June 1-3 saw the W Hotel in Austin taken over by high energy female entrepreneurs. They’d had flown in from around the world to attend this years DWEN conference, held in Dell’s hometown for the very first time.
With the conference titled Bold Beginnings, Brave Futures, this year’s DWEN was always going to provide an opportunity to take (or shake!) us out of our comfort zone, and challenge us with the need to get big bold and brave. They’re words that can be a challenge female entrepreneurs to live to, as they have not historically been associated with society’s ideals around feminine characteristics.
Local Texas girl Brene Brown stepped right up to the plate on this brief, and delivered an interactive workshop session on the first morning which many delegates rated as their conference highlight. Brene spoke on the need for leaders to choose bravery over comfort, and that being prepared to open up and be vulnerable is actually the greatest illustration of courage that you can possibly deliver. Her wit, incredible storytelling abilities and heartfelt personal illustrations left us all feeling that not only were we all capable of more, but indeed had an obligation to get out there and deliver it.
Over the next two days we heard many inspiring stories of how female entrepreneurs had faced challenges, both during the sessions, and in the less formal but equally important social events (that’s where the margaritas come in!). The most important part though — and the one that keeps me coming back to DWEN each year that I am fortunate enough to be asked to attend — is that these stories are the non-airbrushed versions, the brutally honest stories that don’t sugarcoat the issues and the challenges. This includes talking about what didn’t work, not just what did.
The true magic of DWEN to me is the raw honesty that comes with the sharing of the failures as well as the successes, the tough times as well as the great times. As entrepreneurs, we all know the days that sparkle will inevitably be accompanied by dark days, and knowing others share the same experience is part of what helps me to be bold and brave, and not let the fear of failure be a burden that holds me back.
Who better to sum it up than Michael Dell himself with these words delivered at this year’s DWEN: “Failures are where you learn and make adjustments. If all you do is succeed, then you don’t really learn anything.”
For a great summary of this years DWEN, take 2 minutes to watch the YouTube highlights reel, which you can find below!