Warning: lots of alliterations ahead. If you were one of the 1,500 women lucky enough to attend Blavity’s Summit 21 conference in Atlanta not only did you get to see a bunch of badass black beauties bossed up, but you got practical, yet powerful advice to take your career to the next level.
Oh, yes honey. Edges were snatched, wigs were tossed, pearls were clutched and if you didn’t know the steps to Beyoncé’s Before I Let Go challenge, you damn sure knew it by the end of the conference.
I typically steer clear of conferences because I find that they’re long on inspiration and gorgeous flower walls, but short on real life advice that I can apply after the conference ends. I’m happy to report that this was not the case at Summit 21.
In fact, I’m still unpacking and already thinking about next year. I honestly don’t know how they’re going to top themselves.
Organizers put together an incredible slate of powerful women who are big on words and even bigger on action.
US Congresswoman, Maxine Waters, businesswoman, Tina Knowles-Lawson; blogger, Mattie James; influencer, Alex Wolf; high ticket sales coach, Jereshia Hawk; finance guru, Marsha Barnes and actress, Essence Atkins were just some of the incredible speakers who addressed the audience during the two-day conference. And they delivered.
All of them seemed genuinely happy to share their knowledge and offer tangible tools that anyone can use to experience a career and personal breakthrough.
Lots of people have been reaching out to me begging for a rundown of the conference. So, I decided to do a Top 6 blog to let people know why this event needs to be permanently added to their calendars.
- The MVP Of Speakers. Summit 21 does not play when it comes to putting together its speaker list. It reads like a Who’s Who of society. There were lots of heavy hitters and even those who weren’t household names bore impressive bios. This was a serious crew. That alone will get you hyped. But, the part that I loved the most is that the women they assembled aren’t highfalutin. They were all very relatable.
- A Real Roadmap for Success. It’s not all inspiration. For those attendees who feel like they have plateaued, they got out-of-the-box advice on what they should be doing to make more money and attract clients. Creatives often undervalue themselves and charge rates that are just too low. One of my favorite speakers, Jereshia Hawk, acknowledged that. She gave attendees the verbal kick in the pants they needed to get moving and increase their income. Her advice, take your current rate and triple it. But, she noted that you’d better give the client a lot of value.
- You Never Know Who You Might Meet. Sometimes we get so focused on the big names on the speaker schedule that we forget that the girl boss sitting to our right is already doing big things or is on the verge of greatness. Summit 21 attracted many talented people from all over the world who were eager to share tips and partner. I was happy to meet many of them.
- Location Location Location! Atlanta is black Hollywood, ok. Let’s just get that out of the way. Everything about the city is lit, yet it still maintains its southern charm. The city is perfect for creatives and the people are friendly and colorful. There’s always something interesting to see and the food is to die for. If you’re in the Piedmont Park area be sure to stop at The Flying Biscuit Café on Piedmont Avenue. They serve some of the best southern cuisine.
- Instagram Spots On Overload. Blavity was clearly trying to break the Internet. Every single corner of the conference center was Instagram worthy. The aesthetics were everything, from the magical entrance with the lavender colored flowers hanging from the ceiling to Sally Beauty’s vibrant booth with the transparent egg-shaped swing. There were positive words of affirmation plastered on every wall and on the floor. The spirit of Beyoncé was everywhere as there was a booth with a full bedroom set up and a sign that read, I Woke Up Like This. It took me and my friends two days to get through everything. It was simply gorgeous.
- You Will Not Be Bored. If you said you were bored, you wanted to be bored. The MCs were very entertaining and the DJ kept things hyped by playing a solid mix of current songs and classics. I don’t know what voodoo rapper Juvenile performed on his track, Back That Thing Up, but I swear, every single person in the building ran to the dancefloor the minute they heard, Cash Money Records taking over for the ‘99 and the 2000. There was hula hooping, flash mobs, shopping, runway shows and a whole lot more. We spent two days learning the dance to Beyoncé’s Before I Let Go challenge and ended up performing it for her mom and Maxine Waters. You can’t even begin to imagine how incredible that was.
Some Tips You Don’t Want To Ignore
If you’re planning on heading to the next Summit 21 conference, I have a few tips.
Get to the city a day before the event. Planes get cancelled or delayed. Anything can happen. It’s best to arrive, get your bearings and then relax. One of our speakers didn’t make it due to the poor weather.
Bring a damned good camera. God was truly looking out for me because my phone’s camera sucked. But, my friend, Ianthia Ferguson was kind enough to take photos of me and I’m forever grateful because I would have missed lots of amazing shots.
Bring a good friend. Yes, one of the goals of the conference is to meet new friends. But, it’s always better when you have someone you already know with you. It just makes everything more fun. And they save you when your camera fails.
Bring a warm sweater or jacket. The weather changed drastically in Atlanta and the conference rooms got really cold. Do not, I repeat, do not leave your jacket, no matter how warm it may seem outside at the moment. You will regret it.
Eat a big breakfast. Summit 21 offered a continental breakfast – mostly pastries, juices, yogurt and oatmeal. You’re going to be there for hours. You’re going to get hungry. The lunch, while tasty, consisted of salads and deli sandwiches and you don’t get refills. So, have a hearty breakfast and bring snacks or better yet, just go to lunch with your new friends.
Bring your business cards, books that you’ve written, whatever you have to showcase yourself. I know what you’re saying, duh! But, guess what? Lots of people did not have business cards. You are your business and if you don’t have a card, it shows me that you don’t mean business.
There’s a whole lot more to talk about and I plan to write about it in the coming days. Stay tuned!