If there was ever a time for women in business to come together, Women’s Day at the Chicago Auto Show was certainly a prime opportunity to do so. Tuesday, February 16 marked the fourth annual Women Driving Excellence program held at the Chicago Auto Show, hosted annually at McCormick Place (located at 2301 S Lake Shore Drive.)
Jumpstart Your Reach networking power hour
The celebratory event – facilitated by Women with Drive, Impact 100 and The Exclusive Professional Women’s Networking Group (EPWNG) – began with a networking session that encouraged the acceleration of networking success by having attendees make new acquaintances and focus on serving others. Women Driving Excellence founder Molly Cantrell-Kraig kicked-off the networking hour by telling attendees that their success lies within the power of their network.
“Your network is your wings. Done right, networking can lead you to a truer, higher iteration of yourself. Be sure to ask people for help in meeting someone who may need your gifts. Always be sure to return home with more business cards than you gave out,” she added.
Other networking pointers Cantrell-Kraig offered covered the entire business relationship process; from the initial introduction to the opportunities that will eventually present themselves based on thorough efforts put into it.
- Offer your gifts
- Do the work
- Follow-up and back it up
- Be open to receiving opportunities to increase your brand awareness
* FOLLOW the WDE16 Event Slideshow Collection within Google to View *
Honoring trailblazing women class of 2016
Emcee and Women Driving Excellence 2015 alum, Janet Davies of ABC7’s 190 North and Janet Davies Media presented the 2016 honorees. Each had an opportunity to comment on their success in achieving work/life balance.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on ingredients to her success: “Being the lawyer for the state of Illinois, we’ve tackled some mighty big problems. To do that, you need a team. Get your sleep, get in some exercise and spend time with the people who love you and support you.”
Marilynn Kelly Gardner – President and CEO of Navy Pier – joked about her approach to receiving support: “Yes, ladies. We all need a support system. We need our girlfriends and wine.”
Dominique Jordan Turner, President and CEO, Chicago Scholars on her recipe for persistence: “Education, mentorship and exposure. I make these my mission every day. Either find a way or make one.”
Kathleen Henson, Founder and CEO of Henson Consulting on creating the right kind of culture: “It was my mission to create an environment for people to find the joy that’s authentic to them. I want my teams to be happy and to help others.”
Dee Alexander, song stylist on her enlightenment after visiting impoverished countries: “We really need to appreciate what we have.”
Women leading in tech panel
By mid-day, the event focused specifically on the contributions of women in the technology space, led by an esteemed panel. Techweek – which has expanded to the Dallas and Toronto markets – was represented by CEO Katy Lynch. Yana Nirshberg, co-founder of digital branding and creative advertising firm ParadigmNext and Elisa All, CEO of parent-on-the-go lifestyle blog 30SecondMom and accompanying app 30SecondMobile – both of which will re-launch on Mother’s Day – shared their excitement in the spotlight that’s been awarded to more women emerging in the tech space.
Rosen kicked off the tech panelist introductions sharing that Chicago is home to 33% of women tech-based startups (more than Silicon Valley), to which Lynch co-signed, “There are more opportunities for women in tech now more than ever.”
The panelists concluded with sharing their go-to apps and other resources that help them achieve their astronomical levels of success.
Katy Lynch’s recommendations:
- Eventbrite, event registration and management
- Women in Technology, local women-in-tech-focused news and events
- Blue Sky Innovation, Chicago Tribune feature that offers a spotlight to local entrepreneurs. “I read this every morning to stay on top of what’s going on.”
- Slack, real-time team messaging. “I choose this over e-mail. Slack offers chatrooms and streamlines project management by sharing documents.”
