CEM President, Michele DeClerck, Honored as Clive Citizen of the Year

The DeClerck Family to be honored as Clive Citizens of the Year (as featured in the Clive Online Newsletter 2-10-16)

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The DeClerck Family accepted the Clive Citizen of the Year award on Tuesday, February 16 at the Clive Chamber Annual Dinner

On Tuesday February 16, the Clive Lions along with the Clive Chamber of Commerce will be honoring The DeClerck Family as the Clive 2015 Citizens of the Year at the Clive Chamber’s Annual Celebration. The Annual Celebration will be held at NCMIC Group, 14001 University Avenue in Clive. The Celebration will start at 5:30pm, with dinner served at 6:45 pm. The program will follow dinner and will include the presentation of the Clive Citizen of the Year award to The DeClerck Family.

The DeClerck Family has called Clive home since the late 80s. Immediately Jaime and Michelle became involved in the community, joining the Clive Jaycees and running Clive After Five. They participated in many wonderful charity projects in their numerous years as Clive Jaycees. In 2004 Michelle started her business, Conference Event Management in Clive. In 2011, she was named Iowa NAWBO woman business owner of the year.

Growing up in a house of charity, the DeClerck children quickly learned to give back themselves and their son, Dylan designed and built the garden entry walls at their church in Clive through Dylan’s Eagle Scout project which the family still maintains to this day. At the age of 16, Dylan founded Opportunity on Deck, which provides low income students in the Des Moines area the opportunities to participate in organized sports. Since its creation it has served over 536 families. The entire DeClerck family is involved in the set up and facilitation of the sporting events. Leah, Dylan’s sister, spends most of her time playing ball with the girls and working the registration table. Jaime and Michelle serve on the Board of Directors. For all his hard work Dylan and Opportunity on Deck have won numerous awards, from top student at Drake University to most recently, Iowa’s Philanthropy Student of the Year. The quality of life in Clive is enhanced by the actions of people like The DeClerck Family and their actions represent the behaviors the Clive Lions Club seeks for this award.

The Clive Citizen of the Year recognition was initiated in 1979 by the Clive Community Development Association. This year’s nomination process yielded several nominations and the selection committee consisted of representatives from the Clive Lions Club.

Tickets to the Annual Celebration are $50/person and those interested can RSVP by February 12 online at www.clivechamber.org.  For more information on Clive Citizen of the Year please contact Clive Mayor and Clive Lion, Scott Cirksena at scirksena@cityofclive.com or 515-223-6220.

The power of saying ‘Yes’ – Part 7 of 7

This article originally appeared in the Business Record Lift IOWA 11.30.15 newsletter.

Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in a seven-part series by DeClerck focusing on the importance of community involvement and volunteering for women to grow both professionally and personally. Parts one, two, three, four, five and six are all available online.  

I’ve met some of Central Iowa’s most influential women and gained numerous benefits by volunteering to join them in women’s leadership causes. Sure, I questioned whether I should come up with an excuse for why I couldn’t get involved. I really am that busy, aren’t you?Michelle DeClerck

Perhaps you too have gone home and slid your new volunteer activities into a conversation over dinner like I have:

“Oh by the way, I’m on the Iowa Women Lead Change steering committee, but it won’t require much time at all,” I say.

To which the typical response is, “I thought you were going to start saying ‘No.’ ”

How could I say no? First of all, if you know Diane Ramsey with IWLC, you know the magical spell is cast. “No” doesn’t seem to be an option. Looking deeper, why would I pass on the opportunity to make new professional contacts and friendships that will elevate not onlymy business, but also my personal well-being?

Through volunteerism, you too can benefit from the kind of advice and opportunities I have, including tips on business growth, human resources issues, technology, leadership, coaching and resumes of great job candidates, as well as advice on candidates to pass up.

You can build your leadership skills by attending women’s leadership events, speaking to other women’s groups and sharing your expertise in your field or wherever your passion lies.

