20 influential female leaders + 20 emerging young women = 40 inspired women

Guest post by Jocelyn Ling “Stories set the inner life into motion, and this is particularly important where the inner life is frightened, wedged, or cornered. Story greases the hoists and pulleys, it causes adrenaline to surge, shows us the way out, down, or up, and for our trouble, cuts for us fine wide doors in previously blank walls, openings that lead to the dreamland, that lead to love and learning, that lead us back to our own real lives as knowing wildish women.”

—Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Stories are how people make sense of their worlds. As a child, we spontaneously play out stories on who we hope to become and how people relate to one another. As teenagers, we continuously explore our own stories and others in order to understand our ever-expanding world. As adults, the stories that we tell and fall in love with are the ones we value most in this world. In a very real sense, stories are a window into how we perceive the world around us and ultimately, influences our humanity.

It is through the power of stories that Young Women in Business (YWiB) brought together 20 influential women leaders and 20 upcoming young women for an evening of shared values, fears and hopes in Vancouver, Canada this past weekend.

The 40 women came from a myriad of backgrounds: high profile Canadian politicians. Mothers. Partners of legal and financial firms. Trail-blazers. Successful social entrepreneurs. Aspiring young professionals. And above all, lifelong learners. The vision for the evening was to connect those who have paved the opportunities facing young women today, with those who have the eagerness to make a difference in their communities.

Questions posed to the both generational ends of the conversation included:

  • What has been one of your most vulnerable moments?
  • What do you not like being stereotyped as?
  • In one sentence, what would you wish most for your future self?
  • What do you look for in a business partner? how about a personal relationship?
  • What are components of a healthy relationship? (business, mentorship, romantic relationship)
  • What will be different in your life in exactly 1 year?

As the night started, each women shared genuinely her story and how she got to where she is. Several key trends and themes emerged:

1) On work and leading a balanced life

“Our (older) generation overdid it. We overcompensated for our weaknesses and gender when we should have been owning it. We pounded away and sacrificed too many things. Please be smart on how you work.”

“Work with people who have a value base.”

“Your why is more important than your fear. Women have to think bigger and take more risks.”

2) On health

“Watching someone die is one of the best and worst things in life. It puts everything into perspective. Being alive and healthy is a privilege. Cherish it while you can.”

“ Do not ever ever give up on a balanced life.”

3) On inter-generational sharing and mentoring

“My whole life has been spent being spotted and mentored by other intelligent men and women. It’s not being a man or a woman, it’s about being presentable, intelligent and knowing what you’re talking about.”

“Decisions that are complemented by men AND women are better. Include men in conversations and remember to make sure your that voice is heard.”

As attendees left for the night, each walked out a little more courageous, a little more humbled and a little more inspired by the stories that were shared over last the previous two hours. The salon was particularly a beautiful reminder on the strength of inter-generational relationships. When we start sharing from a place that is vulnerable, we start to see each generation’s defining moments – making us listen closely to people around us and more importantly, to ourselves.


-- originally posted at Levo League