Tag Archives: Chicago

this is what democracy looks like: chicago women’s march

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“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” – Coretta Scott King

Can someone tell me how long is normal to have “This is what democracy looks like!” “This is what democracy looks like!” stuck in your head? Not complaining, just asking for a quarter million of our Chicago friends.

Saturday, like millions of people all over the world, we marched alongside a diverse, conscientious, passionate, compassionate, and completely beautiful gathering of human beings in Chicago. When we filled Grant Park mid-morning, the crowds kept flowing. When we filled the streets, the march got “canceled.” And after a few hours of empowering speeches, touching performances, chants, cheers, and celebrations in languages from Hebrew to American Sign Language, we ended up taking part in the flow of the cheering, singing crowd through parts of the Chicago Loop that are usually clogged with cars. (It sure felt like a march!)

Our voices and our cheers reverberated between the skyscrapers as people peered down from condos and office buildings and hair salons. It was surreal—one of the most profoundly powerful moments of my life.

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We had so. much. fun painting our positive, hopeful signs the night before:

Make America Love Again // back: Be the Light!
Make America Hope Again // back: There Is No Planet B!
Make America United Again // back: (American flag)
Make America Kind Again // back: (big sparkly heart)
Make America Nasty Again (we couldn’t help it!) // back: Who Run the World?
No Justice, No Peace // back: Love Trumps Hate
Who Run the World? // back: GIRLS!

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We found a kindred spirit with her empathy sign! This woman had also attended Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

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Never before could I ever have imagined that many people could come together so peacefully, positively and inclusively. The theme of the march was “Connect. Protect. Activate.”—which we repeated and yelled and hopefully imprinted on our memories to carry with us to do something about the issues we care about after Saturday!

In fact, that was one of the key takeaways: If this march just resulted in us patting ourselves on the back for taking part, and that was it, it was nothing more than a pep rally. This was a wake-up call, a gigantic moment of empowerment, a call to action—and it’s just the beginning. It’s up to us to take this from a moment into a movement.

Some ideas: 
Run for office!!!
Save your Senator and your Representative’s number. Call frequently.
Volunteer regularly with an organization that supports an issue you care about.
Actively open yourself to and seek opportunities to have conversations with people of different backgrounds and ideologies.
Subvert systems you oppose: grow your own food, make your own clothes, create “sharing economies” of your own, help out at a local school.
Add more in the comments!

Since the March, I did find out that some pro-life groups were turned away from partnering, which is a complex and difficult issue in and of itself (here’s one interesting discussion of the limits of and intersections between a feminist and being pro-life). But I also found it heartening to see a few women’s signs proclaiming those views as well.

As the Women’s March emcee and so many people said, this event was about everyone and so much bigger than one particular passion; no matter if we struggle to understand each other’s issues or experience them ourselves, we must come together to move forward, collaborate, and never, ever give up. Divide and conquer is our government’s prevailing philosophy, it seems, and it certainly need not be our own.

I personally am Catholic and deeply cherish our Catholic social teaching, so no matter the opportunity, I am grateful to be able to have a platform (or crowd) in which I can jump and smile and shout about the earth, the vulnerable in our society, the importance of putting people before our economy—and more.

So, to all the people who marched: Thank you.

To all those who marched before us: Thank you.

To the others talking about the March and, in the future, writing about this in the history books (!!!): Thank you.

And to those with criticisms and questions: Thank you.

Together, all of us will keep this messy experiment in democracy flowing forward, and for better or for worse, we will write history.

How will you contribute to our nation’s history today?

meet nicole: leading ms. tech to support women startups

Nicole Yeary, Ms. Tech, People with Panache

“But I think there’s a real critical piece to all of this,” Nicole says. “It’s not just me—there’s a team of people who help to make all this happen. That’s why I think Chicago has the largest number of female founders—because we’re so willing to help each other.”

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be; I always knew the woman I wanted to become.”

Diane Von Furstenberg’s words perfectly illustrate Nicole Yeary’s career path—and this quote happens to be one of her favorites.

Nicole, founder of Ms. Tech, lives by the philosophy: ‘Do today with what you have.’ I so appreciate Nicole challenging us to remember to use the resources we have access to right now and do the best we can do. One day at a time, it adds up.

Ms. Tech ties together women, business and technology from within 1871 in Chicago, the largest tech innovation hub in the country. Chicago is the world’s capital of female founders—30 percent of Chicago’s startups are founded by women, compared to the 18 percent national average—and Nicole has now entered those ranks. Continue reading

meet anne: juicing for wellness in chicago

Anne Owen, Owen + Alchemy, People with Panache

“Being the person I want to be and being surrounded by people I find inspiring and creative fulfills me,” Anne says.

For the past three years, I’ve been on a health journey to try to figure out why the foods I love so much suddenly stopped loving me back. It’s like a classic text message break up: quick, painful, out of nowhere.