When you start saying “yes,” you’ll find it’s nearly impossible not to keep giving back, which leads to a richer sense of accomplishment and purpose. Over the past year, my new board and volunteer efforts mainly focused on women’s initiatives, and those experiences ultimately inspired me to launch Mentor Tank™ to further advance young women’s careers.

One of my recent opportunities involves working on the Iowa Executive Committee of Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Million Women Mentors to help engage 5,000 mentors to increase the number of females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. These are our children, our co-workers, our colleagues and our future hires. Joining a group that advocates for the advancement of women in the workplace changes the women-owned business landscape, addresses pay equality and promotes public policy where women can easily make a difference for this and the next generation.

I’ve come a long way from saying “yes” to chairing Clive After Five 25 years ago, and I can’t imagine how my ability to run a business would have suffered had it not been for saying “yes.”

To those of you who asked me to serve, thank you for helping me develop my leadership skills.

Michelle DeClerck is involved with both Iowa Women Lead Change and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Iowa. She is working to involve college students with Iowa Women Lead Change, and NAWBO has recognized her as one of its Woman Business Owners of the Year. She enjoys speaking on female leadership, business ownership and mentoring, and is addicted to business books. DeClerck can be reached at Michelle@myCEM.com.

Volunteerism results in lifelong friendships – Part 6 of 7

This article originally appeared in the Business Record Lift IOWA 10.12.15 newsletter.

Editor’s Note: This piece by Michelle DeClerck is the sixth in a seven-part series focusing on the importance of community involvement and volunteering for women to grow both professionally and personally. Parts one, two, three, four and five are all available online. 

How many times have you avoided picking up a call, returning a voice mail or put off replying to an email because you fear someone will request your expertise in the form of a time commitment? Or if you do return the call, you do so after hours have passed to minimize the chance of getting into a live conversation when you give your “You’re right, that is such  great cause, I’m just so busy right now” speech?Michelle DeClerck

About five years ago I hired a national speaker for one of my clients’ incentive trips. As I peeked in on the general session, one of his opening lines stuck with me. He commented on how lucky we are to be thought of in a positive light that someone would consider us for a volunteer opportunity.

The issue comes down to who has time to volunteer.

I came up with my own perspective on volunteerism: What if we never got asked to volunteer? How detrimental would that be for each of us on a personal level? How many of your closest friends would you not know if you never put down the TV remote or stepped outside your comfort zone by saying yes to a volunteer opportunity?

Two years ago, when we outgrew our office space at CEM, I oversaw building out a new office. As this was a new experience, I reached out for some expertise (and volunteers). My lease expert was a Valley High School show choir volunteer I became friends with the year before. The moving team I entrusted to hand-carry my personal items were volunteers from Opportunity on Deck. Our building’s open house was planned by an intern I met volunteering with our church’s children’s youth programming.

These are just a few examples of how relationships gained from personal volunteer efforts have helped me in business.

I don’t recommend you volunteer under the sole premise of how it benefits you or your business. Think, rather, of the interesting people you will meet. Through volunteer efforts and your leadership on those committees, you’ll intrinsically benefit and end up with lifelong friends, which ultimately enhances your well-being.

Michelle DeClerck, a certified meeting planner, founded Conference Event Management and Financial Speakers Bureau, a woman-owned business enterprise and provider of event, conference, incentive travel and meeting experiences.

DeClerck is involved with both Iowa Women Lead Change and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Iowa. She is working to involve college students with the Iowa Women Lead Change, and NAWBO Iowa has recognized her as one of its Woman Business Owners of the Year. She enjoys speaking on female leadership, business ownership and mentoring, and is addicted to self-help business books. DeClerck can be reached at Michelle@myCEM.com.

Benefit through accessibility to leaders – Part 5 of 7

This article originally appeared in the Business Record Lift IOWA 8.17.15 newsletter.

Editor’s Note: This piece by Michelle DeClerck is the fifth in a seven-part series focusing on the importance of community involvement and volunteering for women to grow both professionally and personally. Parts one, two, three and four are all available online. Part five focuses on how Iowa women are fortunate to be mentored by or to work beside many of the state’s top leaders.

