"You have to clearly define your goals so that you know exactly what you want to accomplish. That way nobody can ever deter you from your path." This is the first bit of advice ever given to me by Candi Carter, a badass women who spent 15 years at The Oprah Winfrey Show until it came to an end in 2011, leaving as a Senior Producer. I have been following this advice ever since, and it led me to one of the most awesome experiences of my career, spending the past week in Manhattan as part of a writing camp for Atlantic Records.
I first met Candi when my mentor (aka "My Jewish Dad") Ira Antelis put me in touch with her to work on a show idea that my bestie Keisha Howard and I had. Candi's production company New Chapter Entertainment was founded after she ended her work with Oprah. My friend Keisha and I LOVE meeting women who are straight-up BOSSES. So when Candi started expressing interest in our lives we took full advantage, picking her brain and getting advice about stuff we have going on... Candi is awesome.
One day, while Keisha and I were sitting in Candi's lounge listening to her drop knowledge on ways to keep yourself motivated when you have a million things going on, I said "Candi I wish our friends could hear you saying this stuff, 'cause they sure as hell could use it." Candi said "Well actually, two of my friends and I have been wanting to do a panel, where we talk about our experiences and share our insight..." My girl Keisha and I lit up. Boss ass chicks who were willing to talk to other chicks about how THEY can be boss ass chicks??? Keisha cut Candi off mid-sentence and said "Let's do it!" Keisha and I began planning the event, giving the three badass women speakers the nickname "The Empower Panel." Little did we know that organizing this panel would be a learning experience by itself.
As young ambitious women who don't suck at life, Keisha and I are always looking for ways to make ourselves better businesswomen. We like sharing that with other ambitious girls, too. The only drawback is Keisha and I are both extremely busy. Keisha runs a company called Sugar Gamers and works as a professional geek-culture enthusiast, and I'm a recording artist. The three panelists encouraged us to plan The Empower Panel however we wanted. Keisha and I initially thought it would be easiest to keep it small, only inviting our friends. After a while, though, we realized that having three women in their position who are willing to go onstage and keep it real FOR FREE was too rare to not make it available to everyone. Stuff like that is always super exclusive and unavailable to the public, and we hate that.
Planning big events is tough, but Keisha and I decided that if the topic of the panel is empowerment then we needed to embrace that and start thinking big. We wanted to make it more than just a panel discussion, we thought it would be cool if it was also a networking event where people could actually get to meet the panelists, too. Fortunately, the Social Enterprise Collaborative of DePaul University shared our vision.
So now, after months of planning and coordinating with three very successful (and busy) women, Keisha Howard and I are proud to be hosting The Empower Panel on September 19th, featuring Dana Brooks (Executive Producer of "Oprah's Lifeclass" and Co-executive Producer of Harpo Studios,) Candi Carter (Founder and CEO of New Chapter Entertainment and Owner of Hip Hop Baby LLC,) and Lema Khorshid (Founding Partner of Fuksa Khorshid LLC.) It's an open discussion with three women who have achieved success in Entertainment, Law, and Entrepreneurship. Not only is Depaul University presenting The Empower Panel, but they are making it available to students and the public.
Keisha and I are really excited to see The Empower Panel unfold in such a big way. If you are interested in checking out The Empower Panel, you can RSVP on Facebook or on DePaul's Campus Events page. It's a totally free event, nothing like it has been done in Chicago before. It's awesome.
So, what lessons did Keisha and I learn from planning The Empower Panel?
- Develop your vision and know where you’re going. That first piece of advice that Candi ever gave me was key. Keisha and I had to first figure out what we REALLY wanted to do before we could actually make something impactful happen.
- Don't be afraid to think big. Once we decided not to hold back and to make this event available to everyone, opportunities came our way to help us get what we wanted. The fact that these 3 super successful ladies entrusted us to throw this event meant they obviously thought we could handle something this major. You can't make important things happen if you limit yourself, sometimes you have to trust yourself and rise to the occasion.
- Seek out others who'll support you. When you are doing something great, great people wanna be involved. The Social Enterprise Collaborative of DePaul University embraced us because our goals fit with their goals of inspiring entrepreneurs. We never would have known that we could get so much support if we had not opened ourselves up to it and believed that it was possible.
We can't wait to share The Empower Panel with our hometown. Due to the crazy response that Keisha and I have already gotten for this event, we've decided we are gonna do more events like this in the future, so stay tuned. The era of the young boss chick must prevail. It's a tough job... but somebody's gotta empower themselves to do it.