Reflections on the first Know Your Value Conference

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Diane Smith, co-organizer of the first Know Your Value conference that took place in Hartford, CT last week shares her reflections on the event in this exclusive post for Women In Web!

Know Your Value really was a great event.  We sold out and had a waiting list….someone commented to me “Next year you’ll need the convention center!” We heard things like “This was so good I can’t believe it was your inaugural,” and “I am already looking forward to next year.” It was very high energy – Mika moderated the entire thing, and was very pumped up. Joe Scarborough came along and was entertaining, too. Gayle King was very funny and people loved her since she worked in CT for a long time.  Rather than give a speech she decided to have a conversation on stage with the Channel 3 anchor who was her “last TV husband in CT.”

We had some fabulous women on the panels — including Melody Barnes who was the senior domestic policy advisor to President Obama and Lisa Hughes – Vice President and Publisher of the New Yorker.

I was on a panel about health and being your best self with Lucy Danziger, former editor in chief of Self magazine. 

We gave away big prizes to random attendees – ranging from a half dozen of the the new TIVO ROAMIO with lifetime service to a work wardrobe from designer Nanette Lepore. 

A number of women told us the swag bag was the best they had ever gotten — we had a specially designed bag stuffed with everything from a JMcLaughlin scarf to Bobbi Brown mascara, Loreal’s new sunscreen, a journal/pen to take notes and much more.

Accenture gave a prize to one woman we had vetted ahead of time. Gladys Mercado was invited to the conference by an administrator at Goodwin Colleges–and had no idea she was getting a prize. She got 20 hours of one on one coaching with top Accenture execs, an IPAD and a $250 gift certificate to Nordstrom to buy a job interview outfit. She is Latina, a single mom of 3 kids, working full time and going to school full time, and when we called her up on stage she was radiant and then burst into tears.   She happens to work for Congressman John Larson from Hartford and he came to the event and joined her on stage to talk about how great she is.

One interesting angle Mika came up with was to give a ten thousand dollar bonus to a deserving woman who had to go up on stage and make a 2 minute pitch on what she would do with the money. The five finalists (chosen from about 300 entries) were each assigned a coach ( I was one of them) and we worked with them on the phone ahead of time, and then in person the day of the  conference. The winner is Darcy Sordo from Clinton CT. Her consignment/resale shop is in Madison. Poppies sells gently used children’s clothing, toys, etc. Her store gives to local charities, and she also is a platform for moms launching products. Darcy was there on stage on Friday after having a heart procedure at Yale New Haven Hospital on Wed. She’s using the 10k to set up website and e-commerce to take it to another level.

The 4 other finalists each got $2K. When one of the women mentioned in her pitch that she would put the money toward her college tuition (first in her family to go to college) a woman from the college who happened to be in the audience  jumped up and grabbed the mic and said they would make sure she got a scholarship!  Totally unexpected but apparently a terrific climax to the day!”

You can watch highlights from the Know Your Value conference here.