5 New Rules for a New World

Lessons Learned at the Play Like a Girl Women’s Leadership Summit

Play Like a Girl traded in pre-recorded videos and webinar-style meetings with muted participants for our first-ever hybrid event. On March 19, hundreds of women and a few male allies made the long commute to their living rooms for the inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit, celebrating Women's History Month.

Meanwhile, a small but devoted crowd gathered in Nashville for the taping of the livestreamed event. These diehard supporters traveled from as far as Memphis, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, and New York City - just to be in the room. They had their temperature checked upon arrival, greeted one another with a fist bump, and kept their distance--all while smiling behind face masks. Why? They came to reconnect and look onward together (though still six feet or more apart).

In a year filled with many challenges and uncertainties, we knew our community needed us now more than ever so we worked hard to show up for them in ways that matter. And it is no coincidence we chose the theme ‘New Rules for a New World’. We even designed the live, virtual experience to include a guided breathing exercise, lightning talks, the keynote, two fireside chats, live Q&As, a DIY charcuterie board workshop, panel discussion, virtual mentorship training, and even a disc jockey.

Attendees left with their notebooks filled to the brim with empowering quotes and messages of strength, resilience and ‘you got this, girl’! We've rounded up the 5 new rules now plastered to all our bathroom mirrors:

“Everything you need is inside of you.” – Katie Goyette, TC Restaurant Group

A former “professional people pleaser,” Katie Goyette used to derive a lot of her self-worth from other people’s expectations. You can’t fault her for it—it’s a very common practice for women on the fast track to professional success. But eventually, she says, using others to fill you up will lead to burnout. It happened to her, and she has spent the past four years on a journey of self-discovery that led her to firewalking school. But, as she shared at the summit, you don’t need a certificate in firewalking to discover this important truth:

“Everything I needed was already in me,” she says. “I am enough. I am enough—as I am and how I am. I don’t need to achieve more unless I choose to. Doing things that others wanted me to do was depleting. I now ask myself, ‘What do I want?’”

 “Don’t discount the small steps.” – Amy Bream, One Leg to Stand On

Amy Bream hasn’t always been a competitive athlete. Born with a limb deficiency, she used her prosthetic leg as an excuse for not being able to do so many things. So, how did she become an accomplished CrossFit athlete who now competes at an international level? It started by setting a phone reminder three times a day. When the alarm went off, it was time for Amy to say something encouraging to herself.

“You can hear that and think it sounds so simple and even roll your eyes, but a year later I was living a completely different life. Don’t discount the small steps and don’t discount yourself. If you have a bad day, just come back the next day.”

“If you can imagine it, you can be it.” – Merary Simeon, PepsiCo

In her keynote speech about the importance of taking the long view, Merary Simeon shared a bit about her background. She grew up poor in Puerto Rico. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. The odds were stacked against her, but through the power of imagination, she was able to defy those odds.

“I decided I was going to beat poverty,” she says. “I decided I was going to graduate from high school. If you can imagine it, you can be it. No one owns your narrative but you.”

But, of course, reaching your full potential in life requires more than imagination alone. Taking the long view also requires strength for the journey. “Someone said I wasn’t smart enough—I believed it,” she says. “Someone else put limits on my career. I believed that too. Unlike me [at that point in my life], you have to respect yourself and love yourself. It has to start with you.”

“Your timeline is not their timeline.” – Maria Donnel, Beautycounter

How do you respond when you see someone else succeed? If they’re achieving something you want to achieve, it can be really easy to feel bad about yourself. But not when you keep this quote from Maria Donnel close by. “Your timeline is not their timeline,” she says.

“If you see someone winning, it’s OK to celebrate. Their win is not going to stop you from your wins. Their win doesn’t mean you’re not going to get there, too. It’s not the end of your story just because she’s ahead of you. It’s great to celebrate each other and cheer each other on. You’re going to win, too.”