You’ve seen it in the movies — someone wants to gain access to a corporation’s top management, and they put themselves in precarious positions to do so. But in Iowa, we have easier access to business leaders who can help develop our connections and lifelong business skills.Michelle DeClerck

This is especially important to millennials, as 88 percent seek out companies that offer Corporate Social Responsibility programs (Price Waterhouse Coopers) and they are motivated when they get to work beside one of Iowa’s top leaders.

Once you get involved in a charity or volunteer activity, you’re likely to meet caring individuals who want to see the volunteer project or organization experience its most successful year or event to date. As a result, you’re likely to develop a long-lasting relationship with other volunteers who would be willing to help you succeed with your career goals.

These individuals likely have contacts within a company that you have an interest in, whether it’s for a fundraising effort, for a sales opportunity, or to be considered for a job.

From a business perspective, by volunteering you can:

  • Meet advocates, mentors and potential employers.
  • Gain recognition by your own management for your efforts.
  • Be invited to lead other business efforts.
  • Enhance relationships with co-workers.
  • Build trust and your leadership reputation.
  • Differentiate your resume from equally qualified candidates.

Iowa’s business leaders often enjoy involvement in charity projects, and you may find yourself swinging a hammer right next to them, or they may become aware of your contributions and even personally recognize you.

No matter how many years you’ve been in business, here are some ways you can gain greater recognition and visibility right here in Iowa:

Volunteer to be on a committee that hosts an event.  
This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how you think and react in situations. If you are performing at a high level, it’s easier to ask your fellow committee members to make business introductions for you.

Take on the fundraising or sponsorship position.
This is the hardest position to fill on any committee, yet it’s the one that usually has the most access to decision-makers within organizations and where you can make numerous connections. If you like to make decisions, this also becomes the perfect position for you as you may fly solo for a while until you persuade someone to join your committee. Any successes you have are eagerly applauded by other committee members.

Sign up for community outreach at your workplace or place of worship.
Seek out mentors in small, informal ways. Great choices for mentors are men or women who inspire you, have values you admire, or have skills you would benefit from learning. Watch them react to situations and listen to how they treat people — whether you agree or don’t, you’ll be forming opinions on how you would react in those situations.

While businesses have long benefited from encouraging volunteerism among employees, don’t overlook the huge leadership benefits of unpaid volunteer opportunities and the ability to build your business intelligence.

Michelle DeClerck, a certified meeting planner, founded Conference Event Management and Financial Speakers Bureau, a woman-owned business enterprise and provider of event, conference, incentive travel and meeting experiences.

DeClerck is involved with both the Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Iowa. She is working to involve college students with the Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection, and NAWBO has recognized her as one of its Woman Business Owners of the Year. She enjoys speaking on female leadership, business ownership and mentoring, and is addicted to self-help business books. DeClerck can be reached at Michelle@myCEM.com.

How ringing bells can develop leadership teams – Part 3 of 7

This article originally appeared in the Business Record Lift IOWA 5.26.15 newsletter.

Editor’s Note: This piece by Michelle DeClerck is the third in a seven-part series focusing on the importance of community involvement and volunteering for women to grow both professionally and personally. Part one and part two are both available online. Part three focuses on the values leaders discover when promoting volunteerism among their employees.

When you volunteer your time with Central Iowa leaders as regularity as I do, it’s only natural to gain some insight about the correlation between community involvement and enhanced leadership skills.

Not only can I make a difference in the community through volunteering, but also it has provided me with leadership skills that are equal to or greater than any I have gained in the workplace.

Employees learn these leadership skills when they volunteer. Michelle DeClerckRichard Pound summed it up with his Forbes blog: “One of the most powerful ways for younger managers to understand and experience the type of leadership needed for the C-Suite is to do volunteer work early in their careers.”

