Over the last several years, Fargo INC has partnered with Ladyboss Midwest to help shine a spotlight on local women who are making a difference in our community. Through programming and events, they have created a community of leaders, allies and resources for our business community. This year they hosted their first retreat “Flow” which took place at the beautiful Grand View Lodge, in Nisswa, MN. Spotlight had the opportunity to send two of our team members, Client Relations Manager Jenny Johnson and Editor and Photographer Geneva Nodland. Hear all about their experiences from the perspective of Jenny, a seasoned professional, and Geneva, a young professional just starting her career. You will also hear about their takeaways and lessons learned along the way.
Going into this opportunity I was very excited to get away with some of the most inspiring leaders in our community. I have been building my career over the last 13 years, since I graduated college, and through every experience similar to this I have transformed into a better version of myself.
Coming off the back of the pandemic and having my daughter join our family last year, I was ready to get back out and focus on some professional and personal development wrapped up in a weekend away at a gorgeous location. I was focused on being “Jenny” instead of “Mom” and was thankful I was awarded the opportunity to attend through Spotlight. Working mothers have so many “rocks” we carry and, as Danya Del Val touched on at the retreat, if you don’t move the rocks (or things holding you down) you can’t flourish and grow. Another excellent tip from Danya was to “see your life as a geode.” You might be thinking, what is a geode (I know I was thinking that)? You might see a geode as an ugly rock on the outside, but on the inside they are sparkly and beautiful. I really liked that analogy and it reminded me to find opportunities to look into myself to see my inner greatness and to make sure that the difficult things that have happened to me don’t define me as a person. It reminded me to instead learn how to use those experiences to form a foundation to continue to help me grow.
Women for Women
Another speaker at the event was Michelle Kommer. I have had the pleasure of working with her in the past and I will tell you she has such an infectious personality and an impressive wealth of experience and knowledge Her keynote, called “Women v.s. for Women!,” zeroed in on amplifying other women rather than bringing them down and how first impressions aren’t always correct. In addition, she really emphasized the impact of messaging. We are bombarded online and it can cloud our perspective and negatively affect our self-esteem. She advised to pay close attention to the messages that are not serving you, to be your authentic self and help lift others up.
Wynning your Way in Business and Life
Going into the retreat, I was feeling very overwhelmed with tasks and felt I had limited time to complete them due to the other responsibilities, meetings, manager duties, etc. I almost felt blocked from my goals to accomplish milestones and finish projects. I know a lot of that was a mental block and I needed to find ways to break everything down in a manageable way. I eally enjoyed a section of the retreat called, “Wynning your Way in Business and Life” presented by Michael Kithcart. She shared a few case studies of some of her clients and if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought she had my room bugged as it was so similar to how I was feeling. She shared a story about a woman with two children who was looking to thrive in her career but was overran with tasks and calendar appointments and didn’t know how to make it happen. Michael talked about how she helped her break everything down in a manageable way and visualize how to achieve her goals. She spoke on the importance of talking to yourself as the person you want to be rather than the person you are. If you want to be successful in all aspects of your life, talk to yourself like you’re already there. Sometimes you can fall into a slump or find it difficult to be motivated, her tips were to celebrate the achievements even if they are small, to acknowledge weekly wins and to say no to things that don’t help you achieve your goals.
While at the retreat I was able to connect with our new FMWF Chamber of Commerce CEO, Shannon Full. Let me tell you something, Shannon is a ton of fun. I felt so empowered seeing a woman in such a high-level role being her true authentic self. It is not often that you find someone of that caliber being so down to earth and unapologetic for being herself. When Shannon was doing her keynote she dove into this more and how to be a catalyst leader. She talked about how to be boundless, resilient, authentic vulnerable, empowering and to live your life with passion.
The Vision Board
In addition to some of the great speakers, we also had an opportunity to look inward participate in an activity to create a vision board. We sat down and created a long list of goals and then determined the top five to focus on this year. As we went through a huge stack of magazines, we were able to find images that would help illustrate what we wanted to focus on in our life in a visual way. I landed on a blend of professional and personal goals, including working towards a new title and plan to focus more on leadership, management and development at my company, in traveling, making more memories with my kids, more dates with my husband and even exploring opportunities to start speaking at events myself.
I could talk about so many more experiences and lessons I learned from how to “Command the Room” from Bethany Berkley and Katie Munion to tips from Saree Janz on “Attracting Abundance” All in all, I was very pleased with the event and the opportunity to gain some knowledge and strengthen relationships with other leaders in our community.
“…in the process of rumination, you are created.”