“Being silent is being complicit.” – Dr. Mark Clay, HCA/Medical City Children’s - Dallas

Discrimination against women in the workplace can be very subtle, so subtle, in fact, that it can go undetected. But you won’t get away with it around Dr. Mark Clay, husband to Play Like a Girl founder Dr. Kimberly Clay and director of the congenital cardiac intensive care program at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

As an ally, Dr. Clay sees it as his duty to “see something, say something.” Like that time at a staff recognition event when he noticed his female colleagues were being called by their first names while his male colleagues addressed one another by their titles. Or, other instances involving senior leadership.

“This is the person who signs off on the employment agreements," he reflects. "I thought: 'If this level of unconscious bias exists, what does it mean [for women] when it comes down to salary negotiations?'” So many of us can recognize this as wrong and say, 'I would never do that,’ but that’s not enough, he says.

“Being silent is being complicit. As [male] allies, our role has to be to speak up and call out inequities. Don’t be a part of the problem; make sure you’re a part of the solution,” says Dr. Clay."

Raise both hands if you're inspired!? Hit rewind with the @Home Experience and get to posting reminders like these to your mirror too.

Success is a Mindset

Women’s Leadership Summit keynote speaker Merary Simeon on gaining confidence and paying it forward

It’s finally here. In just four short days, we’ll be saying, “Welcome to the 2021 Women’s Leadership Summit.” In the weeks leading up, we’ve been sharing the stories of some of the inspiring women (and men!) who will be sharing their wisdom with us on Friday.

You’ve heard from Jesse Lovejoy, Amy Bream, Katie Goyette and Linda Hope. Now it’s time you get to know Merary Simeon, a former Play Like a Girl board member, a human resources executive at PepsiCo and one of the nicest, most encouraging, most courageous women we’ve ever met.

Merary will be delivering the keynote address on Friday, and from what she’s told us, we better have the Rocky theme song queued up. “I want women to recognize that they already have everything they need to succeed,” she says. “I want them to understand that they own their own narrative. I want them to know they were made to change the game!” 

In addition to speaking, she also is lending her time and talents to our Executive Auction, which gives lucky winning bidders one-on-one mentoring sessions with executives, athletes and other leaders.

We caught up with Merary last week to learn more about her professional journey and the central role mentorship has played in her life. Catch the highlights from our conversation below and then get your ticket for the Women’s Leadership Summit.

On working at PepsiCo

While the last year has been a great awakening for many companies that previously placed little value on diversity and inclusion, Merary says PepsiCo has been focused on these issues for a while. In 1947, the company created its first Black sales team. In the 50s PepsiCo named the first woman to its board of directors. In 2006, an Indian-American woman, Indra Nooyi, became only the fifth CEO in the company’s history. Today, women represent just over 40% of the company’s managerial global workforce, and the goal is to hit 50% by 2025.

“We believe that we thrive because of our diversity,” Merary explains. “We still have work to do, but I’m confident in the work this company [PepsiCo] continues to do to empower every woman.”

One of those ways is through a pair of employee resources groups—one for all women and another specifically for women of color. In addition to being a community where women (and allies!) can connect, learn and celebrate together, it’s also a way to influence workplace policies and the company’s impact in the community. In celebration of Women’s History Month, these groups chose to highlight Play Like a Girl, and for every $25 employee donation, the company will match it. (Thanks, ladies!)

If you’re at a company that offers ERGs, Merary encourages you to get involved—even if you don’t identify with that community group. If your company doesn’t offer them (many small- and mid-sized workplaces don’t), she encourages you to seek out this type of community in other ways. “There are many community organizations that have women networking opportunities,” she says. “Play Like a Girl’s Women’s Leadership Summit is a great example.”

On finding her confidence

In addition to being an executive at PepsiCo, Merary is also a sought-after public speaker and leads transformational workshops for women. But she didn’t come by these talents easily. While taking college classes, this Puerto Rican native also was learning English. She spent some of her early career suffering from imposter syndrome—the belief that she lacked what it took to succeed while feeling undeserving of the praises she received.