These skills benefit employees’ businesses and can elevate their career path in the following ways:

  • Learning how to communicate ideas and how to deal with people in other areas.
  • Fine-tuning negotiation skills when making decisions.
  • Making commitments and following through.
  • Hitting deadlines and prioritizing.
  • Working on a fixed budget.

Good leaders volunteer, get involved and inspire others to give back. They personally invite into their inner circles people they enjoy working with and trust.

When I can’t fulfill one of my volunteer responsibilities, I look to the strongest members on my team to temporarily step in to represent not only my company, but my personal reputation as well. This provides my staff with an opportunity to try something new away from the office, demonstrate their skill set and grow.

If you manage a team, it’s important you provide them with opportunities to volunteer together, because it strengthens the bonds within your team, helps with employee retention and satisfaction, and helps our communities. Our community outreach team at CEM develops these bonds when ringing the Salvation Army bells, coaching at Opportunity on Deck, and packaging food with Meals From the Heartland.

As a volunteer, you also have the ability to shape others’ opinions of you, your workforce and your business, and you learn of great community groups to further support.

One of today’s hottest opportunities is found in mentoring young women. Taking this step benefits all industries when the playing field is leveled for women in the workplace. According to recently published research from Catalyst, “Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance.”

In addition, the report points out there is “notably stronger-than-average performance at companies with three or more women board directors.” Personal enrichment is also one of the major benefits that will be derived from your dedication of time and talent.

So go ahead — sign up to give back, and who knows who else will be impacted by your leadership initiative?

Michelle DeClerck, a certified meeting planner, founded Conference Event Management and Financial Speakers Bureau, a woman-owned business enterprise and provider of event, conference, incentive travel and meeting experiences.

DeClerck is involved with both the Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Iowa. She is working to involve college students with the Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection, and NAWBO has recognized her as one of its Woman Business Owners of the Year. She enjoys speaking on female leadership, business ownership and mentoring, and is addicted to self-help business books. DeClerck can be reached at Michelle@myCEM.com.

Find what moves you to volunteer – Part 1 of 7

This article originally appeared in the Business Record Lift IOWA 3.23.15 newsletter.

Editor’s Note: This piece by Michelle DeClerck is the first in a seven-part series focusing on the importance of community involvement and volunteering for women to grow both professionally and personally. Part two will publish next week, and subsequent installments will post throughout the remainder of this year. DeClerck is a business owner and involved with both the Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Iowa. She enjoys speaking on female leadership, business ownership and mentoring, and is addicted to business and leadership books.

In the process of writing this series of articles, “Leadership through community involvement pays off,” I was re-energized on a cold and dreary day to work on a volunteer project I committed to finalizing this month. The satisfaction kicked in as I enjoyed crossing off those tasks, staying up much later than I planned.MD headshot

I’m not alone; rather, I’m joined by over 794,000 Iowans when it comes to personal satisfaction received through volunteering. In 2013, we ranked an impressive seventh in the nation with over 34 percent of Iowans volunteering in some capacity, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service report on volunteering in America.

Combined, we contributed 72.4 million hours of service throughout the year, and while one may view their own volunteer hours as insignificant, the collective effort brings massive change to many deserving organizations and individuals.

Each leadership article in this series demonstrates my own valuable lessons learned through volunteer efforts and you’ll be able to apply these as you consider the personal enrichment that will be derived you’ll receive from your own contributions. Installments include:

  • Hitting a home run by giving up your free time: How others view you and the benefits you’ll receive.
  • The value of promoting volunteerism among your employees: Enhanced leadership skills, strengthening career paths, invitations into inner circles and strengthening team bonds.
  • Personal and professional growth: Satisfaction, self-confidence and sense of accomplishment.
  • Accessibility to Iowa leadership: Opportunities for mentorship, involvement in community outreach and escalating your resume to the top of the pile.
  • Volunteerism results in lifelong friends: Profitable both professionally and personally.
  • The power of saying yes: When saying no is easier, yes benefits your personal well-being and professional opportunities.

