Lauren KolbI had the privilege to attend a Women’s Leadership Forum presented by the Rochester Business Journal in Rochester, NY.  The keynote speaker was Henna Inam.  Henna engaged the audience of over 600 women right away with her enthusiastic being and radiant spirit.

I instantly knew I was in for a treat. The first question she asked was “Who in here feels they are an authentic leader? Please raise your hand!” As I was ready to raise my hand with fervor, I suddenly refrained. I have been walking a path of authentic leadership my whole life.  For years I have formally studied and applied strategic leadership to my personal and professional endeavors. So why did I hesitate raising my hand in a room full of strangers? I unexpectedly felt my true authenticity fade because of my fear of what people would think of me.  Not the 600 people in the audience, but the table of eight professional women I was sitting with.  They were colleagues of mine and I became intimidated. My inner voice was startled and asked, “What happened?  Why didn’t you raise your hand?” Would they think I was too proud? Would they disagree with my self-professed authenticity?  Did I really want to expose my personal feelings in a public setting?

Henna had reached me in the first two minutes of what would turn out to be an incredible and inspiring message.  In that moment of self-reflection, I knew I was in the right place at the right time, but had a lot more work to do. I whipped out my smartphone, took a photo of the audience in a “power pose” from Amy Cuddy that Henna had us practice, and purchased Wired for Authenticity with one-click!  Thank you, Henna!

Lauren Kolb, VP Business Development Officer, Genesee Valley Trust Company