10 Takeaways from the 10th Annual Women’s Leadership Forum

The 10th anniversary of The Ad Club's Women's Leadership Forum celebrates strong women making an impact throughout Boston, across the nation, and around the world.

The Ad Club Women’s Leadership Forum is a celebration of inspiring, accomplished Boston women. This year’s event marked a decade of recognizing these exceptional people. So, with appropriate symmetry, here are ten take-aways from the 10th Annual Women's Leadership Forum… in no particular order.

1. Be authentic.

Some presenters spoke to it. They all embodied it. You are who you are. Embrace it. Each speaker shined as an individual. There was no uniform. No formula. They all looked comfortable in their own skin. And that’s powerful.

2. Take a manly approach to job hunting.

Globe columnist Meredith Goldstein shared a truth that holds women back. Men often apply for jobs for which they are only partially qualified, while women believe they must check off every box. Cut that out! If you feel you can make a significant contribution from day one and learn the rest, go for it.

3. The best stories have a moral.

The Forum speakers succeeded when their stories added up to something everyone could identify with. With such an accomplished cast, it could have been a brag fest. Instead it was informative and relatable…. something it keep in mind in whether you’re delivering a speech or posting on social media.

4. Speak up and out.

When Monalisa Smith, winner of the event’s Admiration Award, lost her nephew to urban violence, she chose to turn her grief into action. She left a successful corporate career to start Mothers for Justice and Equality, a non-profit that aims to end violence in Boston’s neighborhoods. Her willingness to speak out and help others do the same is inspiring. I urge you to learn more and donate.

5. Podiums are fine. (So are notes.)

Blame it on Steve Jobs – speakers feel they must roam the stage. Sure, delivering your talk untethered and memorized is impressive, but it’s not for everyone. Several Forum speakers stood at a podium with notes, just like a commencement speech, and it was fine. Just make sure the content is well-paced, the delivery is lively, and make eye contact with the audience.

6. It might be time to reevaluate your LinkedIn profile photo.

Boston Magazine had an activation offering a new headshot taken by one of their skilled photographers. The waiting line was massive. It got me thinking about the many low-quality pictures on LinkedIn. If you’ve cropped a head and shoulders shot out of a group picture taken at your friend’s wedding, please consider something more professional. It’s really worth it.

7. The music industry is still a boys’ club.

Singer-songwriter Niia shared some depressing facts. Of the 600 songs from Billboard’s Hot 100 (released 2012 – 2017), only 22% were by female artists and only 12% had female songwriting credits. Male producers outnumber female producers 49:1. Grammy nominees in the last 5 years? Only 9.3% were female. So, support your musical daughters, women on the local music scene, and even the female superstars. We need them.

8. The National Women’s Hockey League matters.

US Women’s Olympic Hockey team members Haley Skarupa and Kali Flanagan brought their stories (and gold medals) to the stage. They are amazing athletes and role models, with few options for a continuing sports career. The NMHL is the first professional women’s hockey league in North America to pay its players. Give them some love. While you’re at it, check out the WNBA and NWSL, because basketball and soccer players are cool too.

9. We need to get out more.

The Forum was a great reminder that there are loads of interesting ideas, people, and experiences we’ll never encounter if we don’t leave the office once in a while. Make it a point to attend at least one event a year.

10. Marian Heard should be invited to everything.

Marian Heard is a CEO, author, community leader, sought-after corporate board member, and grandmother. She is also brilliant, irreverent, funny, and sage. Everyone at the Forum, from the boomers to the millennials, was talking about her. Seriously, if you have a chance to see or hire Marian, grab it.

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Angel Micarelli

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