This is a guest post from 2019 keynote speaker, Mimi Nartey, PhD.
In my closing keynote, Back, In, Out, and Forward, I talked about how part of our roles as female leaders is to introduce “a different narrative of being [a leader].” I think this was so powerfully demonstrated as so many dynamic women took the stage over the two days of the WomanUP!® 2019 conference. Generally speaking, women don’t compartmentalize in the same way that men do, and it was apparent from the vulnerable stories that were shared. The stories of success, failure, loss, redemption, fear, creativity, and triumph moved and inspired us all. The greatest take away was that the events of our personal lives shape us into better business women and stronger and more empathic leaders when we own those experiences.
Going into the WomanUP!® conference this year, I made an intentional choice to blend the lines between myself as a mother, a wife and a professional orator by bringing my husband and two children to attend my talk and the presentations just before mine. For the first time, I had to overcome the risk of being perceived as “less professional” and ask the organizers of the event for permission to bring my family into my speech. (As you can imagine, the conference organizers were very accommodating and supportive.) My husband, Kofi, had to consider his schedule to make himself available. I had to hire a childcare provider through the hotel in case my seven-year-old son, Lincoln, couldn’t make it through the entire presentation. It was not necessarily easy to arrange. Choosing authenticity is rarely easy; however, the payoff is invaluable.
My entire family enjoyed the opportunity, but my daughter, Liya, benefited the most. It was a formative experience for my ten-year-old daughter to be in a room with so many powerful, capable, and positive women. She saw me speak my truth and share my best advice and encouragement to a vast sea of diverse women. She saw that her father was there to support me. She saw the authentic connections that were made between myself and other incredible women. She saw that our family values this brand of feminism, and she has now collected her own evidence of what is possible for her career, for her friendships, and for her family as a woman. In my heart I knew I had made the right choice as we all stood as a family at the end of the conference and recited the mantra, “I am WomanUP!” In that moment, we all truly were.
Mimi Nartey has been a World Cup soccer player, fashion model, college professor, researcher, social entrepreneur, and TEDx speaker. Her interdisciplinary experiences give her a unique and fresh perspective on life and leadership. She is married to Kofi N. Nartey (renowned luxury real estate broker and television personality). In 2018, she and Kofi co-founded The Nartey Sports Foundation to support sports-related interventions for underserved youth. The couple was named a 2018 and 2019 “Los Angeles Power Couple" in Angeleno Magazine and LA Confidential Magazine. They live with their two precocious children, Liya and Lincoln, in Playa Vista, CA.