Thursday, September 4, 2014

Women Entrepreneurs Coming Together - Why?

Guest Blogger: MeiMei Fox: meimeifox.com

Are you a female entrepreneur interested in women’s empowerment, development, leadership and business skill-building? If so, you might want to check out the TOGETHER! Conference, which takes place on September 13 and 14 at WeWork in Hollywood, LA.

TOGETHER is the fourth conference produced and co-created by entrepreneur Tatjana Luethi. For this conference, she has partnered and collaborated with Runa Bouius, conscious leadership consultant and catalyst, and Rocio Villalobos, founder of VidroMedia. The primary focus of the conference is how to build a conscious business. Tatjana has found that many women share feelings of dissatisfaction with how we are expected to live our personal and our career lives in a marketplace where there is no more job stability. Many of us are faced with constantly needing to re-invent ourselves. Furthermore, we have a strong desire to merge passion, purpose and profession. As a result, more  and more women are considering and exploring entrepreneurship, either out of economic necessity or as an escape from the old capitalist system and traditional corporate culture.

However, Tatjana has found that conflict frequently arises for aspiring female entrepreneurs in that:
  1. They have not been trained in entrepreneurship.
  2. They do not feel aligned with the traditional style, definition, and approach to business, hence become interested in exploring new models such as conscious business.
  3. Given the need to generate income, they can stumble in merging passion and purpose into a financially successful and sustainable platform in order to truly thrive, not just survive.

Hence the TOGETHER conference speaks to women who long to experience authentic, creative self-expression; make a difference in our community, society and planet by starting a business with a higher purpose; and develop a revenue generating platform that leaves us financially independent and self-sustaining.

“The conference is not only about how you turn a ‘Passion Project’ into a financially sustainable and successful business. What’s the difference, in skills and strategy, between those who ‘make it’ and those who are forced to close their businesses? I don’t think there is a secret sauce, yet collectively we enter this inquiry and explore the emergence of new models with leaders and pioneers from various sectors and industries,” Tatjana explained.

Tatjana defines herself as a naturally curious person who enjoys exploring why and how we make choices and follow certain paths in life. She began her career in her native country of Switzerland as a commercial banker. In 1997, she fell in love with her now-husband and moved to the US, where she studied graphic design and launched a handbag company. Then in 2008, the American economy crashed. Many talented people experienced layoffs for the first time. Tatjana found herself profoundly dissatisfied with “the handcuffs of the rat race.” Experiencing how easily and quickly “stability and security” can fall apart, she went into crisis mode. “I needed to reinvent myself personally and professionally out of necessity inside this rapidly changing marketplace,” she explained.

She initially collaborated with Jose Caballer, CEO of The Skool, an educational company that teaches teach designers, developers and marketers how to collaborate, execute and thrive in the digital economy. They co-created a two-day women’s conference called MERGE!. 100 women attended, driven by a vision to merge their passion with their profession. Three  months later, they held another conference called MOVE!, which was about taking that “authentic you” and scaling it up into a movement, a project, or a business. The focus was on inspiring action and building community. Next, they produced the FORGE! Conference. The goal was tactical implementation for the vision the women had established at the MERGE! Conference, and the strategy they had created at the MOVE! Conference. All three events enjoyed success and positive feedback, leading Tatjana to offering the TOGETHER Conference, her fourth in the series.


I asked Tatjana why she has chosen to open her conferences to women only. She said that the women who attended have requested it. “There is something to be said for creating a safe environment that allows women to explore who they really are,” she said. “We don’t feel judged and labelled that ‘this is not the right way of doing things,’ or fearful of feeling inadequate or inferior. The whole point is to re-examine who we are outside of the Zeitgeist we were born into and redefine our relationship to ourselves and others. It’s when you feel safe that you truly get to go within and explore who you are at the core of your essence. Once that authentic power and trust in oneself is reclaimed, then we are ready to come out and collaborate and partner with other women and men.”

Tatjana hopes to inspire and encourage women who attend the conference on two levels: 1) stepping into their full potential, capacities and power; and 2) taking outward action to fulfill their visions. She hopes attendees will realize that who they are and what they have to offer is of tremendous value to our society and to the world. They’ll also get to build a community of like-minded women who deeply desire to generate a life of meaning and purpose--a support system. Finally, the conference helps women develop solid, practical business skills.

Tatjana said that the number one mistake most new female entrepreneurs make is operating from a mindset of needing to be “perfect,” which is rooted in their fear of judgement by other people. “Failures will occur, and that’s okay” Tatjana explains. “If you keep striving for perfection, you’ll never get into action. Do it, learn, and iterate as you go--that’s better than never getting started at all.” She urges women to start out by creating clarity and definition around who you are authentically so that you are not going for external-oriented ambition and success, but rather operating from a deep desire and passion within yourself. Lastly, Tatjana encourages new entrepreneurs not to let “not knowing” get in the way. Instead, view every situation and challenge as an opportunity for development and learning.  

MeiMei Fox is the published author, co-author, ghostwriter, and freelance editor of hundreds of non-fiction health, wellness, spirituality, and psychology books, articles, and blogs, including New York Times bestsellers Bend, Not Break with Ping Fu and Fortytude with Sarah Brokaw. She has edited books by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Columbia professor Robert Thurman, and was Expedition Writer for Alexandra Cousteau’s 2009 Expedition: Blue Planet. She blogs weekly for the Huffington Post, and her articles have been published in Self, Stanford magazine, MindBodyGreen, Forbes, and numerous other publications.

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