Get Your Brag On with Athena League VOX

 “Athena League serves as a catalyst to foster and empower aspiring and established female entrepreneurs by providing them with the community and support necessary to succeed.” – Athena League mission

The Athena League VOX speaker series has done it again. VOX is inspiring the city’s emerging league of female entrepreneurs, as well as a good number of male entrepreneurs (kind of like the sly guys who joined Home Economics and dance classes in another era). If it sounds like I’m bragging about VOX, it’s because I am.

On Thursday, February 20, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Athenas and friends met at KU’s award-winning, Hemenway Innovation Center, named for former KU chancellor Robert Hemenway that was built (under budget) to expand KU’s research profile. It was a great venue for the evening’s biotech speakers. Props to BioKansas for tantalizing the entrepreneurial palates in attendance.

Athena League’s VOX speaker series featured two uniquely successful, collaborators in Bio-Science technology: Sara Mary Hall (SMH), co-founder of Orion BioScience, and Maria Flynn (MF), president and CEO of Orbis Bioscience. Both shared experiences  unique to their careers. They were moderated by Athena co-founder Kristin Kenney, Tech and Startup attorney at Polsinelli @kristenkenney. The event was emceed by Athena co-founder Mary Noulles, a Triple-I marketing manager @mnoulles.

Here are some takeaways from the night:

Women in Business:

SMH – Women are more easily remembered than the average white male.

“Put the glass ceiling in it’s place. You don’t feel the glass ceiling once you go through it.”

MF – Don’t think about it. It’s about self preservation and learning to be able to forget (negative comments). It doesn’t bother me anymore.

Bragging:

MF – “Ladies if you’re reluctant to brag on yourself, trade bragging rights and brag on each other. – I’ll brag on you and you brag on me.”

SMH – “It’s not bragging if it’s true.” Develop a mutual admiration for each other.

Failure:

SMH – “Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s a critical component.”

MF – “If we’d talk about failure more, it would help keep us from feeling as alone.”

Diversity:

SMH – “Hire us! – if you want more minorities and women.”

“Guys are stuck with a (certain) uniform and need liberating (in dress) as much as women. Change it up guys. This can be good for everyone.”

Living/Working in KC:

SMH – People here are rooted and willing to make connections; there’s a consensus community that utilizes momentum think.

MF – “It’s a great place to live.” A person could have a full time job just taking advantage of the many benefits at the Kaufmann foundation, alone.

Mentors/Advisors/Boards:

MF –  Aim high. Look for strong leaders who have strengths (truth telling, finance, business) different from your own.

    1. Keep agreements simple and straightforward.
    2. Work with people you like.
    3. Check your ego at the door.

Balance:

SMH – “Look at life and work balance as a marathon versus a sprint.”

After spending a huge amount of time on business trips to London and Australia, I took a year off and homeschooled the kids. My children are proud of me.

*********

Afterwards, one gentleman admitted he was more sensitive to Maria and Sara’s comments, now that he had a 20 year old daughter ready to enter into the work place.

If you’re looking for effective connections and a way to impact KC’s entrepreneurial scene, come and get your brag on and join Athena League VOX for it’s next speaker series event in April.

“It’s not bragging if it’s true!” (SMH)

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