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Top Takeaways from IAEE’s Women’s Leadership Forum

Written by: Megan Saad
Megan Saad
Managing Director at CNTV | + posts

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) Women’s Leadership Forum is one we always look forward to because of the powerful and inspiring program and the 2022 event was no exception. The topics included mindset strategies, reinvention, and how to get comfortable with change. These are powerful lessons for any professional but each speaker thoughtfully presented with the audience of women in the exhibitions and events industry in mind. 

Here’s some of our favorite takeaways from this year’s event: 

Your Community Shapes Who You Are
It’s no secret the events industry is built on the power of connections. In the opening session, “From Frustrated to Focused: Mindset Strategies for Career and Business Growth,” Debbie Peterson challenged the room to think about the people they surround themselves with. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

Debbie also gave a reminder that “not everybody who is with you is for you.” Not only should we be mindful in surrounding ourselves with trustworthy people who have our best interests in mind, but people who come from diverse backgrounds so we can gain new insights and perspectives. 

The Power of Empathy
The most in-depth session was “Navigating Behaviors and Emotions in Uncertain Times: Tips and Tools for Improving Interactions and Emotional Wellbeing” from Claudia St John, SPHR, SHRM-SCP. Everyone completed a behavior assessment prior to attending in order to understand themselves better, both strengths and weaknesses, so they could become better equipped to navigate their environment. 

Claudia spent a lot of time explaining the intersection of emotional science and behavioral science. When you’re in an emotional state, you’re not able to use your higher cognitive function which can have damaging, ripple effects on business, productivity, and even your relationships. While best utilized if your entire team completes the assessment, understanding yourself is the first step in knowing what it takes to understand others.

Claudia used the color red to describe someone who is emotional. When you can identify the color red in the room, then the most important emotion to change the room is empathy. There’s power in recognizing when someone is in this state so you can be mindful of how you can respond and move forward together, as quickly as possible. 

Come Alive With the Power of Purpose
The past two years have forced everyone to evaluate our time and how we spend it. We’re all familiar with “The Great Resignation” that stemmed from the world shifting. When the world is changing, it’s a good time to shift perspectives as well. 

During “Come Alive: The Power of Purpose and Reinvention,” Yvette R. Simpson, Esq. MBA shared her personal journey of finding fulfillment in every aspect of her life. She asked each of us to think about one (just one!) thing we would like to change about our own behaviors.

At my table, we shared what we wanted to change. Our answers ranged from being more direct, becoming more comfortable with public speaking, and managing the moving target that is work-life balance. 

After the exercise of sharing and committing to one thing you want to change came the powerful reminder that “nobody is expecting perfection from you other than yourself.” As event professionals, all of us are passionate and find fulfillment in what we do. Let’s lean on the power of already finding our purpose and use that as fuel in the journey of small reinventions each and every day.

The Only Constant is Change
At this point, do any of us need this reminder? No. But we all could use more insight to help sharpen our tools that manage change and the motivation to continue moving forward with the confidence, courage, and resilience it takes to do so.

Anne also spoke about the two L’s to living life on purpose: legacy and lifestyle. What’s legacy? Leaving the world a better place than we found it. What’s lifestyle? Freedom to do the things that make us happy. 

The closing session, as were the others, were so versatile in that the takeaways were applicable to both personal and professional lives. Given how blended personal and professional lives have become, is it really that different? 

The community you build powers your success, be diligent and open to a constant shift and change, and when you focus on your legacy in leaving the world a better place – others will want to join you.

Thank you IAEE and all of the speakers and participants that were willing to share. My favorite quote from the entire day that rings so true: “When you get this many women in a room thinking about a problem, magic happens.”

Megan Saad
Managing Director at CNTV | + posts