Adam Torres and Gail Letts discuss the State of the Woman 2024 Conference
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Why should women want to attend the State of the Woman 2024 Conference? In this episode, Adam Torres and Gail Letts, CEO and Founder of LETTS CONSULT, explore the State of the Woman 2024 Conference including featured speakers and workshops.
About Gail Letts
With over 35 years of leadership and strategic planning experience, LETTS CONSULT was founded by Gail Letts in 2019. LETTS CONSULT is a management consulting company that Bridges Business with Potential by keeping a Focus on Talent. Through our LC Talent Solutions, we focus on helping our clients build healthy and productive cultures by providing recruitment services, executive coaching and leadership development programming. Our LC Corner Office is dedicated to providing information, education and resources to help individuals reach their full potential. We have a special Focus on Women and offer membership programs to build a network committed to the advancement and growth of women in business.
About LETTS CONSULT
LETTS CONSULT is a SWAM certified consulting company that Bridges Business with Potential by keeping a Focus on Talent. Through our LC Talent Solutions, we focus on helping our clients build healthy and productive cultures by providing recruitment services, executive coaching and leadership development programming. Our LC Corner Office is dedicated to providing information, education and resources to help individuals reach their full potential. We have a special Focus on Women and offer membership programs to build a network committed to the advancement and growth of women in business. Helps businesses improve their profitability, sustainability and responsibility by focusing on strategy, talent, and culture.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest on the show, just head on over to missionmatters.
com and click on be our guest to apply. Okay, so today my guest is Gail Letts, and she’s CEO and founder of Letts Consult. Gail, welcome to the show. Thank you so much, Adam. I appreciate it. So I’m going to tell you right now. I like on the let’s consult the two T’s play off of your last name. Let’s two T’s.
Come on. I see you. I see you with the creative marketing. Well, you know, it’s interesting when I first found in my company, I was going to call it less consulting and I had gone to a program. There is a gentleman who was on the platform on the, on the dyes and he was speaking and he made a kind of, he’s a CEO of a fortune 500 company.
And he made a comment that he hates consultants is a very good friend of, but, oh, then, you know what? I’m not going to go with less consulting. And I thought, okay, what else can I come up with? And it was like, wait a second, let’s. Little spin on it, but I will tell you, we’ve gotten so much positive comments on the title of my company.
It’s been wonderful. Hmm. Wonderful. So we’re here to talk today about the state of the woman 2024 conference. , how did this come all about? Talk to me. So I was a longtime banker for 35 years, had an absolutely fabulous career. And in 2019, I decided to leave banking and start my own company.
Having grown up in the banking world, and I started my career in the 1980s and rose up through leadership, there weren’t a lot of women who were role models for me. There weren’t many, there weren’t any women above me as I was ascending the ladder. And as I moved throughout banking, I became president of a couple of different organizations, a couple of banks.
What I realized was the value that I had, the experiences that I had, how important they were, and the support that I had gotten. The support was all from men. I had doors open for me. I had lessons, leadership lessons shared with me. The majority of my career had been spent with SunTrust, which is now Truist.
And SunTrust just did a phenomenal job of investing in me. And I realized that not every woman has had those, that level of support. So I started my own company. My company, we focus on talent, but I have a passion for helping women in business. So a large part of our mission is supporting the advancement and growth of women in business and putting on programs sending out information providing education and finding ways to connect women to support each other better 2019, when I left banking, One of my visions was to create a program, a conference for women where women could come together to be inspired, to know that they can do more, they can be more, and they can achieve more.
So we started the conference, because of COVID, it got derailed a couple of years. Our first conference was in October of 2022, and it was phenomenally successful. And we had women on stage who told their stories about their journey to the C suite. And the fact that it wasn’t easy. And what they had to do to compromise on occasion, what they had to give up the challenges that they had, but the lessons that they had learned, and we got such terrific feedback on it on stories, the honesty of the women who were on stage, the.
People were so impressed from our conference of how willing these women were to share their stories, but he said, can you run another conference? So this is going to be an annual event took off 23 with the conference only because he ran the 1st 1 at the end of 2022. And still, we’re kind of in the coming out of COVID environment.
