2023 May Connects

May CEMA Connects: Yes, authenticity is hard…be authentic anyway!

May’s CEMA Connects featured two powerhouse event executives: Monique Ruff-Bell, Head of Events for TED Conferences, and Erika Speed, Manager of Live Programming, Forbes, discussing Leading with Authenticity. Monique and Erika shared their personal leadership journeys, along with insights into the many forms of leadership. Two key takeaways from the discussion were  that every leader – and leadership journey – looks different, and that leadership styles and preferences can help us grow at all career levels.

Moderated by CEMA’s new VP of Strategy and Operations, the group dove deep into the connection between authenticity and leadership, and how our authentic qualities serve us as leaders, and how the spaces we create as leaders foster authenticity in our organizations. She set the stage with a compelling definition of authenticity, being “when your actions are congruent with your values despite external pressures.”

Monique shared that becoming authentic was a survival choice, but she did not start out feeling comfortable about authenticity in her career. She had to learn to navigate new spaces and understand being uncomfortable. “Today,” she said, “Uncomfortable is part of what I do.” She stressed that authenticity is a choice, and that it is important to come the table in an authentic way – with boundaries.

Monique offered key wisdoms from her leadership experience: “Don’t just worry about learning how to manage up, also learn how to manage down,” and “If you don’t give your teams the space to be creative—they cannot.”

Erika emphasized the importance of work life integration, which allows us to live a life that fills us holistically in all ways. She believes that working towards living the life that we like requires leveraging our passions and bringing that into our workspaces, and determining what we can reset and recalibrate to be our best work selves.

She also passed on sage advice: “Don’t be afraid to be a thought outlier — bring different ideas and ways of thinking to the table and embrace quirkiness – your own and in others.”

Sandra tied these ideas back to events with the insight the “Ideation is core to growth and creativity in our business, and in order for people to ideate they need to feel safe, and that risk is okay.”

Click here for a larger image of the session’s mural of key points and ideas (sample version below) Or click below to watch the session recording.