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  • Keyaira Boone

7 Things I Learned At The Great Girlfriends 2019

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

Shortly after I had taken my own cliff jump, I attended my second Great Girlfriends conference. The forum is always full of wisdom, love, and support and that is exactly what I needed this weekend. Staring into a future full of possibilities has been exciting but it’s also been kind of scary and I was eager to be in the presence of women who have been there and done that. I walked out of Brooklyn’s Bond Collective with a few new tools to take with me on my journey to professional satisfaction thanks to OG Great Girlfriends Brandice Daniel and Sybil Amuti. I've gone through my pages and pages of notes and here are 7 of the top ones.

1. All Connections Are Not Created Equal

In the era of the clout chase someone being willing to snap a selfie with you might feel the same as that same someone being willing to help you but don’t be fooled. Cecilia Nelson-Hurt advised the value of having not just a network but a green network meaning a network that adds value. During a mastermind session she said if someone doesn’t return your call within 24 hours they are not “green.” That really put things into perspective.

2. You Get Out What You Put In

During the live podcast session ESSENCE’s Candace Montgomery shared the reason she never experienced the cattiness the magazine industry is known for. “I don’t participate in that,” she stated. “We’re here to create a successful work dynamic so ultimately we can create successful programs.” She and her co-worker and friend Cassandre Charles also cited being trustworthy and forthcoming as keys to their success. It made me realize that you can thrive in any environment if you’re committed to doing so.

3. You Need Power Words At Your Beck And Call

This tip floored me. I’m good with words on the page, and I’m great at advocating for people, brands, and causes in person but sometimes when I’m called to advocate for myself fear of being perceived negatively ties my tongue. KJ Rose offered me a quick and easy solution of putting together a few “power words” in the tuck so that when I’m faced with an opportunity, I can give a quick and strong statement about my skills.

4. Love and Discipline Can Exist in The Same Space

Daniel’s sister Tara Lamar talked about leading with love with her children when her child was misbehaving and as I listened to her recount her story, I wondered what would happen if I met myself and others with that same grace. She wasn’t letting her son off the hook for misbehaving, but she was beginning the process of reprimanding him with love. That’s a practice I want to keep in mind as I enter a space where I’m leading others and I'm continuing to try and lead myself.

5. Perspective Is Everything

Recently I was at an event and I was snapping photos for potential content when Ylorie Anderson from Brown Girl Marketing reminded me that it’s okay to just sit down sometimes. She was right and so was Tuwisha Rogers Sampson from Urban One and Wish Factor Consulting when she advocated for a shift in perspective. “Change your view,” she said. “Start from a place is of ‘I am enough and there is enough.’”

Reacting from a place of scarcity never ends well and since the conference I have been working overtime to ignore the abysmal reports of the financial issues hitting the digital publishing industry. I’m not going to focus on what jobs aren’t present. Instead I’m going to focus on what gigs are available because ‘I am enough and there is enough’ – Period.

6. Everyone Needs a Mentor And A Sponsor

“Will you be my mentor?” Many of my colleagues who are further along in their career get this question all the time. I’ve even started fielding this inquiry in my LinkedIn inbox since I started at ESSENCE. Not only are mentor mentee relationships supposed to unfold organically but many seeking guidance in this fashion aren’t even sure what they’re asking for.

Nelson-Hurt made it clear that a mentor and a sponsor are not one in the same. While you go to your mentor for general advice a sponsor is someone “who can speak up for you when you’re not in the room.” She suggested that every professional woman have both.

7. Your Story Is Just As Valuable As The Next Person’s

The final lesson I learned from the two miniprenuers present at the conference. Amuti’s two adorable children Sam and Dylan were there hustling their signature lemonade and iced tea concoctions. Just as sweet as their smiles it’s become something for guests to look forward to every year. Sam inspired me when he stood on the stage and told the crowd that he was grinding to get a new dirt bike.

His honesty struck me. He didn’t think to himself ‘why would anyone care that I want a dirt bike?’ ‘What makes me worthy of a dirt bike?’ or ‘why should I get a dirt bike over anyone else?’ He just told his story without qualifiers or self consciousness. It was refreshing. I think there’s power in that. How impactful could we all be with that spirit of truthfulness and boldness?

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