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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Stanley

LEMONADE: I dream it, I work hard, I grind 'til I own it

On March 8, 2021, ambitious women from all across the globe celebrated International Women’s Day by attending my Beyoncé-themed virtual power summit, where they raised a glass and turned lemons into lemonade together.

This past year has been so heavy, stressful, and challenging - not to mention totally exhausting - but it has also been enlightening, awakening, and transformative. We always have an opportunity to turn any and all lemons - into lemonade. And when women come together, you know we make some pretty damn good lemonade.

As a Keynote Speaker and Event Emcee who began her career in hospitality and event planning, this was the first time that I decided to produce and host a large-scale virtual conference under my own brand.

The phenomenal women in my life inspired me to create an experience where we could come together and laugh, feel empowered, and connect with supportive, fierce leaders from all corners of the globe. Alas, #LEMONADE2021 was born.

I don't know about you, but I love a good VIP goodie box, especially when it's beautifully themed and especially thoughtful! Registrants for LEMONADE had an option to purchase a General Admission ticket or a VIP ticket, pictured here. Each custom, personalized VIP Box included a:

- "Slay All Day" pen

- "Like a Boss" coffee mug

- Affirmation cards

- "Dream Big" candle

- "Flawless" eye mask

- Vanilla sprinkle cake

- Lemon tea with filters

- Custom card with special message

The audience heard from fierce speakers as they shared their stories and inspired us with their insight, energy and wisdom, speaking on topics including mental health, goal-setting strategies, confidence and self-worth, building your brand+business, trailblazing and shattering norms, and so much more.

Each presentation was tied to one of Queen Bey's songs (I mean, duh!).

Here's what our *Flawless* Beyoncé-inspired program entailed:

- Welcome to #LEMONADE2021 with Courtney Stanley

- "World Wide Woman" Poetry with Dr. Fayola Delica

- "Grown Woman" with Carleeka Basnight-Menendez

- "Run the World" with Tyre Richards

- "Burnout & Boundaries" Networking Session

- "Dangerously in Love" with Quinn Conyers

- "Upgrade U" Virtual Dance Class with Brianna Hairlson

- "Independent Women" with Ashley Lawson, Carrie Abernathy, Jenn Artura & Juliet Tripp

- "Living Authentically & Free" Networking Session

- "I Was Here" with Shannon Battle

- "Don't Hurt Yourself" with Rashida McKenzie

- Closing Words with Courtney Stanley

Throughout the event, attendees "got in formation" and networked with the best of the best women from a variety of industries from all around the world.

During each networking session, all attendees were placed into virtual breakout rooms stationed with skilled facilitators ready to engage them in conversations on topics that when surveyed prior to the conference, they said were important to them.

Every group spoke about the challenge of setting boundaries and how to combat burnout, as well as how to better empower themselves to live an authentic and free life.

It was important to me to keep the energy of the virtual event high, as we are all well aware that "Zoom Fatigue" is real. The last thing I wanted was for my attendees to feel bored or uninspired, which meant that when I booked my keynote speakers, my opening poet, my fierce panelists, my breakout facilitators, and my DJ (YES - I brought in a professional DJ), keeping content powerful but succinct and engagement meaningful yet efficient, was key.

My DJ, Amani Roberts, was critical to maintaining the event's energy. Plus, with the summit being inspired by Queen Bey, we had to make sure we weaved her most slayworthy songs into the experience. Each speaker's title was named after a Beyoncé track, and before/after each speaker's TED Talk-style presentation or breakout transition, we played a high-energy power ballad.

I should also mention my favorite part of the event... the virtual dance class! With the virtual event being three hours long and "fun" being one of my strategic objectives, I wanted to give our attendees a chance to move their bodies and enjoy themselves. Brianna Hairlson, 7-months pregnant entrepreneur and owner of Bri's Dance Studio, led the group in a dance routine, instructing them as they moved to Beyoncé's hit song, "Upgrade U".

If I had to change one thing moving forward, I would give myself the next couple of days off to decompress after months of planning, producing, and then emceeing the event live. Us planners are better about practicing self-care after our in-person events end, but it turns out we may need a little R&R after big virtual conferences come to a conclusion as well!

I had a total blast with our audience and left the event feeling completely inspired by the community that quickly formed over the duration of the virtual power summit. Putting LEMONADE together was a lot of work, but it was absolutely worth it. I'm already looking forward to tapping into my creative juices for my 2022 International Women's Day event, whatever that may be!

But don't take it from me, here's what members of our #LEMONADE2021 audience said about the virtual power summit:

"EVENT OF THE YEAR - This was the best kickoff to my week and still thinking of how powerful this event was. I am so tired of seeing the same people talking about the same things in our industry, but not only was this event diverse, I felt heard and included. POWERFUL content and very relevant. Let's humanize the world!"
"It was really an incredible day. I did not tune out once. Literally glued to my screen for all the sessions. I left that day and went back to my day job and felt like I just needed to do more. I wanted to jump out of my skin sitting at my desk. I felt like running. Something was gnawing at me. I woke up at 1:15AM and could not stop thinking about what I really want out of life. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my journal, and ran downstairs to write my plan for the next 3 months. I spent the next 3 hours blowing out my 5 goals into tasks and jumped right back into it the next morning. I am on my way to crushing them as we speak. You got me out of a bit of a funk and I love you all for that."
"Very well done! I will definitely attend next year and bring friends. LOVED all the speakers and the choreographed dance was a huge plus!!"
"So many of the incredible women said things that really hit home for me and I loved them all, but I'd have to say the opening poem was my favorite part. The breakout sessions were a close second though. I wanted to listen and learn from the amazing speakers, but it was nice to have a couple moments with a smaller group and be able to speak about our own situations. I think that really added to the dynamic of the day."

Want to stay in the loop on future events? Join my VIP List here.

Want access to the event soundtrack? Follow my "Feeling F*cking Fierce" playlist on Spotify.

Contact me to lead, inspire, or facilitate a game-changing conversation for your next in-person or virtual conference or event. Don't forget to get social with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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