Female empowerment - an elusive and sometimes difficult concept, is Julia Pimsleur's life's work.
Having penned her award-winning business book Million Dollar Women last year, she now hopes to take the success and message of the powerful book further by holding a Million Dollar Women Summit in two weeks. Because the book's focus was to encourage and school women on how to take their businesses to the million dollar mark. Pimsleur is keenly aware of the lack of female representation in the upper echelons of business. To wit, she is laser-focused on helping to close the gap in this sense by coaching the aspirational entrepreneurs of today.
Pimsleur's summit marks a departure from typical conferences where attendees are preached to rather than engaged with. Keynotes from peers, mentoring sessions and face time with a plethora of executive talent will allow an opportunity not only for networking, but for brand enhancement, quality advice and a level of establishment one can only derive from being immersed in an exclusive event such as this.
What drove you to put the summit together?
You know that quote, "Do the one thing that scares you?"
I wrote Million Dollar Women because as an entrepreneur I was mad about two statistics: only 3 percent of all women entrepreneurs get to one million in revenues (meanwhile, it's 6 percent of men) and only 4 percent of venture capital is invested in female-led companies.
Now I am on a mission to help one million women get to one million in revenues by 2020.
After my book Million Dollar Women was published I started coaching women from all over the country on how to scale up their businesses in my Million Dollar Women Masterclass. They loved being in this online community but then they started asking "when are we going to meet in person?" I really had no plans for a summit at the time but it felt like these were signs that it needed to happen and was the next important step in the Million Dollar Women movement. But I was also terrified! I had never raised corporate sponsorship dollars, I have never organized an event for 150 people and I knew I'd need to call in pretty much every favor-which I have. The summit is going to be a game changer for the women who attend, as it includes coaching, interactive workshops, and a pitch competition.
What can budding female entrepreneurs expect to gain from the summit?
The summit is designed to help women fill in their knowledge gaps so they can accelerate their businesses more quickly. We survey all of our attendees and ask them what they need to learn. Then, we put them in interactive workshops on those topics with top-rated teachers.
We also match each attendee with a female founder coach in their same industry who has "been there, done that" and can provide lessons learned and contacts.
We end the day with a pitch competition, in which five attendees will present their companies to five judges (who would typically take months to get in front of), and one will walk away with a $50,000 investment and additional prizes.
Tell us a little about some of the event speakers.
The Muse's CEO Kathryn Minshew, who has spoken at MIT and Harvard, will serve as a keynote speaker, and will deliver a talk called "Breaking Down Barriers And Scaling Up". Alpana Singh, a restaurateur and Grand Master Sommelier, will join her as a keynote speaker delivering a talk on "Big Wine, Big Business". Other event speakers and panelists include Kim Kaupe and Brittany Hodak, co-founders of ZinePak; Chole + Isabel's CEO Chantel Waterbury, and Desert Jet founder Denise Wilson. Additionally, there will be a mentor from across a variety of industries to cater to all attendee questions.
What will the Pitch element add to the summit?
I go to a lot of women's festivals and conferences where people tell their success stories of fundraising or bemoan the lack of funding.
We decided to do neither and instead use that time to create an opportunity for five women to pitch in a relatively friendly and supportive environment and walk away funded.
I am passionate about seeing more women raise capital and scale up their businesses, so I am especially excited about this part of the summit.
Why, in your opinion are women so far behind in terms of becoming large-scale entrepreneurial success stories?
We have been starting companies at nearly twice the rate that men have over the last two decades but we are not yet "going big" in large numbers. This needs to change. Women really just need three things to get to the million dollar mark and beyond: the right mindset, skill set and network.
Why did you choose Microsoft as the summit HQ?
We are thrilled to be holding the summit at Microsoft, as they are such a friend to small businesses and to women entrepreneurs specifically. We have a deep partnership with them as they are true champions of female founders.
Will this become an annual event, and will there be summits in other cities?
The Million Dollar Women summit will be an annual event and we are in conversations with partners in other cities. For this, stay tuned!
What are you looking forward to most about the summit?
I am most looking forward to seeing the faces of the 150 women, knowing this will be a game changer for so many of their businesses. I wish I could have attended something like this when I was scaling up my business, Little Pim. I am also excited to celebrate the summit with the Justice League, my incredible advisory council, who conceived and executed the event with me and are a class A group of Superheroes!
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.