Women All Over the Nation Meet in D.C. for RADICAL Conference

(l to r.) Jillian Michaels and host of The Get Radical Conference Doreen Rainey

Washington, D.C. received a wonderful treat as host of an empowering weekend for women.  The Third Annual Get Radical Conference took place March 25 – 27, at the Renaissance Hotel, where nearly 500 women showed up from all over the country to hear a message of power from dynamic speakers. 

The conference envisioned three years ago by Life Coach Doreen Rainey has taken shape quickly. “When I decided to become a coach, and started working with my clients one on one and in small groups, I found myself saying, ‘You got to do something radical,’ ” Rainey explained. “And no matter what area of your life you’re in, you have to decide that I’m not only going to change but I’m going to change in a big way.”

 That message obviously resonated with everyone in attendance as the energy throughout the conference between the women seemed electrifying. “Radical is relative. So it doesn’t mean the same thing for every person, but that feeling you get when you feel,” she exhales, “ ‘This might be it!’ It’s the same.  So after having coached my clients around how to get radical I wanted to take it to a bigger platform and I wanted to reach more people and I thought what better way to do that than to begin the conference and invite women from all across the country to hear incredible speakers share their tips and strategies of how to be your best and how to live your best life.”

 The conference offered a bevy of powerful women that have lived through some of the most horrific things imaginable and have re-shaped their life to their best life and best self.  Life Strategist Rhonda Britten who many may remember as the coach that orchestrated the apology between Kevin Federline and Shar Jackson on Celebrity Fit Club season 7, has seen hardship in the worst way. 

 Britten became an orphan at 14 when she witnessed her father kill her mother and then himself when she was only 14 years old.  “It took me 20 years to get through that. Some may say that’s a long time,” she said.  But, I assured her that certainly was not us.  Her personal tragedy catapulted her into the life she lives today, re-shaping and strategizing the life of millions through her four bestsellers including the selection she used for the conference “Fearless Living.” 

Niecy Nash at the Get RADICAL Conference in Washington, D.C.

 The list of speakers goes on with the most motivating women around today.  Niecy Nash, formerly of the Style network’s Clean House, came and blew the roof off the place with her testimony and advice. Not only was she excited to be there, but her energy was infectious.  She had the crowd laughing and saying their “Amens” the entire time she spoke.  Her candid delivery about her journey as a single mother of three, having to return to her mother’s house with her children after her 16 year marriage ended in divorce, and back into the life she envisioned for herself was more of a ministry than a speech. Participants couldn’t wait to leap to their feet at the end of her talk.

 The radical advice Nash gave to African American women was, “Walk in the truth. A lot of times when you’re in denial or you don’t really want to own where you are, it costs you a little bit more,” she said.  “Because we came into the game a little behind–we don’t have time to waste. So knock it off! Get into it! Walk in the truth and let’s deal with where we are right now, so we can move forward a little bit quicker.”

 Nash is also preparing to launch her own empowering foundation. “I’m right in the genesis of starting my own foundation,” she explained. “What I’ve been passionate about in times past has been Dress for Success. I really really enjoy that organization.  Being an advocate for women, taking them clothes, being a part of their bigger events.  I really like being a part of that organization.”

 When she was asked about where her confidence comes from she said, “I came into the world with a great deal of faith, a great deal of being,” said Nash. “Some things you can’t explain, they’re just innate. They just are.  And you live your life out loud and you hope that someone else can glean from your experience.  To not be confident is such a shame.” 

One of the most empowering things she said to the audience was, “The most important thing you have to remember is to commit to loving yourself from where you have been to where you are trying to go.”  Niecy also walked away with the RADICAL Impact Award for being a woman “who has not only overcome challenges and achieved a high level of success, but has touched the lives of many and has had a positive impact on her community.”

 Also on the dynamic list of speakers was life coach Ali Brown.  Brown quit her job because she felt she wasn’t living a fulfilled life.  She wanted something different and something that was her own. So, she walked out on faith to change her life and change it she did.  She now empowers business owners with her vision and Ali International has become a multi-million dollar business with 50,000 members and ranked in 2009 on Inc.’s 500 list of fastest growing private companies in the nation. 

Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser speaks at the Get Radical Conference in D.C. Saturday.

And you know America’s #1 Trainer, Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser.  She was excited to still be a part of the conference and watch it grow.  “When I came here three years ago there were like 50 people in the audience, now I’m in a press conference with CNN.”  What you may not know is Jillian actually has a softer side.  In addition to the adults you see her stepping on and making throw up from time to time, she works with teenagers.

