This Conference for Women Is Just the Start of an Emerging Empire

SAN DIEGO (MainStreet) — Chantal Pierrat learned early in life that to be successful, it was best not to show any sensitivity. Success required having thick skin. Being aggressive. And burying her feminine side.

"I carried that with me. And it was modeled in my family — that tough behavior got more reactions," Pierrat says. "And as I started my business career in the field of medical devices, that was definitely modeled by all of the men as a way of doing business. It was very linear at best. Not conversational. Not based on connection. And also, at worse, it was very competitive, with no room for emotion."

Pierrat however, is taking a much different approach these days, one that does not demand thick skin.

The Boulder, Colo., resident is on a mission to support the rise of feminine leadership and entrepreneurship. She wants to help women have stronger voices in shaping their future. And her ultimate goal is to weave more feminine leadership and authenticity into the business world.

It is no small task she has set out for herself. But Pierrat isn't thinking small on any level these days.

In October, Pierrat hosts her first conference in support of this mission she has embarked upon. It is called the <B>Emerging Women Live Conference</B>. And Pierrat has many goals for the fledgling event, including bringing together women of all walks of life and giving them the inspiration and courage to follow their instincts and dreams, while also helping women develop a powerful network of connections.

"In the short term, I'd like to see us come together as a community and give each other support and inspiration," Pierrat says. "But that's not the end of the story. It's about giving this gift to women across the world ... taking care of the rest of the world ... So if you're a leader in business, it's about creating programs and encouraging philanthropic endeavors. Bringing in the consciousness of the rest of the world to our work. Paying attention to how our work can make the world a better place. Building in systems where you are actually giving back and actively supporting women in other countries."

The speakers Pierrat lined up for the three-day event is awe-inspiring, given that she is a relative unknown and a first-timer. Among the list of keynote speakers who have signed on are singer Alanis Morissette; Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert; Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler; Kelly Palmer, the global leader of learning and talent development at LinkedIn ; Melissa Daimler, leader of organizational effectiveness and learning globally at Twitter and Kathrin O'Sullivan, head of cross-functional leadership development at Google .

Pierrat admits she was pleasantly surprised by the speakers' response.

"I wrote an amazing email that had my wish list and my vision. I tracked down their agents, and I invited these women through their agents," Pierrat says. "The first one to accept was Liz Gilbert. And I couldn't believe it. And I still can't believe it."

"There's no shortage of amazing women who are speaking in this space," she continues. "And that's what's fabulous about Emerging Women — it's reaching and resonating with women across platforms."

Tara Sophia Mohr is another speaker at the October event, an accomplished, trailblazing woman in her own right. In addition to publishing two collections of contemporary women's writings, The Women's Passover Companion and The Women's Seder Sourcebook, Mohr is founder of the Playing Big leadership program for women.

Mohr didn't have to think twice when she got the invitation to speak.

"A lot of my favorite women on the planet, and women who truly inspire me, are going to be there. I wanted to be there," Mohr says.

"I think this is a historical moment for women to figure out how to play bigger," Mohr says. "I really believe we have to let go of the internal legacy of living in the patriarchal world. We have had so many advances for women, in terms of external barriers — our ability to have financial power and be part of the workplace — but there's an internal legacy developed from living in a world shaped by male voices ... I see this as a time when women are doing a lot of letting go of that."

As for the future of Emerging Women, the Colorado conference is just one of many items on Pierrat's impressive, if not intimidating, list of to-do items as part of her new venture. His vision is almost reminiscent of Oprah Winfrey's multimedia empire.

Emerging Women events and offerings will take many forms. Pierrat launched the Emerging Women website in February. She has also hosted several Emerging Women "power parties" around the country, events smaller then October's conference that feature local speakers. The next one will be held in Chicago. And just a few days ago she launched podcasts. By the end of the year, Pierrat hopes to have Emerging Women television off the ground.

She is literally putting everything on the line — her 401(k), a line of credit — to make her Emerging Women dreams a reality.

"For me it's about reach — how many people are we reaching with the conversation," she says. "Are we changing lives in Afghanistan? Are we changing the way people think?"

The Emerging Women Live Conference will be held Oct. 10-13 in Boulder, Colo.

— By Mia Taylor

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