I recently attended Summit 21, a conference hosted by 21Ninety with about 1,500 other bold, beautiful, and powerful black women.  The goal of the conference is to equip attendees with tools and resources to go out and pursue the life they desire.  The energy at the conference was electrifying (literally, you can see for yourself in the recap here).  I left with my cup overflowing with tidbits on life, leadership, and career.  So many, in fact, that I filled up about 6 pages of notes (front and back) in my bullet journal.  And, since sharing is caring, here are a few of the gems that I received (I hope they may resonate or be helpful to you):



1. “Lead your life with your heart.” - Karrueche Tran

Actress and model Karrueche Tran was one of the last speakers at the conference but this statement has stuck with me. Things are gonna happen, you’ll have to make some hard decisions.  AND, it’s ok to lead with our hearts in how we interact with others.

2. Have a routine, reflect often, and express gratitude.

“The most successful people have day and night routines…Don’t let your day control you, control your day,” said Karleen Roy of The Vanity Group.  This theme was echoed throughout the conference.  Mrs. Tina Knowles summarized it like this, “have a morning routine, get centered, express gratitude for everything.”

3. “Have confidence.” –Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Research shows that girls’ self-esteem peaks at age nine.  Which means we’re pretty much in the midst of a confidence (or lack thereof) crisis. Moderators spoke about how fear can sometimes hold us back from doing the things we must do to achieve our goals.  Congresswoman Waters encouraged attendees to recite these mantras while securing the bag.

  1. I will knock on these doors.

  2. I will have the confidence to go get this opportunity.

4. Lead with integrity.

According to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, there are three things you can do today to start leading a life of integrity:

  1. Whatever you’re doing, in whatever space you’re in, be yourself.

  2. Recognize barriers and problems you may have.

  3. Bring others along (especially if you have the opportunity to hire and mentor).

5. Stop the busywork and say no.

Seriously, “No” is a complete sentence.  Don’t commit to things that won’t bring you value.

Image From Summit 21

Image From Summit 21

For the Entrepreneurs and Business Owners:

6. “Don’t be afraid to be bossy.” –Nichole Lynel Sometimes we are so focused on likability and being nice that we drop the ball in equipping ourselves and those on our team to do the work and to do it well.  Don’t be afraid to be bossy, take the lead, and make your objectives known.

7. You will plateau. Failure and plateaus suck but they will happen.  When they do, Karleen Roy says to remember that “the pain is short lived… live through the pain… that moment will become part of your testimony.” 

8. Be the hometown hero first. When you’re trying to raise your brand profile, start locally.  Start where people know you and you can leverage your connections and relationships in a positive way.  When you’re community embraces you, it makes it easier to branch out to other areas and regions.

9. If you want to land a client, find your target market.

Nichole Lynel reminded attendees about the fundamentals of business:  knowing your niche demographic really well and getting your product in front of the right people will make all the difference. 

10. You too can land financial partnerships.

Here are three tips on how:

    1. Have a clear concise sponsorship deck

    2. Engage a potential sponsor before you need them

    3. Keep the contract basic and simple

Photo- Getty Image

Photo- Getty Image

On Productivity:

11. “If you think you’re the only person who can do a job, you’ll always be the one doing your job.” –Karleen Roy -It can be difficult to relinquish control, but if we choose to do that, know that you are stifling growth in other areas of your life.

12. “Stop holding the line.” –Nichole Lynel -There is someone waiting for you to do your job so that they can do theirs.  Don’t be the person who holds up the line. Whatever it is you need to do, get it done.

13. Stay mentally grounded. -Congresswoman Waters shared some tools she uses to stay grounded, “take time for yourself and reflect on your day. Get quiet and ask yourself, is there a moment I should have spoken up today; is there something I should have done differently?”

14. Get out of your mind” –Nichole Lynel -We can be our own worst enemies sometimes, don’t overthink it; don’t underestimate what you can do.  

15. Forget what everyone else is doing. –Lauren Wesley Wilson- Focus on the task at hand.

June 7, 2019 - Source: Getty Images North America) In this Photo Maxine Waters and Morgan DeBaun on stage during the Blavity Inc.'s Summit21

June 7, 2019 - Source: Getty Images North America) In this Photo Maxine Waters and Morgan DeBaun on stage during the Blavity Inc.'s Summit21

Civic Engagement:

16. Get Involved. If you don’t do it, you’ll be written off.

17. Resist the Bad. Being a part of the resistance means fighting back against anything bad.  And while you resist put your agenda forward. 

18. Pay attention to ALL the 2020 Presidential Candidates. Ask questions to see who aligns with your values, needs, pain points, who has the solutions to the problems you’re facing? Look for a candidate who is about ALL the people. Are they strong enough to be an advocate for justice? And then, be available to work on their campaign.

19. Politics are Local. Pay attention to gentrification.  Ask local officials, mayors, city council members head on what they're doing for rent stabilization.  Gentrification is as much about housing cost as it is about income inequality, are you earning a fair wage at work?  Really dig into these questions in order to know how it’s affecting you and what you can do about it. 

20. Be Strategic. Want to get in the decision-making room?  Then know your goals and frame a plan around that.  If that doesn’t work, then, like the Honorable Shirley Chisholm once said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Above all else, as you go about the task of improving your community and world—whether it’s through volunteer work, running for office, or starting a business, draw on your faith family and community. In the words of Nichole Lynel…

21. “Go out to the world, raise your flag, and your tribe will find you.”

Happy self-development friend. 


Eunice Charles

A social entrepreneur and the founder of Natralee, a green and natural personal care company committed to finding sustainable solutions that promote personal care and holistic living. You can find more of her writing on life, pop-culture, business, and entrepreneurship in her weekly newsletter.

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