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Visionary Women’s “Women at the Forefront of Technology” Salon

Victor Hugo once said, “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.” I wholeheartedly agree.

An idea, a focus, and an energy to build a community of visionary and empowered women is something that has been stirring in me for many years now.  I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of women who have broken ground in their fields – and shared a passion to know and educate others on what is it exactly that gives some that spark to create change.

For me, February 26, 2015, marks a special moment in my life. Together with the help of my talented co-founders and executive board members: Mayor Lili Bosse, Veronica Smiley, and Ambassador Nicole Avant, and committee, we launched Visionary Women into the stratosphere with the “Women at the Forefront of Technology” Salon.

Three hundred and twenty inspired women leaders and fifteen girls from Communities in Schools Los Angeles’ Ladies First program joined us for a panel discussion at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills to hear some of the top women leading technology today. Our panel lineup featured Dawn Ostroff, President of Condé Nast Entertainment (CNÉ), Pauline Fischer, Vice President, Original Content at Netflix, Julie Uhrman, Founder and CEO of OUYA and Doris Kim Sung, Founder of do| SU Studio Architecture.  Five-time Emmy Award winning journalist, Giselle Fernandez moderated the discussion and the attention from the audience was palpable.

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the day – although there were many:

“Listen to your inner voice. Trust your intuition. It’s important to have the courage to trust yourself.” - Dawn Ostroff

“Understand yourself enough to know what you are most passionate about. Don’t compromise on that because you are going to have to work hard no matter what.” – Julie Uhrman

I know that Visionary Women is an idea whose time has come, and I’m so grateful to have the support of so many friends, family and community members.

It’s an incredible feeling to be doing the work that you love with others whose heartbeat echoes your own.

I’m also grateful to our event sponsor NET-A-PORTER.COM, whose passion for empowering women mirrors our own.

Thank you to those of you who have supported me on all the twists and turns of this exciting journey.

~Angella

The Power of One Person

It is one thing to research and study the life of a person you admire and quite another when you get to see them face-to face and collaborate.  I had first met Somaly Mam, CNN Hero—and one of Timemagazine’s ‘Top 100 of the Most Influential Women in the World’, six years ago. She took the stage at the Governor’s Conference and had her speech had all 9,0000 women in the convention center simply rapped.

Today, Somaly Mam is a shining example of love, resilience and courage. She has transformed her painful history as a child who was sold into sexual slavery and who eventually broke herself free to rescue others. She and others fromThe Somaly Mam Foundation risk their lives continually to go into the dark hidden places where young girls are locked up, help them escape and provide a safe haven for them to rehabilitate. For me, these are true heroes.

One of my favorite speaking topics is about the power of one person. One person, or small group of likeminded individuals, can accomplish anything. Likely, they have more power than mega-organizations. And Somaly Mam is one of those people who, single-handedly, has brought sex trafficking to a global platform.

When she came to Los Angeles for work in early November, I invited her to a small afternoon tea with a few of my close friends. What touched me the most from our time together was the deep level of joy and love she radiated. All the guests that afternoon walked away feeling uplifted and utterly moved by the gracious presence of this woman.

I tend to believe that one of the most powerful ways to unleash the potential a group of people is to hold salons and conferences, where ideas, issues, and experiences can be discussed in a meaningful way.

A quote by Margaret Mead comes to mind:

“Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world.”

Invigorated by this simple truth, I along with my partner Beth Friedman, decided to organize a formal salon as a platform for Somaly Mam to share her story with a broader audience. The response was overwhelming. Press came, donations were given, and even one woman I heard contacted Somaly’s organization to replicate their operations in another country. Truly the power of one life, of one story, Somaly’s, yours and mine, has the ability to impact the world!

Continuing on this theme, Beth Friedman and I have co-founded Women Aspire. Respond. Engage. (Women A.R.E.) and we will be hosting our inaugural day-long conference on November 7th at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles.

Below is a sample of the discussion at our first Women A.R.E. Salon.

Angella Nazarian & CNN Hero Somaly Mam

Danica Patrick: One Fast Woman!

Cheers to fast women! Usually people snicker when they hear the words “fast” and “women” in one sentence, but this fast woman is no joke. I saw her on CNN just this morning sharing her news with the entire world. Danica Patrick, race car driver, just won the poll position of the 55th Daytona 500 time trials, posting a lap of 196.434 mph making her the first female to do so in history. You may recognize her as the beautiful brunette from the website company GO DADDY’s advertising campaigns. If being a beautiful racecar driver, model and spokeswoman wasn’t enough now she’s making national headlines.

For those that aren’t familiar with the sport, the poll position she just won is the strategic leading position to earn on a racetrack. To start on the inside edge, first row – gives the driver a logistical advantage over all the other stock cars. Although she’ll have a starting advantage during the “Great American Race”, history shows that it doesn’t guarantee a win. No poll winner in over a decade has won the Dayton 500 – not since Dale Jarrett in 2000, said NASCAR spokesman Scott Warfield. But she will have the fans cheering for her.

