The LDEI conference in Nashville was incredibly inspiring and the Nashville Dames really went above and beyond. From the welcome bag full of goodies, to the programming and evening sessions, conference was full of inspiring words, truly delicious food and drink, and wonderful music.
We were collectively brought to tears by several touching moments. There wasn’t a dry eye when Becca Stevens presented the video for “Love Heals” – a song written by her Grammy-winning songwriter husband, sung by their son, inspired by her book of the same name, with the video lip synced by the women she has helped to heal. Not a dry eye when LDEI Founder Carol Brock stood and thanked everyone for all of the love, support and cards during her illness, and said it is what pulled her through. And a personally moving moment at the Grande Dame reception, when our own Bev Shaffer took the stage to become LDEI president, with her husband John seated at the front table with us cheering her on.
Themes and Mantras
There were some themes that really ran through conference – sentiments heard in multiple sessions from different speakers.
Both with others and with yourself. Be welcoming. We are in the business of hospitality, so show that welcoming spirit to everyone.
Be generous with yourself – know that you will make mistakes, and that it is ok. You learn more from mistakes than anything else. Grow through them.
Both as a generality (with yourself and others) and in what you deliver on social media.
Keynote speaker Maneet Chauhan, a sparkly, effervescent owner of 4 restaurants and 3 breweries, enthused that the more genuine you are on social media, the more engagement you will get. She had someone else do it for a while and engagement went way down. People knew it wasn't her. She now responds to every single post.
The Doing Digital Right session emphasized that social media has to be authentic and personal. The rough-around-the-edges posts get the best response because they show real life. Show them the behind the scenes, and the gritty mishaps. It's about the people not the product. It’s not about selling the sweatshirts – but you might be wearing the sweatshirt in the video you post!
Carla Hall talked about how insecurity kept her from being authentic early on. How nervous she was on her first competition show against younger chefs. She told us of ups and downs and the voice of self-doubt. Her advice? Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen? If it's not death, then that's a calming realization and you will be ok.
She also emphasized that without adversity and conflict you will never grow. In the face of adversity, seek out the knowledge you need to make yourself better. This will give you the confidence to do it. You grow through it. Learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Facing adversity, you can feel defensive, but it is better to ask yourself why you are facing it, and advocate for yourself and prove yourself.
Another thread through conference was strength in women, and being stronger together through LDEI.
Over a delightful Bollywood breakfast, keynote speaker Maneet Chauhan talked about growing up in India, living and working in New York, and what led her and her family to end up in Nashville, where they have built so much. She shared thoughtful insights about how she has become so successful in this male dominated field.
- There are no shortcuts to success – her parents instilled in her that you must work hard, and be the best.
- Work-life balance doesn't exist. Balance comes from living in the moment, and giving 100% at that moment. That way you can be fair to your work, and fair to your family.
- Reaching goals, no matter how outrageous – you set them, meet them, and then set the next goals. Dream big.
- Have the adaptability to change course.
- Generosity – be generous with others and yourself. You will make mistakes, it's ok. You learn more from mistakes than anything else.
- It’s all in your attitude. Always be ready to learn. Every person you meet has something to teach you, so be open to that.
She also left us with a quote that resonated.
“A rising tide raises all ships. We are all ships and LDEI is our tide.”
The Nashville conference was 3 days of non-stop inspiration, friendship, music, food and drink. It truly lived up to its tagline “Rhythm and Roots.” A month and a half later, back in the hectic pace of things, I still feel recharged and inspired to honor and practice the mantras I heard again and again at conference. #ldeigratitude to the Nashville Dames.