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Forbes Women's Summit and Redefining Power

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Sit back, relax and grab a coffee... this one's gonna be a longy! I am coming off a high from a 24-hour whirlwind adventure to New York City. I was honored to have received a special invite to be Moira Forbes' guest to the 2nd Annual Forbes Women's Summit celebrating the "Everything" of Entrepreneurship (my first love and passion). If you are a new reader, you might not know that entrepreneurship is in my blood, and I have been an entrepreneur since age 24, mentoring and coaching other female founders for the past 15 years and even writing my book 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Starting Their Own Business on startup.

I knew this summit was going to be magic -- I mean, imagine what happens when a room full of 250 entrepreneurs, trailblazers and change-makers get together? Electricity! Fireworks! 250 dynamic women discussing important issues, all in one room... I was excited.

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"Power does not come in a one-size-fits-all package, and at ForbesWoman we are redefining what power means. Traditionally, power has been defined as the ability to effect change, but to be truly powerful today, one has to possess an entrepreneurial mindset, spirit, and approach.

Whether it's leading a multinational firm focused on innovation, launching a startup solving a decades-old challenge, or spearheading  a social movement that will improve the lives of millions, it's all entrepreneurship. It defines every aspect of our lives.  Hosted by Moira Forbes, this multi-generational gathering of influencers will forge partnerships, find solutions and take actions to make the world a better place.

Entrepreneurs don't just come up with ideas. They make things happen." 

How It All Began...

I woke up early Wednesday morning to head to my weekly Global TV parenting segment. This week's segment: How To Create Your Family Budget.

After my segment, I drove to the airport to catch my flight.

I landed in New York, went to my hotel and got dressed for our opening dinner. I couldn't wait to meet and speak to all the women I had admired and respected for so long. Walking in, the female energy was palpable.

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One of the highlights of the night was chatting with Kimberly Williams Paisley (yes, "THE" Father of the Bride daughter, and wife of Brad Paisley). She talked to me about transcendental meditation and Alzheimer's. I told her I have been meditating for over two years, and even get my 10-year old son to meditate -- the challenge is to get the stressed out husband on board! What a truly beautiful woman inside and out.

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After following each other for a few years now, I finally met the lovely Moira Forbes in person. She was our host and organizer of the Summit.

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After the cocktail, we then split up and went off to our respective salon dinners (a few weeks ago, we were asked to choose our area of interest). Some of the areas included -- leadership, technology, entrepreneurship, etc... I was bussed to the 'technology' dinner (the topic I had chosen). And what a remarkable dinner it was. Stimulating conversation about technology and entrepreneurship, which was hosted by powerhouse Caroline Howard (who just finished making the Forbes Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World).

During dinner, there was lots of talk on daring greatly, vulnerability and sharing. Being authentic and real are the new frontier. And I say, amen to that! I say with certainty, it's the way to thrive. Putting on the "perfection" act, just keeps us stuck. But asking for help, being vulnerable, sharing and embracing social connection, ahhh, that helps us soar.

After dinner, I whipped out my Uber app and headed back to the hotel to sleep. I had been up since early that morning and was thrilled to get into bed.

Thursday's Summit wasn't supposed to officially start until 9am, but I saw saw that the Harlem School of Arts girls would be singing at 8:30am. I did NOT want to miss this. And really you shouldn't either.  I filmed them on my iPhone. Watch these talented young women!

Then the summit kicked off! The women in the room spanned decades: ages 11-84.

Today, I'm highlighting the best golden nuggets from the Summit. Wisdom and advice from women at the top of their games. Here we go...

Beware, Lots of Wisdom Coming Your Way!

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"My mom always taught me, to be a woman is huge advantage." -- Diane Von Furstenberg

"I have NEVER met a woman who is not strong. It's just that she might not show it. But her strength always comes out." -- Diane Von Furstenberg

And my favorite golden nugget from DVF! Every woman should have a purpose outside the home. YES! Watch.

I was honored to meet and chat with DVF. What a woman (who gotta love, wears her own classic dress).

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"I'm tired of us calling each other bitches and using the word "bitch," even in a funny way, like "She's such a biotch!" You know why? Because it's so much easier to neglect, marginalize, and abuse a 'bitch' than it is a 'woman.'" -- Felicity Huffman

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"The faster you can get up that hill and climb the ladder at a younger age the better, because you can then take it easy later on to take care of the kids, aging parents etc..." -- Mary Callahan Erdoes (I liked that).