In summing up my constant need for volunteerism, I realize it’s been with me since I was a child. My mother volunteered as a room mom, then for numerous years with our annual city festival. In moving to the Des Moines area more than 25 years ago, it only took a few weeks to meet someone who invited me to join the Clive Jaycees, and I eagerly signed up and instantly made several new friends.

In writing this series, I realized that a majority of my friends came from volunteer efforts. Perhaps you’re not looking for friends, so why continue to volunteer?

By reading my series, I hope you find out what moves you to volunteer.

Michelle DeClerck, a certified meeting planner, founded Conference Event Management and Financial Speakers Bureau, a woman-owned business enterprise and provider of event, conference, incentive travel and meeting experiences. She is working to involve college students with the Iowa Women Lead Change. The National Association of Woman Business Owners – Iowa Chapter recognized her as one of its Woman Business Owner of the Year. She can be reached at Michelle@myCEM.com.

CONFERENCE EVENT MANAGEMENT ANNOUNCES IOWA HOSPITALITY DONATION NETWORK

West Des Moines, IA: Conference Event Management is pleased to announce a hospitality donation initiative to help those in need in our local community. The Iowa Hotel Donation Network involves hotels working together to donate excess food, leftover personal care items, and discarded housewares to non-profit organizations around Central Iowa. This initiative is aimed at supporting low income and homeless individuals.

CEM President, Michelle DeClerck, is a leader in the community and in her church promoting programs for alleviating homelessness and hunger. DeClerck founded the Iowa Hotel Donation Network to create a collective voice among local hotels. Often times, hotels discard items that could be reused or recycled, including toiletries, sheets, towels, furnishings, small appliances, and food. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the hospitality industry in North America throws away about one million bars of soap every day. Items like this could be donated to improve the lives and health of less-fortunate people.

The Iowa Hotel Donation Network held its inaugural meeting for hotel general managers in West Des Moines last week. The goal of this meeting was to start the discussion among the hotels surrounding CEM’s headquarters in West Des Moines, IA. DeClerck, along with leaders from Double Tree, Holiday Inn & Suites, Sleep Inn, Hotel Renovo, Fairfield Inn & Spring Hill Suites, Wildwood Lodge and the Iowa Lodging Association, came up with strategies for donating that can be used throughout Central Iowa, and eventually throughout the state.

From left to right, Krysia Hannam – Heart of America Group Cheryl Math – Heart of America Group, Michelle DeClerck – Conference Event Management, Mark Herron – Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel, Abid Talic – Fairfield Inn & Suites, Spring Hill Suites West Des Moines.

From left to right, Krysia Hannam – Heart of America Group, Cheryl Math – Heart of America Group, Michelle DeClerck – Conference Event Management, Mark Herron – Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel, Abid Talic – Fairfield Inn and Suites, Spring Hill Suites West Des Moines.

“There is no better place to start the discussion than right here in our local community. With Iowa ranking as the 7th most charitable state, I’m convinced an effort dealing with food rescue and the donation of personal care and houseware items will quickly make an impact. As our team travels the world and we see the effect volunteer programs make in some of the world’s poorest areas, we recognized there is an opportunity in our own community to make a difference,” stated DeClerck.

Hotels have numerous reasons to get involved with donation programs besides corporate responsibility. Benefits such as decreased trash hauling expenses are mutually beneficial for both hotels and the environment. For example, as hotels upgrade and renovate the disposal of mattresses is becoming progressively more expensive due to the fact that landfills are charging based on weight for large quantities. The Iowa Hotel Donation Network exists to find solutions for logistics of moving these products from the hotels to charities that can distribute to those in need, such as shelters and organizations that help people transition to independent living.

Hotels interested in becoming involved may contact Rio Maxwell at events@mycem.com for additional information or to receive a listing of known charities that accept donations.

Conference Event Management (CEM) offers complimentary hotel and cruise contracting and creates Return on Experience (ROE) – custom meeting and event solutions that drive sales, improve productivity, and retain top talent through attendee engagement. With complete transparency and saving client’s time and money, CEM manages the details while clients manage the business.

