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Category: Women’s Leadership Forum

#ShareYourStory – A Reflection on the 2016 Women’s Leadership Forum

“I’m a mess.” Reshma Saujina, founder of Girls Who Code informed the audience. Preach, Reshma, I thought to myself. “Be a mess,” she continues, “be authentic”.

The 2016 Women’s Leadership Forum was an inspirational and special day filled with wise words, sage advice and incredible stories. And it were the stories that most resonated with me. Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, shared moments of her days spent visiting classrooms and reading stories to young children. The McBride sisters, creators of exquisite and delicious wine, have scaled the steep hill of California Street in San Francisco carrying cases of wine – while wearing stilettos. Reshma Saujina perhaps one of the most poised and eloquent speakers I have had the privilege of listening to, is a mess.

Kelly Carlin, writer, actress, and performer, encouraged the 1,100 female dominated audience to share their stories’. Carlin challenged the audience to listen to the voice inside of us and to find our own story – for it is within our story that we discover self-awareness and our own inner truth.

Stories shared at the Forum were filled with humor, sentiment and, of course, failure. “Just because I failed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try too,” Saujina expressed. Failing is an integral part of the journey – it reflects an effort made or a risk taken. Every time I fail I grow in another capacity. This growth is what brings me closer to attaining goals and to deepening my own story.

Our stories continue to evolve. As I was swept in awe and inspiration at the Women’s Leadership Forum, I also felt a great deal of reassurance and comfort in knowing that being a mess is just fine.


This story first appeared on Written by Clare Durkin, Shopper Digital Specialist at AMP Agency

Why I’m Still Thinking About the Women’s Leadership Forum Two Weeks Later

I’m still thinking about the Women’s Leadership Forum for a number of reasons, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. Wondering why? Great, because I’m here to tell you. Yes, you—whatever gender you are or identify with—because what I took away from the Women’s Leadership Forum is not only for women to hear, relate to, or act on.

I could write pages and pages about all of what I took away from the Forum and what each of those things mean, but ain’t nobody got time for that, not even me. So, I’m going to focus on the concept that I’ve come to realize has penetrated my daily thoughts ever since that empowering Tuesday afternoon at the Seaport World Trade Center.

Unleash your unapologetic tenacity. –The McBride Sisters, Co-Founders of Truvée Wines

The McBride Sister’s notion of being “unapologetically tenacious,” infused with the teachings each and every one of the Forum’s speakers shared, has shaped the way I actively think about myself as a woman, and as a woman in business. You may be wondering what the context of “unapologetic tenacity” is, or what exactly that means, so let me sum it up with another McBride Sisters quote: “If a big old fart gets in your way, go around him, blaze your own trail, and then come back with proof [that you were right].”

In other words it means never starting your sentences in a meeting with “I’m sorry—I could be wrong—but—and we don’t have to do this—but…” and ending them with “does that make sense?” It means never obstructing a great idea from escaping the confines of your own thoughts for fear of being dismissed. It means exploring your ideas, seeing them through, and refusing to relinquish your determination in the face of rejection, because as a woman you will experience a lot of it.

As a society we have been socialized to believe that women have less to offer than men—that they are less than—and so of course we, as women, start our sentences that way and of course we don’t always share our ideas, even when we know that they’re kickass. But a pledge to unapologetic tenacity is a rejection of that socially constructed norm, a recognition that we too have every right to be unapologetically tenacious, and a stride towards breaking the cycle of socialization. Since recognizing a desire in myself to make a commitment to being unapologetically tenacious two Tuesdays ago, I’ve realized how excessively and needlessly apologetic I actually am. I’ve also realized how excessively apologetic my female co-workers, friends, and family members are, too. Amy Poehler once said “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.” I’m ready to unlearn, starting with myself, and then working towards influencing change in others.

These past two weeks, I’ve actively worked on changing the way that I outwardly communicate, whether it’s the manner in which I verbally share my ideas or the words I choose to write my emails. I try to avoid the “I could be wrong, but” introduction to an idea. I now actively think to delete the “sorrys” in my emails when they are not needed and keep the word “just” out of my vocabulary altogether because, no, I am NOT “just checking in to see if you’ve had the chance to blah blah,” I AM (definitively) checking in. Almost more importantly, I’m actively working on changing the way I inwardly communicate with myself. Changing “don’t say that because there’s a chance you’re wrong” to “be confident in the larger chance that you’re right and know that the smaller chance that you’re wrong won’t kill you; it’s okay to be wrong sometimes,” which leads me to my next point, so eloquently and succinctly expressed by Reshma Saujani as she closed out the Forum:

We’ve socialized our girls to be perfect, and we’ve socialized our boys to be brave. –Reshma Saujani, Founder & CEO of Girls Who Code

As I’ve proved, there is something unacceptably damaging about that truth, which should stir in us a desire to change it. This is the part of the post where I make good on the promise I made in my introduction, claiming that what I took away from the Women’s Leadership Forum is important for everyone. This is where I ask our men to let our women be unapologetically tenacious—not at all in the sense of permission, but rather in the spirit of respect where respect is due. I ask our women to commit to it. And I ask us all to encourage our young girls to commit to it as much as we encourage our young boys to already. I promise that the world will be better for it.

