High Energy, a Compelling Message and More in St. Louis

July 19, 2021
Written by: Michelle Yates, APR, EDAC, FSMPS, CREW-St. Louis

Expectations exceeded! Having attended several Leadership Summits in the past, I knew it would be a great experience. Still, without being a delegate or current board member, I wasn’t expecting to have such an impactful two days. For me, it all related back to the energy, the message and the extras.

The Energy: This is the first time in 15 months that many of us have gotten together in a larger format. We’ve missed the energy and excitement that comes with having our membership in one place at the same time and finally reconnecting in person with our friends in different parts of the world. Wouldn’t it be great if we always walked into meetings feeling this same level of energy and support? It is inspiring and powerful.

The Message: Our two keynote speakers during the summit focused on “Building Inclusive Leadership” and “Leading with Vision and Hope.” Janese Murray of Inclusion Impact Consulting stressed the importance of reflection and facilitated a compelling in-person and virtual exercise through a series of questions to the audience. Among other things, the exercise demonstrated the many levels of bias and how we attribute meaning to so many things. Murray also talked about the benefits of psychological safety and the six traits of inclusive leaders: commitment, courage, cognizance of bias, curiosity, cultural intelligence and collaboration. She encouraged members not to be afraid and reminded us that “if you’re really going to be on this journey of inclusion, you’re going to make mistakes.”

Janese Murray

Janese Murray, president, Inclusion Impact Consulting, speaks during a DEI training session on building inclusive leadership.

In the second keynote, Bonnie Hagemann of EDA, Inc., introduced us to the concept of creating a vision using the "Lift 6 Model," and talked about being a leader and taking initiative to make needed change instead of waiting for others to do it. Hagemann discussed how company leaders can create a conducive environment for visionary leadership through culture, connectivity, clarity and courage. Using an example of explaining a painting before showing it to us, she described visionary leadership as getting others to see the same picture that is in your mind. She also said that we have to get better at painting a picture of our vision for others to see and join in on, and encouraged us not to give up.

The Extras: CREW events are so organized, we sometimes take for granted all that our network and the local chapters do to enhance our conference experience. The forced break from in-person events helped me appreciate the extras even more. To name a few:

  • Exercise opportunities with a Netwalk/Netrun and Mat Pilates.
  • Built-in networking opportunities with CREW Coffee Chat and extra time for a lunch out, cocktail reception and dine-around options the first day. Then, continental breakfast, networking lunch, walking tour and another cocktail reception the second day. Members also had the opportunity to share business needs and talk about current projects during the CREWbiz Live speed networking session. Special thanks to CREW Greater Philadelphia for letting me crash their dinner on “The Hill” – a bonus networking opportunity!
  • Hospitality table with lots of local flavor. Although I may be biased, I think the St. Louis chapter did a fantastic job of being available to answer questions and displaying some fun St. Louis treats like gooey butter cake, Bissinger’s chocolate and Gus’ pretzels. They also gave attendees STL hats (no other color but Cardinal red would do) and bracelets displaying the last five chapter themes chosen by the presidents: Resilience, Engage, Aspire, Disrupt and Impact.

CREWbiz Live

Members participate in the CREWbiz Live speed networking session.

Thank you to more than 400 in-person and virtual attendees, CREW Network board and staff, CREW-St. Louis and our sponsors who helped make this Leadership Summit a success. For everyone who was able to attend the event, I hope the energy hasn’t burned off yet. If you need a boost, view the sessions here by July 21.

Let’s continue the momentum for our global convention in Vegas in September – registration is open!

Michelle Yates

Michelle Yates is director of marketing for Lawrence Group, an integrated design, development and construction firm with offices in Austin, New York and St. Louis. She leads the firm's marketing team and works with principals and market leaders to win new business in healthcare, higher education, hospitality, retail, senior living, multi-family housing and corporate workplaces. Yates, an SMPS Fellow, has 20+ years of industry experience and served as the 2019 CREW-St. Louis president.

CREWbiz Profile


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