Some Women Just Don’t Give Up

When did your leadership status start? For me, I got my first entrepreneurial opportunity when I was five or six years old. My neighbor Diane, who lived across the street, had what I thought was the” best” driveway in the neighborhood. Why? Because we had a boring cement driveway and she had a sea of white rocks. She let me take rocks home and paint them in rainbow colors (this was when mood rings and rocks were popular) and sell them to the neighborhood kids (and Diane) for one cent each. That had cash cow written all over it. Oh, the riches I amassed.

My drive for success didn’t stop at selling the driveway rocks. I went on to become the top Girl Scout cookie salesgirl in my area year after year. And, I had a dream to have my own newspaper route. The problem was that boys, not girls, had paper routes in those days. I got the job only when the company was desperate and had no other choice. I could keep the job on the condition that I would give it up when they found someone else “competent” to do it.

Not only did I keep the job, but I became a top-selling carrier, won the prestigious Carrier of the Year award for the state of Illinois, and was asked to help recruit other carriers to show them how to increase their sales. I always wanted the achievements that came with hard work and, perhaps deep down, I knew I could do a better job than the boys that had come before me. I proved that to the newspaper company.

MD headshotI’ve been told on more than one occasion, since that newspaper route job, that “You have big shoes to fill,” (translation – you’re not good enough). That would allow self-doubting thoughts to creep in as I questioned if I wouldn’t be able to live up to what I had committed. But more often than not, I was able to put those short-term thoughts aside and showed my employer they had made the right decision to hire me by either winning “employee of the year” or being recognized in some fashion for my hard work, dedication, and expertise. I saw the challenging opportunities as the most interesting ones and I never gave up! Along the way, I worked with some great male and female leaders and through their example, I knew I wasn’t about to give up with them on my side.

Road blocks will present themselves to you in any rewarding, yet challenging, situation and there will always be non-supporters. I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t give up. Neither should you!

CREDENTIALS – Michelle DeClerck, Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), founded Conference Event Management (CEM) and Financial Speakers Bureau, a woman-owned business enterprise and leading provider of unique, world-class event, conference, incentive travel and meeting experiences and reward strategies, hotel / cruise site selection and contracting, individual Travel MyWay® travel bookings, and national speaker’s circuit bookings.  She can be reached at Michelle@myCEM.com

Michelle DeClerck, CMP, serves as a design specialist and college-age student engagement committee member for Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection to help develop women’s leadership and open up new opportunities for Iowa’s emerging women leaders, as well as supports NAWBO alongside her CEM staff for registration and event management.  Michelle is honored to be recognized as a National Association Woman Business Owner (NAWBO) Woman Business Owner of the Year.

More Than a Gut Feeling

By Michelle DeClerck, CMP, President, Conference Event Management (CEM)

If you served in an interviewing capacity in the 80s or 90s, you probably watched More Than a Gut Feeling.  It was the top-selling corporate training video produced and sold by American Media.  In this video, viewers learned that you can’t just interview someone and hire them based on your gut feeling as that can lead to disastrous results.

This video title also applies to refining your leadership skills.  As an event design specialist, my job is to ensure that my team is making the best decisions on behalf of our clients and to do so takes “More Than a Gut Feeling.”  I have specific check-in points our team members use to ensure they are on track and to avoid missing important deadlines which could cost my clients tens of thousands of dollars.  MD headshot

In your position, you’re likely responsible for hitting your pressing deadlines, contributing to the company’s profitability, and making decisions based on solid facts.  In other words, you don’t just wing it; you rely on your past experiences and the tools and resources you currently have in place that you know provides those stellar results.

When you work with other team members who aren’t following the processes, you’re responsible for holding yourself accountable by stepping in and taking ownership to bring everyone back on track.  At the time, it may seem so much easier to ignore those issues – you may feel like you can address them later on and you can easily gain a false sense of security that things will get better.  Not addressing issues only diminishes how others view you as a leader and can quickly snowball into an unhealthy environment.  While an employee might not initially be happy with you, your job is to help your staff apply rigor and discipline to their positions.

