This time last week, I had the distinct honor of keynoting at the Tampa Bay Chamber’s 17 TH Annual Women of Influence Luncheon, where I spoke to a captive audience of over 600 leaders on “Cultivating Cultures of Inclusion and High Performance”. To say that this event was amazing would have been an understatement. It was a high-energy, electric day filled with leaders, both men, and women, who are pushing the envelope on leadership development, trailblazing for change in workplace culture, and empowering the next generation of leaders to do the same. This year’s record-breaking, sold-out event saw CEOs, elected officials, board members, project managers, doctors, and leaders from every industry mingling, connecting, and uplifting one another in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I shared my personal story and my professional journey through the jungle of corporate America where I faced discrimination and setbacks as a woman, a woman of color, and a single mother. Throughout my 30 year career, I experienced toxic cultures, bad bosses, systemic -isms, and everything in between. Many of those moments diminished my self-worth, self-confidence, identity, value, and life vision—I wanted more and knew I was destined for more but had so many “what if’s” weighing me down. It wasn’t until I took my life, career, and destiny in my own hands and begin living beyond my what if’s that I saw my life change for the better. Many of the women at the luncheon could not only relate but felt relieved that there was a way forward.
My keynote was a personal career testimony and a strategic session for all 600 leaders on how we can improve ourselves, which will in turn, improve our organizations. First, I gave tips on how to get beyond your personal “what ifs” to live the best version of your life. Second, I provided practical strategies for how organizations can foster cultures of belonging, inclusion, and acceptance so that all talent can thrive and operate at their greatest potential. Lastly, I challenged every attendee to spring into action by identifying 1-2 key actions they will commit to take over the next 90 days to cultivate a culture of inclusion in their organization.
Overall, I felt blessed. I felt energized. I felt fulfilled. Walking in my purpose and leaving the doors and
windows open for others to walk behind me is the true meaning of life to me. This year’s Women of
Influence Luncheon was a personal highlight and an event I hope to make an annual staple. Thank you
again to the phenomenal ladies of The Chamber who coordinated this luncheon and worked seamlessly with my team to ensure that my message, my passion, and my work was handled with care.