The ABCCs of Women in Business with Arianna, Bradley, Chenoweth and Colby-Campbell

8000 women at the Massachusetts Conference for Women luncheon...I may not had the inner circle seats, but got the messages loud and clear
8000 women attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women

Yesterday I had lunch (in person) with Arianna Huffington, Barbara Bradley Baekgaard (founder, Vera Bradley) and Kristin Chenoweth as the guest of Lets Make You Shine/Partner Promotions at the Massachusetts Conference for Women #masswomen. Quite the little power luncheon – just me and 8,000 attendees – several binders full of brilliant women, as someone said. I can guess they were super stoked to learn a little from me, too, that’s the thing about reciprocity in the business world – we all have something to share.

Arianna Huffington and little man
Arianna Huffington and little man

Arianna Huffington –  what did I learn from her – that sleep is important. I know she directed this message specifically at me as she zeroed in on my dull skin, circled eyes and multiple urgent stretches to reach the coffee pot in the darkened room. I had in fact pulled an all-nighter (save two hours) to get enough work done to allow myself the privilege of attending the conference. My new pal, A, says it isn’t a badge of courage, or even efficient to deprive oneself of sleep, and so I took an oath to get to bed at a reasonable hour to test this theory. Will I get more done in the morning? Stay tuned, I’d like to have the rabbit area cleaned up, this blog written and meeting notes from a conference call transcribed before 8am without resorting to an alarm clock. She shared a lot more, of course, but when you’re as called to the carpet as I was with that platform, I’m sure she’d want me to focus on that one element of a better life, for now.

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard founded Vera Bradley http://www.verabradley.com/ along with a friend of hers many years ago. In fact, they started the company long enough ago that each had to ask her husband to literally loan her $250 to fund the company. It was a time when women did not control the purse strings and when regardless of her day’s activities a woman was expected to have dinner on the table for her man at 6pm. May I say, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Vera Bradley, Inc., named for Barbara’s mom (a nice tribute) now employs 2700 people, including a few who share responsibilities for the well funded “Happy Committee”. The Happy Committee is responsible each year for keeping the company atmosphere fun. Just as Arianna did, B3 singled me out for a personal message. Do you know that at VB they have a corporate mandate to only hire nice people, and, that that increases productivity and reduces employee turnover? The concept of “Nice” has come up for debate in my own mind as I struggle to retain my “Play Nice” philosophy when it seems some in business don’t always play by the same game manual. I started to doubt whether BIG success is possible or whether one must limit one’s definition of success if “Staying Nice and Playing Nice” in business is a priority. In my own company, I recently had a couple of wins I can attribute to playing nice, so I am beginning to accept the possibility that success on all levels may exist for those cursed with a desire to be nice. So Barbara I thank you for reinforcing the message that “Nice Does Not Mean Gullible”, just when I needed to hear it.

Kristin Chenoweth sings
Kristin Chenoweth sings

Chenoweth, Kristin – I always get a kick out of the roles Kristin takes (Pushing Daisies {an under appreciated program if there ever was one}, Glee, The West Wing, come on… that’s some great stuff) and without getting all stalker-like, I’ve followed her career, in part because she is, of all crazy things, a Christian in Hollywood. It’s hard to believe sometimes as the latest scandal or melt down scars the covers of those magazines that I swear I read only in the privacy of my hair stylist’s station, that those two things can exist side by side. Plus Kristin is an animal advocate, and as a lover of the trilogy of 10lb terror (3 house rabbits, one now topping the scales at 13lbs) and a guinea pig foster caretaker for the MSPCA, I think people who care for animals are more highly evolved than others, and so I was most excited to meet Kristin in person. Kristin talked about the need to “s…l…o…w      d…o…w…n   so you can hear the voice inside that is trying to guide you. Without getting all in-your-face, hellfire-for-naysayers Christian, she calmly said that for her that voice is God and left it at that. I liked her.

No, I thank you!
No, I thank you!

Now here’s the interesting thing…my sister, also at the conference, stepped in briefly to the presentation. She heard Kristin say she was met by star struck young fans who gushed that they were inspired by her, and that she was in return inspired by them. My sister (who I admire greatly) left thinking this was way too smarmy and practiced. She missed the most important second half of that sentence. Kristin said in effect, she is inspired by them and all fans to be a better person because “oh crap, if they’re looking to me for inspiration, I have to up my personal ante to be worthy of the admiration”. Now that sounds like a reasonable response and not smarmy at all, at least to me and I understand it completely as I try to come up with my contribution to the Conference. Oh, crap!

Colby-Campbell, Alison – Here is my contribution – I am very adept at conceptualizing charities and fundraising opportunities. And so I’ve decided that if any high school student would like to develop a charity for a heartfelt cause, I will provide 3 simple ideas to match their heart’s passion, and provide a brief guideline for how to begin making the charity or fundraiser a reality. All they have to do is contact me at AlisonsBrain4Rent@gmail.com and put in the subject line –For the Betterment of the World. They must include the name and address of their high school along with the email address of their guidance counselor or principal (who will receive a copy of my response) and tell me what or who they think needs fixing or help, in their town, school or the world. It is then up to the student to go out and get it done. When I graduated from high school, I wrote a line in my bio that stated I wanted “to do something for the betterment of the world”, I recently added that into my LinkedIn bio   http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=18043580&trk=tab_pro , and after being inspired by the many women (and a few men) and the good deeds being done by the conference attendees, I think this plays to my strength and my passion to leave the world better for my having been here while cultivating the same desire among students. How’s that for smarmy!

Lets Make You Shine Partner Promotions Robin Samora
Lets Make You Shine Partner Promotions Robin Samora and friends

Thank you, Robin Samora, for providing me with the opportunity to attend the conference. I was thrilled to see so many ambitious women entrepreneurs approaching your booth to set up appointments for consultations to “Get Press Without Stress”. If any entrepreneurs would like to learn more about Let’s Make You Shine click here: http://www.letsmakeyoushine.com/

 ©2012 by Alison Colby-Campbell

5 thoughts on “The ABCCs of Women in Business with Arianna, Bradley, Chenoweth and Colby-Campbell”

  1. Hey Alison. Really wonderfully written post. Just the right amount of smart and quirky. Love that combination. And nice too. That idea of nice = gullible–boy can I relate. Thanks for the thought-provoking post. Hope all is well underway for Christmas! Ann


  2. Ann thank you so much for your comment. I am no where near ready for Christmas, and that means I am right on schedule. Still trying to get the rabbits to play nice and sit together for one photo…but since new dude is a bitey giant and we’ve already had one emergency vet run, I think PhotoShop is the only way to go, esp. since the bonding sessions stopped while Bullwinkle heals. Think I could figure out PhotoShop in an hour? Merry Christmas to you and yours..


  3. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all folks you actually understand what you’re speaking approximately! Bookmarked. Please also visit my website =). We could have a hyperlink alternate agreement among us!


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