Nothing is by accident. Michelle Patterson at the age of 12 interviewed Governor George Deukmejian for her grade 8 paper. She interviewed him because he was launching the California Women’s Conference. The Governor recognized that women needed more support to help their businesses succeed. At the end of the interview, the Governor turned to Michelle and let her know it was the best interview he had ever done. Those words of encouragement made an impression on the 12 year old Michelle.
Fast forward 30 years later in 2012 when Michelle, now a successful large event planner with events like Taste of Ladera to her credit, receives a call asking her to assume the reins for the California Women’s Conference from Maria Shriver. Michelle remembered the interview with Governor Deukmejian and his vision for the conference and agreed to take on the conference. Michelle’s philosophy is that nothing happens by accident; she was meant to take this on. It was a great fit with her passion for supporting women’s issues.
But juggling the demands of planning a major event and life isn’t easy – it requires her family’s support. One powerful example of the support she received happened the first year she ran the conference. Michelle was reassured by fundraisers that they would have the sponsorship support they needed and would be financially sound. But 17 days before the conference was to start, Michelle discovered that they were short by 1.8 million.
Members of her team urged her to shut down the conference, thinking that raising that kind of money in 17 days was impossible. But that inner 12 year old girl that impressed the Governor encouraged Michelle to fight on and find a solution. She was determined to not cancel the conference. She met with the CEO of the convention center and asked for help. Over a bowl of her favorite ice cream, they brainstormed ways to shave off costs. That was step one.
Later that night in bed, she tossed and turned. Her husband unaware of the challenge she was facing. He sensed something was wrong and turned on the light. She confessed. He turned to her and said, “I’ve known you for 15 years and you’ve always made it work, you’ve always figured it out.” It is that incredible support that Michelle credits for her success – that paired with the amazing support from her two children.
Step two involved Michelle using her burning desire to turn things around to fund-raise. She checked her ego at the door and asked for help. And help arrived to the tune of over 1.7 million in emergency sponsorship. Michelle reached out, and the community came through and her family was there to support her.
Michelle knows full well that it is often a challenge to balance family and the pressures of planning a major event. She reminds herself to make time for family. Not only does she plan major events, she also is the president of the Global Women Foundation. The foundation provides support and advocacy for women and women’s issues. In addition, she is the CEO of Women Network – an online digital network that provides women with resources, tools, and advice to achieve their full potential.
One shining example of her dedication to her children came when she was asked to speak at the United Nations on women’s issues on her daughter’s 16th birthday. Sweet 16’s only come around once, so she declined the opportunity explaining the situation. However, to Michelle’s delight, they suggested she bring her daughter along. Not many girls will be able to say they celebrated their 16th birthday at the UN.
Michelle is passionate about supporting women by bringing together the best minds and inspiring leaders to support the quest to balance the five elements to create a thriving life. The California Women’s Conference focuses on the concept that all five of these elements need to be present and balanced for true happiness in life.
The 2014 California Women’s Conference will be held on May 19 and 20, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention Center. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the California Women’s Conference Website.
How do you balance the demands of your business and family? Share your secrets with other readers by commenting. Work life balance can be especially tough for new entrepreneurs be they men or women.
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