Your turn.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts—agree? Disagree? Let’s talk about it. As I’ve learned, it’s okay to be wrong.


This blog first appeared on . Written by Alyssa McBryar, Associate Account Executive at AMP Agency.

Key Lessons from the Ad Club’s 2016 Women’s Leadership Forum

The 2016 Women’s Leadership Forum organized by the Ad Club could be summed up by its hashtag: No Filter. 1,100 women gathered together to listen to empowering speakers discuss how they paved their way to success in male-dominated fields and got “shit done”. It was a forum to reflect on the challenges that we face as career women as well as a platform to discuss the implications of a cultural landscape that has been shaped by men and, thus, caters to men. It was an event to inspire women to act now— to run for office, to learn how to code, to speak up in general— because with men outnumbering women in the boardrooms, in tech, and in the government, the decisions that will shape our futures and the next generation’s futures will not be reflective of the other half of the population unless women support one another and rise to the occasion.

Below are three takeaways from the event in addition to insights that I’ve uncovered based on my own experiences as a woman pursuing a career in advertising. These are lessons we, as both businessmen and businesswomen, should begin to implement in our own workspace, so that we may (1) live with no filter and (2) get shit done.

1. Not just hoping for – but demanding a seat at the table.

“As women, as leaders, we need to start telling it like it is.” – Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General

“The world does not need another quiet, complicit daughter.”- Kelly Carlin, Performer / Storyteller

One of the challenges that was most often addressed during the forum was how women are pressured to conform to gender roles and expectations. Whether it was Sasha Digiulian being condescended by male climbers who told her that “little girls don’t climb the Eiger” or Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General, being doubted by her peers even though she was more qualified than her male rival, women in business are subjected to the kind of criticism that doesn’t focus on what they can bring to the table, but rather on whether they should even be at the table in the first place.

#NoFilter, in this case, means that women don’t just have the ability to stand up for themselves, they have an obligation to. As Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, stated, “We have socialized our girls to be perfect and our boys to be brave.” This particular quote struck a chord with me. I’ve always striven to be perfect: perfect grades, perfect appearance, and perfect career–everything laid out just so like a cropped and filtered Instagram photo. I was too afraid to take a chance and assert myself or else risk people possibly seeing me fail. But that’s just the thing… Saujani said in her speech that women need to risk failure more often, not just to be more authentic, but to accomplish great things. As someone working in a field where no day is truly the same, this piece of advice is important as I face new challenges.

2. Embracing leading female characters not as a rarity, but the norm.

“You cannot be what you cannot see.” – Reshma Saujani, Founder, CEO of Girls Who Code

As we grow up, our perspectives are often shaped by what we see on the screen. Saujani explained that women in tech are heavily outnumbered by men, a number that has actually decreased since the 70s. She believes it could very well be because girls literally don’t see themselves in tech— they only see men. TV shows and films depicting the tech industry don’t seem to be writing parts for females in tech that are playing pivotal roles. She explained how the number of women in professions such as medicine and law has increased perhaps because of TV shows and films that showcase bad-ass female characters with no filter.

When I think about how women are represented in the media, I’m struck by how limited they are by the roles they play. As a feminist, I am sometimes questioned as to why I even decided to take a job in advertising, an industry that is notorious for objectifying women and reinforcing gender stereotypes. I think, firstly, we’ve been seeing quite a few brands that have been embracing a more progressive stance in representing women in ads, from Always to Dove to Wells Fargo. There’s more work to be done, but I want to be a part of the movement that shapes the industry and ultimately rejects the idea of sexualizing and objectifying women. Likewise, I think that there have been more empowering roles for women in television and film, but I want to start living in a world that stops questioning why strong female characters exist in the first place.

There needs to be more of an effort on our marketers, our advertisers, our filmmakers, and our TV producers to create compelling female characters in roles that have typically been filled by men. Though gender stereotypes in the media are fortunately being called out more and more, I hope that as marketers, we can work together against reinforcing damaging heteronormative ideas.

3. Support one another as women unwaveringly

“Believe in the power of community and support other women.” – Robin and Andrea McBride, Founders of Truvee Wines

Women, who have been too often viewed through a masculine lens in business, are frequently subjected to criticism not just by their male peers, but by their female peers as well. Maura Healey explained that even women would question her choice to run as attorney general in addition to her style choices. As you can imagine, women cutting down other women is one of the least beneficial ways to represent ourselves, to respect ourselves, and to change the gender disparity in our respect professions.

