Unlocking individual and collective potential is paramount, particularly under the pall of the pandemic and increasing environmental concerns. “Our task is to align our being with our doing,” according to a social entrepreneur speaking during the last day of the WIN (Women’s International Networking) online conference, hosted by the organization's founder, Kristen Engvig.

Self-worth and needs-based solutions

A year of personal loss and difficulty catalyzed the discovery of self-worth for John Niland, author of Self-Worth Safari and founder of the Self-Worth Academy. “I reached the limits of my own self-esteem and became aware that I was living by accepted measures of success,” he admitted. “As a professional coach promoting confirmation, I felt like a fraud.” Relief came in understanding that it is imperative to abandon assessments altogether rather than creating new ones, and to live authentically, as “an unconditional friend to oneself.”

Vanina Farber, elea Professor of Social Innovation, also addressed self-realization and spoke of how to transform challenges into change. Citing examples of successful female social entrepreneurs, she illustrated how women can create sustainable business solutions to benefit their own needs and those of others. “Purpose comes from who you are – but it also requires mobilizing others,” she explained.

Farber’s practical advice is to identify a given need or problem, define purpose, build a community and develop solutions out of “creative rage” from a mindset of privilege instead of merit. She encouraged introspection on how to serve society and the environment and what assets can be used to collaborate on creative solutions. “Find a need and what motivates you,” she urged.

Award-winning author David Leser appealed for greater balance between the masculine and feminine. Violence against women formed the basis of his 2019 book Women, Men & The Whole Damn Thing. Leser sees such violence as the “other great pandemic”, born of patriarchal dominance that historically spoke for women and told men to deny their emotions. Leser said this violence extends to the environment, creating a “great scar across the Earth”.

“What men have done to women, we have done to our planet, by fracking, excavating, plundering,” he recounted. This is due to the lack of reciprocity with the Earth that he says can only be regained through masculine-feminine reconciliation and acceptance, and which will also heal what he calls “the wound of the world.”

Pioneering and revealing new beginnings in finance and beyond

Lawrence Ford, CEO of Conscious Capital and founder of Future Capital, shared his vision for a new movement in financial services that aligns investments with values and uses capital to change the rules. “You’re here for a reason; you can do good and do well,” suggested the so-called Shaman of Wall Street. “Our task is to align our being with our doing; it’s not about being perfect but about being conscious of where you invest, spend and earn.” He advised “waking up and becoming present”, especially in the attention economy, where mental bandwidth is being hijacked as an asset.

Activist, artist and international speaker Pat McCabe, also known by her Diné (Navajo) name Woman Stands Shining, imparted true indigenous wisdom upon the audience, which she referred to as “Women’s Nation.” In these foretold times of sweeping transformation, we hold a deep key to our current crisis of relationship to ourselves, each other, our communities and the Earth. As long as the dividend we seek is money, we will maintain those ruptures, McCabe predicts. She strongly suggests building lifeboats of coherence, connection, collaboration, and nurturing to navigate what’s coming, adding that “if we could create an unshakeable sisterhood, this planet would heal.”

Clare Dubois, environmental activist, social entrepreneur and founder of Tree Sisters, also challenged participants to become restorers of the relationships to ourselves, each other and the natural world. “We’re not just burning out the planet,” she warned. “Allow a dismantling of what we are not, so that we can be naturally informed.” She called on attendees to activate the “intelligence encoded in all of us and focus on what calls forth the highest expression of ourselves.”

WIN (Women’s International Networking) is the brainchild of Kristin Engvig, who has spent the past 23 years working on a paradigm that inspires change for women.