When I was first offered the chance to attend a retreat, my excitement barely settled in before it was replaced with nerves. While sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m still new to the professional world, I’m reminded of it when opportunities like this arise. Luckily, I share this small part of the world with someone who has had professional experience and is willing to not only share that knowledge but take me under her wing while she’s at it.
When Jenny and I pulled into the beautiful resort, Grand View Lodge, at the start of the retreat, we could feel the excitement buzzing in the air. Our first night included a welcome dinner and network reception to kick off the weekend. While I was still in awe that I was in the same room as so many influential women, Jenny began to introduce us to them. The bulk of the retreat took place Friday, a day full of inspiring stories, empowering activities and opportunities and capped with a dance party.
Dayna Del Val was our first keynote speaker. She shared her journey to discovering and rediscovering her spark.
Dayna expressed some of her highs and lows and the process of getting through them. She explained how each experience, good or bad, makes us who we are, this quote stuck with me from Dayna’s keynote.
Up next we heard from Michelle Kommer, who spoke on women’s relationships in the workplace. She titled her keynote “Women v.s. for Women!” Michelle explained the importance of valuing and nourishing work relationships, especially considering how much time we spend there. Through different research, it’s been found that women often compare themselves to other women, especially those in leadership roles. There are many theories as to why this happens, but either way, it can lead us to have a women vs. women mindset.
But as bleak as it may sound, we don’t have to be stuck in this vicious cycle. It takes women to turn this mindset around, and it can be as simple as shifting your perspective. Michelle suggested a few questions to ask yourself to help gain this new perspective around other women; what can you learn from her, and how can you help her? Michelle reminded us of this quote: “Women alone have power, women together have impact.”
In the midst of our inspiring morning, we broke for a “Fika break” and when we returned, we were greeted by Michael Kithcart. Michael dove into the topics pf the power of visualizing and how envisioning what you want can lead you to make those visions come to life. As Michael spoke on this process, I couldn’t help but think about the idea of manifestation. While the history of this act is wide, the idea is powerful, simple and an easy everyday task to help you meet your goals.
Michael told us stories of her clients, including the achievable, but not small, goals they came up with. She reminded us through small wins, come big achievements, but to be aware of the unsustainability of being an “achiever” and rather aim to be a consistent performer.
Michael shared a quote with us that she shares with her clients: “Everything always has been, is now and will always be fine.”
Our last morning speaker was Shannon Full, describing what it means to be a catalytic leader. There wasn’t a better way to wrap up the morning than with a lesson on being a leader from one of the community’s experienced. Shannon shared stories and examples for key leadership qualities like boundlessness, authenticity, vulnerability and empowerment.
Upon arrival at the retreat, Jenny and I connected with Shannon and some of her team from the FMWF Chamber of Commerce. They were kind, inviting and hilarious, and I was able to witness and understand what a catalysis leader looks like and the joy that brings.
After lunch, we had the opportunity to participate in a number of amazing breakout sessions and reflection activities like a guided hypnosis session for “attracting abundance” and a vision board activity. While I had heard of the vision board exercise before, I had never done it and didn’t quite know what to expect. After a brief reflection, Michaela Schell walked us through a process to come up with a variety of goals to keep in mind while we hunted for magazine clippings for our boards.
There was something so refreshing about not limiting ourselves to “realistic” or “not realistic” goals and just being able to be creative with imagery we connected with.
Having just recently entered the professional working world, the vision board activity was particularly a challenge for me. I thought, ‘My goal after college was to get a job, so now what do I do?’ But through Michaela’s questions, I pressed myself further and came up with a creative and encouraging vision board (and one that I wave goodbye to every day on my way out of my apartment).
I would be lying if I said the vision board activity was the only challenge at the Ladyboss retreat, in fact just going was a hurdle in and of itself. I think that it’s normal for young professionals to have hesitations about their validity, whether that be in their actual work, their work relationships or in my case, an amazing opportunity like this. But I am extremely glad that I jumped that hurdle and attended this retreat. Having a mentor there with me, hearing from so many successful women and meeting even more from our community encouraged and reassured me and eased my anxieties going into the weekend. I walked away from the retreat feeling nothing but inspiration, gaining plenty of professional and personal skills, and acquiring the confidence to navigate my path.
Just because it doesn’t turn out as you imagine, doesn’t mean it is the wrong path.
• If you don’t do something within 48 hours there is a 90% chance you won’t do it.
• Anyone can be an achiever, transform and strive to be a high-performer.
• If you’re not going to give it 110%, you may well not even do it.
• No one is you and that is your superpower.
• Revise how you not only how you think but talk about your life.
• Instead of comparing yourself to women, ask yourself: What am I learning? How can I help?
• You can be humble and still have pride in your accomplishments.
• Notice your tendencies and make an effort to stop and realign.
• Create success your way and acknowledge your weekly wins.