We’re not quite sure which direction COVID was going, but did decide to hold the conference, the second conference in 2024. We will be still at the Hermitage Hotel, which if you don’t know anything about the Hermitage Hotel, first of all, so I’m all about women and understanding the history that we have had in moving forward.
Tennessee is actually the state. that gave us that positive vote for women to have the right to vote. The Hermitage Hotel is a block away from the State Capitol Building in Nashville, and it became the site, the headquarters for both the suffragists and the anti suffragists. The suffragists wore yellow roses, the anti suffragists wore red roses, and it became known as the War of the Roses.
And of course, you know, the women, women were given the right to vote through Tennessee and the Hermitage Hotel since then has held so much true to their story about how they support women in history. They were ranked in 2022, 2023 as by Condé Nast Travelers as one of the six hotels in the United States that has positively influenced women’s history.
Hmm. Going to Nashville in April, we’ve got a phenomenal lineup of speakers who are going to share stories with us and talk about topics that involve career development, business, health and wellness and financial empowerment and independence. Yeah, and I and I want to go further into the speakers and talk a little bit more about that.
But before we do I want to talk about 2019. What was that like leaving banking and going out on your own like that? Was that tricky? Like, how is that taking that leap? I knew it was time for me to move out of banking. Hmm. What? And, and I had sat or chaired numerous boards that dealt with entrepreneurs.
And to be perfectly honest with you, I thought if I could see all these people creating businesses, I could do it. I had no idea out. It is. Oh my gosh, you know how many people I’ve heard say that, especially from the finance world. That’s by the way, Gail, my background for my long term listeners, they know my, my backgrounds in finance as well.
And I was almost in 14 years in that business and my, and my client base was business owners. So I used to think the same thing you thought, go ahead, continue. I’m just smiling ear to ear over here. Tell me more, Gail. Thank you. It was absolutely amazing to me. And when I realized, so here I’d gone from a huge organization of, you know, 40, 000, and I will say I was spoiled.
I had so many resources at my fingertips realized that when I went out and create my own company, I was going to start from scratch and up to me, how I was going to put it together, what resources I was going to invest in, how I was going to put together a team and, On me and and I will tell you, and then, of course, COVID hit.
Yeah, trying to build a brand with COVID when you couldn’t go out anywhere. Was incredibly tough, but I will tell you it was wonderful in a way, because I could sit back and I was putting together a team, a small team, and I built a team out of, you know, it was never designed to be exclusively women, but that’s who I attracted.
You wanted to come back into the workforce, women who were semi retired, and we would just talk through what should the strategy look like? How should we find it? How should we deliver it? So at the time we started emerging out of COVID, we were pretty clear that, you know, Let’s Consult is about talent.
Hmm. And it. Preparing and working with businesses creating today’s, developing today’s workforce for tomorrow. Yeah. So we do recruitment, we do leadership development, we do executive coaching, we do culture assessment. But so much of my foundation is to help women. So kind of going back to what was it like?
Mm hmm. Again, I had all these resources at my fingertips that I had no clue. Is it? Is it? Did you go through this? I went through this and I’m just curious if you did. Because I grew up in that system of large firms and finance, I mean, my first firm, Raymond James and Vanguard Group, Charles Schwab, before I started my own RIA, which again, I’m not in that business anymore, but I’m media full time, but I took it for granted.
I thought that, and when I think about it, especially, let’s say young Adam, you know, just out of college, a little chip on his shoulder, thinks he knows something. That young Adam who was , in a meeting and had an opinion on how a huge organization should be run. I look back at myself and I’m like, Oh my God, I took all of that for granted.
All of the, you know, I wasn’t, I wasn’t like arrogant or anything like that. I just mean like. I didn’t really understand how much work people had already done to lay the groundwork for the resources that I had the privilege of using. Really, that’s exactly what I went through. And there were many days that first, when I first launched my company was that, oh, this is really fun.
And I can do this and so forth to a year when all of a sudden things are not going the way that you want. And you have to sit back. Oh, wait a second. Do I just throw in the towel, you know, or do I keep moving? And throwing in the towel wasn’t in my DNA, but I had to learn, you know, and when you think of the 2019 to the 2022 timeframe, when shutdown had not loaded, you know, I had no clue how to do zoom.
Before I found my own company, before we entered COVID, I had no idea how to design a website. I had no idea what a, you know just all the different terminologies with social media and had to learn all of that where I had a department that did all that for me. Yep, that was called an email or a requisition, a request on a system that I would complain about because the user interface wasn’t nice enough.
