When my friend Shameeka Shy Ayers innocently asked if I planned to attend the Spark & Hustle conference hosted by Tory Johnson, Good Morning America contributor and CEO of Women for Hire, I told her that I had considered it, but that I hadn’t made a final decision. She replied, “Hmmm, I REALLLY think you should.” Now, when Shameeka insists, I usually listen – she’s almost always right on point.
Thank God I listened. The Spark & Hustle conference was a transformational experience. I can not put into words what happens when you mix 200 smart, driven, passionate, entrepreneurial women (and two progressive, forward thinking men) with 3 days of SOLID business building advice, spa treatments, cupcakes, “church waves”, and theme music. The energy created within the walls of the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta reverberated with magnetic energy that shook all attendees to their core.
The diversity of participants was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at a business conference. From far and near, they came – a tavern owner from Chicago, a jewelry maker from Chicago, a fashion boutique owner from the Atlanta metro area, a baker from Texas, an event planner from Delaware, a gift seller from New Jersey, and many, many more – all seeking insights, inspiration, and enlightenment as they navigate their way through both familiar and unfamiliar entrepreneurial waters.
What happened over the next few days was nothing short of phenomenal. Personally, I wrote nearly 100 tweets related to the conference (look them up: @goldnparachutes #hustle2010). I just couldn’t get enough. The speakers chosen by Tory were perfect. They were relatable, frank, brilliant, and best of all ACCESSIBLE. They were not “gurus” who sat on a podium and talked down to the masses. They were women who are each in the midst of their OWN entrepreneurial journey and as a result, were so giving and loved to share what they have learned along the way.
There is not enough room to share ALL that I learned at the conference (although, I have listed my favorite takeaways and one-liners here), but in essence Joyce Boyne from MillionaireMoms.com shared with us that “People don’t want information, they want epiphanies!” Well, this weekend, Tory Johnson provided the platform that generated tons of epiphanies for each attendee and the cool thing is that they keep coming. Every time I think I have had my last A-HA moment from the conference, another one takes its place.
A movement has been created. Empires are being built. And the stage at Spark & Hustle 2011 will be so full with success stories, we will need a larger venue.