13 Things I Learned from the Young Professionals of Color Conference

This year I had the opportunity to attend my first Young Professionals of Color Conference (YPCC), which was hosted by Cascade Engineering at Cornerstone University. Needless to say, I left this conference feeling rejuvenated, motivated, and supported.

  • Rejuvenated because I felt empowered to see many young professionals who were just like me - ambitious but a little unsure as to how to reach their full potential or even where to start.
  • Motivated because for the first time I was introduced to established professionals who started out just like me and are now seen as thought leaders in the community and are making great strides in their professions.
  • Supported because I finally discovered a society of people who are willing to mentor and guide me down a more successful path.

The conference centered around the theme Making Change: Local and Global Impact, because change is constant and it brings many opportunities to make an impact. We were able to go more in depth about variations of change in break-out sessions which focused on topics such as:

  1. Make a change in your community
  2. Leading change
  3. Changing the meaning of you
  4. Changing your financial situation
  5. Making change in your health
  6. Making change in your career

Each session was impactful and I don’t think that would have been possible without the help of community leaders who led and helped guide conversations. In these sessions people felt comfortable sharing their opinions on relevant topics such as code switching, micro-aggressions and some even shared their personal stories.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the break-out sessions, my favorite part of the conference was listening to the keynote speaker, Candace Matthews. Mrs. Matthews is currently the Amway Regional President of The Americas and Europe and is a resilient, inspiring woman with a plethora of stories. During her speech she shared not only her professional experiences, but painted a picture of her humble beginnings and the tools that helped her reach her professional goals.

Below is a list of the 13 tools Mrs. Matthews keeps in her leadership toolkit. I hope you will all begin collecting these items as your professional career grows. I know I will!

  1. Salt – Salt of the oath. Represents integrity and value.
  2. Rock – Perseverance. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and you can achieve everything and overcome.
  3. Sponge – Always absorb and learn from others. Never stop looking for ways to improve because practice makes permeant and you want to constantly deliver your best. Don’t forget, the things that don’t matter can always be squeezed out.
  4. Camera – Image and exposure are what set leaders apart. Keep your elevator speech ready!
  5. Yo-Yo – Giving and receiving through mentorship. In your professional life there are mentors who took the time to pour into you. Return that favor by pouring into others around you.
  6. Balls – Backbone. Know strategically what you are going to stand up for.
  7. Rubber Band – Be flexible. Life is unpredictable. You don’t know what is in store for you or the leadership you will encounter. Take this time to learn the leader you want to be and the leader you do not want to be.
  8. Balance Bar – You need to have a balanced life. Save yourself from early burn out. Focus on your breaks when you need one.
  9. Kiss – Loving support system is the key to keep you going.
  10. Q-tip – Quit taking it personally. Great leaders must have tough skin. You have to survive to thrive and know that when it no longer stands with your beliefs, it’s time to move on.
  11. Binder Clip – Tightly aligned individuals who form a team. Surround yourself with good people.
  12. Globe – Open your mind to a global perspective and world cultures.
  13. Money – Being rewarded, rewarding others, and giving back. Give your time and talent. Give until it feels good.

For more information about the 2019 Young Professionals of Color Conference or to look at past events visit their website at http://www.ypccgr.com.


Author: Alyson Ramirez, Marketing & Communications Committee Member


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