“It’s not easy to stop listening to the negative voices,” she says. “If I would have believed some of the things people said to me about where I would be today, I would not be here today.”

She credits mentors with helping her beat the feelings of inadequacy. My mentors played a powerful role in helping me see in myself what I couldn’t see by myself. Now I know you can’t wait for permission to invest in yourself. You can’t allow anyone to bully you with their limited imagination.”

On being a mentor

Even early in her career, Merary found ways to pay it forward. She started by meeting with students at her former high school. “English was a second language for them,” she says. “I didn’t know English that well at the time and I was going to college. They saw me trying. We all have the opportunity to empower others, no matter our career level. You do not need a title to inspire.”

Despite taking on more responsibilities at PepsiCo, Merary still teaches a monthly leadership course at a local church to empower undereducated women to become entrepreneurs.

And of course, Merary is looking forward to meeting her mentee from the Executive Auction.

“I’ve never been part of an event like this and I’m really looking forward to it,” she says. “I can’t wait to meet my mentee and help show her how capable she is of realizing her full potential.”

Why Purpose and Mentorship Matter

Meet Linda Hope, a panelist at our Women’s Leadership Summit on March 19.

When Linda Hope started her Beautycounter business almost six years ago, she was confident her sales pitch about clean beauty products would resonate with others. Only it didn’t—at least not at first.

That feeling of failure wasn’t familiar for this Miami-born businesswoman, wife and mother who was accustomed to success. But, thanks to a strong North Star, she did what any smart and savvy woman would—she picked herself up and kept at it. 

“It was a defining moment in my career,” she says. “It felt like a failure, but it was actually the moment in which I decided to choose my dream over my fear.”

Linda will be participating in next week’s Women’s Leadership Summit, sharing her tips for how to create personal wealth - even in a pandemic. She joins more than 30 leaders donating a one-hour mentoring session to the Play Like a Girl Executive Auction. We caught up with her recently to discuss the power of a strong purpose and the role mentorship has played throughout her career.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What’s the best career advice you’ve gotten?

LINDA: It came from one of my mentors, who was a top executive at a Fortune 100 company at the time. She told me, [bctt tweet="“Never underestimate the power of networking and always leverage the discipline of following up.” That's advice @BeautycounterHQ ambassador @LindaDHope received from her mentor 20 years ago. Hear more at #NewRulesNewWorld Summit, March 19th." username="iplaylikeagirl"] This was a seed she planted in me over 20 years ago and one that is still bearing fruit today. My career success since then has greatly depended on the practice of her words of wisdom.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?

LINDA: When I launched my clean beauty business, the topic of toxic ingredients in personal care products in my community was nonexistent. As a woman of color with an audience that looks a lot like me, and considering the disparity in our toxic burden, this was a much-needed conversation that I needed to initiate. But when I did, I received a lot of objection, rejection and opposition. I learned that you have to have extraordinary patience in the process and belief in the mission you are carrying out to remain steadfast and focused. Unbeknown to many, there’s a lot of sweat and emotional equity that goes into being a trailblazer. I thank God for my strong ‘why’ and commitment to my purpose because without it, I could have easily been deterred.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: You have a daughter. How does she influence how you show up in the world as a business leader?

LINDA: My daughter is my greatest inspiration, and I am committed to being her best role model. I want to teach her by my example, not just by my words. Growing up, I was definitely more impacted by my parents’ actions than by their words. The work ethic and business acumen I have developed over the years was first instilled in me by my father and mother. I witnessed their determination and resilience in business, and it inspired me to become the entrepreneur and leader I am today.  

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: The theme of the summit is “New Rules for a New World.” What do you believe are some of the long-term implications (good and not-so-good) of the COVID-19 pandemic for women? What are your new rules for this new world—as a wife, mother and business owner?

