Women in Business

What You Missed from Ladies Who Launch 2019

Missed our second annual Ladies Who Launch conference? We rounded up twelve takeaways just for you.

By Jenna deJong

Jul 18 2019 at 9:46 a.m.

Carmelita Jeter speaks at Biz 417's Ladies Who Launch.
Photo by Brad ZweerinkCarmelita Jeter kicks off Biz 417's Ladies Who Launch conference on July 18 by encouraging all attendees to bet on themselves.

Save the Date for next year's Ladies Who Launch: July 16, 2020

Our second annual Ladies Who Launch was packed with science-backed content and research that opened the eyes of our sold-out audience. Our emcee, Dr. Alina Lehnert, founder at Lehnert Leadership Group, LLC, encouraged audience members to jot down “ah-ha” moments, affirmations and calls to action, so we decided to do the same. Here are our own takeaways from the event. 

Carmelita Jeter: Bet on Yourself

Ah-Ha Moment: Early in her speech, Carmelita Jeter, fastest woman alive, Olympic champion and Missouri State University track and field assistant coach, pointed out that to bet on yourself, you have to be willing to fail. When she didn’t land a position with the Los Angeles Police Department, Jeter’s next move was to follow her true passion: competing in track and field. Conquering race after race caught the attention of Nike who repeatedly asked her to sign a contract. Unsatisfied with the suggested pay, Jeter pushed herself to land a spot on the podium for each intensifying race she ran. 

To do that, Jeter points out she had to be willing to fail. She “claimed” and “owned” a spot for herself on each podium, but she had to be prepared to fail, and walk away from the comfort and safety of what she deemed a premature contract. Armed with self-confidence, she put herself in a position to be successful.  

Affirmation: Jeter is the first to tell you that not all circumstances are perfect. In her case, she had to borrow money from her agent to pay bills early on in her career, and more than once she was placed in lanes one and eight, which she says are traditionally losing lanes. But your circumstances don't have to determine your success. As Jeter points out, “conquer whatever lane you’re in” and continue to maintain the drive that created your goal in the first place. 

Call to Action: Numerous times in Jeter’s speech, she encouraged the crowd to set “crazy, scary goals.” As attendees filled out sponsor Spencer Fane’s accountability cards, which encouraged written goals, Jeter encouraged writing aspirations that would push their limits, make them a better person and ultimately help them feel fulfilled. 

Presented by

Spencer Fane

Priscilla McKinney speaks at Biz 417's Ladies Who Launch
Photo by Brad ZweerinkLooks aren't everything, but Priscilla McKinney, CEO and Momma Bird at Little Bird Marketing, emphasizes that a polished appearance only adds to a person's personal branding.

Priscilla McKinney: How to Build Your Personal Brand 

Ah-Ha Moment: When Priscilla McKinney, CEO and Momma Bird of Little Bird Marketing, got up on stage, she was quick to point out the importance of personal branding. She used the specific examples of some female icons, like Martha Stewart and Joanna Gaines, to illustrate how personal branding and professional branding are increasingly intertwined. 

McKinney emphasized the importance of developing personal branding through a scene from The Devil Wears Prada. Using this example, McKinney described how we make decisions every day that make statements about who we are. Choosing a stylish, put-together outfit says just as much a frumpy sweater. McKinney stressed that if we do not develop our personal brand through intentional efforts, others will assign one to us. 

Affirmation: As McKinney’s speech dug deeper, she voiced her frustration that some people ask for shortcuts when developing a sustainable brand. She said that while four simple steps or action items can be beneficial, the way to develop a brand is to change your mindset. A complex plan that digs in and questions what the direction of a brand should be makes that brand much stronger and longer-lasting. 

Call to Action: During the event, McKinney called on the audience to share their #SoleStory. She asked each attendee to take a photo of their shoes, then send it to her in an email or post it on Twitter and write a few words about what their shoes say about them. Through this exercise, McKinney offered a live demonstration of personal branding. Attendees identified whether or not they felt this one part of their outfit was saying what they wanted it to. McKinney encouraged the audience to use this exercise going forward when they make decisions about their personal and professional branding. 

Presented by

Laura Backer at Ladies Who Launch
Photo by Brad ZweerinkLaura Backer, associate director of student engagement at Missouri State and certified facilitator with the American Association of University Women, gives crucial tips for negotiating a higher salary.

Laura Backer: Work Smart: Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills 

Ah-Ha Moment: Laura Backer, associate director of student engagement at Missouri State University and certified facilitator with the American Association of University Women, pointed out that when asking for a raise, it should provide women some comfort that they already have a job. While she acknowledged the fear of rejection, she provided attendees the opportunity to realize that they weren’t asking for a position at the company, but rather for the opportunity to show their employers they are worth a raise.  

Affirmation: Backer opened the eyes of the audience to the fact that the gender pay gap is not expected to close until the year 2106. She brought the audience’s attention to the notion that while 50 percent of men negotiate an initial salary offer, only 10 percent of women do the same.  

Call to Action: Put in the work, and complete your due diligence. During her workshop, Backer gave numerous resources and tips preparing attendees for how to ask for an increased wage or more benefits. She advised attendees to practice before negotiating, to be persuasive, to research industry standards and to make a list of what they’ve contributed to their organization. 

Presented by 


Dr. Tasha Eurich at Ladies Who Launch
Photo by Brad ZweerinkDr. Tasha Eurich wraps up Ladies Who Launch with a few tips on how to be more self aware.

Dr. Tasha Eurich: Power Up: How Self-Awareness Helps Women Succeed

Ah-Ha Moment: Dr. Tasha Eurich, organizational psychologist, researcher and author, found in her research that introspecting the right way is one of the keys to being self-aware. Sometimes when reflecting, people ask “why” questions: “Why did that conversation go the way it did? Why do I feel this way?” According to Dr. Eurich, people who introspect in this way feel more depressed and anxious. 

Instead of asking “why," people should be asking “what:" “What patterns am I seeing in these conversations? What can I do better to improve the situation?” These questions lead to introspecting the right way, resulting in more worthwhile self-awareness.

Affirmation: As Eurich pointed out, the phrase "self-awareness" is tossed around frequently. In her words, being self-aware is understanding who we are and how we’re seen. Dr. Eurich used science-backed research to point out that women are usually more self-aware than men, and that those who exhibit self-awareness are usually better performers at work, are better at landing promotions and at communicating, have deeper relationships and are more confident. In her words, “self-awareness sets the upper limit for success.”

Call to Action: Seeking feedback is one of the most useful tools to develop better self-awareness, according to Dr. Eurich. However, there is a caveat: As she points out, leaders are usually surrounded by “walls, mirrors and liars.” Just because you might be close to someone doesn't mean you should rely on them for feedback. First find people whose opinions you value and ensure these people will tell you the truth, even when it’s difficult to hear.

Presented by


Biz 417's Ladies Who Launch