I still serve on the national advisory council. The Champion of Change award was really around people in the country, men and women, who had been doing work around encouraging entrepreneurship in a lot of different communities around the country. The Champion of Change award was really around people in the country, men and women, who had been doing work around encouraging entrepreneurship around the country.
They selected a group of us to come and be recognized for that work, and also to have a real tribe sharing. It was just such a wonderful event because in addition to the recognition and the chance to hear of some great stories, which of course, we all want to hear about how others did it and be able to tell our own stories, also having these private rooms where everyone at the table is equally committed to the same cause, and to have a chance to talk.
It was co-led by this great group, Startup America, and their work around how can we get communities to coalesce around ecosystems to help everybody collaborate and cooperate to work even more effectively. I can imagine. I love what you said about the tribe sharing. This came to roost for me. I was the founder of the organization with some other fabulous people. We were really churning some great programs and great events and really getting women out there and doing great things.
Then we started to grow to other offices and other cities. That was my invitation into this entire tribe of people like me who were working hard at the grassroots level to help women who were growing big business. That was my invitation into this entire tribe of people like me who were working hard at the grassroots level to help women who were growing big businesses.
Not a lifestyle business, but a scalable business that is technology, life sciences companies, media companies, who are really thinking big, raising venture capital. Can you amplify those other voices? Can you convene those people? Can you create much more rapid change by bringing those people to the table together?
The organization I started, what was called the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, now called Watermark , is very well known here. I also started another group called Invent Your Future , which is also quite well known and runs a conference here in the Valley. I started Springboard , which has impacted a lot of people.
I think it was the culmination of all of those things together that led to that award. Tell the listeners who may not know about Springboard, how great it is and what it is. When we first began the journey to create Springboard , it was a time in the United States where there was literally no opportunity or at least not a very visible opportunity for women to come to the stage in front of a community of investors to pitch their big business ideas. At the time, there was really only one, VentureOne was the conference. If you saw two women on the stage it was a really unique year.
Most women were doing big businesses for the first time and they were not serial entrepreneurs, like many of their male colleagues. Venture capital was, for the first time, even slightly available for women. Our thinking was, if we could create a venture conference that was for women, if there was a three to six month program prior to the event, that was actually selecting the best entrepreneurs and then putting them through a boot camp, a series of mentorship opportunities and a chance to really prep their business before they got on that stage, and then in addition, some introductions to the right people, the lawyers, the bankers, the accountants, the folks who can really help them shore up their business idea and get it ready for prime time, those women were really going to shine.
We started this here in Silicon Valley in January of The numbers are astonishing. We really have an amazing track record. The knowledge and information that they got and the connections that they got took their careers to a whole other level. How exciting. You have also written what is a big favorite of many, many people.
A great book called Ready to be a Thought Leader? Can you give us your definition of the difference between the two? Leader is someone obviously within a single organization or entity usually, who begins to make change, who begins to create a followership around an idea of doing things newly, doing things better, shipping a better product, creating a new service, whatever it might be.
They understand that by building a tribe of followers, by creating a blueprint of what they have, by convening within their industry, that they can broaden their change.
That, to me, is thought leadership. You write for many, many companies, like Fast Company and Inc.
I love your story, which I believe you said comes from your blog, Why Leaders are Great Storytellers. We remember those stories. We engage with story. I learned this for myself when I was pitching the Springboard conference, going out and talking to media and talking to funders.
When we could share the stories of iRobot and Constant Contact and ZipCar and the companies we were helping, people are very involved and engaged with those stories. They want to see how women are making a difference and the great ideas that they have. Secondly, I learned it when I was trying to create a community of people who understood how to pitch their businesses. Here we are at Springboard and we get women up to tell their story about their companies. I have to say it was a little painful sometimes. Yes, you have to have that, that is necessary, but not sufficient.
The story is what people engage with. The guy who I think really showcased this so well in the book is the guy Avinash Kaushik.
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