware, dream, and do. Use social media to harness the power of the collective consciousness to change consciousness.

Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post: How we feel depends on what we focus on. Don’t wait for Washington to solve our problems. Do something. Use communication platforms. We all have the opportunity to reach others. Service and giving back are the zeitgeist – the spirit of our times. Finding meaning in our lives is coming to the forefront right not. It will change the world. (Of note: Arianna’s dedicated Good News section on Huffington Post is designed to provide a sense of optimism by highlighting positive stories that often get overlooked by the media’s traditional approach of report-the-worst-first. She was also quite adamant that we should all get enough rest.) 

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, co-founder of Vera Bradley: Form happiness committees. Giving to others provides the most joy.

Connie Smith, Creative Expressions Coordinator at the Women’s Lunch Place, Boston: I never realized how powerful art could be. Meditative work and creating art can save lives.

Kristin Chenoweth, singer, actor, author: What is your next purpose? What is your inner voice saying? Listen. How do you want to leave your mark and say “I was here?


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