The Massachusetts Conference for Women

Entrepreneurs, Events, Innovation, Opinions Posted Dec 10, 2014 by Kayla Krause

Last week I attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in the Seaport District. The conference was celebrating its 10th anniversary that day, with over 10,000 women from across the nation. There were a few (lucky) men in attendance, but estrogen levels in that convention center more than overwhelmed the testosterone.

With amazing keynote speakers such as Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, and fashion designer/CEO Tory Burch there was plenty of girl-power excitement and motivational speechifying. And while nothing could diminish the power and charisma of Ms. Clinton, the intrigue and awe-struck of Ms. Nyong’o, or the attentiveness and charm of WCVB co-anchor and master-of-ceremonies Heather Unruh, my favorite presentation came from one of the only male speakers of the day: John Jacobs, co-founder of Life is Good®.

Life is GoodNot only was Jacobs’ speech inspiring, it included great tips on how to give an educational yet attention-grabbing presentation—without directly giving advice. Mr. Jacobs’ simply told the story of how his tee-shirt company came to be. He described how he and co-founder/brother Bert were “wildly unsuccessful to begin with…but for us, every ‘no’ led to new decisions and successes.” After struggling for five years to sell their tee-shirts while travelling up and down the Eastern Seaboard, they finally came home to Boston to find their signature shirt logo hanging up in their apartment all along. “Jake’s” smiling face was an original drawing of the Jacobs’ brothers, which grew to be contagious, and after selling out of the tee-shirts at a street fair in Cambridge within an hour, they knew they had a business.

It wasn’t always easy; John described how their mission and tagline changed throughout the years, and continues to do so until this day. Their “Life is Good” tagline grew to have different meanings for different people, though their overall mission was, and still is, to have a positive purpose. This came from their mother who taught John and Bert, along with their other four siblings, to always face the bumps in the road with a smile because life is what you make of it.

MA conference for women 2With a motivating story and message of goodwill, John made each of the 10,000 women in attendance feel better by simply telling his tale and showing how certain customers provided additional inspiration for him and his brother over the years and how those stories inspired them personally.

John’s speech wasn’t typical of the others delivered during the day, and that’s why it stood out to me. In personalizing his company’s story, John not only entertained the audience, but he also conveyed important business lessons.

The conference’s goal is to motivate women by showcasing inspirational female—and one male—personalities. If my experience is any indication, the Massachusetts Conference for Women achieved its objective.