The wicker couches and brightly colored chairs were perfectly positioned in an intimate setting for “Girl Talk,” and we settled into our seats as the evening began with a question of comparison.
About 50 incredibly well-dressed women were gathered on the third floor of the Ferris Wheel building in downtown Flint on Feb. 24 to listen to a panel discussion designed to destroy barriers of competition between black women headed by Kaelin Anne, owner Kaelin Anne Co., a PR expert, fashion blogger and recognized brand stylist and Ebonie Gipson, the founder of I’m Building Something Consulting. The panel was made up of seven young, smart and successful women representing various fields and industries.
I anticipated the event would be informative … what I didn’t anticipate was Girl Talk would be a complete spiritual journey.
Anne and Gipson, were our guides and hosts.
Anne, who is a personal branding expert, encouraged participants to understand, appreciate and showcase their own unique personal gifts and talents, while celebrating their sisters too.
“As an entrepreneur, I believe it’s my job to fulfill the needs of others,” says Anne. “I am creating a group of strong and resourceful women to create a culture of community and sisterhood in Flint.”
Though Gipson normally specializes in helping local entrepreneurs grow their small businesses, she became an expert in creating a safe space for the women in attendance to be vulnerable, honest and transparent.
Living in the information age where, seemingly, everyone’s lives and accomplishments are on full display, one doesn’t need to scroll far to come across a picture or post with the potential to make us question our own accomplishments. So, we were curious to see how exactly these successful women dealt with comparison in their fields.
The panel’s take on the matter?
Do what it is you need to do to avoid comparing your journey to that of another.
“Comparison is a dream killer,” says Shanise Ollie, from Belle Rebel Boutique. “If you know what you are put on the earth to do, then nobody can do it better than you.”
“There is nobody who can beat you at being who you are … I’m finding Ebonie Gipson every single day. And I’m finding comfort in that. I’m finding confidence in that,” she says.
At Girl Talk we also pushed the boundaries on the concept of expertise. The conversation was free-flowing and chocked full of inspiration.
When asked, “What makes you an expert in the field that you’re working in?” the ladies had some interesting insight to share.
For Nadia Gilmore, from fashion consultant More.Moda.Mode, expertise is a matter of stepping up to meet a need.
“If somebody has a need and you can fulfill that need, and nobody else can fulfill that need in your circle, then you become an expert in your circle,” she says.
Kaelin Anne, owner of Kaelin Anne Co., and organizer of Girl Talk, says even though the term “expert” may be a strong word to use, it’s all about your confidence. She believes when you have the knowledge and experience, you have to see yourself as the expert before anyone else will.
Gipson pushed through with yet another nugget of knowledge. “We’re all experts in the making,” she says.
After all, who really decides what constitutes as expertise?
I loved the concept and the intentions behind the entire event, but I was not convinced all competition could necessarily be considered bad competition. So, I posed a question to the panel about their thoughts on the concept of “healthy competition.”
Was it simply a myth or does it have its own place in the grand scheme of things?
The verdict, according to these powerhouse women, was it’s a matter of the heart.
The ladies agreed you can draw positive things, like motivation and encouragement, from another woman’s success without perpetuating the notion there’s only enough room at the top for one.
“There should definitely be a woman that’s making you level up,” Ollie says.
When all was said and done, I believe that’s what Girl Talk did for us.
We laughed, we cried, and we leveled up.
We held one another accountable for community building, for healing our disconnections, and for pursuing our purpose.
We verbalized our needs, and stepped up to fill the needs of our sisters.
Girl Talk helped us to see that we are stronger together … forget about a competition.