Summit 2023 Takeaways

Summit 2023 was a blast! From big reveals (You Are NextUp! Barbie!), to deep insights from our speakers, to a double-encore dance party, we know there was a lot to take in. Read on for some key takeaways from all our major conference sessions!


2:10 pm – 2:40 pm CT

You’ve Got This!

Laurie Hernandez
Olympic Champion, Author and Mental Health Advocate

  • “I have an anxiety gremlin and his name Steve. A voice at the back of my brain, every time I find something that can bring me to my goals says ‘I don’t think you can do this. And listening to that gremlin resulted in me falling a lot.”
  • “We think we can protect ourselves if we just quit now! But that’s not how this works.”
  • “If you only listen to the little voice in the back of your head that tells you you should do something because you’re not worthy, it makes things really hard. You start to disconnect your wants, needs, and desires. Recognize that voice and keep moving.”
  • “Grief is not just for people. More often than not it’s loss of opportunity, having to give something away.”
  • “When you switch tracks, you think, ‘I’m behind, and now I have to start over, and that means I’ll be bad at something.’ But we were all bad at what we’re good at now when we first started. When you try something new, it’s going to be tough and scary, and you’re going to do it anyways.”
  • “Be proud of yourself because you’re here. You’ve come a long way to be here – emotionally, wherever you were in life a decade ago – so be where your feet are.


2:40 pm – 3:20 pm CT

Big Dreams. Bold Action

Fama Francisco
CEO – Global Baby, Feminine and Family Care, Procter & Gamble

  • “When a door is closed in your face, you have to find another way in.”
  • “I may never be the loudest voice in the room, but I will work very hard to be the clearest voice in the room.”
  • “Never let anyone take your confidence from you. Once you lose your confidence because of something someone said – when your confidence is gone, your courage is gone, and when your courage is gone, your results are gone.”
  • Learn to flex different muscles to be as effective as you can be.
  • “We need to have perspective in life. We drive ourselves into the ground because we are our own worst critics. Things that give you perspective, you need to hold those close to your heart.”
  • “Bias is not only around us, bias is also in us. None of us can say we don’t have any biases.”
  • “Listen to everyone equally. It’s very hard to listen for substance but we need to remind ourselves to do that.”
  • “Focus on improving rather than proving yourself.”
  • “When a door is open to you, step right through the door. Don’t think, I need to know everything first. No one comes into the job knowing everything.”
  • “Everyone has someone who invested in us. Think about them. Remind yourself to give back a dozen-fold. You are the role model to other women. Don’t forget the women who look up to you.”
  • “Each of us carries multiple oxygen tanks. Work, family, faith. Make sure none of them get to 0.”
  • “Equality at home is a big part of equality of work. We need to debunk the myth that one gender is primarily responsible for the work at home.”
  • “My dream is that when my children decide to start a family that they will take on no more or less because of their gender.”

3:40 pm – 4:00 pm CT

Dream It. Do It.

Jacquelyn Fletcher Johnson
CEO of Heartwood Leadership Institute

  • “Visualization is an evidence-based practice, but if you’re going after a dream that is challenging, and audacious,and could put you under pressure, it doesn’t work. Your motivation for doing it will go down because you’ve visualized it so much.”
  • “Instead – dream it, build it, do it.”
  • “Think about something you want in words. Imagine where you’ll be when you complete it. Think about how you’ll feel when it’s done.”
  • “Consider obstacles. Imagine yourself battling and overcoming them.”
  • “None of us are self made, all of us make each other.”
  • “One heart. One beat. One boat.”

