Rise & Shine Conference Recap (Day 1)

 In Events

This year’s Rise & Shine Conference, put on by The Inspiration Lab, had us dancing with joy. Literally. At one point, the room of 300+ women were participating in a choreographed line dance to, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – but more on that later.

Alisha Browne, Jenna Curry and Jessica Pham at the Rise and Shine Conference 2019

Designed for nurturing the hearts and souls of working women, The Inspiration Lab’s annual conference provided two days of actionable tools, inspiration and camaraderie. Katherine Daniel of N2 Publishing set the tone of the first day early on with her emcee charisma. Her excitement was palpable and contagious. This energy was maintained throughout the day as each presenter entered the conference hall to an upbeat song of their choice and danced all the way down the aisles towards the stage, grabbing high-fives as they went.

Our first speaker was Stephanie Lair, the Founder of The Inspiration Lab, who gave us a moving introduction about how to be a shining light for others. Her authenticity in sharing her family’s challenges with a special needs son had the room in tears. She reminded us that we all go through periods or rising and shining, and when we’re shining, we must keep our light bright for others who need it. We should not dim our own luminosity in fear of intimating or outshining others; instead, we must be the beacon for those searching for the shore. Just as light reflects light, success breeds success.

Stephanie Lanier presenting at the Rise and Shine Conference 2019

Next, Lindsay Harkey of Live Oak Bank and Sheri Shaw of UNCW (after entering to Lizzo’s “Good as Hell” and ending with a dance party onstage) lead an insightful discussion on what it means to be a leader. They stressed that you must take care of yourself first if you want to be able to lead and care for others. I loved that they shared that they both came into their leadership positions before they each felt they were “ready” – but because they had closely followed their mentors and absorbed as much knowledge as possible, they were not only qualified, they were “chosen.”

Lindsay Harkey, Live Oak Bank and Sheri Shaw, UNCW at Rise and Shine Conference 2019

Nicole Holmes of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy gave us a crash-course in effective negotiation, telling us that we need not be “The Wolf of Wall Street” or a waitress taking orders, but should instead negotiate like Curious George – inquisitive and questioning. One other big tip on negotiating I took away from her lesson? Stop talking and spend the majority of the time listening.

Sarah Pless of Renaissance Dental Studio and Kathryn Cook of nCino made a great pair onstage as they discussed how a positive company culture does not necessarily equate to “free beer Fridays” or a casual dress code, but relies more on the mindset that the leadership brings from the top down. Positivity, encouragement and support of your peers is contagious.

Lisa Brooks of Wilmington Thrive Tribes bared her soul and literally wore her numbing mechanisms around her neck throughout her talk – boards on twine with words like “comparison,” “perfectionism” and “people pleasing.” She taught us why boundaries are essential and how they teach others how to treat you. Lisa also emphasized why it’s not just okay, but necessary to feel and work through your emotions – as she put it, you must learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. She ended with a self-care line dance that I mentioned earlier on – and I was impressed when the entire room of women learned it quite quickly there on the spot and participated together.

The day ended with tears and true inspiration by the story of Sharon Delaney McCloud of Walk West. Sharon lost her 10-month-old daughter to leukemia years ago, and the journey she and her husband followed during and after that life-altering experience opened many of our eyes to what we, as humans, are capable of overcoming. Sharon shared her tips for resilience in adversity with us all:

  1. Be brave
  2. Take one step at a time
  3. Accept help
  4. Take risks
  5. Be flexible
  6. Look for the good
  7. Learn to say no
  8. Make life a bit easier with tools
  9. Make time with friends
  10. Sleep!

She ended with asking us, “how will you turn your battle scars into badges of honor?”

For those that attended, the energy in the room was contagious and everyone left feeling inspired to make make changes in their personal and professional lives.

To read about “‘day 2” of the Inspiration Lab Conference that focused on Real Estate and Marketing, click here.

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The Rise and Shine Conference in Wilmington, NC by the Inspiration Lab