Danica’s love affair with racing started early. At age 10 she began go-kart racing in 1992 in Wisconsin not far from Roscoe, Illinois where she grew up. She never looked back. Along the way, both of her parents have been supportive of her career, and today are involved in the daily operations of her businesses. A media darling, she has been acted in TV shows, been featured music videos, and commercials. Now with this new poll-win under her belt, all eyes will be watching. Regardless if she wins the Daytona 500 or not, she is a winner. Her drive, focus and passion is a lesson for us all.

[Here’s a racy picture of her — no pun intended!]

What I Have Learned From My Sons

I often say that my biggest teachers have been my kids. It is a strange feeling to be walking down the street with both of them towering over me, and poking fun of all the strange things I do. But believe me, life with them keeps getting more and more interesting with each year.My older son, Phillip, went to study abroad for a semester and gave us a boost of energy and inspiration with his notes from abroad. The new living arrangements, the new culture and language were a shock to the system—but Phillip loved the feeling of exploring and experiencing a new environment. They say that parents shouldn’t live through their kids, but in this instance I can tell you that Phillip’s sense of adventure and his natural inquisitiveness fulfilled a part of me as well. I guess this past few months have only shown how new experiences unleash a part of ourselves that we may have never known existed.

This past year was a big year for my younger son as well. Eli is a senior and has been looking at various colleges around the country. Last summer he surprised us all when he came back from a four-week business leadership class and announced, “This is it! I want to apply to the best business schools in the country!” There is no other word to describe him, but to say that he has a lot of “chutzpah”. You see, if he were playing the odds game—he could have played it safe and applied to a highly selective liberal arts college—the ones that he had all along thought of applying to before his summer experience. But, he told us that he was ready to be rejected, but what he needed to do was be in a business program that he loved. Needless to say that for the following months he was laser focused on getting interviews at his top school of his choice and making sure he had the best application possible.

The last few days leading up to getting the admission news were truly nerve wracking for him. My husband and I noticed how invested he was in his decision and wondering what may happen? Good news is that he was accepted to his school of choice!

But why am I choosing to talk about this story? I was noticing how naturally Eli followed his instincts, his passion and how he was willing to put himself on the line and risk rejection to get what he wanted. His decision paid off, but I have a feeling he would have coped with a rejection and would have applied to other business schools of his choice. I have been thinking about his actions quite a lot. Here he was as an enthusiastic 17 year old, grabbing life with his two hands and believing that his new found passion is worth his time and worth risking hurting his ego.
He reflected something for the whole family to see—that we can be more open with our choices, and put the necessary time and dedication to bring a dream to fruition.

This coming year, I hope to keep this lesson alive in my heart! I hope that you too draw inspiration from those around you, and in turn, use it to lead an inspired life!
Happy Holidays.

The First week of Pioneers of the Possible Book launch

I woke up Tuesday morning especially early. For those of you who know me, it is of no surprise when you receive an email from me at 5:30 am!  For the past few years, I have been waking up automatically at 5am, and quite frankly this is the only time in the day that I feel I can get uninterrupted work done. So just imagine, here I was—wide awake at 4:30 in the morning, in the pitch dark—thinking of my big day ahead. Yes. It was my book launch celebration that Tuesday.

I tiptoed out of my bedroom to my home office and saw a message flashing on my screen.  Women’s Wear Daily had just printed a full-page article on my book, Pioneers of the Possible, the very day of my book launch on Tues. Feb. 21st!  I hoped that this wonderful review is a good omen for things to come for my book—my labor of love for the past 2 years.

You never know how a book is received by the public; as a writer you do what is most fascinating to you and you only hope that you transfer that excitement to the reader.   That Tuesday morning, I stepped into the SLS Hotel to find 350 eager readers and supporters greeting me.

I don’t know if I have the words to describe the special bond one creates with the reader; but most certainly it is an intimate one, because the book becomes a medium for both the writer and the reader to take a journey together.

People who have been following my blogs, who had read my previous book were there in full support.  And may I add with such enthusiasm that there was a certain kind of electricity in the room.

I not only have created a bond with my readers, but I also have formed a special connection to the 20 pioneering women I have showcased in the book. While researching their lives, reading their memoirs and going over interview clips, I felt as if I was getting to know a new friend, or an admired mentor.  Their lives, their presence in the world inspired me. I posted their pictures on a board in my office and wrote down the quotes that resonated in my life.

My wish is that Pioneers of the Possible, and the lives of these visionary women around the world opens that door for the readers to once again take that special journey of discovery with me.  These are stories of hope, resilience, creativity, and the joy in celebrating the achievement of women.