4:00 pm – 4:40 pm CT

The Art of Leading Change

Marissa Beck Viola
Senior Director, Brand & Content, North America at Mars Wrigley

Sri Rajagopalan
NextUp Board Director and Chief Customer Officer at General Mills

  • “Make sure you’re betting reactions as you go. Your intent needs to be super clear with a large decision.” – Marissa
  • “Show people what the opposite side can be. Go through war room simulations. Brands need to be up for the challenge.”  – Marissa
  • How do you deal with rejection when it happens? “Make sure everything you do ladders back to your main purpose.” – Marissa
  • “I try to follow the 80/80 rule – to get it right 80 percent of the time for 80 percent of people.” – Sri
  • “Leverage the power these iconic brand have to use the brand for good,  and put it out in the world to make an impact. A lot of importance and responsibility comes with brands.” – Marissa
  • “Every brand interaction is a two way interaction.” – Marissa
  • “No decisions were ever made by just one team – they were circulated throughout with passion.” – Marissa


9:25 am – 10:10 am CT

Big Drums. Big Dreams.

Dawn Mikkelson
President & Film Co-Director/Producer
Emergence Pictures

Keri Picket
President & Film Co-Director/Director of Photography
Pickett Pictures

Megan Chao Smith
TaikoArts Midwest
Artistic Associate & Film Assoc Producer/Featured Artist

Tiffany Tamaribuchi
Artistic Director Portland Taiko
Sacramento Taiko Dan & Film Featured Artist

Jennifer Weir
Executive Producer/Featured Artist
Finding Her Beat

  • Persevere through all challenges. In challenges there are opportunities to share spirit and what makes us shine in the world.
  • “Leadership for me was about bringing people together and bringing them forward together.” – Dawn
  • “What is most inspiring is the good idea. It has its own space. You can feel how it moves things forward not just for you, but for other people. You need not just the great idea but the person who says yes to the good idea.” – Jennifer
  • “If you’re not part of the story of the success in that room, you’re not done yet.” – Jennifer
  • “I love the collaborative system. Today we are seeing a lot of old systems that are crumbling- we decided to put ourselves center stage.” – Megan
  • “A unicorn is that leader or person who is the first to… or the only one who… or one of the few who…So find a unicorn, gather them, and bring their uniqueness to the table. Leadership does not have to be done alone.” – Jennifer
  • “Being a unicorn comes with challenge – I’m always the only woman sitting at this table. It’s cool because I’m here, but it sucks because I shouldn’t be.” – Tiffany
  • “To be a unicorn feels dangerous, and like you could lose your position at any moment. It’s not true. It’s not true that you’re going to lose your position if another unicorn enters the room.” – Dawn
  • “The more unicorns, the more magic.” – Jennifer
  • “Leadership is lonely. It can be exhausting to lift people up. Sometimes it’s great to be with people you don’t need to train but can just kick back and talk to and build your community. You can’t be leading alone.” – Jennifer
  • Every big dream is a series of disasters and miracles. If it is big enough it’ll be messy and crazy. When it flips, it’s a success – they don’t see the several years of therapy it took to get there!
  • “It’s important to hold onto your dreams and persevere. Bring the right people together and hold onto your idea.” – Tiffany

10:45 am – 11:25 am CT

How to Keep Your Balance

Monique Ozanne
Director, D&I, North America
Beam Suntory

Mark Kenny
VP, Merchandising, Seasonal & Outdoor Living

Stuart Claxton
VP Marketing & Communications

  • “When I think about my why, it comes back to how to be present at home.” – Monique
  • “As we’re returning to more of a hybrid world, you need to be maniacal about keeping what kept you going during the pandemic.” – Mark
  • “It’s important for your team to see how you’re thinking about yourself and your family.” – Mark
  • “You need to set an example – like saying as a leader, bar none, I’m done at five. But leaders have to be empowered to set mandates for the team.” – Monique
  • “If you’re not behavior modeling, and you’re still sitting in the teams call hacking away, that doesn’t set a great example for how your team is conducting themselves.” – Monique
  • “Trust is so important. In a hybrid environment, plan for how and when people want to show up. Getting the work done and performing to the level we want them to involves a lot of trust. Lead with care.” – Mark
  • “Target redesigned workplaces. We built floors where people can collaborate and come and go as they need to, upgraded tech enablement so hybrid workers can be there and connect with people and include remote teams. We need to be even more intentional about making sure they’re okay.” – Mark
  • “You shouldn’t go into the office just to sit behind the camera. There should be purposeful collaboration. The work happens out in the market. Culture doesn’t happen behind the screen but out where people are gathering and having moments together.” – Monique
  • “If high performers work best on their own environment, adjust and adapt to that style.” – Monique
  • “When you will make career choices, look through the lens of joy, not just through the lens of ambition.” – Mark

