This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend USC's OWN IT Summit. This incredible event was hosted by dedicated students with the mission to: "...bridge the gap between female leaders and the millennials who admire them. We're shaking up the women's leadership arena by producing events accessible to college-aged women of all demographics".
This was my first time attending and I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's safe to say I was more than pleasantly surprised. The summit and all the speakers left me inspired, emotional, and motivated. It was the ideal event to begin a new semester, and the perfect way to start off a new year.
There were various speakers all with diverse stories, but I noticed they had one common denominator: they were confident in themselves to achieve success. Speaker after speaker, from Laverne Cox (actress, producer, equal rights advocate) to Maryellis Bunn (founder and creative director of the Museum of Ice Cream) described how in the beginning of their journeys they didn't know how they would grow or sometimes even what the next step would be, but they believed in themselves enough to try new things, even though the risk of failure was always present. This mentality resonated in Willow Bay's (the Dean of USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism) opening speech with her quote: "Develop the skill set and mindset to thrive in a world of constant change". What this meant to me was to be flexible–let things happen as they do and instead of trying to change what you can't, teach yourself how to adapt.
One of my favorite parts of the summit was listening to the Creative Founders Panel. The panel was composed of Karissa Bodnar, the CEO and Founder of Thrive Causemetics, Maryellis Bunn, and Tina Sharkey the CEO and Co-Founder of Brandless. These featured female CEO's all started businesses that have been revolutionary in our generation. Hearing these women talk about starting their empires was motivational, especially because of the levels of commitment for the pursued ideas.
Three pieces of advice that stuck with me while they were talking about how to deal with personal challenges while starting a business were:
- Mentally be prepared for the un-preparable.
- Don't think about where you're going, be where you are.
- Take the time to be grateful for the things you've accomplished.
These lines were important to me because although they were simple, they were necessary to hear. Especially from accomplished female CEO's, these quotes were inspiring and reminded me that sometimes the hardest questions have the easiest answers. It also reminded me that you are responsible for creating your own future and that a positive mindset goes a long way. Attending this summit was extremely beneficial and I'm lucky to have gotten this experience, especially during my college years.