LINDA: I have never experienced a crisis that has significantly impacted our society like the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in my life, I witnessed the world shut down and saw some of the busiest cities become ghost towns. From the loss of loved ones to the loss of livelihoods, this unprecedented time has presented us with challenges that we could never have imagined. The amount of loss that we have had to endure is devastating. As women, we often carry the heavier load of such loss and are hit the hardest. Studies have shown how women are more vulnerable economically considering the inequalities that already exist in the workforce. Also, the job loss rate is higher among women compared to our male counterparts.

But I must say, during this pandemic our resiliency and ability to pivot as women has been revealed. Many of us have become entrepreneurs during this time and have pursued more meaningful work. We figured out a way to thrive and leverage our virtual platforms. We have also gained a new appreciation for our health, our time and relationships with those we love. Having the flexibility to grow a business from the comfort of my home is what I appreciate most. In this new world, I will continue to create opportunities, and not just wait for them. I hope to make an impact in the lives of those I touch by continuing to unapologetically pursue the best version of myself as a mother, wife and business owner.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: Let’s talk mentoring. Why is it important for girls and women to seek out mentors?

LINDA: I am where I am today because of the mentorship and guidance from others that have graciously poured into me. I once read a quote that said the greatest legacy anyone can leave behind is to positively impact others. And one of the greatest values of surrounding yourself with great mentors is that you can learn in less than an hour what it took them a lifetime to figure out.

Bidding is now open for the Executive Auction, and there’s still time to get your ticket for this can’t-miss event. Join Linda and other successful, emerging and future women leaders for the Women’s Leadership Summit, happening on March 19.

Who's Rules Are You Following?

When chasing success led to serious burnout, this event planner turned within.

In 2017, it looked like Katie Goyette had it all. A career event planner, she was finally at the top—vice president of sales for the growing TC Restaurant Group, which manages some of downtown Nashville’s most popular restaurants and biggest event spaces. But emotionally, she was at the bottom.

“I built a life of success and achievement, but I was empty on the inside,” Katie says. “I was burned out, stressed out and did not like who I was, so I made a conscious decision to go inward and work with different teachers, mentors and coaches. I learned to reprogram myself, change how I react to situations and function in a much calmer manner.”

While she still works as an event planner, she’s added a couple of side-hustles to her resume. She’s a firewalking instructor (yes, you read that right) and she’s a life coach. And in November, she became an author after publishing a self-help book, “Flush the Toilet,” that uses potty humor and hilarious illustrations to encourage readers to “flush” their self-limiting beliefs, fears and excuses so they can achieve their personal dreams.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: The theme for the Women’s Leadership Summit is New Rules for a New World. What does that mean to you?

KATIE: It’s not easy being an event planner during a pandemic. To say it has been a difficult and challenging time for this industry would be an understatement. It is going to take some time to rebuild while we begin to understand what the new rules for the new world even are.

That said, while this pandemic has dealt a blow to my industry, I’m also seeing some positive changes. There’s less social interaction, for sure, but I feel like people truly value and appreciate one another on a whole new level. Creating deeper connections—that’s always a good thing. That's a new rule for me.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

KATIE: The best career advice I received was when I was in my early 20s and had just been offered a big promotion to move to New York. I remember being terrified and my mentor at the time said, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” It helped me realize the fear I was experiencing was minor, and the possible successes and opportunity far outweighed anything that “could” happen.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What career advice would you give to your younger self today?

KATIE: Enjoy the ride. I feel like I was chasing success and always wanted MORE and to be BETTER. Those are great qualities, but it is so important to stop, be present and be grateful for who and where you are in THIS moment. Learning to love yourself as you are, where you are and how you are. Don’t rush to get anywhere in life—it’s a lot more fun when you’re enjoying the ride!

If you’re thinking, “I need to meet this person now!” you’re in luck, because Katie will be joining us at the Women’s Leadership Summit on March 19 to teach a masterclass in breathing. She’s also participating in the Executive Auction, so you can bid on a chance at one-on-one mentoring with this inspiring woman. Learn more about Katie and then register for the Women’s Leadership Summit—you won’t want to miss it.