BWC Annual Forum 2019

BWC Annual Forum 2019 | construction2style

I recently attended The Business Woman’s Circle (BWC) Annual Forum and two weeks later, I’m still on a high from this year’s event.

But that’s what happens when I surround myself with 250+ incredibly brilliant and creative women right here in the Twin Cities.

And yet again, I was reminded of how many insanely smart women there are that are running massive companies right here in our back yard. And better yet, able and willing to connect and bring one another up with them to the top. That is so cool and something that I definitely take for granted! Smart people right here in our circle.

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I left the forum on a high, but also extremely exhausted. But the wheels in my mind won’t be slowing down anytime soon from this event.

This years topic was all about “connection.”

The importance of connection. The importance of being present and disconnecting.

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Not going to lie, I was a little sad when I got home and realized I hadn’t taken 100 photos like I normally do… but then also realized that was because I was trying to be in the moment…soaking in every piece of information that was given and connecting with as many of the smart ladies in the room that I could. Which is way more powerful than any picture I would have taken, that’s for sure.

But thanks to my girl Chelsie Lopez, who captured it all.

At last year’s forum, Nancy Lyon was the keynote speaker and you guys…I had seriously never laughed so hard in my life! If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, RUN as fast as you can. And also, invite me.

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She’s so dang funny and so smart. She’s also happens to be the CEO of Clockwork. I would love to be at her Thanksgiving dinner table, that’s for sure. So when I heard she was going to be the emcee for this years event, after her speech last year, I knew we were going to be in for a real good time! And yep, not one dull moment all day and the day flew on by.

Lani Basa, the owner and co-founder of The Business Women’s Circle kicked things off with the meaning and purpose of what BWC stands for and what to get out of this day. One of the cool things she told us to write down, bright and early right away, was what we wanted to get out of the day.

Was it new connections, new relationships, time away with ladies, out of the office, etc?

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I LOVED this question because one of my goals for walking into 2019 when going to any event, any conference, you name it was to have a purpose. I wanted one goal and tangible takeaway for spending valuable time going to these conferences. And I actually didn’t even think about what my takeaway was for going to this event. I knew my purpose was because I’m a part of a circle so naturally knew I wanted to be there to support and from prior experience of knowing I left feeling like a new person. BUT, I forgot to actually think about my one exact tangible takeaway for saying yes to this event.

With that question, “What do you want to get out of today,” I wrote down three takeaways that I wanted to get educated on to implement starting NOW in my personal life. And five takeaways that I was going to learn from the day to implement starting NOW at work, construction2style.

So in total, I wanted to commit to seven actionable items that were attainable and that would make me a better person and leader once I walked out of the room at the end of the day.

Before I dive into all the details on everything else, I wanted to share what my seven actionable items were, because then it’ll help you understand where my mindset went for my ‘why’ when I dive into the speakers.

  1. Aim for meeting one new person a week.
  2. On social media, start introducing people we are meeting, inspired by, intrigued with and their stories. Not about what you did or learned.
  3. Turn off all notifications.
  4. Pay attention to your twitch. Identify it and the current response to your discomfort. Write it down, and remove one twitch away per month.
  5. Take the phone off the table and put it in your purse.
  6. Any to-do that takes longer than a day, cut it in 1/2 and do 1/2 of it, that day.
  7. Just simply give yourself space between you and the car that is in front of you.
  8. Invest time in positive micro moves.
  9. Don’t listen to understand, listen to respond.
  10. Celebrate failures.
  11. Create a self-care wellness plan.

Ok, I know I said seven, but it was hard to even get it down to 11. And to be honest, when you own your own business, it’s hard to even define which ones are personal vs. professional because it’s all your entire life and it all overlaps, so I’m going with 11 life goals!

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Disconnecting to Connect | Anthony Ongaro

Anthony Ongaro creator of Break the Twitch was one of the first guest speakers to kick things off.

The Twitch: An unproductive, impulsive response to discomfort. 

Think about that for a minute. I’ve been digesting that for 2 weeks now. So GOOD.

Anthony kicked things off about talking with how we say what our values are and then what our actions actually are. Such as… Anthony gave examples from his personal life that really made me think about where we put our time and money vs. what we say we always want to do. When he moved from MN to AZ, he had this moment where he realized… when a truck broke down and he had to move all of this life belongings from one U-Haul into another after moving them from his house into a U-Haul and why did he really need this or that?

It was interesting because I’ve heard of the actions vs. values before in talks but never in this light, the way Anthony addressed it and gave these real life examples.

But he gave a few real life examples that really hit me.

He honed in on that there is this “twitch” within all of us. To click once (hello, Amazon Prime) and get the next best thing in 24 hours.

There’s this twitch that literally absorbs all of our in-between moments that actually matter. It’s not making you a bad person, it’s just not making you a present person.

When you say…you want to spend more time with your kids. or you want to go on all these family vacations that require time but you’re “so busy” there’s never enough time in the day. Yet, your finding these moments of time to spend and spend money on that don’t let you have those opportunities of time that really, as in you say, matter to you.

