Friday, October 26, 2012


This week I had the privilege of attending the 19th Women Business Owners Conference co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, Western Regional Office, and held at the beautiful Willits-Hollowell Center at Mt. Holyoke. The topic this year was “Change Agents” – individuals who recognize and seize opportunities and work to improve society’s problems.  Some of their characteristics are persistence, courage, compassion, clarity, vision, and as one panel member put it, being a “pain-in-the-ass!”

The six women on the panel presented an amazing array of business experiences and life stories; and were themselves of different ages and backgrounds. The last speaker, Shalini Bahl, a consultant and researcher specializing in programs for Mindfulness in business, social media, and academia -- spoke about the ups and downs of being someone trying to make a difference in the world, but having a life to manage.  She acknowledged that there were probably people in the audience (I was one!) who were feeling that they couldn’t possibly match the energy and accomplishments of the speakers on the panel. 

Shalini said that the two things that saved her when she was in a down phase in her life were meditation and helping others.  She also encouraged us to realize the tremendous power of asking for what you want. In Feng Shui and other forms of healing work, it is true that energy follows thought, so we are always reminded to think of what we want, not what we don’t want.  If we can allow our thoughts to be positive, and, if we can stay open to possibilities, the universe unfailingly comes through with the answer to our most deeply held wishes.

I’ve also learned that in order to be able to connect with what you want, you have to “walk the walk”.  Someone in the audience asked the women on the panel what was the biggest risk that they had to take to bring about their current success.  One of the panelists, who owns a very successful marketing firm, said that she had to get a divorce, and be willing to invest all of her money in a bigger office when the firm was ready to grow. Very scary, but, she said, in both instances she had reached a place where the way ahead was very clear; she found the strength to do what needed to be done. 

At the close of the conference, Lynne Randall, the MSBDC moderator, gave all of us a challenge – to do something every day that we are not used to doing.  In small ways we can practice moving out of our comfort zone by varying routines, clearing out some clutter, reaching out to a new colleague.  Finding ways to embrace small changes within ourselves actually changes the energy around us, ultimately rippling out into the world and leading us to those people and situations that help us to grow – and be the change in the world we wish to see.