On May 9, 200 women leaders gathered at the Forbes Women’s Summit. This wasn’t a conference about advancing women. It was a conference about women advancing the world, and in doing so, redefining the rules of power. With video appearances from Oprah Winfrey and Sheryl Sandberg and live discussions with Janet Napolitano; designers Donna Karan and Tory Burch; Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE; and Ellen Kullman, CEO of Dupont, among others, we heard stories of how women are redefining power.
10 ways women are redefining power
For women, power lies less in hierarchy and more in the ability to affect change. It lies less in the money and resources we have, and more in our resourcefulness and ability to mobilize others. Here are just some of the stories that most resonated for me during the Forbes Women’s Summit. Power is:
- Connecting with purpose. Imagine being a prosecutor in the state of New York. You have an “Aha” moment where you realize that you are responsible for putting many women criminals in jail who are themselves victims of lack of opportunity. Joi Gordon left her job and joined Dress for Success.
Conference panels can be dull and perfunctory, with everyone sticking to the script. At their worst, they can turn into lectures from on high. There was some of that at last week’s Milken Institute Global Conference, but there were many more genuine moments of clarity, insight and persuasive argument.
Many of the Global Conference’s panels are about solving problems — in areas including finance, health care and research, education, technology — and the policy implications that come with them. The panelists each have strong opinions about what to do, and so does most of the audience, for that matter. Making your point, then, is not just about facts but also about presentation and storytelling.
Here are a few lessons I witnessed:
Be prepared for your big idea — and be prepared to expand on it. Most of the panels at Milken are focused so there’s little excuse for seeming unprepared, unengaged or without ideas. (read more…)
“God bless entrepreneurs! They built our nation and will continue to keep us strong!”
AOL founder Steve Case has not lost confidence in American entrepreneurialism and its ability to access capital and then succeed. Other panelists at Tuesday’s “Fueling American Entrepreneurship” session at the Milken Institute Global Conference were more reserved, but if there were a one-sentence theme, it might have been, “How can we get to where we need to be?”
And where do entrepreneurs need to be? As Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said, “What America has to be for entrepreneurs is what Canada is for hockey. … If you’re born in Canada and you’re a gifted hockey player, you will be found.” Similarly, he said, talented entrepreneurs with smart ideas in the U.S. must be able to be found and financed.
Financing has been an uncertain proposition for years now, panelists said, but entrepreneurs and small businesses can have particular trouble finding capital, whether as loans, venture capital or seed and angel funding. (read more…)
New ways of hiring, training and retaining talent. Embracing employee autonomy, feedback and empowerment. Changing the very structures of work and HR.
These are usually the ideas of futurists, outsiders or authors — think Daniel Pink’s book “Drive.” But on Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference, these ideas were championed by executives from companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Sanofi and FedEx Express.
Panelists at “The Global Competition for Talent” argued that, regardless of country or industry, much of the old thinking and regulation about hiring, developing and promoting talent should change — and already is.
Some of the panelists benefited long ago from the ideas discussed. Jim Cochran, JPMorgan Chase’s chief of global recruiting, attributed his rise through 20-plus years at the company to “internal mobility.” At FedEx Express, Bob Bennett started as an engineer and moved about, eventually becoming chief learning officer and HR chief. He’s spent 34 years at a company that is not yet 42 years old. (read more…)