Women like Linda Boff, the Chief Marketing Officer of GE, will actually set up networking events specifically for talented women to connect with other talented women. Reshma Saujani’s company Girls Who Code is based on the very idea of sisterhood and building a common bond through learning a new skill. Maura Healey will make an effort to reach out to other women at work events that are heavily outnumbered by men. I, myself, have experienced the power of women helping women when I joined a sorority, which connected me with women across the nation who gave me career advice and put me in touch with the right people. I continue to support my sisters to this day when they reach out to me and ask for my help. These are just a few examples of how we can foster that community of strong women and help each other succeed. It’s so incredibly important.

However, I feel that one thing missing from the forum was a discussion on how we, as women, can’t do this alone. As strong, intelligent, and independent as we might be, we need to work with men to get them to change their perspectives on working women. The cultural landscape cannot be shifted just on one side. We need to work together to change the ideas that women should look a certain way and act a certain way to pursue their careers.

The Women’s Leadership Forum left me feeling inspired to say the very least. I felt a rush of you-can-do-anything-ness, and as soon as I got home, I started writing down my goals and ideas— and the risks I am willing to take to achieve them. I loved this event, and I hope that there are more like it in the future.

So how do you think you can implement these lessons from the forum in your workspace and industry?


This blog first appeared on . Written by Mackenzie Lane, Associate Account Executive at AMP Agency.

Five Things Every Leading Agency CEO Should Be Doing

Written by Lori Hiltz, CEO of Havas Media North America. This blog first appeared on Huffington Post, as part of a series produced by Havas Media (@HavasMediaUSA), in conjunction with The Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum.


Four years ago the owners of Havas approached me with the opportunity to become the CEO of Havas Media North America — a new entity that was the result of a restructuring of several disparate business units into one cohesive full-service media agency network. I did not have the privilege or experience of being a CEO and the role was not without obvious challenges that all leaders face.

However, there is no roadmap on how to be a CEO, no manual, no webex training and certainly no perfect background. Much of the job comes from your ability to rally people and listen to what they’re saying on a daily basis. After three plus years, I’ve learned and feel strongly any successful marketing agency CEO needs to be doing the following things.

1. Read, Read, Read
Seems somewhat self-explanatory but an imperative. A CEO should read… everything. While my days are busy, I make time to keep up whenever I’m in transit — my trusted WiFi card delivering every possible piece of business and industry content possible. I personally love reading the content on the Pope app & the Dalai LamI Quote app in order to have a better understanding of peacefulness and kindness. It’s critical a CEO have a pulse on news, analysis and developments shaping our work for clients. Whether it be industry reporting (the marketing/advertising business is blessed to have arguably the best trade press in any industry), examination from analysts or just the musings of your favorite futurist on Twitter — taking the time to read provides a CEO context for the challenges their company will face upon arrival each day.

2. Meet & Mingle
Yes, as the CEO I’m the lead salesperson and spokeswoman for my company. I’m fortunate to meet a lot of people. However, I often challenge my team to make sure I’m meeting change agents. Media is being disrupted by technology, new social platforms, changing consumer behaviors, cultural shifts and entertainment offerings. I want to meet the people who are doing the disrupting. As for mingling — to be clear I don’t mean working the room at an event. Specifically, it’s critical a CEO mingle with their own people. Our industry’s product is the power of people and the ideas they generate. I make it a point to sit in meetings, attend team gatherings and insert myself as often as I can. By blending the takeaways from my industry meetings with the insights I get from mingling with our team I am regularly surprised with the outcome and how it’s rarely what I previously thought.

3. Stay Close to Academia
During my tenure, I have found that some of the best thinking I get emanates not from the boardroom but rather the classroom. Members of academia whether it be professors, think tank leaders or even students provide unique and often theoretical insight that helps inspire me. Sometimes the suggestions lack the necessary underpinning of business in the ‘real-world’ but the counsel should not be overlooked. Take the time to include a trusted member of academia within your circle and meet with them regularly. You’ll be glad you did.

4. Cultivate Passion
Passion! In a business like ours that thrives on creativity nothing can deliver results more than a colleague with passion. As a CEO you need to cultivate it. Create the environment for it to live, grow and prosper. This starts with ensuring your team has the comfort and courage to chase failure and push the envelope of what was previously thought impossible. It also means giving them the latitude to chase their dreams both in and out of the office so they’re focused and rejuvenated for your clients.

5. Move Your Seat
Moving your seat in the literal sense… sure. No matter how busy — remaining visible and approachable is very important. But in a figurative sense — a CEO should be perpetually thinking about the challenges people in different seats are facing. Moving your seat and taking the time to learn what it is they need or want to achieve at a higher level only helps to strengthen your complete understanding of your business and that of your clients and makes for a stable and powerful organization.


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