Celebrating International Women’s Day in a Ballroom Full of Fearlessness

 In Mindset

Celebrating International Women’s Day in a Ballroom Full of Fearlessness

Put the words “ambitious” and “woman” in the same sentence and you’re sure to turn heads – but not for the reasons you may think. Fifty-one percent of men are more likely to call themselves ambitious compared to 38% of women (Time).

So when I was invited to interview top leaders such as Marla Beck, Founder of Blue Mercury, Mei Xu, Founder of Chesapeake Bay Candles and Iesha Berry, SVP of Diversity and Inclusion at Bank of America, in front of a room full of 250 female entrepreneurs – it was an immediate yes.

Well, maybe not an immediate yes.

It was 7:00 pm and I had just wrapped up a 2-hour strategy session with our newest coaching clients, when I got the phone call.

Merrill Lynch and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) had curated a panel of the aforementioned women and a family emergency had left them without a co-moderator. With less than 24 hours to spare, they called upon me, as the Membership Chair of NAWBO Greater DC, to represent the entrepreneurial voice.

What an honor and a freak-out moment!

Yes, I speak professionally and being a professional coach makes moderation a piece of cake but with less than 24 hours of preparation my inner perfectionist was running wild.

Here’s the thing about deciding to embark on the entrepreneurial journey – you have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

These are the moments where you get to see what you’re truly made of.

I cleared my afternoon appointments, researched these impeccable women and prepared my talking points for what was poised to be an inspirational night. Fast forward 22 hours later, I walked into the beautiful Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, with years of confidence in tow.

I was ready.

Ready to step up to the occasion. Ready to serve our panelists. Ready to pour into a ballroom full of women business owners and those that support them.

Here are a few of the gems dropped as these influential women shared their career and business journeys:

When asked about what type of opportunities globalization would provide entrepreneurs like us, Mei Xu encouraged us to always pay attention to emerging markets such as Central and South America.

Marla Beck told us the awkward story of being ignored at the cosmetics counter, in her 20s, because she didn’t carry the type of handbag that indicated wealth. Marla’s first-hand experience was the catalyst she needed to launch  Blue Mercury – reminding us that every successful female entrepreneur seeks to solve a problem.

Then, the audience exploded in applause, when Iesha Berry passionately filled us up with her stories of navigating her career while rising through the ranks at Fortune 500 companies, by being supported by champions like her grandmother. She stressed the importance of finding and being a champion instead of a mentor. A mentor will give you advice, a champion will give you the opportunity.

The night concluded with a Q & A session that could have lasted all night. That’s the power of women supporting women – we could pour into each other for hours, especially when we’re passionate.

“I hope this becomes a series!”, one woman said after we concluded.

As I said my goodbyes and walked back to my car, I knew I was changed forever. New frontiers where crossed, new relationships were formed and new entrepreneurs were created.

Thank you Merrill Lynch and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) for the opportunity to shine alongside fellow entrepreneurs.

And the question still remains…

With women-owned businesses on the rise, how can women shift their relationship with their ambition so they are embracing their high-performance drive?

This was one step closer to achieving #balanceforbetter


Queirra Fenderson is the Founder and CEO of The Ambition Studio, a professional coaching firm on a mission to end the burnout epidemic among female leaders and entrepreneurs. As a Professional Speaker and Certified Coach, Queirra has inspired business and professional audiences with her dynamic keynotes, TED-style talks and interactive workshops to embrace a new style of leadership.

Learn more about here at www.theambitionstudio.co

Queirra Fenderson

Queirra Fenderson

CEO & Founder

My clients hire me when they’re overwhelmed, burned out and exhausted from burning the midnight oil without the results to show for it. They realize that wearing busy as a badge of honor didn’t work for them in the corporate world and still doesn’t work as an entrepreneur. I coach my clients and their teams on how to develop their intuitive leadership to make quicker decisions, take bolder actions and shift into a leadership style of authenticity.

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