This March I finally did an elimination diet and discovered my biggest problem is gluten—luckily for me, it’s the trendiest of food intolerances. I also discovered I just don’t eat enough vegetables every day. I had no idea (a) how many veggies you’re supposed to eat, and (b) how few I was actually consuming. So my favorite way to get all those good for you greens became through homemade green smoothies. You can consume a couple servings of greens in one sitting, and with just a little apple or lemon, it tastes great, too. My latest favorite combo: spinach, kale, pineapple and cilantro.

I also discovered a new juice brand popping up around Chicago: Owen + Alchemy. Coincidentally, I learned that Owen is Anne Owen, a woman I quasi worked with at Modern Luxury media, my first job out of college. Naturally I had to track her down and find out how she went from being the publisher of Miami magazine to owner of a juice bar. Continue reading

meet kristen: lawyer changing chicago workplaces

Kristen Prinz, People with Panache

On challenges in her career: “One challenge I’ve had is just starting my own firm and becoming a boss. I thought I would be a really good boss when I quit my job and started my own firm, and then after a couple years I realized, I’m probably doing a lot of things wrong.”

“We had a week-and-a-half-long jury trial. The other side had been overly cocky the entire time. I had a dream two weeks before the trial that we were going to get a $10 million jury verdict. So, because of my dream, we changed the entire strategy of what we were presenting to the jury. And then we got the $10 million jury verdict! How funny is that? It wasn’t really a dream—it was a vision.”

They say if you verbalize what you really want, it’s more likely that you’ll take the necessary steps to make it happen. Apparently dreaming works, too!

I met Kristen Prinz at Money Smart Week 2016. She was a panelist for “It’s the Money, Honey!” the equal pay event, and her passion couldn’t be more obvious. Already, I knew she had to be on the blog.

Kristen started her own law firm, The Prinz Law Group, in 2009 to specialize in employment law. Her firm works with both employees and employers—with, not against, one another. For companies, they will prepare handbooks or represent them if an employee is suing them. They only represent individuals if they haven’t also represented their company. Through improving workplaces, Kristen affects people’s day-to-day lives, and she loves it. Continue reading

meet carolyn: trailblazer in chicago’s financial industry

“Some of the guys thought that because I’m blonde, I was dumb. So they would talk about their trading strategy in front of me. And I would just listen and absorb everything they were saying.”

Carolyn Leonard, DyMynd, People with Panache

Carolyn’s philosophy on investing: “Diversity does go to the bottom line: all diversity – racial, gender, sexuality. If you’re looking to invest in companies that will outperform their peers, look for diversity and depth of experience in the C-suite and the board of directors.”

Way to turn lemons into lemonade and jerks into teachers, Carolyn!

In some ways, Carolyn Leonard’s story isn’t uncommon. She entered a “man’s world” and was treated brazenly unequally—but that’s where any notion of Carolyn being average ends.

Carolyn, 73-year-old entrepreneur and founder of DyMynd, says in America there are 9.2 million women-led companies with an economic impact of $3 trillion. While discrimination like she experienced keeps lingering longer than seems acceptable or necessary, we women can change it—together. And we are.

As one of the oldest entrepreneurs in the country, Carolyn is a real-life testament to facing your fears, taking risks on yourself, and never giving up. From being one of the first women to trade on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange to starting her own business four years ago at age 69, Carolyn’s story tells itself. Continue reading

happy 10th anniversary, motion pr!

Things were a little different 10 years ago.

It was 2006, and…

George W. Bush was president.

The RAZR was still the world’s best-selling phone, and the iPhone was just a twinkle in Apple’s eye.

Pluto ruined childhood mnemonic devices everywhere and lost its status as a planet.

Twitter came chirping into our lives—and we had only just been invited to Facebook!

Crash won best motion picture—and if you haven’t seen it, Netflix has it on DVD.

Steve Irwin, the “Crocodile Hunter,” sadly died on the job from being stung in the chest by a stingray.

The Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews—a major win for Chicago.

The TSA banned liquids and gels from air travel—a major loss for just about everyone who flies. Not that we don’t appreciate the extra safety I suppose.

Alysse and I started our senior year in high school—a year before we met at Drake. We still loved Seventeen magazine, not even imagining that we’d someday have friends who worked there.

And Kimberly Eberl started her PR company, Motion PR, 10 years ago to this day. As one of the first to join our Panache family back in 2013, at the time I interviewed her, she had 6 employees; now, she has 19! And of course, a brand new office to accommodate everyone. In honor of her 10th year in business, we asked for Kimberly’s top 10 lessons learned.

People with Panache: Kimberly, what is your secret sauce for success? How did you make it 10 years and going strong? Continue reading

meet coco: chicago beauty and technology entrepreneur

 

Coco Meers, PrettyQuick, peoplewithpanache.com

“Swing for the fences in terms of fundraising and goal setting—be very aggressive,” Coco says. “If your goal is to make money, you should not be raising venture capital unless you can see the path to being a billion dollar business.”

