Diary of My First eWN ICON
A Behind the Scenes Look
2 September, 2021 by
Diary of My First eWN ICON
Nicole Caliro
When I started with eWomenNetwork a mere six weeks before conference, I was told that ICON 2021 would be our Super Bowl.  Now I don’t know much about sports, but I do know that breaking in a new player weeks before the big game, is a move most coaches wouldn’t be thrilled about, but the whole team was nothing but supportive, patient, and encouraging. 

I knew the days would be long (but rewarding), and I’d finally get a chance to see many of the lovely faces I’d met over zoom in person.  And so I packed up my dog and sent him to stay with my Mother for the week, while I checked into the Embassy Suites, in a room bigger than my apartment. 

In a way it was peculiar to be at a live event again.  All the jobs I‘ve had before this one have been rooted heavily in large-scale events, and for a while, as we all navigated the solitary, screen driven, hug-free isolation of 2020, it seemed like we’d never be able to attend one again. And yet, over 300 of us made it.
                                    WEDNESDAY STATS:

                                    Steps: 12,087

                                    Speakers Seen: 9

                                    Hugs: 3

                                    WEDNESDAY TAKEAWAYS:

                                    I may be a millennial, but I am not Instagram savvy. I’m glad I wasn’t alone in being behind the times in my knowledge of Instagram Reels. 

                                    Before Kate Paine gave us a look at the before and afters of Sandra and Kym’s LinkedIn pages, I had no idea there were so many features I wasn’t utilizing. I thought my LinkedIn was pretty good, but it just goes to show that sometimes you just need an expert. Also, that blue dress was sensational.

                                    Can we just talk about Sam Horn for a second? What a speaker.  Her voice is so soothing and yet her content is so electric! Her Pre-Con talk was so good, I took pictures of the slides.  I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing her talk on Friday night, but I’m told she shut the place down!

                                    The Smart Money Talk was a delight.  I had it in my head that men and women who specialize in finance are boring, simply because I myself am not a finance person and the subject tends to go over my head.  I was so WRONG! In addition to being experts in their field, Deborah Daniel and Robin Edgar were engaging and hilarious! 
                                      THURSDAY STATS:
                                      Steps: 19,815
                                      Number of Blisters: 1
                                      Hugs: 4
                                        THURSDAY TAKEAWAYS:

                                        I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sandra for six weeks, and while I’ve seen her speak on camera as I sat in on some of the video editing process, no camera can do her stage presence justice. 
                                         I finally got to poke my head into the Platinum Lounge and OMG.  How gorgeous.  The conference team did an extraordinary job.  I like to think Margie Samuels would have totally dug the Maker’s Mark presence in such a glam room. 

                                         The Femtor Awards are one heck of a production! The lights, the music the videos- WOW! I was not expecting the scale of the Femtor Awards to be so epic. Congratulations to the incredible women who were recognized from all over the country.

                                        FRIDAY STATS:

                                        Steps: 14,848

                                        Number of Drum Café Videos I sent to my Mom: 5

                                        Hugs: I lost count

                                        FRIDAY TAKEAWAYS:

                                        While I didn’t get to fully participate because I was working backstage, the Drum Café experience was LIT!

                                        The giveaways at ICON are impressive!  I was jealous of all the attendees who got to enter and SO excited every time I heard a name I recognized win!

                                        Mainstage Showcase was equally awesome.  Aside from the interesting, diversified content, I can’t wait to see those Vogue shots come through!  I wore all black to conference which is a little boring, but the Mainstage ladies brought their A-game. Cathy Reilly in the blue dress with the cape and Natalie Clayton in the pink jumpsuit really popped with the Tiffany blue background onstage!

                                          SATURDAY STATS:

                                          Steps: 15, 189 (my FitBit died partway through, I’m still a little salty about it...)
                                          Blisters: 3
                                          Number of times I was blown away by Sandra’s endurance: infinity

                                          SATURDAY TAKEAWAYS:

                                          The whole Yancey Family are absolute pros at what they do.  Conference is a huge undertaking, and they’re front and center for so much of it.  I know they must have been exhausted, but they never seem to lose their patience or sparkle. 

                                          Stedman Graham is tall. Of course, he’s literally tall, but even if he weren’t, his presence is big without being ostentatious or arrogant. There’s a calm, powerful certainty in the way he speaks that makes it impossible not to be interested. And for those of you who (like me) got a little teary-eyed at that poem, it’s called “The Race” by D.H. Groberg.

                                          The eWN Managing Directors are glowing stars.  I texted the luminous Johnell McCauley late on Friday night to request help for Stedman’s book signing and she delivered. The MDs who joined in and helped Saturday afternoon were so kind and flexible. The nature of live events can be a little hectic and it warmed my soul to see the team come together and make it such a smooth process.

                                          The Dell Office Anywhere Lounge was a life saver more than once with that comfy seating and those convenient charging stations.

                                            The future future CEO of eWN (if she wants) graced us with an adorable stage debut!  Clad in Burberry, that Tatiana would not let go of the mic! Luckily, she has a mom that I have a sneaking suspicion will give her quite the platform one day when she grows up. 
                                            While Sandra, Kym, and Briana were doing the wrap up onstage, I gave Tati her first taste of Milano cookies.  Needless to say, she was a fan. 
                                            When Sandra took the stage Thursday afternoon, she talked about eye-rolling.  She spoke of how what inspires a breakthrough for some, might not be the same for others, and that being the case, we should refrain from eye-rolling. 

                                            I must admit, I am by nature an eye-roller.  I have a snarky sense of humor and my instinct is to lean away from things that feel too emotional or sentimental.  But when you come to a conference that is intended to change your life, emotions are going to happen.  In fact, in that instance, when emotions rise to the surface, it’s a sign you’re doing something right. 

                                            When you allow yourself to embrace the emotions, you are essentially making yourself vulnerable. I find that terrifying. It’s beyond impressive to me that hundreds of women congregated together last week and shared that vulnerability, all in the interest of opening themselves up to their next level of success. 

                                            I walked 60,000 steps, made countless people laugh with my goofy mask, hugged strangers, and I didn’t roll my eyes once. 
                                            Diary of My First eWN ICON
                                            Nicole Caliro
                                            2 September, 2021
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