Michelle Patterson is CEO of Event Complete–a full service event management company. Her clients include government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations and even the president of the United States. Her most recent project is the largest women's symposium in North America–The California Women's Conference. The conference has featured well-respected women such as Martha Stewart, Condoleeza Rice, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, Jane Fonda, Godie Hawn and Gayle King. This year's conference included speakers such as Gloria Allred, Helen Reddy, and Oscar De La Hoya.
The Conference was created in 1985 by then-Govenor George Deukmejian, to “address the high failure rate among women-owned businesses by giving women entrepreneurs greater access to funding and other helpful resources.”
Fresh off the completion of this year's conference, Patterson spoke with Hearpreneur & CEO Blog Nation by e-mail to ask about Women Entrepreneurs, the California Women's Conference:
What is the California Women's Conference and what makes it special for entrepreneurs and business owners?
The California Women’s Conference (CWC) is a transformational 2-day celebration that educates, inspires and empowers women from all walks of life. For women who are thinking of starting a business, who want to take their business to the next level or for women who want the best resources to improve their health, find life-balance or just feed their spirit, the CWC is a community that will give you the tools and resources you need to reach your dreams and goals.
What were the goals for this year’s conference?
The Theme for this year was: “The Women’s Economy Starts Here.” As an attendee, whether a male or female, CWC is intended to be a place that brings all people from all walks of the life together; to gather and gain an abundance of resources amongst all these topics as well as many more: Business, health/wellness, parenting, finance, personal development, beauty, fitness/sports, charitable service.
How do you feel women entrepreneurs will help the economy?
In taking on a more dominant role in Corporate America as more women confidently climb their career ladders and step into important roles and leadership positions, the experience in Corporate America is shifting and tilting the power balance in their direction. With more women in the U.S. workforce than men, this provides an opportunity to take a stand on some important issues that continue to impact women in their multiple roles as career woman, wife, and mother.
An important responsibility you have – especially if you are in a leadership role – is to mentor other women, encouraging them to develop their valuable skills and increase their knowledge and helping them raise their value within the workforce. You are not only providing them with the assistance they need to generate additional bargaining power for themselves, but you are also building a united army of women who share a similar cause to smash what remains of Corporate America’s glass ceiling and its unequal standards of pay, benefits, and perception about the value of women in the workplace.
Women who somewhere along their path were told they would have to sacrifice who they are or what they want – that they couldn’t have it all. I believe you can have it all and our speakers, marketplace, exhibits, networking and panel discussions are designed to give women the resources they need to have it all in their lives.
What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs that are on the fence about starting a business?
- Women opening up businesses twice as fast as men – its making women aware of the resources available.
- Persistence – never give up
- Create a plan – and work your plan – review everyday before going to bed and first thing in the morning – is everyone on your team on the same page.
- Keep it simple
Statistics About the Influence of Women
“Women are also the most dominant consumers influencing fully 85% of all household purchasing decisions, including half of products that would seem more oriented to men, such as automobiles, home improvement items, and consumer electronics. The impact of women in the marketplace must not be underestimated given the Bureau of the Census states that women currently outnumber men in the United States by six million.”