Living Our Core Values: Insights From the Next Level Conference

Two days of powerful women, courageous stories, inspiring takeaways, and champagne toasts—is this real life? The leadership ladies of Stoltz have all attended the Next Level Women Leaders Conference, where they listened, learned, and publicly spoke, telling their story about getting to that “next level.” They walked away more empowered than ever, and some are now sharing their insights.

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” —Brene Brown 

As I opened my workbook to start a 2-day training about leadership, this quote immediately grabbed my attention. I knew then that I was in the right place and could not wait to get started. I was fortunate to attend Next Level Women Leaders, a 2-day workshop put on by Abbey Louie, Nancy Buffington, Stacy Ennis, and Laura Tully, four accomplished women dedicated to empowering others to lead, serve, and influence their workplace and beyond. It was an intimate gathering of 25 amazing women, from various backgrounds and industries, excited to learn about leadership through multiple training sessions focused on vision, values, writing, personal branding, public speaking, and overall presence. 

These three things resonated the most with me after the conference: 
  • Apply your core values to all areas of your life.
  • Your personal brand is just as important as your company’s.
  • Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be better.
I learned a lot about myself and my leadership style. Not to mention making real connections with several women whom I admire greatly.
I walked into Next Level knowing that I’d have to speak publicly to a room of women I barely knew and fainting was frowned upon. I knew I’d learn that I should probably purchase a slick suit and that my LinkedIn was subpar on a good day. But I didn’t realize the depth of digging I’d be doing, awkward tears I’d be hiding, and the confidence I’d be gaining. In awe of the region’s most inspiring and intelligent women leaders, I left energized, empowered, confident, and needing a new pair of block heels. 

I also internalized these three key learnings:

  • Determine what’s important to me at the core. All of my decisions should support these core values. If they don’t, it’s probably a no-go.
  • Confidence is key. Confidence will hold me back or propel me forward, and it’s completely in my control.
  • Give J. Crew all of my money.

Next Level was inspiring, rejuvenating, and at times, difficult. I looked inward (ugh). And I listened. I’ve known for years that women amaze me, every day and at every corner. Amazing women were certainly with me in that room for two days. I loved hearing from them and learning new ways to be resilient and positive. I also learned this valuable lesson: don’t wait for others to pave your path. Envision your future and grab it. This will take practice for me (I contently rode the bench in high school basketball), but I’ve begun putting effort into it over the last several days since the training, and I’m already seeing results. 

The most significant takeaway from the Next Level experience was something I think will stick with me for the long haul: I was able to identify and truly internalize the core values that matter the most to me. I was blown away by the work and process it took to clarify my values – why didn’t I already know these? How have I been going through life, love, and career without this knowledge??? It’s a relief to have them in focus now, and I look forward to prioritizing these three core values:
  • Respect
  • Authenticity
  • Leading a fun-filled life