You are important.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of self-care. Not just that you should do it—re: every self help book and inspirational quote ever—but what it actually means. For me, it has two parts.

Part one is reflection. People spend a lot of time getting to know each other, and not enough time getting to know themselves. How can you care about what others need if your own needs aren’t being met? Answer: You can’t. It’s like the airplane mask thing; you have to put yours on first. Reflection helps you dial in to what’s going on with you right now, your wants and needs, what kinks need to be worked out, what path you’re on. Without this kind of knowledge, it actually becomes harder to form healthy relationships with other people.

The tough part? You guessed it: time. Spare me the saga; we’re all busy. So, I practice taking mini moments to self reflect many times throughout the day… on the bus, walking to the grocery store, in the shower, basically any time I’m in a bathroom. I savor those moments—that’s usually when the aha happens! I stop thinking about everyone else for just a few minutes of my day and, instead, think about how I’ve been feeling and behaving, what I’m doing and if it aligns with my beliefs and aspirations—then what can I do to change it if not. This daily practice keeps me focused and centered on my way forward. Continue reading

meet lesley and jami: chicago entrepreneurs helping women cover up with confidence

Jami and Lesley, Bwell 11, People with Panache

Jami (left) and Lesley (right) met in 6th grade. “We were in the same homeroom, and we just clicked,” Jami says. “We’ve been best friends ever since—and now we’re 51!”

Cancer and Crohn’s disease.

I knew these scary-sounding, taboo things would be major topics of discussion when I went to interview Lesley Foreman and Jami Weiman, both 51. But as I opened the door to Lesley’s office, where she has her therapy practice, the first thing I saw was the pair of them giggling while Jami sprayed Lesley with something to stop static cling. Her silk shirt wasn’t cooperating. They looked at me and laughed harder now that I’d caught them. I laughed too, and all my fears melted away.

Jami has been living with Crohn’s disease for more than 35 years, and Lesley was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 48. They told me about their friendship, growing up together, and the impact their respective diseases have had on them—and how that led them to create Bwell 11. Bonus: I also learned that Jami attended Drake University for a year—our alma mater! Go Bulldogs!

Launched on July 15, 2015, Bwell 11 is a line of versatile fashion swimsuit cover-ups. Their Bandtastik can be worn in seven different ways to cover up a number of areas on your body from thighs to chest. The Bandiva is a colorful head scarf that can get wet and still stay firmly in place. It seems so fitting that swimwear that makes you feel comfortable and beautiful—even in life’s toughest moments—comes from such a kind and loyal friendship. Continue reading

people with panache turned three!

Panache Parties

Our 2015 People with Panache parties! The top is the whole crew in Milwaukee at the Ruby Tap. Bottom is the Panache women in Chicago at Beauty and Brawn Art Gallery and Think Space.

People with Panache just celebrated our third birthday! So we looked back on our year, and some themes popped out: Courage. Creativity. Commitment. And, of course, compassion.

The women we’ve met through this adventure traversing the Midwest aren’t doing what our culture would consider “realistic.” If there are rules related to what they’re doing, they’re breaking them. They’re setting their own paths, sticking to them and making plans that become reality. Beyoncé’s not the only one, ladies.

Whether your dream is to have a solid job so you can take your two weeks at the turquoise-iest beach a plane can reach, or you will not stop until you start the business that puts your values out into the world, we are with you.
Continue reading

meet erika: woman thriving fearlessly in chicago

Erika Gilchrist, WTF, People with Panache

Erika also started the WTF Institute, where coaches and speakers can license award-winning content (created by Erika of course!) for two to three years and present it. It has three modules in a nice progression. She wants women to understand that they’re not valuable because of what they DO, but because of who they are.

Erika Gilchrist is a woman of juxtapositions.

She grew up in a large family with a packed house—but is an introvert who needs a lot of alone time. She absolutely adores children—but has no desire to have any of her own. She’s been performing on stage practically since birth—but merely the thought of being squished in a large crowd makes her anxious. And she’s happiest when she’s helping other people—but also feels that it’s selfish (in a good way!).

As we sat in Erika’s favorite park on one of the last beautiful fall days in Chicago, we ruminated on many other aspects of Erika and spent a long time talking about communication and how people so often get it wrong.

“It’s a balance—understanding how other people operate so that you’ll know how to communicate with them, even if they’re the polar opposite of who you are,” she says. “That whole thing about treating people the way you want to be treated… I’m like, No. Treat people the way they want to be treated.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: The tug of war between introverts and extroverts can be exhausting—one wanting to hang out all the time (E), the other always wanting a night at home to relax (I). With better quality communication, this struggle isn’t necessary. I opened with Erika’s quote because as you read the rest of our story about her, this notion permeates so much of her actions, thoughts and advice—finding success in any job or industry or business endeavor is about engaging and activating your human network. And that is what Erika loves to help people do. Continue reading