Nov 28, 2016

More than three hundred GoPro women gathered for the 2016 GoPro Women’s Summit in the Bay Area on November 17th to listen to and be inspired by some of the most important female players in the business and sports world today. Designed specifically to align with GoPro’s culture and values, the inaugural conference was also dedicated to growing, learning, and bonding with one another through group activities that encouraged meaningful dialogue. 

The day kicked off at 7:30 am with a group yoga class to ensure everyone’s minds, bodies, and hearts were aligned for a jam-packed day of world-class speakers, workshops, and new friendships. After breakfast, the event officially began with an inspiring welcome from Jill Woodman, GoPro’s first female employee (and wife of GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman!). Jill recounted her unique experience as GoPro’s only female employee in the very early days of the company, noting that it would’ve been nice to have had a community of women with whom she could’ve shared goals back then, and to also validate where they came from and where they were headed. She implored the many women in attendance “to take advantage of this space and be vulnerable because you are not alone now,” and ended with valuable advice to “speak your truth. Earn the trust and respect of the people around you by showing honesty. Allow your heart to be cracked open and receive. Be authentically present. When you rise to this place, you lift everyone around you. And this is community.” 

The event continued with remarks from its executive sponsor and GoPro General Counsel, Sharon Zezima. Sharon acknowledged that the challenges that lie ahead for GoPro underscore just how important it is to show a commitment to its women. A passionate feminist, Sharon told stories of her time at Smith College - where female empowerment flourished – to law school and then law firms, where women were not always treated equal to men. Sharon’s role models include Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Margaret Sanger, and Sandra Day O’Connor – the first woman on the Supreme Court – which played a role in her decision to go to law school and embark on the career she has today. One of Sharon’s proudest accomplishments is the diverse legal team she’s built at GoPro: “I create my own model for good leadership that is informed by all my experience. Sometimes as the only woman,” she commented before leaving the podium. “I am committed to being a supporter of women’s growth and development at GoPro.”

Following keynotes included Sukinder Singh Cassidy, CEO of Joyus and founder of the Boardlist, as well as entrepreneur, author, and business woman Christine Comaford. Christine is known for leveraging neuroscience to create remarkable leadership, and her presentation focused on defining ones’ reality by using the “emotional brain” – where 90% of behaviors originate. She motivated the group with a clear message and strategy on how to create a desired state:

Focus on outcomes and know what you want

  • What will having that do for you?
  • How will you know when you have it?
  • What of value might you risk or lose
  • What are your next steps?

Christine’s relatable personality and motivating style brought about enthusiasm for the remainder of the day, which included attendees’ choice two morning workshops and two afternoon workshops, including:

GoPro’s own:

  • Laura Robblee: “The Art of Presenting:  How you show up and communicate effectively”
  • Bettina Briz: “How to Surround Ourselves with People that Lift Us”
  • Lindsay Smith: “The Power of Vulnerability”

GoPro guests:

  • Jay Fields: Out of Your Mind: “How Embodiment Can Help You Beat Stress and Be Your Best Self”
  • Jen Gurecki: “More Than a Hashtag”
  • Rachel Friedman: “How to be Stoked Everyday”
  • Carissa Romero: “Growth vs. Fixed Mindsets: How beliefs about the nature of talents and abilities can impact diversity, stereotyping, and performance”
  • Kim Woozy: “You Can Do It! How to Transform the Impossible to Possible”
  • Parneet Pal: “A Surprising (and rewarding) Way to Navigate Stress”
  • Julia Stamps Mallon: “Your First Outdoor Memory”

Inspiration and empowerment continued throughout the day, ending with a speech from Olympic swimming champion Missy Franklin. Missy spoke about her journey as a swimmer, from a young girl whose mother couldn’t swim, but made it her goal to teach her daughter, to dominating the 2012 Olympics and then, unfortunately, struggling through the 2016 Olympics.

Missy’s heartfelt words described how difficult it was to keep her head up, especially when all eyes—at home and in the media—were focused on her performance. Yet, she still managed to maintain s a high level of grace under pressure. She shared how difficult it was to go from her standard “I’m going to give it 110% response” to admitting that she only had 10% to give and how to deal with that. Or as she put it, “This is what I have to give right now, and if that’s it, then I’ll give 110% of that 10%.”    

She encouraged everyone to live in the moment, conquer that moment, and then face challenges as they come. “Even if you face trying times, it’s important to think about the things in your life that won’t change despite the outcome,” she said. “You’ll always be a sister, mother, daughter, friend, etc. no matter if you win the race or not.”

In the end, Missy admitted that she wonders if she’ll ever be as good as she once was. But she’s OK with that, because at the end of the day, all that matters is giving it all you’ve got at that moment.”

Big thanks to Sharzon Zezima, Katie Kilbride, Ashley Solmose, and Dana Washington for producing an event that left everyone excited for what’s in store for 2017.