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“That twitch…absorbs all of our in-between moments. Those moments matter.” – Anthony Ongaro

Wow. That hit me so hard. Because up until this time, I thought all of those twitches didn’t compromise my values.

But they actually do.

What I say and preach is, “family comes first.” But, does it? Even though we’re just sitting at home, chilling, watching a movie or a show winding down for bed and instead of being present with my kids, my twitch of checking those last minute emails or seeing a commercial on the TV and then I’m off to Google…all those twitches and moments gone, that’s not making me present. And even though it might not feel like it at the time, those in-between moments matter. And moments, we’ll never get back.

I guess I just always thought, if I’m physically with my kids, I’m present in the moment. And when they’re busy playing with one-another or watching their kid movies, they’ll never notice that I’m checking my emails. Right?


Anthony also chatted about his foundation for minimalism, which was another wake up call. He said…for some, minimalism  isn’t about living with less stuff all the time it’s…

“Minimalism is about giving yourself space between you and the car in front of you so you have enough time to adapt and relax.” – Anthony Ongaro

He brought up a couple of different pictures, one with a perfectly white couch and a perfect rug. And another with a fast car with a lot of noise on the sides but enough distance in-between each car. I definitely related to the latter of the pictures. And in this was the best analogy I’ve hear in a long time.

It’s ok to live that lifestyle and there’s a way to live that within being present.

Another goal of mine for 2019 was to stop using the word, “busy.” And honestly, although our business is good and we’re busier than ever, I actually feel like I can breath again. But I can’t tell you how many times family or friends say, “you guys are so busy!” “I didn’t want to plan this or that or invite you because you guys are so busy all the time.”

And for the first year ever, I don’t feel busy because I’m using my best yes. Yes, work is great but our personal relationships and connections are what mean the most to us, regardless of how much time we do or don’t have, we have the time for those people and more than enough of it.

So this quote, Anthony educated us on… giving yourself space between you and the car in front of you so you have enough time to adapt and relax is killer.

Really think about this. Not in a car way, but life way. Giving yourself space between you and the car in front of you so you have enough time to adapt and relax.

So good.

That means enough time to do things with the people that refill your cup, enough time to learn from those that life you up.

So that when that turbulence comes, you have enough time, fuel, and energy to know exactly what to do or who to turn to.

Connecting with your Community | Katie Steller

Katie Steller is the owner of Steller Hair Company. Katie has been in my circle of people for a long time, but not directly. I’ve heard about this gem through a lot of people, our worlds are intertwined. A lot of my favorite people saying, “you need to meet Katie Steller.”

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I’ve even been in the same room as her a handful of times…yet have never made an actual real connection. Becuase there are too many people in the room and we’re probably both like, whatever.

Isn’t that funny that today’s topic was all about connection?

And I was blown away by listening to Katie talk all about community and connecting with humans. She had me laughing and then in tears.

She actually looked up the definition of community and the definition wasn’t what she perceives as community, so she started off her presentation with what community is to her and defined it.

How she defined community was exactly how I’ve always perceived it myself.

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Community is the acceptance of humanity.

Community is seeing a person of value.

Community isn’t community without connection.

Community is seeing the person right in front of you.

Community is being involved and making a small difference, it’s about making a change for the good. 

“If we want to see macro changes, it needs to start with the micro movements and the person sitting right in front of you.” – Katie Steller 

Why Connections at Work Matter | Hannah Ubl

Hannah Ubl is the Co-Founder of Good Company Consulting.

I actually heard Hannah speak at the first conference for BWC, three years ago and was blown away! I remember thinking, I want to be her.

She was hilarious, cute, so knowledgable and didn’t even have to look at notes while she presented.

Fascinating. And that is talent, people!

For the last decade, Hannah has been frequenting airports and conference rooms to present, educate, and forge understanding across different perspectives in the workplace. She’s a data nerd that loves numbers and stats, but understands that the real heros in any business or organization are real people.

As a co-founder of Good Company, her core mission is to help companies maximize those very valuable people by building workplaces that don’t suck. Utilizing research and her years of listening to people in every level of the organization about what actually matters, she presents communication tactics and action-orientated tools to inform people-risers, culture, and strategy. And although this might sound like a touchy-feely fluff, these insights directly correlate to higher retention rates and improved employee satisfaction.

Some of the favorite things she said during her presentation that I jotted down were….

“Connection is a super power! It makes people feel smarter, happier, and more productive.”

“When you ask for support you allow others to experience the happiness of giving.”

“When meeting new people take the focus off you and put it on them. Makes meeting new people easier.”

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This girl inspired me over the last three years and after this conference, I’m going to be tenacious and ask her on a date. Haha! Because I need this super-woman in my life!

