by DIANA ODUHO
Millenials are forging a new path by finding happiness and success on their own terms, said Ann Shoket, former Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief and keynote speaker at Tiffin University’s annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) held March 12.
On the way to the “the big life,” Shoket encouraged the audience to embrace the mess, work your side hustle, find a monumental relationship, and become the “badass babe” you were meant to be.
Shoket is the author of “The Big Life” and spoke about her dream at 16 years old, which was to move to New York City. Although others had doubts, she never stopped dreaming. “Hold on to that 16-year-old dream,” she said. “This dream shows your pure potential. Hold on to this feeling because it is the feeling you will spend the rest of your life trying to put into your life.”
She encouraged the audience to get any job when they are starting out, but to also work their “side hustle.” Shoket said that her side hustle was something that brought her closer towards her dream.
At the beginning of her career in 1996, Shoket worked in New York City editing commas and ampersands while making sure law firms were spelled correctly for a legal directory. Although boring, she worked her side hustle at night, writing on her website about women and the legal issues they faced.
Fast forward to 2018, Shoket is now a “key architect” in the national conversation about Millenial women and the way they are revolutionizing the world. As the author of “The Big Life,” she discusses how achieving it is about finding meaning and doing what makes you happy.
“You couldn’t care less about climbing some corporate ladder,” she said. “We want freedom, access, and we want more than just a job. We want a career that feels like a passion and a relationship that feels like a partnership.”
Because the path is new, it can be easy to let fear hold you back. “We don’t know where the story ends. We don’t have that assurance,” Shoket said when asked how we will know if we’re putting time and effort into something that’s right for us.
“We have to see that as excitement and not be petrified,” she said. Shoket used her own life as an example, explaining that she didn’t expect to be single at 35 years old. “You have to let go of the way things have to be if you want to get your ‘big life.’ It’s not about how your parents or the generation before you did something, it is about doing it on your own terms.”
Shoket gave the audience the audience with four steps to achieving “the big life”:
She encouraged the audience to say “yes” to any and all events and networking opportunities available because the itch, she said, will be “the thing that propels you to move forward.”
The keynote speech was followed by table talk discussions that sparked conversation about each participant’s view of their own “big life,” as well as their own personal side hustle or passion.
“The Women's Leadership Conference was really good this year since the keynote speaker was focused on Millennials and how we as young adults need to take charge of our lives and go after our dreams,” said Sarah Herb, a senior student leader at the conference.
Herb moderated the discussions and encouraged conversation at her table. “I had the pleasure of having Ann Shoket at my table so the conversations we had as a group were really engaging and beneficial to us all,” she said.
The WLC was organized by the Women’s Leadership Conference Committee and spearheaded by Dr. Bonnie Tiell, sports management professor and WLC co-founder.
In 2001, Tiell co-founded the Women’s Leadership Symposium, a 3-day program to to help recruit, retain, and advance women in college athletics. The program is financially supported by the NCAA and held in Kansas City, Mo., also home to the Women Leaders in College Sports. Through this, the WLC was formed.
“Back in the day, our committee worked had to keep the cost down for participants while doing our best to provide a top notch experience,” Tiell said. “Once the NCAA and WLCS took over the program, Vickie Wilkins and I brainstormed on how we could replicate a program on our campus to serve as a catalyst for women who aspired higher in the personal and professional life.”
Shoket was chosen as this year’s speaker due to her notoriety and advocacy for Millenials. “As one the most powerful editors in the United States, her celebrity appearances as a guest judge for America's Next Top Model and on other shows such as the View and Oprah Winfrey made her very relevant,” Tiell said. “Ann's message primarily targets the Millennial female which we believed to be a perfect for a college campus. She didn't disappoint.”
“After attending the WLC, I took away that as a Millennial, I can achieve anything I want to and I can pursue my dreams,” Herb said. “Shoket's speech and book have provided a guide on how to achieve everything I want to and that the only time to do something big in your life is now!”
“The audience for the WLC is a perfect mix of students and professionals who are able to feed off of each other's passion, experience, and ambition. Women have a forum to explore options in their professional and personal lives,” Tiell said on why the WLC is important. “Someone may find the inspiration that validates their chosen direction or that supports a decision to craft a completely new journey."