My friend and colleague, Lena West, added me to her distinguished guest list for an excellent event held yesterday at the Hearst Building in NYC entitled Empowering Women in Business. There was an hour of networking in the magnificent atrium there. It was pointed out to us that William Randolph Hearst had acquired the flyover space when he planned his purchase of land on Eighth Avenue. There’s a blending of the old and the new that gives a lift to anyone who walks into the space and rides the long escalators to the level where our meeting was held.
The crowd of a hundred plus women entered the auditorium once the panelists had been seated. The moderator, Kate Kelly Smith, of the Hearst Design Group led the inspiring conversation. She set the tone and relaxed the assembled by modeling the stunning coat she was wearing designed by Dipali Goenka’s company Welspun. And also by introducing her own daughter, Isabel, who was sitting in the front row. Ms. Goenka told us that “when you educate a woman, you feed a family.” Her company is involved in helping her employees in India have a better lifestyle by “weaving the threads of life…creating a long term holistic plan and social fabric.”
In addition Welspun’s presence, Rachel Doriss, the Design Director of Pollack (no relation and a different spelling) was also on the panel. I loved her advice to the audience. She’s a living example: “Do what you love!” She’d been interested in fabric from the time she was a child. Her first job in the industry was designing theme sweaters! Now she travels the world designing collections for this highly regarded textile firm.
Gabby Etrog Cohen of SoulCycle completed the illustrious panel and shared her journey and viewpoint on success.
I’ll summarize some of the highlights that Kate Kelly Smith extracted from these accomplished women:
Their values – Culture, Innovation, Gender Diversity, Inclusiveness, Saying “YES”, Saying “Thank you!”, Getting Dirty (picking up garbage, if necessary), Creativity, Collaboration
Tips on balance – “It’s not!” (to applause), Fresh Direct, making use of the village you have, build in windows of joy
Advice to women with under 5 years in business: Guts! Never give up. Be yourself.
I’m selective about what events to attend. I congratulated myself on recognizing the value this would have and did. Lena did an amazing job of creating this.