She also gave other tips such as…

  • No one should work from home more than 2.5 days a week. It’s not healthy for your mental health.
  • Don’t forget there is a human on the other side of all emails.
  • Ghosting is a thing in the business world, not just dating apps. Don’t be that person.
  • We need to shift from productivity > people to people > productivity.
  • Invest time in positive micro-moves. It’ll build trust, community, and relationships. And lead to massive macro-moves.
  • Ask follow up questions to form deep connections instead of surface level.
  • Don’t listen to understand. Listen to Respond.
  • Celebrate Failures. Because those are the ultimate victory that creates change!

Boom. Isn’t Hannah great?!

Each of these topics I have now jotted down pages and pages of actions to take from the thoughts they provoked and conversations I’ve now had. To be continued for sure…

Panel – Building your Business through Connections

Next up was the panel which included Sarah Bellamy whom is an Artistic Director of Penumbra Theatre, Nausheena Hussain whom is the Founder and Executive Director of Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE), Kate O’Hara who is the CEO and Creative Director at Martha O’Hara Interiors, Annie Scott Riley who is the Editorial Director at Aveda, and was led by my favorite, Nancy Lyons, CEO of Clockwork.

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As all panels go, I love them! And there’s loads of information to take away. These ladies, yet again, shared so much knowledge.

Sarah Bellamy recently co-directed “For Colored Girls,” and has designed several programs that engage people in critical thinking, dialogue, and action around issues of race and social justice. As you all know, with Noah and his fellow inmates stories, she got my wheels turning.

One of my favorite things Sarah touched on was self-care. And to be honest…I keep hearing the same things about self-care and mental health. While I know they are important, Sarah breathed new life into this topic for me.

Self-Care: Do you have a wellness plan? Same as a business plan, but something written out to give you the okay to chill, re-energize, get your yearly annuals, dental, life insurance, massage, or maybe it’s just one hour a day watching Netflix. Regardless of what it is, you need to have a wellness plan to avoid burnout. 

That really hit home to me, because although Jamie and I have our financial agent to keep us in check, we don’t have a self-care plan to say it’s okay…to get that pedicure, go on that golf trip…because usually we have our head down getting client work done and feel guilty for anything that relates to ourselves.

Nausheena Hussain, founder of RISE, was another one who blew me away with the words she had to say! The biggest thing I jotted down in my notebook was…

“Own your own story. And share that story. Because it’ll lead you to really cool things, far past your wildest dreams.” 

Nausheena talked a lot about all the cool things she’s doing within RISE in Minnesota, and this woman is one that you want to know. She’s from Minnesota…so don’t ask her where she is from. She’s from here, haha! She made that joke, and we all started laughing and I quickly realized that it’s not that funny. She talks just like me, acts like me, and is doing incredibly insanely more powerful things than me. To better not only MN but our country. Just becuase her religious belief, she covers, doesn’t make her different than us covering other body part things.

The Power of Connections | Megan Tamte

Ending the speakers was Megan Tamte, who is the co-founder and CEO of EVEREVE.

I have always loved Megan and EVEREVE, which is a contemporary women’s fashion brand with retail stores natrionwide. They also have a subscription based styling box called, Trendsend.

One of the first cool things I learned through Megan is that she has engraved hearts on the floor before you walk in their doors. She wants her employees and everyone that comes into her stores to be at heart.

Think, shop, work, have an open heart. And live your life “with heart.”

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Megan founded EVEREVE with her husband, Mike, and together they have built the company into a $125 Million business. Prior to EVEREVE, Megan was a third-grade teacher turned stay-at-home mom with a love of fashion and entrepreneurship. In 2004, Megan and Mike opened their first store in Minnesota.

She shared her first steps going to L.A., and how everyone basically shut the door on her.

I couldn’t help to laugh becuase I was that girl running one of those wholesale show rooms in the fashion district of L.A. four years later…although I never shut a door on on person (that’s the Minnesota in me), I remember my boss telling me to do so. Haha!

Her entire story hit so close to home to me, coming from a fashion merchandising background, it made me kind of miss that energy and lifestyle.

But hey, I’m only 33. Maybe I’ll get back into the fashion industry. 😉

Some of my favorite take-aways from Megan were:

  • What are your heart values?
  • Connection needs to be aligned with your heart values.
  • Connection fuels joy and joy results in sales.
  • When hiring, look at humility. You and your team need to know when to laugh at yourself. Ask that question in an interview. Are they capable of that? Because we all make mistakes, and can’t be hung up on that to think fast and move forward.
  • Always make a bold connection and surrender to the outcome. When we seek to that takes tenacity.

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This conference ended with happy hour and also shopping, and connecting. And of course, brought in the best people that have products. But I’ll be honest, after a full day of conferences, I was checked out. While I didn’t buy, I did connect. One connection led to Thumbs Cookies hiring my aunt and multiple others being now client gifts. If that doesn’t sum um connection, the topic of the entire conference, also… without trying… I don’t know what does.

Hope to see you at next years conference!

And by the way, you don’t have to be a member to attend. It’s welcome to ALL.



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