11:40 am – 11:50 am CT

Build Relationships to Catapult Your Impact

Dave Peacock, CEO
Advantage Solutions

  • “Relationships require courage, transparency, and intentionality.”
  • “Be as intentional as possible about staying connected. You never know where maintaining relationships will take you.”
  • “Life is long and the world is small.”
  • “These connections are real and exist for all of us. We need to be intentional about them. It can be difficult when we first start.”
  • “The DEI journey needs to be underpinned by genuine connection.”
  • “We can always do better creating an environment where people have the opportunity to be their best selves, but it’s through the relationships we create with each other that we make it happen.”
  • “Never assume a relationship will stay close on its own. Those relationships make up the stories that become our lives.”
  • “Never settle for less than you deserve. Continue to relate authentically as you lift each other up.”


11:50 am – 12:20 pm CT

Going for the Bold

Coach Kara Lawson

  • Knew I wanted to be a coach. Thought it was very cool that a coach had that impact.
  • “I was told, ‘You’re intelligent, and intelligence will take your far. You’re one of the hardest working players I’ve coached, and your hard work will take you far. But without communication, you’ll be limited.”
  • “If intelligent people can’t make other people smarter, what good are they? The ability to communicate gives you that.”
  • “I analyze my players as my coach analyzed me. No matter where you are, no matter what age, there’s always a skill that could be better.”
  • “Being authentic and telling people the truth is a core characteristic of leading people. The second you lose that, you lose them.”
  • “There’s nothing worse than not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing and what you need to do say to day.  You need to provide early, loud and continuous for communication.”
  • “It’s one thing to recruit elite talent, it’s another thing to develop it. You don’t just plug and play.”
  • “Some people are scared by other people’s talent and build a group of less talented people around them to feel better about themselves. Elite talent understands that it grows the quickest and the fastest when it’s around other talent. Elite talent is also focused on what’s next and not what’s already been done.”
  • “Before you get out of this car, remember that you’re the best player on that field.”
  • “Confidence comes from preparation. You have to be the most prepared and the least distracted as a leader. That doesn’t mean you have to know everything.”
  • “Confidence comes from the work you’ve put in, and people respect that. You respect people that get stuff done. Competence has great value. Be competent and be prepared.”
  • “There has never been a greater need in world history for female leadership than now. Be confident in who you are and what you can do.”
  • “It’s okay to demand excellence – not expect it. It’s okay to be competent and confident in what you do.”
  • “The most powerful thing you can do for someone else is believe in them.”
  • “No matter where you are, you have the power to inspire and motivate somebody. It feels amazing when someone believes in you.”


2:00 pm – 3:00 pm CT

How Gender Impacts Negotiation

Kaylyn Easton
Senior Consultant, The Maker Group

  • Anything is better than nothing. Never leave money on the table.
  • Common gender perception pitfalls:
    • Women who play hard ball get thought of as ‘bitches.’
    • Treat all negotiations alike.
      • Genders negotiate differently
      • Understanding differences leads to bridges.
    • Male negotiation style:
      • More direct/aggressive
      • Ask for what they want
      • Treat it as ‘just a game’ and not personal.
      • 29% of men love negotiation.
  • Men said – women have advantage of reading the room
      • 14% women love negotiation.
  • Negotiation table
    • Trust Axis – Do you trust other to do what why say
    • Complexity Axis
    • Combinations lead to various types of negotiation:
      • Distributive – low trust/low complexity = Hard ball
      • Bargaining – High trust/low complexity
      • Trading – low trust/high complexity
      • Integrative High trust/High complexity
        • Making it about you.
  • Framing helps when negotiating for yourself. Highlight your why.
    • Use the power of yet – it’s not a “No”…it’s a “Not yet.”
    • Remove you from the equation. Frame to include others benefits if appropriate.
    • Focus on interests, not positions.
    • Lacking perspective
  • We don’t understand our power. Most folks have power but don’t believe it, and power systematically affects how folks negotiate.
  • When negotiating for others, women outperform men by 23%. Our confidence in others is higher than our confidence in ourselves.
  • Fear of reputational damage, especially if it doesn’t go well. Free yourself from the fear of judgement
  • Gaining confidence:
    • Gain understanding the others priorities.
    • People negotiate because they need you.
    • Negotiation is inherently uncomfortable.
  • Preparation is 90% of negotiation.
  • Practice the plan. Women get three times the confidence lift with training, men get two times.

