12 Pearls of Wisdom from the Women Entrepreneurs Festival


joanne wilson

Be Bold! was the theme of 4th Annual Women Entrepreneurs Festival at NYU, organized by Joanne Wilson, and ITP’s Nancy Hechinger and Midori Yasuda, and attended by 250 hand-picked women entrepreneurs who had applied – and were approved – to attend. Considering the overwhelming number of applications that the committee received, it seems you had to be bold just to get a seat at the table. Or in one of the rooms where panelists covered such topics as From Leap to Launch, Getting Traction and Scaling Your Business, Raising Capital, and Business Building. It was soup to nuts, with plenty of networking throughout.

With a line-up of speakers that included Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the New America Foundation, the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and author of Why Women Still Can’t Have It All; Joanne Wilson;  Lauren Zander, Life Coach and Co-Founder and Chairman of the Handel Group®; Christine Osekoski, Publisher, FastCompany; and Geraldine Laybourne, Founder of Oxygen Media, Chairman of Alloy, and Chairman of KANDU, a start-up consumer technology company for kids – let’s just say that they had a lot to say, and a lot of wisdom to impart, so better to let them – and some of the attendees, including investors Fred Wilson and Jeanne Sullivan – speak for themselves:

 “The thing about climbing the ladder of success is that it suggests that there is only one bottom place to start and one place to end on top; let’s think instead that there are several bottoms and several tops, and it is unique and different for each of us.” Ann-Marie Slaughter

“Think of life as interval training. One third of twenty-somethings will live to 100. So you don’t want to peak at 65.” Ann-Marie Slaughter

“(As for the) flexible workplace, the problem isn’t flexibility – we have those policies in place. The problem is that if you use them, you’re stigmatized.” – Ann-Marie Slaughter

“We are likely a lot more bold than we think we are. We make bold choices that we may not see as bold. Saying no to demands that drain us without any purpose is bold. Saying yes to opportunities that challenge us is bold. Not fearing failure is a type of boldness. Starting a company is bold. Hiring your first employee is bold. Firing someone is bold. Speaking up at an event is bold. Knowing that your company needs a new leader and firing yourself is bold. Ending a relationship is bold. Showing your work in public is bold.” – Joanne Wilson

“Know who you are playing with and don’t ask for the rules to be changed for you. Know the rules. If you don’t want to follow the rules, get out of the game.  If you don’t want to play within the current rules, start a new game. That is the foundation of being an entrepreneur.” – Joanne Wilson

“Do not stop your personal life for your business. Women have been running family farms for years. The only difference between them and us is context.” – Joanne Wilson

“Make sure you invent a dream big enough for yourself. If you find yourself jealous or bored or unhappy, you probably need to dream bigger, think bigger. If you dream too small, you will eventually be unhappy.” –  Lauren Zander

“Let yourself be scare to death. Wild happiness lives on the other side of your fear.” – Lauren Zander

“Women need to know and understand the numbers. If you don’t understand the numbers, find the smartest woman or man you know and have them explain it to you. Go get that smart person and learn from them and put them at your side at the meeting.” – Jeanne Sullivan

“Investors are always going to want more proof before they invest. It is your job to figure out how to make sure they believe they are going to miss out on something big if they don’t invest now. You have to get into the psyche of the investor. They move if they think they’re going to miss out on something. Investors are always going to want more – wouldn’t you? You have to think, ‘what’s going to get them to get off the dime.’ You have to communicate that they have to pay for waiting.” – Fred Wilson

“Don’t aim for a life of balance. Strive for a wonderful life of imbalance. I have led a glorious life of being unbalanced. The only career that demands balance is a yoga instructor.” – Geraldine Layborne

“If you haven’t already encountered one, you will eventually have to deal with a bully. Bullies don’t like people who allow themselves to be bullied. Don’t ignore them. It’s really important that you deal with bullies, or it will paralyze you. ” – Geraldine Layborne


“Studies show that there are two things that women can’t do as well as men: 1) Self promotion (and if you can’t toot your own horn, too another woman’s horn), and 2) we don’t trust our own intuition.” – Geraldine Layborne

 “Women forget that having real friends in business can really help you.” – Geraldine Layborne

If you want to hear even more, the full archive is available here.

About the author: Bonnie Halper

Bonnie Halper curates the StartupOneStop.com newsletter, which focuses on startups and entrepreneurs, and is currently being read in 50+ countries around the world.

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