When Linda Higdon was called upon to pitch her story to a panel of media editors, she only had a half hours’ notice. The business woman, entrepreneur and philanthropic visionary was a bit intimidated at the prospect of explaining to the group why they should give her business valuable space in their magazines, newspapers, or blogs. This event was just one small part of the recent She Leads Media event which gathers like-minded women leaders for advice, information and camaraderie. The organizations’ yearlong mission is to “inspire, educate and ultimately, showcase women as the leaders they were all meant to be.” Last month, roughly 200 women, mostly entrepreneurs with their own businesses, gathered a mid-town Manhattan office near Grand Central, as close to the center of the world as you can get.
When Linda got the word that her application to join the other “pitchers” was accepted, she went to work making notes, drafting a pitch, and calming her nerves.
Linda with Kenyan Village Members
Her business is called Global Heart Journeys and as she stepped into the limelight, she introduced herself and explained that she created a women’s tour called Women’s Journey to Kenya, a 16-day global adventure where travelers step into the fascinating daily lives of women leaders from the villages working to bring positive change, women she’s worked with for 15 years. As a classically trained pianist, filmmaker, and ceramic artist, she knew very little about anything global when she first started, but she trusted her creativity.
In 2002 during the AIDS pandemic, she helped a Kenyan woman launch an organization that now reaches thousands of kids. She then created trips so American women can meet the same amazing women who have enriched her life, many of whom run their own businesses and organizations spotlighted by international media.
Woman Around Town caught up with Linda after her PR experience to hear what she learned from the experience, and from the daylong She Leads Media event.
“The She Leads event was life-changing,” says Linda. “The panel of women were so kind-hearted to my initial pitch. They understood the courage it took for all of us to step out of our comfort zones and give our presentation. They gave invaluable advice on how to hook a reporter or an editor, and my business will benefit from this.” Though her business is in Chicago, she was traveling with her husband to Manhattan and when she saw that the She Leads media event taking place the same time, Linda immediately signed up. “I’ve been to many women conferences, and this is by far one of the best. For the moderate price of the ticket, the day was literally jam-packed with valuable information. Adrienne Garland, She Leads founder, ran a tight event, no-frills, and kept it moving.”
The next step for Global Heart Journeys, and the reason for Linda’s attendance, is to learn how to expand her business. “I’ve been taking these trips to Kenya personally for about 15 years and as a business for the past 3 years and the women who have come on the trips are asking to have a similar experience in other countries, like Israel, Ethiopia, and India. I know that’s the natural next step for my business. By acquiring more PR wherever I can, I will reach more women business owners, open to a refreshing new global perspective for their work and their own hearts. That is how my business will grow. That is how my business will grow, and today’s experiences have given me wonderful guidance.”
Group in Kenya
Linda finds a very wide gap between the options open to American women entrepreneurs than those available to Kenyan women. “For one thing,” she says, “women can’t get loans…they don’t have any collateral. So, the women of the village who have a talent, pool their funds into something called the ‘merry go round’ where they choose one of the women’s businesses to invest in, and when that owner makes a profit, another woman is given the same chance. It continues until every woman in the group has taken a temporary loan to take her business to the next level.”
Garland, founder of the She Leads event, is very gratified about the response the event receives and says that this year’s event “exceeded” her expectations. “I designed the She Leads 2017 conference to maximize interaction among attendees, sponsors and speakers.” The most rewarding? “All of the feedback I’m hearing about how attendees are doing business with one another and how genuine and supportive they’ere finding the She Leads community to be. I’m looking forward to offering a marketing Mastermind group as well as launching the She Leads Publishing Platform in 2018. Stay tuned!”
Photos provided By She Leads and Global Hearts Journey
Top: Linda with Kenyan Children