- Trello, project tracking
- WunderList, planning and management
- PostMates, on-demand food delivery
- Uber / Lyft, personal livery / ridesharing
- LisaApp, on-demand beauty technician
Elisa All’s recommendations:
- Top social media platforms
- Flipboard, social news updates
Yana Nirshberg’s recommendations:
- Harvest, time-tracking
- BrightBot, creative experiences and storytelling apps for kids
- Instacart, on-demand groceries
- Luxe, on-demand parking and valet services
Attendees were entertained by a live webcast of Chicago’s first social talk show – #ChicagonistaLIVE – hosted by MJ Tam and Beth Rosen, WDE presenters. Catie Keogh, Host & Executive Producer of the Emmy-award winning 24/7 City Secrets sat in as the guest celebrity host. The web panel had fun sharing their adventures in driving. Rosen shared the fun fact that 10 million people consulted Twitter during the 2015 Chicago Auto Show as part of their car search.
Dr. Suzette McKinney of the Illinois Medical District (IMD) and Women Driving Excellence 2015 alum – along with Tina Garon, Marketing Director at Jewel-Osco – appeared as guests during the taping. Dr. McKinney shared that IMD is slated for a 1.2M square foot expansion on Chicago’s west side for initiatives that will be led mostly by women.
The Illinois medical district is a 365/24/7 environment that includes 560 acres of medical research facilities, labs, a biotech business incubator, two universities, raw development area and more than 40 healthcare related facilities.
Q&A the #Chicagonista way
Rosen and Tam opened the floor to questions during mid-taping. The panel was asked from one attendee how to successfully expand one’s brand awareness when following standard protocol doesn’t prove effective.
“Know what you want to be first, whether networking in person or on social media,” Tam replied.
Keogh concluded the webcast sharing her favorite hangouts around the city. For apparel, she cited Vintage Charm. For where to find good eats, she gave shout-outs to Green Street Smoked Meats, Swift and Sons American Steakhouse and confessed both Stan’s Donuts and Glazed and Infused are her favorites when attending donut crawls.
GPS Pitch Engine
The WDE16 event concluded with a shark tank-style competition in which four entrepreneurs pitched their businesses before a panel that included Jimmy Lee, CEO of the social startup Goodcity Chicago, Debi Lilly, WDE15 alum and Chief Eventeur of A Perfect Event, Daliah Saper, Principal Counsel at Saper Law. The prize was complimentary consultations by each of the esteemed panel. The competition was sponsored and moderated by Inventorz Network CEO Diana Cohen.
Elevator pitches were presented by the following contestants:
- (Winner) Annie Mohaupt, creator of the digitally-manufactured footwear Mohop. Shoes can be produced within an hour. Foot-tracing instruction is offered, along with a money-back guarantee. All work is produced in Chicago and the start-up has earned $1.2M to date. Pricing of the shoes range from $60 (low-end) to $150 – $190.
- Local fashion designer Jermikko presented a versatile hoodie that unzips in between atop of the hood, is reversible and can be combined with other colors by a zipper. The apparel is unisex and the price range begins at $29. Jermikko is currently seeking crowdfunding to launch her hoodie apparel.
- Maia Singletary, Founder and Chief Formulator of Astrida Naturals, pitched her all-natural, free-trade body care line.
Women Driving Excellence: how you can help
The Women Driving Excellence initiative has gained a lot of momentum and is expanding into new markets outside Chicago, (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York City.) To join the WDE community – or prepare for 2017 – visit www.WomenDrivingExcellence.com
To support women via content, engagement or sponsorship, visit the following sites:
- #ChicagonistaLIVE! Show (join community; sponsor a show): www.chicagonistalive.com
- Women Driving Excellence: www.womendrivingexcellence.com
- The Exclusive Professional Women’s Networking Group (EPWNG): www.epwng.com
- MJ Tam on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mjtam
- Beth Rosen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BethRosen
- Katy Lynch on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thekatylynch
- Elisa All on Twitter: www.twitter.com/elisatalk
- Yana Nirshberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/YanaNirshberg
- Catie Keogh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CatieKeogh
Relive the experience via the social media hashtag #WDE16 on most social media platforms, respectively.
The Chicago Auto Show ends Sunday, February 21. Tickets are $12 for adults; $7 for children (ages 7-12) and senior citizens (age 62+).