Lifestyle // April 8, 2015
Every year, executive business women from around the world go to great lengths to attend the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. Why? The event boast a slew of career workshops, morning workout sessions on the beach, lunch banquets and executive panels -- just to name a few of the appealing agenda items. This year the event took place on March 2nd in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the beautiful Marriott resort and spa. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a warm Florida afternoon and a gift bag filled with free products, books, and coupons.
The summit agenda was packed with awesome activities, but some of the standout sessions and keynotes included Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, Lisa Nichols, CEO and founder of Motivating the Masses, and Susan L.Taylor, Editor-In Chief of Essence Magazine.
One of many discussions that really resonated with me was the session with Judy Smith, founder and President of Smith & Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm. Judy is also known as “the real Olivia Pope,” since the show Scandal is based on her career. Judy discussed her top eight tips for managing a crisis for personal and professional matters. Here are her suggestions for how you can manage when a crisis occurs:
- Know the Facts. The real ones. Every story has multiple sides and layers. Get down to the bottom of what is actually happening.
- Trust your gut. If you have a feeling about something, even before it has happened, take measures to protect yourself and your assets. Usually, your first decision is your best.
- Tell the truth. Lying during a crisis won’t help your situation. It might even make it worse. Be honest so that you can access and recover.
- Know the landscape. Know the environment you're operating under. What's really going on?
- What's the endgame? Where do you want to end up? What do you want to happen and come out of this situation? This is important because once you know what you want, you can work towards getting there.
- Admit when you're in trouble. And the sooner the better. Once you can access the damage, you can overcome it.
- Listen to people. They could give you a different perspective on your situation and help you figure out solutions.
- Have a plan. 90% of people and companies that have a plan recover well. There are usually warning signs when trouble is afoot.
The discussion wrapped up with a Q&A from the audience, led by Judy. As she circled the packed banquet hall, her playful and fun manner was a delight to the audience. She had a great story or analogy for every encounter, and made very impressive points about how you should handle crisis situations of all proportions. And although the crowd was very intrigued with the character of “Olivia Pope,” the real Judy Smith won them all over with her wit, intelligence and charm. This was definitely one of the most beloved events at the summit.
The Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit is a unique experience for business women of color, and is surely a fun-filled and enticing event for all in attendance. For anyone planning to attend in 2016, registration usually begins in August, once the lineup is announced. It is highly suggested to bring a friend to share in the costs and the experience. Plan early, as ticket do sell out prior to the event.