Throwing Punches and Other Things I Learned at the Innovation Conference for Boston Business Women

You guys, a single day has not inspired me so much in such a long time, especially so much that it helped me to spring instantly into action to start making little life changes.

I woke up the day of the conference, a gorgeous, sunny Boston morning, absolutely buzzing with excitement to attend (and launch our boat season later that day) and was thrilled to find a relaxation room and guided meditation available to start the day and center me a little so I could sit still. Anyone who wanted to participate in meditation got comfy as Kip Hollister, CEO of Hollister Staffing, led us through visualization and breathing, helping to set the tone and intention for the day.  Throughout the morning, many of the sessions included some time for focusing on breathing, and it was cool how connected it made me feel to the rest of the room but also how it was a reminder that we need to breathe and remember ourselves in our quest for success.

I found my blogger friend Alex, who had thankfully saved me a seat in a sea of 1,000 women. I have so many notes and highlights from the day that it’s hard to put them all into one post. I’ve been re-reading them all, especially in moments of self-doubt about everything.

There was a lot of pink, and I loved it.

Boston Business Women conference

  • Kristina Tsipouras, Boston Business Women founder, opened the conference by saying “Holy shit!”. It was funny and real, and I can’t imagine what she felt looking out over this event she and her team had created. I am in awe and just really excited to be a member of this group.


  • Joyce Chang, Editor-in-Chief of Self, was one of the standouts of the day for me. She recounted a story of her father teaching her how to throw a punch when boys at school were teasing her, and reminded us of the need to stand up for ourselves. She never had to throw the punch, but she was prepared to if she needed to. I carried that with me through the week and finally stood up for myself in a situation that I had previously taken lying down. And on Thursday night when I found myself in an uncomfortable, chaotic travel situation that I normally would have just sat anxiously in and been miserable through, I got myself out of it.


  • Colette Phillips, CEO Colette Phillips Communications, Inc., had everyone’s attention as she proclaimed that it’s a “wonderful time to be a woman in America”. She shared her story of dreaming and planning to come to Boston and then the reality of what that looked like, a woman of color arriving in Boston during busing. Seeing so many left out, women, immigrants, people of different cultural backgrounds, left out, Phillips noted that marketers were leaving money on the table, and she created a successful business on bringing those groups in. Two favorite quotes from Phillips’ session:

“Everyday we have a choice. Be bitter or better.” and “The glass is refillable.” – I loved that it doesn’t have to be half empty or half full. Either way, fill it up!

Boston Business Women Conference    The fabulous and inspiring Colette Phillips, living out loud

  • Kip Hollister led us in another brief mediation, which, with my constant tweeting and note-taking and learning, came as a perfect way to re-focus mid-way into the morning. It was crazy to hear from Hollister that, as a woman starting a business in the 1980’s a woman couldn’t get a loan by herself! I just can’t get over how things have changed (and in some ways have stayed the same). Hollister spoke about the ups and downs of her business over the course of various recessions and not attaching much meaning to failure. Listening to her helped with some of the fear that comes with owning a business. She said, “When you believe you are enough, taking risks becomes easier”, which really made me think. I know I am not alone in often thinking I’m not enough, that the number of hours I put in are enough, etc.


  • A seminar on branding featured local leaders Sarah Nunes, Director, Brand Communications, Vistaprint; Kim Dawson, Founder, K.Dawson Company; Melissa James, CEO, The Tech Connection and Anne-Marie Kline, VP Global Marketing, Living Proof, Inc. talking about brands, inspiration, and more. I loved when Anne-Marie Kline told us that at the end of each day she asks herself “Did I help, inspire, lead today?” All of the women were really about what they could give  and do for others.


  • Nora Yousif, Associate Vice President at RBC Wealth Management, led a session on the Millionare-ess Money Mindset. I am not great with financial planning, so my ears were definitely perked up as we learned about negotiating salary (95% of HR Managers are willing to negotiate! Don’t just plunk a number down and sell yourself short.) and what a millionaire/millionaire-ess looks like. Hint, it’s not always the person driving the fancy car and spending their faces off. We learned about putting money away with the goal of being a millionaire-ess by retirement to be “our own sugar mamas.”


  • I had to leave at that point in the conference, missing Arianna Huffington and other great sessions, but I loved reading the #BostonBusinessWomen tweets throughout the rest of the day. This recap by Andrea, owner of Barre & Soul barre and yoga has some great insight into what Huffington had to say. I am currently reading The Sleep Revolution and hoping to make some changes to my constantly exhausted, insomniac self.

The Sleep Revolution

Every session had some sort of insight into self-care and choosing kindness, a reminder that getting to the top by stepping on others isn’t necessary, and driving yourself into the ground helps no one.

The conference offered truly an amazing energy, with so many smart, strong, and driven women from all different backgrounds in one room, all lifting each other up. With so much turmoil going on in the world, having each other’s backs, especially as women and with our various choices and life paths, is the only way we’re going to get through happy and sane.

Boston Business Women is still taking new members. You can join here.


I received a complimentary conference ticket in exchange for a pre-event blog post. This post isn’t required; I just got so much out of the day and hoped to share a little of that with you all.

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Tags: Boston, business, events, inspiration, work

  1. Michelle Lahey’s avatar

    Wow, sounds like quite the inspirational day! And I love that boating season has officially begun, too. ;)


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