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Traci Morris of Homahota Consulting Attends Women Investing in Women Summit

Recently, I was invited to attend the 2nd Annual Women Investing in Women Summit in Scottsdale.  This all-day conference held on January 11th, 2014 was jam-packed with usable information and inspiration for women business owners. The Women Investing in Women organization hosts yearly summits in South Africa, Muscat and Abu Dhabi, Sweden, Singapore and New York City.  The organization’s mission to foster economic empowerment for women globally and they are structured as a branded coalition.

At the Scottsdale Summit, there wasn’t an ounce of time wasted during the day. We started with a welcome from Mayor Jim Lane of Scottsdale and moved right into a great discussion on Cross Cultural Perspectives from Women Entrepreneurs.  This particular panel was good, but I would like to have seen more discussion about how how cultural values affect being a businesswoman. During this presentation, I thought a lot about how Native American women leaders differ from Native male leaders. The panel members were both culturally diverse and age diverse.  However, none of the women on the panel really talked about being connected to their culture and how that influences doing business as a woman.  This discussion seemed to be more about the culture of women in business as opposed to being a businesswoman from a non-dominant culture.

The luncheon speaker, Sharon Lechter, really set the tone for a fast paced and informative afternoon with her talk, Think and Grow Rich for Women: Using Your Power to Create Success and Significance.  She is a noted authority on financial literacy, an author, and a public speaker.  What a dynamic speaker she is too! Her talk gave me lots to think about, a series of action steps, and set the stage for understanding of the power of women in the marketplace.

Following lunch, there was a moderated discussion titled Womenomics: Women Moving Millions and What This Means.  This particular panel included many statistics on women and their power in business and the marketplace.  Some of these facts were really surprising to me; for example they stated that women consume as much as China and India combined and therefore advertising needs to be directed towards women.  It would be helpful to know where these statistics come from.

One of the segments I related best to was on Women Entrepreneurs: From Entry to Exit.  All of the panel participants were just great.  However, I was most inspired by Debbie Gaby of Sleep America.  Her commitment to paying it forward means that she donates 25% of her income back to communities; she emphasized that you must always give back.  While all speakers during the day referenced giving back, something about Debbie Gaby’s discussion reminded me of Indian Country values.  I spoke with her afterwards and told her so; she is a very humble and personable woman.

There was another panel on being a “Mompreneur. ” One audience member noted that we shouldn’t have a panel like this unless we were having a “Dadpreneur” panel.  This ignited a short discussion on the controversies about being a mom and having it all.  I wonder how this panel will be received at some of the organization’s other Summit’s.

The final panel was on Access to Capital, Access to Skills, and Access to Networks.  This group of women included angel investors and venture capital investors.  The audience was provided with significant practical information on types of funding and how to access it.  In addition to great stories of how these women invest in other women, we took away next steps for finding funding for different types of businesses.  Directly after this segment there was also a discussion on crowdfunding and a video about How to Pitch Like a Rock Star.

I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the speakers, the moderators, and the organizers of the Women Investing in Women Summit in Scottsdale, AZ. In many ways, I was reminded of the annual Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Conference and Forum that I attend nearly every year, where I always leave rejuvenated and motivated.

The Women Investing in Women Summit was really invigorating and inspiring. I am very thankful that I was invited. At the same time, I left brain dead and realized I didn’t get enough time to network.  This conference should perhaps be a two-day conference in the future to allow for sufficient time for attendees to process the voluminous amounts of information given and to network with the amazing women in the room.

As a business owner, I had a number of takeaways. But, some of the highlights included the need for mentors and advisory boards, the importance of knowing your business’s finances, why we should define what success means for us, and how we should not be afraid to think big.  While I have a few mentors, none of them are women or consultants. I think now that I need to rectify this and I’ve got some ideas on whom to ask and I am considering forming an advisory board.  Regarding finances that comment was a no brainer, but still cannot be stressed enough.  Finally, the comment on thinking big and success really hit home with me. It seems, I have a lot of thinking and planning to do.

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