Hundreds empowered to ‘step up’ as fifth-annual Success Women’s Conference kicks off
With a rousing welcome from its trio of directors and a motivational message from former NFL player Shawn Harper, the fifth-annual Success Women’s Conference was off and running Thursday morning.
Excitement swelled among the hundreds of attendees, who came from throughout the country to recharge, grow, learn, connect with their peers and have fun. Success is a top conference in the nation for professional women.
“Are you ready to step up?!” co-director Dorothy P. Wilson asked as she welcomed the audience, who replied with energetic cheers and applause. Wilson was joined on stage by fellow co-chairs Kearn Cherry and Tiffany D. Bell as the conference kicked off at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.
Teasing to some “really exciting news” over the next few days, Wilson also spoke about the “power of togetherness.”
“When women come together, we can do amazing things,” she said.
Emcee Che Brown got the women on their feet before introducing Harper, who urged the crowd to “play to win.”
Despite being diagnosed with learning disabilities in his youth, and being told he wasn’t fast or strong enough to play NFL football, the professional athlete turned executive coach overcame his obstacles — and he challenged conference attendees to do the same.
“Underneath all that despair and self-hatred and anger, there was a dream,” Harper said, adding, “Never allow others to create your world, because they will create it too small.”
He invited the women to raise their hand, ball their fist and symbolically “toss” their obstacles and doubts into a telephone book he held in his hand.
As the crowd chanted, “Rip my book,” he tore it apart and told attendees to abolish their expectations for the weekend — opening themselves to the possibility and potential the conference offered.
“Winning is what each and every one of you was created to do,” Harper said. “Winning is in your DNA.”
The opening session ended with a panel discussion featuring conference speakers Cheryl Wood, SharRon Jamison, Sharon Delaney McCloud and TeeJ Mercer, who talked about “Finding Your Best You.”
“Being my best me allows me to forgive myself,” said McCloud. “It is practice, not perfection. It is progress, not perfection.”
Thursday’s packed schedule included numerous Grow Labs, led by knowledgeable speakers and separated into targeted tracks — including entrepreneurs, personal branding, corporate leaders, social media, money talk and re-energize. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., attendees and the public could browse a newly expanded marketplace and expo, where dozens of vendors offered a host of products and services.