Poor Adam, it wasn’t nice enough. It was so easy to complain about things. Exactly. So, so when I started the company, I went through all of that. It was, it was really hard. What I realized was, as much as I am passionate about supporting the advancement and growth of women in business, probably one of the best things that I can do is to try to be a role model.
So for the days I really wanted to throw in the towel because it was just a little too tough. Again, you’re not going to be a quitter, you know, because there were people watching me and I came to realize how many people were following me. And it was like, you know, again, I’m going to figure this out. So that’s where I am today.
And I’m so proud of it. , and that first conference. So as if, you know, launching a business, all that, that’s not tough enough now, you know, launching conferences and running conferences. It’s a very visible position and you do really put yourself out there. Maybe you knew that in advance before, you know, doing a conference.
But I didn’t know like what that entailed. I just thought, Oh, we, we hold a conference and, you know, whatever, whatever, and you know, I didn’t really understand the complexities. And now, I mean, we, we, we host hundreds of events. So now I do, but I’m talking, you know, go eight years ago when we started this business, myself and the other co founder Chirag, he came from the event space and knew about those things.
I didn’t, I was again, super corporate like yourself. What was that like that first conference, like putting that together? You know, I had this, this thought process, which was build it and they will come that mine was send an email and pray that they respond and somebody cares to come. Go ahead. Please.
It was interesting when when so I ran a lot of programs for the banking. But I always had a big brand behind me. What I’ve come to realize was you don’t just run out with a conference and throw your brand on it. You have to build your brand first. And I really, I really was naive and thinking that, you know, if I put fabulous speakers on stage, everybody’s going to want to come to this conference.
You know, they’re going to be. You know, bursting at the door, pounding on it, saying, I want to be in the room. I want to be in the room. Well, Gail’s going to be there. I mean, they should be saying that. Jeez, that’s what I thought, only find out how much work it is that the event part of it, the logistics part, you know, I always loved watching that and understanding it, but getting people to understand why they should come to your conference.
Meaning how to promote it and without a doubt the social media part of this and if you can’t get up to speed on social Media, you are you’re dead. You’re dead. Mm hmm. It’s hard work I’m always gratified when it comes to conferences that somebody would like our first conference so we thought we’d already hosted a ton of events and you know, we have Let’s say, you know, 25 to 50 people, we can fill that room up in our sleep, fortunately, and in the LA market, because that where we’re based but that being said, and we’ll always be over to capacity on that type of thing, but that being said, a full in this case, one day comp.
When I initially sent the first email, and I, I wasn’t joking, I wasn’t a joke. I did just send and pray . I was like, all right, well, I went to another conference and, and I was grappling with that same thought of what you just said, like, is the brand big enough? You did, did I, did we build the brand enough to where people would, would want to come?
And I remember sending out that email and I told Chirag. I’m like, all right, Chirag, we got to do a conference this year. Like we got some months left. We can probably fit it in within the next three, four months. That’s enough leeway to see if this thing is going to work. Let’s do it. And when I say let’s do it, let that means he’s going to do it.
So, so that being said, he, he, he took on the job he’s, , but I sent the email to, to kind of test our audience and see if we would, and I was just, It’s also kind of, in my opinion, a test to see, like, if your audience is, if you’re, like, how much value, like, if you’re truly connecting with your audience, because, because showing up in person nowadays, and I’m talking post COVID, like, maybe before COVID, people would test events or just go because they were bored, but post COVID, getting people to go out and to show up to something, like, it’s a commitment for myself, too, like, even to see a movie in theater, right, versus watching it at home, that’s a commitment.
I feel like our habits have changed. So, like, When you through the, now the fact that you’re going on, you know, multiple years of your conference, I just want to congratulate you because that’s not easy to do. I just want to say congrats, right? Because I know the work that goes on behind that and for those that are, that are listening to this, if you haven’t thrown one, next time you you do meet, you do go to a conference, just understand that there’s a lot that goes behind creating that experience behind the scenes for you.
We have a lot of risk and also a lot of risk. Let’s talk about the the, the upcoming conference. So give me some dates. Let’s talk about speakers. Like, , , what can we expect for the programming? Oh, we have some phenomenal speakers. So the dates, first of all, we’re April 7th to the 9th, 2024.
