Women Empowered message: Work hard, be authentic

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:40 PM

Randi Weston, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

OGDEN — At the 10th annual Women Empowered conference on Tuesday, attendees learned how to be their true selves, say “no,” and pick themselves back up after unfathomable loss.The conference is organized by the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business committee and is intended to provide education and networking opportunities to Northern Utah’s business women. Sheryl Cheever, executive assistant at the Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks it’s important that women attend events like the conference.“I think women need to be empowered, not only for themselves, but they need to show women in the community how important it is to be self-sufficient.”Jo Packham, creator/editor-in-chief of Where Women Create, was the first keynote speaker of the day. Packham shared the uplifting story of how she lost nearly everything, but had the tenacity to pick herself up and keep going. “It’s nice to be back on top,” Packham said. “I always talk about being on the bottom because I really don’t believe we should be embarrassed. I never did anything I was ashamed of, I worked really hard.”Packham also said she thinks women can solve what’s wrong with American corporations today.“I think they’re more compassionate, I think they’re more creative, I think that they can see both sides. I don’t think emotion is a bad thing. You know when you’re in a big boardroom, if you cry everybody is not very happy about it,” Packham laughed. “But I think it’s a good thing. It’s compassion that makes companies grow, because then you have more loyalty. You understand what everybody’s been through.“The decline of the American corporation is that there’s no compassion, there’s no emotion, there’s no sharing; it’s all about the bottom line. I think women bring that back, and I think they should be proud of it.”Debbie Hansen, program administrator for Weber State’s Continuing Education Program, was impressed with Packham’s speech. When asked what point resonated with her the most, Hansen said, “That everything in life has its ups and downs; the willingness to just keep having the courage to try.”Hansen said she loved the networking opportunities available during the conference. “Any time women can get together and do some networking and talk about different issues that are impacting their work environment or their business environment, I think that’s valuable.”Ronda Devereaux, founder of Choice Life Stategies, delivered a talk called “Life is Not a Masquerade Ball: Time to Take Your Mask Off, Cinderella.” “It was all about the masks that we wear when we’re going about our day-to-day life,” Devereaux said. “I don’t think our society allows us to be our authentic selves anymore. We have all these ideas of who women are and who they’re supposed to be, that they don’t allow us to be who we are.”When asked what women can get from making a commitment to honor their true selves, Devereaux said, “A lot less stress. You don’t exert as much energy trying to worry about what everybody else thinks. A lot of freedom.”Devereaux added that she knows she’s done a good job when her audience is in tears. “I hate to say I love to make people cry, but that’s a good thing when they’re in one of my workshops. It’s really cool when you know that you connected with them.”Other speakers included Gina Heiner, who delivered a talk about how to say “no” and have more time for the things you want to do, and Katie Holland, who spoke about the importance of building successful business relationships.Michelle Darrington, with the McKay Dee Hospital Foundation, was happy she attended the conference. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to come and network and to get some motivation here in our community. They’ve been wonderful, very uplifting and motivating.”The Women in Business committee holds various networking meetings every month. More information can be found on the committee’s website at: www.ogdenweberchamber.com/wib

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