Unleashing Your Hidden Resume

Paurvi Bhatt, CEO of ThirdEyeFocus

  • Unleash Your Superpowers
    • Instead of just listing your job duties, highlight your extraordinary achievements and the impact you’ve made in your previous roles.
  • Customize, Customize, Customize
    • Take a little detour from the generic path and customize your resume for each job you apply to.
    • Study the job description and tailor your resume to match those requirements.
  • Storytime: The Art of Streamlining
    • Recruiters are like busy readers looking for an enthralling story. Streamline the information, keeping it concise and easy to read.
    • Use bullet points and headings to create a well-structured and organized flow.
  • Cracking the Code with Keywords
    • Many companies employ Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter resumes. To outsmart the system, incorporate relevant keywords and phrases from the job description.
  • Detective Work
    • Proofreading and Polishing: Sleuth through your resume to catch any typos, grammar slip-ups, or formatting blunders.
    • Seek the help of a trusted friend or even online tools to double-check everything.
  • The Grand Opening
    • Professional Summary: Craft a concise and impactful summary that highlights your skills, experiences, and career goals.
    • It’s the moment when you introduce yourself as the protagonist of your professional story.

The Power of the Ask

Jasmine Brett Stringer
Award-winning author of Seize Your Life

  • Advocate for what you want and need – it’s the secret to getting what you want.
  • Believe in the question you are asking – we generally think about what-ifs.
  • Believe you are entitled to ask and that you must ask.
  • How to ask:
    • Understand NO vs know
    • Prepare
    • Activate
    • Follow-Up
  • Don’t assume the answer is no.
  • Know is temporary – the only no that is permanent is NO – How to Ask, understand NO vs Know, Prepare, Activate, Follow-Up.


Supercharge Your Life + Work

Laura Best
Creator, the Passion Collective

  • What is your passion? What lights you up? You have to find and decide that on your own.
  • Passion=suffering (latin)
    • Different types of passion:
      • Harmonious passion (autonomy, competence)
      • Obsessive passion
  • You shine if you are pursuing your passions.
  • 5 steps of SHINE
    • 1 – Self: We don’t feel like we deserve good things. Reframe that.
      • I deserve to prioritize my passions because __________. Fill in the blank exercise and keep reminding yourself.
    • 2 – How it feels: What does passion feel like to you?
      • Set a reminder in your phone or note in your journal
      • What are your feelings telling you about the things you are doing?
    • 3 – Imagine: What could it look like for you?
      • Find clues in our past to inform your future.
      • Write out what you are passionate about and why, and share it with someone else.
    • 4 – Name it: Name it, explain why and tie it back to the organization.
      • Go to your boss about what you are passionate about.
    • 5 – Engage: Think of it as a gift to approach your boss about your passions, and bosses need to reframe think of it as a gift.
      • Research what your passion can contribute.
      • Spend more time on it.
      • Support  – What do you need?
      • Money – Will probably need it.
  • Practice makes confidence!
  • Exercise: Make a promise to yourself to take one action in a step towards your passion today.
  • Connect with your passion and you will get more energy in your life.

