A little About Leslie:
Hailed as one of New Hampshire’s Outstanding Women in Business” by NH Business Review, Lakes Region native Leslie Sturgeon is a tireless leader of women in New Hampshire. Her organization, Women Inspiring Women, brings women together for empowerment, motivation, personal development, business resources, networking and a whole lot of fun. WIW is now recognized as the largest women’s group in the Granite State.
Leslie is also a serial entrepreneur, having started her first business at the age of 22- over 28 years ago! Her entire career has been spent encouraging women to identify their goals and dreams, motivating them to take bold actions and then celebrating their success- whether it is to start a business, change careers, have more meaningful relationships or live the life that they have always dreamed about. It is because of this commitment that Leslie was named as a Women in Business Champion by the NH Small Business Administration, received two Gubernatorial Citations from NH Governor John Lynch and a NH Senatorial Commendation.
Leslie sees the potential in every woman and gives them the tools and resources to enhance their lives. She loves stepping out of her comfort zone, learning about herself and others, and journeying through life with crazy amounts of enthusiasm and optimism (and lots of coffee).
OUR CONTRIBUTOR KIMBERLY DEZIREE MEETS LESLIE
Late last summer, through a mutual friend, I was introduced to Leslie Sturgeon. My friend was excited for me to meet Leslie and for me to find out more about her organization, Women Inspiring Women, as she knew we would have a lot in common. I found Leslie to be a warm, confident woman who deeply cares for other women. At this point, I did not know her story or her background, only that she runs this incredible organization that is quite popular with women in business. She invited me to come check out her big event of the year which is NHCW-New Hampshire Conference for Women.
Friday, November 13th 2017, arrived and I dressed in my business attire expecting to enter a business conference. To my surprise, I walked into the most amazing, sophisticated, girlie party for business women that seemed to be anything but a stuffy conference. Leslie was there to greet everyone as I signed in (looking radiant and elegant in her cocktail dress with sparkles) in order to make everyone feel welcome to her event.
Moving on to the vendor area I saw rows of tables staffed by self-employed women who were showcasing their various businesses and services. From there I moved on, entering the main stage area, which is where I stopped for a moment to take it all in. I had never seen a conference that looked quite like this, the tables were absolutely beautifully staged. There were gifts, table topics and all kinds of goodies for the participants to take home with them as a reminder of their visit to the conference that day.
The handouts that were provided were well thought out as they had every detail of the event, from who the exhibitors were right on up to the many guest speakers there including Elizabeth Smart, who spoke on her story of overcoming adversity in her life. The event ran from 8 am to 5 PM and in that time I witnessed many women hugging and greeting each other as if they were long lost friends. I could clearly see that many of these women had been coming to this annual event for a long time. This event inspired me to request an interview with Leslie to find out how it all started and she graciously accepted.
The interview began with the question of what led her to do this with her life. At the age of 22, she started her first business which was 29 years ago. Being painfully shy she always wanted to become the person she envisioned herself to be in the future. She decided the best way to do that was to surround herself with professional business women who were much older than she was but portrayed the qualities that she wanted to emulate. She made mentors of these women and by following their direction soon accomplished her personal transformation goal.
As her confidence grew and her business skills improved, she thought it would be amazing to start a group whose focus was to share this with other women by a means other than one on one contact. She knew that the power of women, when gathered together in a group, would bring greater success to them both independently and collectively. Her monthly event grew rapidly and within four months it expanded to other parts of the state as women came in droves (some even from outside of New Hampshire). At this point, she realized that there was a real need to bring women together in more than a support group type of atmosphere.
As she started to bring in different types of speakers with varying topics relating to women’s needs, the group spread from one to four regions within the state. WIW then expanded to include the NH Conference for Women and Inspiring Women in Business day-long events. The topics that were important to women such as confidence, limited beliefs and basically all of the things that women were struggling with were what Leslie put on the agenda for her gatherings. Leslie also launched mastermind/success groups of like-minded women who were all committed to their personal growth, businesses, and careers – the focus of these groups was goal setting, action, accountability and raising the bar on every aspect of life.
The first timer to any event is acknowledged and made to feel welcome. She has set a tone and a culture for her events, “it’s a celebration, feminine, girlie and no stuffy allowed” she says! It is a happy, no-judgement zone as the events are intended to be fun and entertaining leaving you knowing that your soul has been shifted. Leslie brings a lot of her own story to the events such her mission to overcome shyness and anxiety while honing her leadership skills. She owns her flaws and admits that she is still a work in progress, always stepping out of her comfort zone. In this vulnerability and authenticity, she inspires others to do the same while making sure they know the WIW community is there to cheer them on and support them.
I asked her about expanding this wildly popular group from New Hampshire, she is absolutely against franchising it and admitted that she is a bit of a control freak and did not want somebody else representing her brand because she feels that this is her “Baby”. She feels that things are fine as they are, especially given that women from all over New England come to New Hampshire for this big event and it is agreed that a big part of the group’s success is Leslie’s personal touch and leadership.
I asked Leslie “What do you want our readers to know?” Her response was “Don’t wait until you have it all figured out!” “Authenticity goes a long way!” “Do your Best!” Leslie believes that when people wait to figure things out, nothing ever gets done. She also stated that it’s okay for people to see your cracks, it makes you more authentic as a leader and makes them feel that they are on the journey with you. She says we should always ask for help and hire the people we need. She believes that we think we have to do it all but we don’t, we instead have to do what’s best for the business including hiring people to do the things that we are not good at.
Lastly, Leslie said we should “Make sure to let your existing clients know what you are doing new, keep growing and evolving and they will keep coming up the ranks with you”. You should know your skills and gifts and then get out of your comfort zone, in other words, feel the fear and do it anyway!
As we wrapped up this interview I asked her about this year’s big event (NH Conference for Women) and if she could tell me anything about what was coming up for it. She shared that Jack Canfield would be doing an encore presentation on November 2nd at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester NH. There would be a special VIP lunch and Q&A with Jack Canfield, Author of Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. I told her to definitely include me on that VIP luncheon Q&A and that I look forward to visiting this event again.
In order to find out more about Leslie and what she has coming up check out her website at www.WomenInspiring.com or you can email her at Leslie@WomenInspiring.com.
P.S. Leslie and Women Inspiring Women’s NH Conference for Women were voted Best of Business (BOB) award from NH Business Review in the “Best Networking Event Category”. Editor Jeff Feingold says, “The BOB’s continue to be considered a standard of excellence in NH’s business community”. Congratulations Leslie! Well Done!