I like to lead within a 24-hour period.  Let me explain: if there is an issue, I like to share it right away or within the next 24 hours, to help my employees quickly correct the issue.  I do it with the utmost calm demeanor, helping maintain their self-esteem and if they embrace it, they ultimately can grow even quicker in their positions.

Strengthen your own leadership skills by redirecting your staff to use the tools that have been put in place to help them be successful and by doing so, eliminate any gut feelings and get to the actual heart of the issue.  If you have “More Than a Gut Feeling” that something needs your attention – you’re probably right!

CREDENTIALS –
Michelle DeClerck, Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), founded Conference Event Management (CEM) and Financial Speakers Bureau, a woman-owned business enterprise and leading provider of unique, world-class event, conference, incentive travel and meeting experiences and reward strategies, hotel / cruise site selection and contracting, individual Travel MyWay® travel bookings, and national speaker’s circuit bookings.  She can be reached at Michelle@myCEM.com

Michelle DeClerck, CMP, serves as a design specialist and college-age student engagement committee member for Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection to help develop women’s leadership and open up new opportunities for Iowa’s emerging women leaders, additionally she supports NAWBO alongside her CEM staff for registration and event management.  Michelle is honored to be recognized as a National Association Woman Business Owner (NAWBO) Woman Business Owner of the Year.

Break Free From Your Own Handcuffs

BREAK FREE FROM YOUR OWN HANDCUFFS
By Michelle DeClerck, CMP, President, Conference Event Management (CEM)

Early on in my career, I worked for American Media’s owner Art Bauer.  Art is one of the most motivated people I’ve had the opportunity to work for and being young and impressionable, I soaked up his theories on motivation that he constantly repeated to drive home a point. He also introduced me to some great sayings, as well as his megastar friends and leadership gurus (we produced and sold their videos to corporate America.)

One of Art’s favorite sayings forever engraved with me is that people walk around in invisible handcuffs.  Today the type of handcuffs women face could be the glass ceiling, women making less than men for the same job (22% less in Iowa), fewer management opportunities, or even discrimination.  Art was not referring to those handcuffs.

Art spoke of the handcuffs individuals put on themselves.  This could be in the form of not giving yourself credit, not speaking up, allowing other’s emergencies to become yours, accepting the stereotypes laid upon you, or even giving up before you try because you’re a woman and you’re not “supposed” to be successful at whatever it is you thought or dreamed about accomplishing.

Ask yourself, “Why do I put these invisible handcuffs on myself?” Did someone deflate your spirit, causing you to retreat? When self-MD headshotdoubt creeps in for me, I reach out to fellow National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and other women leaders I’ve met through Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection (IWLC) and we share stories and discuss real-life strategies.  I also make it a point to attend IWLC events and other networking opportunities where I can connect with women who are experiencing the same business issues I am, and I always meet new business women who I can both learn from and mentor.  Hearing national speaking circuit leading business women also inspires me and provides me with a few new ideas I can take back to my office and put into practice.

Whatever’s holding you back – isn’t it time you quit locking yourself in and instead free yourself up to the potential that’s waiting for you?  Give yourself permission – it’s your turn!  After all, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” (Wayne Gretzky).

CREDENTIALS – Michelle DeClerck, Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), founded Conference Event Management (CEM) and Financial Speakers Bureau, a woman-owned business enterprise and leading provider of unique, world-class event, conference, incentive travel and meeting experiences and reward strategies, hotel / cruise site selection and contracting, individual Travel MyWay® travel bookings, and national speaker’s circuit bookings.  She can be reached at Michelle@myCEM.com. 

Michelle DeClerck, CMP, serves as a design specialist and college-age student engagement committee member for Iowa Women’s Leadership Connection to help develop women’s leadership and open up new opportunities for Iowa’s emerging women leaders, as well as supports NAWBO alongside her CEM staff for registration and event management.  Michelle is honored to be recognized as a National Association Woman Business Owner (NAWBO) Woman Business Owner of the Year.