Empathy: The #1 Leadership Skill

Katie Kellerman
Executive Director and General Manager, North America Lifestyle Business, SC Johnson

Keith Morris
Founder, Keith Morris Enterprises
Facilitator, NextUp Beyond Allies

Juliana Saretta
VP Procurement Operations, Keurig Dr Pepper

  • What is empathy to you?
    • “Empathy means you understand the whole person and circumstance.” – Juliana
  • Is there a time empathy is a barrier?
    • “Yes. When safety is involved, or if there needs to be some interjection by leadership, then you cannot dial empathy up – you need to take a stand.” – Katie
    • “I disagree. There is always room for an empathy – you just need to know how and when to employ it.” – Juliana
  • “Active listening plays a critical role in empathy.” – Keith
  • It’s okay to admit when you haven’t been actively engaging with someone. For example: “I am sorry, I was distracted that is not fair to you, would you mind repeating your statement?”
  • Practice everyday active listening.


360 Management for Maximum Influence

Kris Bahner
SVP, Chief Global Corporate Affairs Office, The Kellogg Company

Marina Chernyak
VP, U.S. Retail, Visa

Kristin Lee, Ed.D
Director of Research & Learning Strategies, NextUp

  • “Relationships are the foundation of trust. No influence will come without starting relationships, and you should never stop building them.” – Kris
  • “Three important factors. Empathy capability, authenticity. Empathy needs to lead everything you do.” – Marina
  • People need to know you’re going to help them, and your words need to match your actions. 360 degree management is rooted in trust based relationships.” – Marina
  • “Things will work out. There’s no reason to throw elbows.” – Kris
  • “Shift norms about where we connect with others. We’re shifting away from traditionally male bastions of golf and sports. Let’s normalize saying, ‘What else can we do as a team to build connection?'” – Kris
  • “When you’re having one-on-one conversations repeatedly with people, learn how they like to receive information. Do they like data, for example?” -Kris
  • When making bold changes, “If you hold on to certain elements along the way that people care about, while you can’t make everyone happy, you can make more people happy.” – Kris
  • “There’s a negative connotation around managing up, but managing up is one of the most important soft skills you can have. It’s about creating real relationships with people who have real influence over your career.” – Marina
  • “One of the most important parts of managing up effectively is assessing different the work style of your leader. You need to adapt and figure out a way to work with that person. Personality tests can be a great way to learn where to align. If there are places where you don’t align you need to figure out how to adapt.” – Marina
  • “Always tell the team to show up with strong opinions that are loosely held.” – Marina
  • In tough situations, “I needed to show that the destination and what would be gained was more important than what we were giving up.” – Kris
  • “No matter how senior you are, you still need support and feedback. Who is going to hold up the mirror to you and say who are you, what are you doing? Meet and talk with your peers.” – Kris
  • “Even your CEO needs to hear, that was really great. We need that at every level.” – Kris
  • “Vulnerability is also saying hey, I made a mistake.” – Kris
  • “In a reorg, a peer can become a direct report. 360 degree management is most important for that. If you’re managing up down and across, you’ve cultivated that trust based relationship with your peers.” – Marina
  • “Creating psychological safety is really important. Share your own personal and professional challenges, be honest and build trust.” – Marina
  • “With capability comes credibility. If you’re capable and someone respects you, there’s no reason an issue should arise.” – Marina
  • “It’s disarming to tell someone ‘I’m committed to your success.'” – Kris
  • “When you’re promoted and running a team you were a part of, you need to reframe perceptions of you, including yours of yourself. Think through how you’re going to show up, and show up differently.” – Marina
  • “Don’t be afraid to merchandise your successes. And have a partner who will be your hype person. Commit to share the successes of others.” – Kris
  • “For managing across, uncover what the goals of others are.” – Marina