And again, it will be in Nashville at the hermitage hotel. We’re going to start off with, we’re teaming up two women who are incredibly dynamic. We have Lisa Sun, who is a CEO and author. She actually founded a clothing line in New York City called Gravitas. And she has also written a book that was just released called Gravitas, which are the eight essential skills to be successful in business for women.
And she actually does an awful lot of training on women and empowerment and confidence. She is teaming up with Meggie Palmer. Meggie is founder of a podcast called Pep Talk Her, which is all about gender pay equality. Meggie, CNBC, BBC journalist, co editor for USA Today, phenomenal woman. When she was a correspondent, she’s traveled all over the world.
So she focuses a lot on pay equity across the world and has. Fabulous insights into not just what’s happening with American women, but what’s happening outside of our borders. Those two are going to team up and they’re going to do a a session on authentic confidence. And I’m really excited.
They’re two absolute phenomenal women. They’re on stage all the time. They’re national speakers. And we’re very lucky to have them. Our next keynote is a woman by the name of Joanne Lipman. Joanne is an author and a journalist. She was journalist with USA Today. She, her first book was That’s What She Said which is how men and women communicate.
And her newest book that she just re released is called Next, which is The Power of Reinvention in Life and Work. And a lot of my friends have read it. I’ve got Next on my reading list. But people said, you got to read this book. So she’ll be our speaker. Our next keynote, really neat woman. Kelly Richmond Pope.
Kelly was a CPA with Deloitte and she helped uncover a 54 million embezzlement that occurred 20 year period of time. It was this woman in a treasury office who kind of, nobody even noticed her. But she was embezzling all this money and she was investing in this world class equestrian lifestyle.
So she, Kelly, produced the movie called All the Queen’s Horses and she is now a Forensic Accounting Professor at DePaul University and she’s just released her book called Fool Me Once, which is about corporate lies and scams. And I can hear her. I, she is, I’ve heard she’s absolutely phenomenal. We then have Allison ground Alice is a director for a law firm called trap and pepper and she’s going to talk about and chat and how it’s going to change everything that we’re doing and how you have to get on board.
And then some of the legal ramifications, super timely, super timely topic. And then our last keynote is Jennifer Winstel, who is Managing Director of Wealth Management for UBS. So our lineup of keynotes, and then we’ve also thrown in some workshops. So everybody who comes to our conference will get the opportunity to choose from two of four workshops.
One is going to be on putting together an effective career plan. We have one on negotiating skills, which includes one of my favorite topics, which is how to negotiate salary. We have our third workshop is about effective mentorship programs, and then the fourth one is how to improve your online presence.
So speaker workshops on the Monday night, we’re going to have a little shop and sip at one of Nashville’s Women’s Boutiques. We’re just going to have fun, but hopefully have women walk away having made at least one new friend. And it’s yeah. The outside of where they normally live and being inspired by at least one of these stories from these phenomenal women.
So, Gail I already, you know, sometimes when you ask a question, but you already have the answer to it, like, you just gave me the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask it anyway, just to see if there’s anything else you want to say, , why should women want to attend? To be inspired, you know, I mentioned earlier, I had a great career.
I absolutely loved my career. And I, you know, to all everybody, it was incredibly successful. I went to a conference in New York City in 2019, and the women who were on stage were inspiring and I actually, I felt small and I realized how I had become defined by what I saw around me every day. And that there were so many more possibilities than I ever imagined.
And that’s what I want out of this conference. Is for women to come out of their normal geography, see women that they wouldn’t normally see, and walk away with just that one aha moment, which is, you know what, I could do more. Or I could be more, or I could be better, or I am really proud of what I’ve accomplished.
And this is where, so it’s about collaboration. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. And from, and I know, and I know, you know, conferences are not cheap to put on. It takes sponsors, it takes people, it takes collaboration. Why should businesses want to get involved and support the conference? Well, first of all, we know that when you invest in people, your turnover rate is a lot lower.
Women are frustrated, and they are looking for employers, those companies where they will be valued. For a business to recognize that women face different challenges, this is not a male versus female situation at all, but women as mothers, as wives, you know, we end up taking on more of a portion of health care for families and sometimes more.
