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USC Women's Conference Recap

Kristen in the Moment - Five Percent More Authentic


Who would have thought the most courageous moment of my time at the USC Women’s Conference was wearing sneakers on stage? With some encouragement from my fellow speakers, I decided to walk the talk- literally. I traded the height of my heels for the realness of my sneakers. Walking out on stage in my kicks was a moment that mattered. I didn’t plan it. I certainly didn’t plan on talking about it.


What I did plan on talking about in my keynote was authenticity. I shared with the audience that my version of authenticity is a world where everyone has the courage to walk through the world in the skin that they are and loving their whole self - that the goal should be to DO and BE your authentic self. I shared my shoe story in the moment because I knew so many people in the room could relate to the feeling of wanting to walk through the world without their feet feeling like they are going to fall off. I asked the room to join me in being 5% more authentic. I felt my 5% in that moment, and those shoes were fire and opened up a world of conversations.

I was inspired by the women who approached me afterwards- many of them eager to share their 5% more authentic. I heard coming out stories. I heard about tiaras. I heard leadership triumphs and setbacks. I heard struggle and determination. Most of all I heard engaged and empowered women determined to take what they learned throughout the day out into the world to make a difference.



Mike in the Moment - I did what I do best - I listened.


One of my big questions for the conference was, “How do I show up authentically at a conference, where likely, I’m going to be one of or the only guy in the room?” I was also struggling with what my authentic self would be throughout because it was the first time Kristen was going to share our message with an external audience. I wasn’t sure how they would see my part in the message. I struggled with showing up in a way that would allow me to be seen as someone who was respectful of the space and also engaging in conversation. When it came time for the moments, I did what I do best - I listened. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made.


Throughout the day, I heard messages much like Kristen described above. I also heard stories about allyship and sponsorship, how men in positions of power and influence made a lasting impact on the lives of incredibly successful and purpose-filled women. And at the most unexpected times, I would hear pieces of the message Kristen would share at the end of the day start to come through. The phrases, “tipping point” and, “inflection moments” came up in the presentations and panel discussions, all discussing the decisions or lessons learned from the women’s lives. All pointing back to our message of agency, intentional decision making in the moments that matter.


Throughout the day, I listened to understand, took notes, and walked away filled with a huge sense of purpose from the space that I gave and the stories that I heard - purpose to help others find authenticity in moments that matter.


To hear our full recap of the USC Women’s Conference 2023 and our company launch, check out the first episode of The Agency Initiative Podcast debuting March 16, 2023.



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