The Positive Power of Failure

Elia Perez Tessicini
VP Sales, Merchant Services, American Express

Sharon Hall
VP, Global Executive Recruiting at Walmart,

Karen Jones
VP, Learning & Partner Solutions at NextUp,

  • “People relate to real people.” – Elia
  • “Have a plan in life (serious or casual). Sometimes, being a woman of color helps as your mistakes or wins are always highlighted.” – Sharon
  • “As a leader, jump out in front to take the bullet to protect your team, and then later sit with your team and come up with a solution. What could we have done differently?” – Sharon
  • “Have empathy when you think how we could have done things differently. Don’t spoon feed, just be there for your team to help them.” – Elia
  • “Learn to have difficult conversations. Provide your team with a framework. Ask them to reflect, relax, and rebuild.” – Sharon
  • On how to destigmatize failure: “By recognizing and learning from it. Reach out to your personal CEO (close people, or a truth teller in your life).” – Elia
  • “Own your lows and show your team it’s a part of life and opportunity to show courage.” – Sharon
  • On male colleagues being resistant: “Set the expectation and ask them how you can help.” – Sharon
  • “My father once said, ‘She is small but covers all the ground she stands on.’” – Karen
  • “Let perfectionism go. Set a culture where people are going to make mistakes and learn from them.” – Elia
  • “Over-apologizing diminishes your presence.” – Elia
  • “We do things in good faith and judgment, and if it fails it fails, and that’s ok.” – Sharon
  • “If they tell you to not complain because you are a mom and have a big gap on your resume – leave immediately, it’s not the right place for you.” -Sharon

Build Your Community. Boost Your Influence.

Markesha Roane
Human Resources Business Partner at Nestlé Nutrition North America

Andrea Morton
Senior Director, Category Development at Mondelez International

Nicole Wright
Regional Marketing Manager at NextUp

  • Difference between ‘Networking’ and ‘Building Your Community.’
  • Importance of building professional relationships within and and outside your organization.
  • Importance of marketing oneself in companies,
    • Find commonality and you’ll be surprised how many times you have more things in common than differences.
  • Three takeaway thoughts at conclusion:
    • Think about who to build your network with.
    • Make a plan for how to do it.
    • Meet one person at Summit to build community.


Women on Boards

Desiree Frey
Senior Director, Regional Growth & Development, NextUp

Kris Torres
Managing Director, Modern Engineering, Accenture Technology Delivery Centers

Tope Sadiku
Strategic Planning Lead, Strategy, Transformation, Agile & Revolution, The Kraft Heinz Company


  • “It’s important to find those people who tell you ‘This is your first time doing this and you’re ready to do it.'” – Kris
  • Tope reflected the fact that trees more have a complete root system underground where all the trees were connected and supporting each other. If one tree was sick, the other trees would send nutrients as part of an intricate root system of information. Apply it to her employees, they started looking into Teams and other networking concepts.
  • Types of Boards: Advisory, Nonprofit Advisory, Corporate.
  • “Ask the right questions. Ask ‘Why our board, what can you bring to this board, and what can we do for you?'” -Kris
  • “It’s important to hone in on the skills of connecting people, asking questions, and developing ideas to provide the best impact on a board. There is also an interest piece to the equation – I align with NextUp’s mission, which is why I am so committed to it.” – Kris
  • “Women are brave and curious. It’s important for women to say ‘This doesn’t feel right,’ and not be afraid to say it. We all have a special ability to call out what’s working and what’s not.” – Tope
  • “NextUp carries weight in a number of different spaces. It’s very respected and really does impactful things. I’m on a variety of other boards who don’t have as direct and immediate impact.” – Tope
  • “Membership at NextUp is that root system!” – Desiree
  • “My number one skill is adaptability. I often asks ‘How do we jump over barriers to make things happen?’ With COVID, our regional board had to adapt and think of ways to ensure people showed up to virtual events, and then figure out a way to monetize it.” – Kris
  • Ways to get on boards:
    • Kris originally did not know about NextUp. She went to a NextUp event, stayed late, and volunteered to help cleanup. The NextUp volunteers then invited her to volunteer even more, which began her diverse journey through the NextUp regions – both Texas and Virtual.
    • “50/50 Women on Boards – organization that’s main mission is to have women be 50% of the boards’ demographic. They provide training and hold conferences.” – Kris
    • The Board List – (going through rebranding so name may change) organization that’s like a job board but for board positions. You create your profile, it posts it on the boards, while also using a matching system based on your experience and interest.
    • LinkedIn – there is now an option to mark that you’re open to joining a board.
    • “Networking is so important. You need to get your name out there and make it be known you want to join a board. Say it out loud to the people who can help you. Manifest it.” – Kris
    • “Yes, networking is so important. Let this be the years (yes, years plural) of yes and being confident in stating your intention. Be curious. Overall, have curiosity, network, and state your intention.” – tope
  • Level of Responsibility/Commitment:
    • “Think of the concept of rubber balls vs. glass balls. Rubber balls are those responsibilities that you can drop and it’ll be okay. It’ll bounce back. Glass balls are those that shatter when dropped. You need to be honest with yourself and identify those balls and what state they’re in for yourself personally. For me, family and exercise are glass balls. And balls can transition between the two and are not always stagnant. Finally, your balls should always be fulfilling, not negative obligations.” – Tope
    • “It may be a timing issue too. You need to ask yourself, ‘Is this the right time to invest and still live a happy and healthy life?’” – Tope
    • “I am currently in a ‘phase of no.’ I’ve said yes too much and burnt myself out. For me, it’s about prioritizing the important things. Someone once said, ‘It’s not a question of how you fit it in, but rather how you can thrive without it.” – Kris
    • “There are different levels of commitment when it comes to advisory vs. governing roles. There’s a big difference in the level of time and energy put into each role.” – Kris
  • Advice for the Audience:
    • “Pick an organization that fills a void. You’re going to absorb things as well as give things back to that root system. It’s important to be honest with yourself and be sure you are fully aligned with the mission of the organization.” – Tope
    • “Do it. Do it now.” -Kris