 “I have done projects for teenage girls and one particular was Cosmo Girl and I put out a very different type of workout DVD for teenage girls.  It was a hip-hop workout which I was awful at!” she laughs. “Which makes me reluctant to ever re-approach that!  I definitely, when working with kids or teenagers, I take a very different tact.  The things that appeal to kids, they want to have fun, they want to be social they want to look and feel good about their bodies.  You don’t wanna sit there and talk to them about heart disease and cancer and diabetes. First of all it’s not relevant and it’s not effective.”  She relates with being a teenager by using her past experiences as a teenager herself. “Because when I was a teenager before I got into martial arts, I was overweight and getting into a whole bunch of general trouble without creating any new headlines,” she jokes. “With that said I definitely think it’s a different approach and it’s about making it more sociable and making it more fun.” 

But, she came to the conference to deliver a radical message to build each woman and let them know they are not alone in their struggles with confidence and strength. “These days I think that being authentic is radical and that’s my #1 tip for anybody, woman man. “Be your true self.  You put everyone’s needs in front of your own because that’s what you were taught to do by your mother or your family or your church or whatever it might be because that’s what a good woman does. That’s just crap! And in your heart it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel true, it doesn’t make you happy.  I think that what we need to do is break some of these rules, question them, make rules of our own based on our own authentic truth and authentic happiness.  That’s my #1 tip always be in your truth, the truth is enough, and if that’s radical then so be it.”  

Deborah Owens with her book/movement "A Purse of Your Own".

Deborah Owens came to the conference offering the most wonderful thing of all…financial strategies to freedom through a movement she calls Purse Groups. She is a financial manager and is president of Owens Media Group.  She is prepared to save and preserve the black community by delivering its black women out of financial bondage.

 “I’ve been in the financial services area for almost two decades now. I started out as an adviser and a consultant and then went into management. And one of the things that I loved doing in that role was helping people, educating people about how the financial markets work,” said Owens. “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s what you do with it…More money is not going to solve your problems.  I think Biggie Smalls had it right when he said, ‘Mo money mo problems,’ ” she laughed. “Because the fact is that if you don’t know how to manage the resources that you have, then no matter how much money you get, you’re not going to be successful.  So, what we do is show people how to be successful—how to start where they are. You don’t need a lot of money.”

 It was immediately evident why Doreen Rainey chose Owens to be a part of the conference when we saw the Purse Group movement that was a part of her program.  “Doreen saw my books and it’s very aligned with her mission to help women take it to the next level and what I do is help women take it to the next level financially.  We started “A Purse of Your Own” campaign to financially empower one million women.  We have women all over the country starting Purse Groups,” said Owens.  “They get five to 10 of their closest friends and read one chapter of the book a month.  And then they begin to apply the principles that we talk about in the book to their own personal finances.  And what we have are women all over the country refinancing homes, paying off debt, putting more money in their retirement plans.”

 She also made it clear that these women that are coming together around her book, “A Purse of Your Own,” is not a book club.  “It’s not a book club, it’s a Purse Group.  We want the women to apply [the principles] and then hold each other accountable.  That’s what it is about.  And then if they do that they can have the accountability and the support that they need.  We actually have a Purse Grouping featured in Essence magazine.  And they started maybe 10 months ago and they’ve been having all these ‘a ha’ moments. And so now their next step is to start their own investment club.”

 Owens other three books were more technical and/or in the business of building money.  But A Purse of Your Own comes from a different place.  “This book, A Purse of Your Own, is very personal.  And I share my mother’s story in this book and why I’m on the path to financially empower African American women in particular,” she explained.  “The fact is that we do for everyone, but we don’t take care of ourselves and so as a result we end up with nothing at retirement.  The statistics with African American women in particular, African American women have less than $2 in net worth.  And I’m on a mission to change that.” 

 Owens also reveals in her book why this selection is so personal to her, “My role model is my own mother.  My mother lived a wonderful middle class life and when she separated from my father it changed her financial condition. And it was at that point that I said I would always have a purse of my own.  So that’s where the title comes from. What I found is that my mother’s story was not the exception, it was the rule. Nine out of 10 women are going to be responsible for their own finances. They will either never marry, marry, or divorce, or their husband will pre-decease them.  With statistics like that it’s time for women to fill up their purses and get smart about money.”

 For those of you looking to start a purse group her website is http://www.apurseofyourown.ning.com  The next Get RADICAL Conference has already been scheduled for March 23- 25, 2012.  If you want to change your life or catapult it to the next level of greatness by getting all the tools in one fun-filled weekend of networking, workshops and empowering talks go to http://www.GetRadicalConference.com

-J.C. Brooks

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