Professional Women’s Power Breakfast: Good food and good insights

Through a connection I made through Leadership Orlando (if you haven’t heard of that, click here) I was invited to attend Ernst & Young’s Professional Women’s Power Breakfast where I learned from four interesting and inspiring women on their ideas about success and how they have helped get to where they felt they were successful.  It was at the Westin on Universal Blvd and the catering didn’t disappoint with warm breakfast treats and the most excellent bacon.

The panelists and their definition of success:

-Ann Blakeslee, the Deputy District Administrator/Comptroller of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.  She felt that celebrating the little successes added up to being successful.  She also just said, “show up.”

-Nancy Hennessey, a Senior Vice President of Wyndham Vacation Ownership, was a hilarious woman who reminded us that when we are young we may define ourselves as happy by the trappings of wealth or with how we compare to others.  She said we have to learn to define happiness and success as when it is “a perfect fit for me.”  Because everyone’s standards are so different, no one should ever compare.  We should be happy for others if they are happy and successful, but trying to emulate what they do in order to feel like we are successful is not the way.

-Donna Orender, the CEO of Orender Unlimited, said to always focus on the internal definition of happiness and it will naturally project out.  If you focus on only showcasing your happiness, are you really happy?

-Kathy Panter, the President of Junior Achievement of Central Florida, also said that wisdom comes from age and for her success means accepting who she is by being authentic, doing the best she can do, and being happy with that.

Additional insights

One of the questions from the audience was about finding a mentor.  Ann said you can find mentors by looking toward people who you admire for their behavior, and learn from them.  Donna reminded us that sometimes learning from others means that you may also learn what not to do.  I can relate to that one!

Of course, I then asked what books they would recommend or that they loved that helped them become successful.  It was interesting that some said they don’t have time to read (that makes me sad), but Donna gave lots of great nuggets that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into:

-Anything from Daniel Pink, but especially To Sell is Human.  I read A Whole New Mind, based on Simon T. Bailey’s original recommendation, and really liked it (read my review of it here), so this one is now on my list.

-Anything from Malcolm Gladwell.  I’ve read Outliers, but I’ve been told Blink is great, so that’s on the list.

-Lean In by Cheryl Sandberg.  Read my reviews here and here.

-TED Talks! Most specifically the one called “The Why.” It’s not what you do or how you do it, it’s why.  Still trying to figure out which one of the TED Talks it is though.  Just tweeted Donna.  Will hopefully update soon.

-Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

-An article by Mark Manson called “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose.”  The first question is “What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich and does it come with an olive?”  It’s a fourteen minute read and it’s on my to do list.


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