I've been intentionally pulling back from non-paid events this year. Partly I want to see my team to get the front-line experiences that I've been blessed with, partly so I can think strategically. When an invite came in for the AmexOpen CEO Boot Camp, I said yes.
According to a survey commissioned by Amex, female entrepreneurs have started news businesses at at rate of 150% higher than the national average adding 175,000 new jobs to the economy. This bootcamp was designed to build on those accomplishments.
The small business division of American Express is called OPEN. They hosted this program to help women with three pillars of successful ventures: confidence, competence and connections.
Here's where our weaknesses lie:
Only 26% of women rate themselves as excellent delegators.
Only 39% say we are excellent in managing accounting/finances
Only 29% of us say we are excellent negotiators
During the conference, I got to meet with Alexandra Ytuarte, the Senior Manager of Open Live and Customer Advocacy. We chatted about the reason this conference was started. For the past 25 years, Amex has been in the business of supporting small companies. This program is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to specifically supporting women.
Alexandra told me the event is "card agnostic" meaning you don't have to flash your Amex platinum to get in (though a few card holders did win prizes!). It was simply about building up women. "We know small business os the backbone of the economy," said Alexandra.
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As she tells it, right now there are approximately 8.6 million women-owned small businesses. If every one of them hired just one person the economy would be booming. In 2014, Amex plans to roll out the boot camp in cities across the country. Visit OpenForum.com/bootcamp to stay in the loop.
The speakers were to-notch and the crowd was inspiring. The day was filled with presenters and forums and some smaller break-out sessions. I'm going to share some of the highlights with you.
Robin Chase (zipcar.com): Ask yourself: What do you need to invest in to get you to the next level? Goal: You want your clients to write you love letters.
Angie Hicks (angieslist.com): Know what you bring and what you don't bring. Hire to support your weaknesses. Measure your successes in increments that are achievable.
Gina Bianchini (mightybell.com): Don't go it alone. It's a myth that entrepreneurs are "lone wolves. " Share and encourage each other to think bigger.
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