9:05 am – 9:45 am CT

Team Up to Dream Up

Beverly Johnson
CEO, Beverly Johnson Enterprises

Dr. Cameka Smith
CEO, Boss Network

Lisa Baird
CEO and President, NextUp

  • “Beverly – if you’re an introvert, find extroverts who will drag you out!” – Beverly
  • “You showed up today, and 90% of winning is showing up.” – Beverly
  • “Learn from other women – our stories and journeys are connected.” – Cameka
  • “You have something inside of you that you know is great, but you may not be confident enough to bring it into the world. When someone believes in you, it makes you want to show up for them.” – Cameka
  • “I never wanted to fail, I wanted to learn from other people’s mistakes so I could move faster.” – Cameka
  • “You don’t do anything alone. That’s why it’s important to ask for help.” – Beverly
  • “Modelling agencies worked for me. You become the business. You need a team of people around you to grow. How do you get them? By watching someone else that’s successful or talking to someone else and ask them how they did it.” – Beverly
  • “I am not the smartest one in my team. I’ve been in business since I was 18 years old. You have to constantly keep reinventing yourself.” – Beverly
  • “Everyone in here whether you have a career or are a business owner, you are a brand. When you’re interviewing, you are interviewed as your own brand.” – Cameka
  • “You want to start a business, work in corporate America. Learn the skillset. Learn how to deal with people, manage teams, and then take that into your own business if that’s what you want.” – Cameka
  • “Grow while you go.” – Cameka
  • “Boss is a spirit that you carry it’s the spirit that hey I want more for myself, and I’m not going to stop until I get there, and I’m going to do what it takes to get it done.” – Cameka
  • “Believe in yourself and know that the only way you can fail is if you quit. If you don’t quit. you’re winning.” – Beverly
  • “What really makes a boss is taking that leap of faith. That takes a boss to do.” – Beverly
  • “You can have all these amazing things happening and life is lifing on the other side. Our life is not our own, it is a testimony for someone else to make it through. It inspires them. Tough times are here, but they won’t last for long.” – Cameka


9:45 am – 10:25 am CT

Big Dreams Come True

Karen Jones
VP, Learning & Partner Solutions, NextUp

  • “Education without action is simply entertainment.”
  • “Big dreams don’t just come true for people on this stage, they can come true for all of us.”
  • “I am the wildest dream of people who come before me. I stand here today as their wildest dream they could never have conceived of. People who come from adversity, people with tenacity.”
  • “Say the words, put them into the world. This is what I want to do. This is my dream. Words have life.”


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