This past week, I had the chance to attend The Keds Brave Life Summit— an empowering and inspiring event. Exceptional girls everywhere from New York City to the Netherlands gathered at the Hearst Tower on August 15, 2014 to celebrate being a brave woman.
The summit got us thinking: As women in this century, we have so many opportunities, but so much is expected of us. Take something as simple as the stereotypical way girls sit versus the stereotypical way guys sit. Women are expected to sit up straight and cross their legs, while it is fine for men to slouch in their chairs with their legs open. Why is this? Why must women be the put-together, proper gender? We don’t. The girls at this summit learned that being brave is not about being perfect — it’s about saying what you think or believe and giving it a try.
Rachel Simmons, Co-Founder of Girls Leadership Institute, kicked off the event with a poll. 62 out of 80 girls polled at the summit said that they feel pressure to be perfect. That’s a lot! In hosting the summit, Keds aimed to share their goal to inspire bravery in girls and let them know that they don’t have to do everything or have it all in order to be amazing. We don’t have to be perfect!
We got to hear from inspiring speakers like Alicia Menendez, the host of “AM Tonight,” and Lauren Berger, better know as “The Intern Queen." Menendez shared firsthand advice that hiding and living a double life is cowardly. If you aren’t feeling like yourself on the inside, it’s okay to let people know. If you need help, seek it. She advised, “We don’t know the depths of our own bravery until life challenges us. Get rid of things you feel are ‘obligations’ and find things that you love.”
Berger shared her story and her love of rejection — yes, you read that correctly. She taught us an important lesson: “Rejection doesn’t mean never — it just means not right now.” We shouldn’t get down on ourselves if we don’t get something on the first try because it clearly wasn’t meant to happen. She said that having a backup plan and a to-do list helps you cope and you should be sure to vent to the right people in the event of rejection (which happens to us all!).
As if we weren’t already inspired enough, Simmons mediated a panel discussion with Carol Baiocchi, Katzie Guy-Hamilton, Gina Kelly, Tammy Tibbetts, Dr. Dena Simmons and Lisa Tucker in which they shared their brave life stories and some great advice. Tucker, Chief Operating Officer of Shoe Show Inc., said, “It’s not going to happen when you think it’s going to happen. When one door closes, a lot of doors open.” The lesson here was that missing out on an opportunity is not the end of the world; if you keep an open mind you will see that there is so much more out there.
Dr. Simmons, the Associate Director of Education and Training at Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence, advised us to “ask for what you want.” You aren’t going to get places without voicing your opinion!
Gina Kelly, Fashion Director at Seventeen, shared with us the questions she asks herself: “What are other ways I can reach this girl? What are new ways I can use my experience?” We must use innovative thinking and develop our support networks in order to help us advance in our careers and become better at what we do.
After hearing the panel and enjoying a performance from Soul Steps, a New York City-based stepping company, we got to listen to Sarah Jones, a Tony Award-winning playwright, share with us her multiple character, one-person show in which she taught us some important lessons: “Be brave, be yourself, and be authentic, always have high self-esteem, the sky is the limit, take care of yourself first, keep an open mind, when you love someone you can be brave, and listen to your higher self-voice.” The bravery we will find comes from our true selves.
This event wouldn’t have been possible without the Brave Life Grants, in which Keds provided $50,000 to TMI (an agency of DoSomething.org), to help girls attend the Brave Life Summit. The newest one being the Change Your Community, Change Your World Grant which launched on August 15th. This grant provided up to 50 girls (between the ages of 13 and 24) up to $1,000 each to fund their charitable dreams.
This post brought to you by Keds. All opinions are 100% mine.