On Wednesday, October 18th, the School of Human Ecology’s 4W Initiative and the Kohl’s Center for Retailing co-hosted SoHE’s 2017 Women In Leadership Panel Event entitled Women, Wellbeing and Thriving: Trends & Transformation in the Consumer Space. Moderated by 4W’s very own Lori DiPrete Brown, four panelists gave attendees insight into the world of retail through their personal experiences as entrepreneurs, as leaders, and as women.
Meet the Panel
“Speak as if you were talking to your 20-something self,” Lori DiPrete Brown told Terese Zache (President of Terese Zache Designs in Madison, WI), Lorna Nagler (Ulta Beauty Board Member and Retired Retail Executive), Halley Jones (Owner of The Purple Goose in Verona, WI), and Rita Roloff (student entrepreneur) as she pulled an empty chair to the front of the room and turned it towards the panel. The room, a mixed audience comprised of students, 4W board members, and other professionals alike, let out a light laugh and settled in for an evening of heart-warming stories infused with life lessons and tell-it-like-it-is attitudes.
Each member of the panel briefly shared their respective experiences in their line of work. From humble beginnings to executive reign, the collective resume built by these women was no less than extraordinary. Following introductions, Brown guided the conversation through questioning the panel on how local businesses are rooted within their communities, how to achieve a harmonious work-life balance, how to find courage in the workplace, and concluded with discussing the development of an abundant mindset.
Here is just a small glimpse at what this panel had to say:
On Local Business
Collaboration. Community. Involvement. In regards to local business, these three words were the most frequently repeated and emphasized by all panelists. Halley Jones of The Purple Goose stressed the importance of finding passion in everything and encouraged everyone to take another look at “the little things” in life — whether it’s offering a guest sips and snacks when they walk into the store or stopping to chat with your neighbors about local happenings and the weather. (Or maybe thanking them for helping to clear branches off your driveway after a storm). Terese Zache added that involvement and interaction with the community is the best way to build trust and loyalty. Lorna Nagler by her experience highlighted representation and uniqueness, both pertaining to the inner workings of community and business respectively. In the end it’s all about how you, as Jones would say, “Love Local.”
On Balancing Personal & Professional Life
Do you have to choose between having a personal life or having a professional life? Terese Zache believes you can do both, but you have to “know yourself.” Challenge yourself to take on tasks, to take on both worlds, but do so in a way that doesn’t cause unnecessary stress to yourself. Know your limits. Rita Roloff, a student entrepreneur at the University of Wisconsin, says “do what makes you happy.” Enjoy what you do and the balance will naturally fall into place. Nagler, from the perspective of an employer, suggests flexibility. Let your employees know that their families can, in fact, come before their job. Jones suggests performing small acts of kindness and to always stay open to new experiences.
On Finding Courage
Sometimes as the only woman in the room, Nagler had to develop the confidence to speak up. “He was testing me,” she said while describing an experience at a past job. The executive — the president of that company, as a matter of fact — was challenging her to answer a question honestly, in front of her reporting executive who had a different opinion on the matter. It was this moment that shifted things for Nagler. She, the only woman in the room, understood that if she didn’t take this chance to speak up, the opportunity wouldn’t come again. So, she took it. According to Nagler, there’s “no waiting.” Seize the opportunity, make your voice heard, and show that you deserve to be in that room.
On Having an Abundant Mindset
For Jones, empathy is power. Not only is it important to open your mind to yourself, but you must also open it to others. Having the ability to communicate, to feel, with others is one of the most important things you can do — no matter your line of work. Roloff stressed the importance of self-reflection. To be successful, we need to remind ourselves to stay healthy and to keep our goals clear and in front of us. Many times our paths are blocked by uncertainties and challenges, however, these uncertainties and challenges do not define us. They offer us the opportunity to grow, adapt, and take each challenge into careful consideration as it comes at us. Roloff challenges everyone to find their purpose and their passion. If you only had 12 hours to live, what would you do with that time? Think carefully. Wait on nothing. Get going.
A special thank you to the 4W Initiative, the Kohl’s Center for Retailing, and all panelists.
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