You can feel the excitement when a group of extraordinary entrepreneurial women gathers to share ideas, learn new business techniques and devour the success stories of other exceptional women. The enthusiasm of nearly 500 attendees filled the atmosphere at the 2007 Women in Charge conference hosted by Entrepreneur and OPEN from American Express.
The day began with a rousing address from Kim Kiyosaki, author of Rich Woman, who spoke about the power women gain when they take control of their financial lives. She discussed learning from her early missteps and urged women to make mistakes in their businesses--to try something that's never been done before, and if they fail, learn from it and move forward. "Make a lot of mistakes," said Kiyosaki. "Just make them faster."
Kiyosaki's declaration that "the world would be a much better place if there were more rich women" earned boisterous cheers from attendees, who then eagerly rushed to the breakout seminars. Some learned from eBay expert Janelle Elms how to start an eBay business. Marketing expert Catherine Seda taught a session on how to create an online PR campaign and a session on search engine marketing. Rosalind Resnick, a financial guru and successful entrepreneur herself, shared wisdom about sources of funding. In addition to the sessions by these three Entrepreneur columnists, e-mail marketing expert Gail F. Goodman trained entrepreneurs to construct high-quality e-mail marketing messages. Aspiring entrepreneurs learned from Michelle Anton, author of Weekend Entrepreneur, how to build businesses from home in their spare time. Networking expert Jennifer Kushell taught a session on working your network. Kushell's website, www.ysn.com, now has a Women in Charge group where entrepreneurial women can get advice and support.
During lunch, the ballroom was abuzz as friendships and business relationships formed. "OPEN from American Express is committed to programs and initiatives like Entrepreneur magazine's Women in Charge conference that empower women entrepreneurs with inspiration and resources to help propel their businesses to substantial growth," says Gina Taylor, vice president of OPEN.
Anticipation filled the ballroom as Taylor announced the highlight of the day: the presentation of the Woman of the Year Award to Maureen Kelly (left), founder and CEO of Tarte Cosmetics. Kelly took the stage and shared the story of her exhilarating journey from launching her cosmetics company in her one-bedroom New York City apartment to breaking $15 million in revenue last year. Receiving the award in front of her peers "was amazing," says Kelly, 34, "because just over six years ago, I was sitting where those women were sitting." Inspiring and relatable, Kelly's speech had the women in the audience laughing and nodding in approval--especially when she spoke of learning to delegate as her company grew and balancing her work life with her home life as a new mom. She credited her talented staff for her company's success and encouraged entrepreneurs to retain great employees by keeping them happy.
Afterward, Kelly was able to talk one-on-one with many attendees. "As women, we need to give each other a hand and a boost," she says. "We're a sisterhood."