You’re tired. You just want to throw in the towel being that attrition rate for women or women, you know, one of the greatest challenges we have for getting women into the C suite is the fact that we’re not seeing as many women promoted into that middle management ranks and a lot of times women who, when they’re presented with opportunities, and I will say, I did this early on as well.
We’re presented with an opportunity and we think, I don’t know that I can take on more responsibility because I’ve got kids. And so forth. It’s not a matter of taking on more responsibility. You’re being offered a promotion or have an opportunity for a promotion because you’re good at what you’re doing and there’s a belief that you have the skills.
It’s not always about working harder. It is working smarter and using your God given talents. So I want women to recognize that, you know, whatever they have as far as their possibility to sell themselves short, not to take that next step. that would be a mistake. That makes so much sense. And when I think about just what you’re talking about, some of the sacrifices and otherwise, I’ll juxtapose this.
I’m not saying you said this, so I’m saying this, you know, you, you, you kind of juxtapose that concept with maybe the traditional male experience of just for many, just saying yes, right? Not necessarily always thinking about the, the back end. And I’m again, Speaking for myself here and just saying, yeah, of course.
And just, you know, sign me up, sign me up. Right. So it’s just I don’t know if that’s a different, like, especially in finance specifically that’s what I’m talking to in my experience in finance is that I can very rarely think of a time when I would have said. Let me see how this is going to affect the rest of, you know, it just, it just wasn’t in my thought process.
Now I think I’m a little bit more evolved from my original primate finance youth, but now now, now I see it and I, and I see this, and especially being involved with organizations like yourselves , and others and, that evolution of just thought process of, And also how to interact with others.
So especially I really think even I’ll single out one. You, you did mention quite a few speakers and also I will just single out one that I just think is going to be super relevant. And that’s the That’s the, the workshop on, on negotiating equal pay and or negotiating pay in general.
I don’t know if you use the word equal or not, but negotiating pay in general. Can you elaborate on just the, I’m not, you don’t have to go as far as you can go as far as you like, I should say, on just that concept and what people would, you hope people would expect out of going through a workshop like that.
Cause I think it’s fascinating. So, you know, when it comes to negotiating pay. It’s really interesting. There are so many studies that say that when a woman negotiates pay, she is viewed as being aggressive demanding whereas it is common, I think it’s something like 74 percent of HR executives, HR professionals are expecting people to negotiate.
It’s how you negotiate. That’s really the key here. Number one, they have to have the confidence to do it. And it’s not a demand and you don’t go in saying, well, I’m underpaid. So I need this. You really have to care for the conversation. And when I, when I do sessions, it’s a skill and I do, this is my favorite topic personally to speak on when I talk, People, and particularly women, about negotiating salary, we start off with emotional intelligence, the concept of emotional intelligence, and being able to check your emotion at the door, and when you go into salary negotiation or salary discussion, having, preparing for it, number one, having your facts well understood, Documented so you have that piece of paper in front of you and you can speak from it from an unemotional standpoint and then knowing that there’s going to be negotiation that’s going to take place and there might be rejection and how you accept that rejection is really important, but it’s setting the ground for that next conversation.
That’s why I’m going to stop. I’m going to stop you right there. Gail. If you want more, you got to attend the conference. How do people find out about conference and tickets, et cetera? Let us know. I’m going to cut you off there. That’s what we call a cliffhanger. Everyone. So, first of all, we’d love to have everybody at the conference.
Anybody who wants to be there and you can go to W. W. W. dot state of the woman dot com. And all the information will be out there. Let’s Consult is proud to be the host and the presenting sponsor. And if anybody needs to reach me my email address is gletts, l e t t s, at letts consult. com Gail, thank you so much for coming on the show today.
It really has been a pleasure and I wish you much more continued success with both your, your conference and of course, let’s consult and to the audience as always if this is your first time here, by the way, for the audience and you haven’t hit that subscribe button and you need an invitation, here’s your invitation, hit that subscribe button.
We have great content. We have great speakers, great guests, and many more on the way. So we want you to definitely. So, if you hit that subscribe button, and if you’re really friendly and feeling good, then leave us a review if you enjoyed this. Really appreciate it. And Gail, seriously, really appreciate you coming on the show.
Thank you. Thank you so much, Adam. I appreciate it.