"Women can have it all, just not all at the same time." -- Mary Callahan Erdoes (I personally DON'T think women can have it all and I wrote about that in a post called The Sobering Reality).

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"In our program MindUp at the Hawn Foundation, we are passionate about teaching meditation and mindfulness to our children, and even incorporating it into the curriculum at school 3x's per day. I think our children today are over-medicated and often what looks like ADD, really is not. It's my vision to teach stress management and mindfulness to our children as part of the school curriculum. We see how they thrive when we do." -- Goldie Hawn.

"What's good for your heart is good for your brain. Ex: running is good for your heart, but it's also good for your brain and fighting brain disorders like dementia and Alzheimer's." -- Dr. Paige Cramer

"Sleeping helps fight Alzheimer's and makes your immune system more efficient. The magic number? You're supposed to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night." -- Dr. Cori Bargmann 

"Beware of mom being over-frazzled, especially in front of the kids. When mom is constantly frazzled, and distracted, or on her phone and constantly multitasking, our children begin to think that that's the norm, and it's not. We have to be more mindful." -- Dr. Paige Cramer

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"When my husband started using our company money for drugs and alcohol, I knew I had to leave. I finally had the courage to leave my marriage after 10 years. When I then started my own fashion label, I called it OMO -- On My Own after truly finding myself, on my own." -- Norma Kamali (loved that).

"Our company is a new company every six months because we aren't afraid to adjust our models and change." -- Tory Burch

"Almost every entrepreneur I meet is optimistic and resilient. And courageous." --  Tory Burch

"Brand awareness is so important. Know your customers well and and go where you're wanted. We saw lots of Brazilian women buying our products, so Brazil became a natural expansion fit." -- Tory Burch

I also had the honor of meeting and speaking with Tory Burch. I admit, I was start struck. One of my favorite businesswomen.

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A great quote echoed in the audience somewhere mid day: "A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until you stick her in hot water." 

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"It's a myth that successful people aren't fearful. We all have fears." -- Robin Roberts

And a cute little antidote by Robin: "My sister and I fought growing up, and I think this is payback-- I now have my sister's allergies AND her sweet tooth because I have her DNA inside me!" Robin Roberts. (since her stem-cell transplant)

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"I look at failure as education and I am VERY well educated! I just kept coming back and not letting circumstances destroy me." -- Kathy Ireland

"I didn't feel confident 'till I hit 40. And I think confidence is what makes you comfortable in your ability. To be the best person you can be, sometimes you need take a step back and really think about what you want next." - Bobbi Brown

We've followed each other for five years but never met. Kathy Ireland is a true visionary entrepreneur (and in case you didn't know, has an empire larger than Martha Stewart's). This woman is so humble and understated, and calls herself, "frugal."

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Jessica Simpson and Steve Forbes closed the Summit.

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"When you're building something, you have to really tune into yourself, and tune out the rest of the world. I think I owe my success to the fact that I understand women. I've been every size under the sun and I think beyond New York and LA." -- Jessica Simpson (on her billion dollar brand).

Some Other Highlights of the Day...

Meeting long distance, fellow entrepreneur bud, Ali Brown. She was sweeter and smarter than I ever could have imagined.

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I had booked this trip to NY before I found out my son was presenting his French book at school. I actually went to school two weeks ago to hear him read it, but lucky for me, my husband did mom AND dad duty at school yesterday. Getting this text from school made my day.

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Home Sweet Home

And just as Jessica Simpson closed, I headed to the airport to catch my flight.

I ate a burger with a glass of wine of the airport, and when I asked my waiter for the bill, he said that the guy sitting next to me had already bought me dinner. I asked him if it was Random Act of Kindness Day. ;)

As I climbed into bed last night, makeup, dress and shoes all off, I was back in my happy place. I kissed all my boys in their sleep, and it was just another night in Montreal.

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As I reflect upon the Summit today, what really comes to mind is Martin Luther King Jr.  He said, "I have a dream, that one day my children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Coming out of that room, it felt like we had arrived. Like we had fulfilled his dream. Because in this room of Blacks, Whites, Asians, Hispanics, Jews, Christians, Muslims, there was such a feeling of solidarity and togetherness -- the only thing that mattered were our voices.

Thank you Moira Forbes and Forbes Magazine for the special invite. It was an honor to be there.

If you're curious about the 250 women at the conference, visit: http://www.forbes.com/conferences/2014/forbeswomen-2014.html

Happy Friday. I'd love to know if anything above resonated for you. Do you have a favorite quote? Please share your thoughts. xoxo