Tory Johnson, founder and CEO of Women For Hire, understands the influence that women have on the global economy. Her conference, Spark and Hustle, provides them with the tools they need to convert that power into a successful business.
Spark & Hustle Chicago 2011
If you're looking for a quick fix or a one-size-fits-all solution for your business, you won't find it at Tory Johnson's Spark and Hustle events. What you will find is a room filled with women who have a dream and are ready to make it happen. You will notice the undeniable bonds being formed while attendees receive an infusion of unparalleled support, valuable resources, and inspiration from those who are living the dream.
As the workplace contributor on ABC's Good Morning America, founder and CEO of Women For Hire and best-selling author of five books dedicated to career success, Johnson's mission is to help others create their own blueprint for success.
"People have it in them to make it happen," says Johnson, "and community and accountability are key to ongoing success. That's what we are creating through Spark and Hustle." Tory's theory was confirmed with one attendee's observation: "I was letting my fears hold me back, but now I have support and accountability so I know I will push through it. I don't have a choice now!" And that mindset is reflected in the actions of the many women who are return "hustlers," there to experience the community support and camaraderie once again after having attended at least one other Spark and Hustle event.
Attendees are also pleased to find that this conference is not simply a two-day escape from reality. A past attendee sums it up perfectly when she confesses that she expected the event to be like every other. "It's not like Chinese food," she says, "tasting great in the moment and leaving you hungry two hours later." No, the speakers at this event leave you with valuable information, resources, connections, and words of wisdom that you can use as a launching pad for your own success and for years to come.
Bridget Brennan, CEO of the Female Factor, a consulting firm that helps businesses increase their appeal to women, and author of Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World's Most Powerful Consumers, provided Johnson's Chicago audience with solid statistics on the female market, followed by creative examples of how to attract this influential demographic. Women drive the entire global economy and are responsible for a whopping 80 percent of the purchases around the world. Understanding their psyche offers business owners a solid foundation to build an effective marketing campaign. Johnson understands this psyche and knows what women need to step up to the challenge of building a successful business—and Spark and Hustle doesn't fall short of delivering much of that information.
So why aren't there thousands of women in the room? With between one and two hundred women attending each Spark and Hustle conference, they are intimate and inviting. "The events are intentionally designed to provide a climate where women can learn from one another," Tory says. "There's something to be said about events where there are thousands in attendance, you're affected by the bigness of it all and by feeling like you are a part of something huge, but Spark and Hustle isn't about that. It's about building community and accountability and taking home information that will grow your bottom line."
Other topics include social media tips, business plan development, multiple streams of income, how to bring your product to the market, and more. While the presenters are experienced and successful, time on the platform is limited to 30 minutes, so the presentations are overviews rather than in-depth, DIY instruction. But my observation is that the speakers are able to deliver just enough to "spark" an idea and inspire the action that attendees commit to taking at the end of the conference.
So who is this conference for? Certainly any woman in search of community, support, and camaraderie will benefit from attending. Much of the information delivered from the stage is a good review for the seasoned veteran. But if your business idea is in the infant stages, or yet to be born, this experience may prove invaluable for you. You have to know what you don't know and Spark and Hustle speakers will deliver those "aha" moments for you. Start-ups and slow-to-starts will definitely benefit most from this experience.
The Chicago Spark and Hustle conference was the fifth of eight on the current tour, but there is a pleasant surprise ahead for the members of this growing community. Johnson and her team are planning a reunion event in Atlanta this fall that is already generating buzz. Even more exciting are the company's plans to create an online community where members will continue to connect, glean additional learning, and enjoy the support that has been so lacking in their lives.
Toward the end of the Chicago event, one attendee stood up to thank Johnson and her team for providing an authentic experience without the anticipated ulterior motive. "All weekend long, I was looking for the 'hustle' in the Spark and Hustle," she confessed, "but it never came!" There is no upselling or big sales pitch at Johnson's events. Not even the speakers are invited to sell their wares. Tory believes that women are investing in Spark and Hustle for a solution, not a series of thinly veiled sales presentations. And her events reflect that belief. This experience is genuine; the real thing. And so is Tory Johnson.
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka