GEM Conference – Part 1

When I saw that there was going to be a conference in Ottawa akin to the Girlboss Rally or Create & Cultivate, I knew I had to sign up. Yesterday was a jam packed day of inspiration, creativity, and business. Literally jam packed with sessions from 9:20 in the morning to 7:00 at night.

Because there is so much ground to cover, and you know how I like to share. Instead of one big post, I’ll be doing three smaller posts breaking the day up into the three main sections.

Part 1 – Breakfast to Lunch Break


The atmosphere was light and airy with cute inspirational messages everywhere you looked. Couldn’t resist the scones from Rocket Scones.

The conference was created by Amanda Cockburn, Founder of Freewheeling Crafts.

The day started off with a keynote from Amanda Aerin, designer, TV personality, brand ambassador, boss, media influencer and inspiration. When I saw that she was going to be the keynote speaker talking about authenticity and purpose I was excited, my mom and I love watching her on The Marilyn Denis Show.


My key takeaways from Amanda’s talk were:

  • As a woman, sometimes when you think you’re being independent society has a way of putting us into a supporting role. Remember to invest in yourself and keep your own desires. You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for someone else’s dreams.
  • Planning and risk go hand in hand to build experiences. Embrace the strengths of planning and then don’t be afraid to take risks and if planning sounds to daunting look at it as things you’d like to do/accomplish
  • Use your sense of instincts to your advantage and understand your edge and exploit it
  • Find the triggers that bring out your confidence
  • If you’re not out there making things happen for yourself, you’ll be at a disadvantage in a competitive world; but, remember with hustle comes sacrifice

The first panel of the day was “The Next Chapter” about storytelling. The panelists were:


My Key takeaways from the first panel were:

  • Storytelling is an integral part of brand building, it’s the thing that makes people trust you. You have to know who the story is for – if they can’t see themselves, they won’t identify with the brand.
  • Sales is about helping a client see themselves in what you’re offering
  • Always answer  – why your telling the story?
  • When it comes to bringing your honest self to your brand and being positioned vs. real, if you’re struggling, it’s probably because you don’t know who you’re authentic self is. It’s about sharing a part of yourself vs. sharing what you think people want
  • The stories we tell ourselves are what ends up being true. There are things we tell ourselves that we believe are universal truths, but everything is Malleable. We go into situations making up a story in our head and then continue to look for things to validate that story.
  • We have two voices in our head the angry/bitter one, which is trying to keep us safe from getting hurt, and the empowering voice (yours or someone else’s). It’s important to re-frame and repeat the good stories.

Next up was a Fireside Chat with Bailey Parnell, Founder of SkillsCamp, on Ikigai, being a wantrepreneur and soft skills. You can read my interview with Baily Parnell to find out what soft skills she’s identified as crucial for entrepreneurs.


Baily spoke about Ikigai – doing what makes you happy and how to find your reason for being. What wakes you up in the morning that you’re excited about?


She talked about how this exercise is iterative and takes time, we change so the circles change and our story changes.

The last session before lunch was “Podcasting 101” with Andrea Collins, who also was the moderator for some of the sessions. After talking about how there’s no better way to tell your story than podcasting, she busted five fears that women have about podcasting:

  1. I’m not technical and it sounds expensive  – Andrea talked about how you only need four things –  a computer, a hosting site, a microphone, and editing software and how there are now sites that can do most of this for free.
  2. I don’t even know how a podcast works – “Hi welcome to ‘Insert Title”, this is my podcast, then say what it’s about and who it’s for”. The format doesn’t have to be an interview style podcast.
  3. What if I don’t have the time – you can release how ever many you want when you want to in seasons, there are so many options.
  4. What if nobody listens – You don’t have to be popular to be profitable
  5. How do I make money? Sponsorships (which take lots of downloads), or more likely promoting your own products/services/business. (Download this tip sheet from Andrea)

Stay tuned for part 2.

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